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Funny Paper


July 28-Aug. 3, 2003

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 8/6/2003

YOU CAN SLEEP ON THAT AGAIN! DEP'T.: Thursday, Garfield lies on his back sleeping, directly above a Blondie strip showing Dagwood lying on his back. But Dagwood is having trouble sleeping. Since when does Dagwood have trouble sleeping? That's, like, his super-power.

NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD "OREO" WATCH DEP'T.: Thursday, 15 Across: "Hydrox rival."


THE BOONDOCKS: "Man . . . " Caesar says Monday. "Kobe got beef." "Serious beef," Huey says. "Expensive beef." Silence.

"Kobe beef," Caesar says.

Half of Funny Paper laughed aloud at this. Neither half of Funny Paper does that very much.

Funny Paper recognizes that, on some level, this shouldn't work as a joke: That is, after all, the literal idea behind Jellybean Bryant's son being named "Kobe"--the top-of-the-line cattle. But the gag isn't about the pun. It's about the pause before the pun, the character-driven I-can't-believe-you-just-gave-me-the-opportunity-to-say-what-I'm-about-to-say moment.

Just to show he knows that the name gag was not inherently a high-degree-of-difficulty move, on Tuesday Aaron McGruder collects bonus points by making fun of Kobe's middle name, "Bean."

GASOLINE ALLEY: Just as the wicked bootleggers prepare to plug Joel and Rufus full of lead, Joel's sabotage on their boiler bears fruit in elaborately shaped lettering: "BANG! KA-BLOOEY! SPLOOSH."

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Monday, Wily stands in the yard wearing a blissful expression as two garden hoses run into his front pants pockets. Half of Funny paper has engaged in this act.

HI & LOIS: "All scientists do not agree on the causes of global warming," the television thunders. Wow, everybody really is watching FNC.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Wednesday, Cylene shows off her clothes. "My father says I look like little birds dress me in the morning!" she says. "Ah, yes," Grandpa says, "and then there's James . . . Who looks like he was slapped together by beavers."


FAMILY CIRCUS: The family keeps touring the Cradle of Liberty, circa 1984, on its rerun vacation. Monday, Billy denies responsibility for cracking the Liberty Bell. Where's Not Me when you need him? Tuesday, Dolly is appalled by a fistfight between Jeffy and Billy. "Mommy!" she squeals. "Look! In the City of Brotherly Love!" Somebody clutching a Phillies pennant oughtn't be so hoity-toity about the occasional brawl, little girl. Thursday, Billy is unclear on the concept of scrapple. "We're gonna play a word game before breakfast?" he asks. Kid can't spell, but Scrabble is foremost on his mind. It rang false 19 years ago, Keane, and it still does.

BEETLE BAILEY VS. OTTO THE ARMY DOG: Otto forces a 4-4 tie by finishing strong: capering around on Saturday in an all-animal freakout splash panel, then having his urination habits--including stops at the camp flagpole, a statue of the general, and Sarge's leg--documented in the Sunday color supplement. So Otto pees where he pleases; meanwhile, on Thursday, Beetle is humiliated by having the camp doctor outfit him with one of those no-scratching canine cone collars. Clearly Otto is winning the hearts and minds.

In other news, on Monday Camp Swampy is infiltrated by space aliens.

MARY WORTH: Woody "Don't Call Me Sawdust" Hills explains how he don't wanna work the family job, which would involve renouncing the rewards of teaching Intro to Psych and taking on the grueling life of a timber baron. The prospect is so repugnant, he develops classic deep black glower-markings on his face. Sunday, the ever-coy Professor Hills lets slip that his "family shanty in the Klamanth Mountains" has "running water, four bedrooms, thee baths, a huge living room, full kitchen, and a view to die for!" Dawn Weston's eyes get moist and wide at the news.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Rex gently clues June in to the fact that her career-driven pal Kitty feels inadequate and envies her happy and fertile family unit. Shocking!

Sunday, Graham Nolan ditches the working-versus-breeding weepy crap and cuts back to the satellite-lens-theft scam. As Heather and Jeffrey get into the car to leave the party, the sinister Armand pops up in the back seat, brandishing a pistol with a silencer. "Do exactly as I say . . . " he snarls. "Or I kill the lady!" If you'd stuck with the crossbow, Mr. Super Villain, you wouldn't need to screw around with a silencer.

DILBERT: Wednesday, Scott Adams demonstrates that people who laugh at everything are annoying. Thursday, the strip ventures into Zippy territory, as Dogbert decides to spew incoherent current-events related monologues in a bid to "spend more time criticizing things I don't understand." "I say we should flat-tax the Kyoto Treaty all the way back to the Security Council!" he declares.

B.C.: Monday, Clumsy Carp makes a rare appearance, delivering a joke about arithmetic--31 being shorthand for "24/7"--which as near as we can tell has no numerological or religions overtones (though we're not sure why he's standing behind a rock labeled "The Caring Center"). Sure, the math is wrong; it ought to be 3 3/7. But at least it's trying to be a normal gag.

Thursday, the Book of Phrases defines "the looney fringe" as "that tiny percentage of people who can't see the brilliance of your argument." Exactly so, Johnny.

GARFIELD: Tuesday, Garfield savors the taste of his own belch.

HERB & JAMAAL: Monday, Jamaal reads the "Nutritional Facts" label on his potato chips. It's "Nutrition Facts," Mr. Bentley. But it's good to read the label on your food products!

HAGAR THE HORRIBLE: Monday, Hagar says his looting follows "the Smorgasbord Rule": "Take what you like, but take a lot of it!!" We thought the rule was "Take all you want, eat all you take." Tuesday, Chris Browne uses the classic person-wearing-a-barrel image to illustrate the concept of "poor body image," rather than the traditional "abject poverty." Saturday, Browne works blue, hoping nobody will notice. "Hagar has picked up some snobbish habits on his trips to Paris!" Helga tells a ladyfriend. "Now he insists that I serve him fancy hors d'oeuvres." "What's wrong with that?" her coffee companion asks. "Before breakfast?!" Helga asks. Fancy hors d'oeuvres before breakfast, indeed. And a little amuse-bouche, too, huh?

MARMADUKE: Tuesday, Marmaduke sleeps peacefully on the couch.

FRANCESCO MARCIULIANO'S SALLY FORTH CREATED BY GREG HOWARD: Finding Sally's continuing-education classes too eggheaded--"'Contemporary Political Drama'; 'Comparative Study of Post-Colonial Fiction'; 'An Introduction to 18th Century British Authors'"--Ted starts talking about cutting class and goofing off. Yeah, that's why you go back to school, Teddy. When does Ted buy the Firebird, start smoking reefer, and try to fuck a teenage girl?

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Everybody gets all reflective. April wants to know if Gordon is rich. John wants to know if Elly is up for the two of them ditching their businesses and retiring. What is this, Take One Step Back Week? For worse!

DENNIS THE MENACE: The Mitchells spend an idyllic yet primally disturbing week at the beach. Monday, Dennis sparks a confrontation between his father and a larger, more masculine man. Tuesday, Dennis complains about "all the ladies who aren't wearing enough clothes." Wednesday, Dennis pokes holes in the omnipotent image of the lifeguard: "Who rescues you when you're in trouble?" he asks. Thursday, Dennis savors a milky, dripping frozen treat with Joey. Friday, Dennis announces that "my bathing suit went out with the tide," as his mother, shrouded in beach-umbrella shadows, gazes coolly through her sunglasses at his barely towel-shrouded nakedness.

KUDZU: Tuesday, Doris the Uninteresting Parakeet gets "obscene bird calls" on the phone. With the *69 and Caller ID, does anybody actually make obscene phone calls anymore? Wednesday, Nasal T. Lardbottom tries to get on on the Black English Month action: "Listen as I recite flawlessly my 'O' group contractions, whereby my diphthongs become pure vowels: 'Yo' . . . 'Mo' . . . 'Ho' . . . 'Bro' . . . " Way to slip HOMO in there, Marlette.

LUANN: Bernice blathers at Delta, the Wise Negro Teenager, about her problem where she asked Gunther on an ice-skating date to make Zane jealous and Gunther said yes and now she's gonna get in trouble with Luann. Then Luann asks if Bernice wants to go ice skating that very same day! Oh, the tangled web!

HAL FOSTER'S PRINCE VALIANT BY JOHN CULLEN MURPHY: Nefertari and Galan re-engineer the obelisk-carrying barge, outfitting it with outriggers to stabilize it. "Galan finds himself fascinated by this young woman, who has read the books he has read--and has all the same interests. 'It is as if we are parallel people,' Galan blurts out. Nefertari blushes, and then impulsively leans closer. 'The difference,' she says, 'is that parallel lines never touch.'"

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: OK, there's this popular movie Finding Nemo. About a fish. Whadda we got, whadda we got? Cats are the enemies of fish, right? So cats go to the movies. Let's see . . . "Hunting Nemo"? . . . "Killing Nemo"? . . . "Stalking Nemo"? . . . "Eating Nemo"? . . . "Digesting Nemo"!

BLONDIE: Wednesday, Cookie swipes $20 out of Dagwood's wallet.

ZIPPY: Wednesday, Zippy says he likes Kenny G. In the humor-in-a-can aisle, Kenny G is shelved right next to Carrot Top. Friday, Mr. Toad brings the nihilistic philosophy, hard-core: "Eventually, pal, all life-forms turn into energy resources . . . . [Y]ou could fuel a futuristic hovercraft for maybe a nanosecond . . . . Pal, your Pollyanna take on the human condition convinces me even further that life as we know it has no meaning!" More Toad, please!

Sunday, the pinhead tries do "dry-clean a stinky poodle," to the consternation of the counterman. "Apparently, sir, you do not fully understand th' Martinizing Process." It's not that nobody understands it, it's just more fun that way.

MARK TRAIL: A desert fox stalks Bob and Beth's wayward baby as it crawls across the yard. The poor, misunderstood eagle stalks the desert fox. "THAT EAGLE, IT'S AFTER MY BABY!" Beth shrieks Wednesday, grabbing a firearm from over the fireplace. As the eagle sinks its talons into the fox Thursday, Beth cocks the gun. "THE EAGLE IS ATTACKING MY BABY!" she cries, blasting away. Luckily for everyone, hysterical women are lousy shots. "It's a fox . . . I killed a fox!" she exclaims Friday as the eagle soars away. "TONY! My baby . . . thank Heaven you are all right!"

Sunday's featured animal: the exquisitely sensitive alligator. "Scientists continue to study the 220-million-year-old crocodilian family, and they have recently discovered that the hundreds of pimple-like bumps on their jaws have a purpose . . . . [R]ipples in the water cause the bumps to vibrate, which in turn causes the nerves to send a message to the brain, telling the reptile there is a possible meal in the water. Even in complete darkness, the alligator will swim directly toward the spot where the water's surface is disturbed."

APARTMENT 3-G: Ignoring the reservations and skepticism of the other G's, Margo taunts bigamist neighbor Tim Poe at a block party by alluding to his secret second family in the Garden State. "I'd like to take your family to New Jersey while you're away, Tim," she says. " . . . They're having a wonderful outdoor concert in a town called . . . Willow Grove . . . "

"How . . . ?" Poe blurts, scowling.

"It's a great family place . . . " Margo adds airily, smiling as she rubs it in. "You might consider moving there someday."

THE PHANTOM: The Phantom keeps shadowing the would-be killer tour guides, waking up their young clients for a secret middle-of-the-night exposition session. Who else can you explain the plot to before you have to finally get around to the ass-kicking, O Ghost Who Keeps Stalling?

Devil makes a command decision to turn custody of the captured low-level terrorists over to civilian bystanders, so he can check up on how his master's pursuit of the Python is going.

DOONESBURY: Garry Trudeau puts Donald Rumsfeld's rhetorical question/ rhetorical answer strategy in the hands of the troops. "Am I thrilled our troops in Iraq are publicly disparaging of me?" he asks Tuesday. "Of course not. In a perfect world, would our soldiers not mind the well-coordinated, daily attacks on them? You bet! But are they free to criticize the Secretary of Defense without fear of reprimand? Absolutely not!"

"Do we care?" a soldier asks, watching TV. "Goodness, no!" "Is this a total crock?" Ray adds. "Heavens to Betsy, yes!"

Wednesday, Trudeau acknowledges that the soldiers would like to start popping cheering onlookers, as B.D. orders them to resist the urge. "Do I think this war is wack?" one replies. "Gosh, yes!"

Thursday, Ray keeps pounding away at the Rummyspeak as he and B.D. go riding in a Humvee: "Do Cheney, Perle, and Wolfowitz--the chicken hawks who dreamt up this war--regret once avoiding the draft? Gosh, no! Does Bush regret skipping his last year of National Guard duty? My goodness, not at all! Do I wish I could skip the last year of my Guard duty so I could go home? Jeepers, yes!" "Permission to keep this up denied," B.D. interjects. "Should you stuff it?" Ray replies. "Gosh yes."

Friday, the two get word of a fatal ambush up ahead. "Would I characterize that as sucking?" Ray says. "Heavens, yes!" "Knock it off, Ray!" B.D. snaps. Keep it up, Ray!

JUMP START: The entire week is filled by a prank designed by committee, as the whole camp staff plots to dump water on Jojo.

THE MIDDLETONS: Wow, a SARS joke. Right on time, Ralph Dunagin & Dana Summers!

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Sunday, Art by Vernon Carne presents us with a portrait of Richard D. Parsons, CEO of AOL Time Warner. At least that's what they were calling it at press time. Funny Paper enjoys the prescience of filing late.

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