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Funny Paper

I'm Bologna!

May 19-May 25, 2003

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 5/28/2003

YOU CAN GRIN LIKE THAT AGAIN, CARTOON ANIMAL! DEP'T: Monday in a 1971 Classic Peanuts, Snoopy resolves "to start each new day with a smile on my lips," then sits up with a huge, painful-looking grin. Thirty-two years later, Garfield wakes up with a huge, painful-looking grin on his face.

YOU CAN CAN THAT AGAIN! DEP'T: Sunday in Rex Morgan, M.D., June retells the story of Sarah beaning a stranger with a can. In Mary Worth, Brint Prescott says his latest delivery box "rattles like a box full of empty tin cans!" Since when does this kid know from "tin cans"?






GARFIELD: Saturday, Jon fools Garfield into eating a wax decoy hamburger. "Well, stick a wick in my navel and make a wish," the cat says, unfazed.


DILBERT: Friday, Scott Adams hits too many notes: "I fired our plant-watering service and hired a less expensive one," the boss says. "That's the sort of leadership that will turn this company around." "We're doing well?" Wally asks. "Our plants are plastic," Dilbert says. We hate to criticize a cartoonist for working too hard, but you've got to choose one punchline. Maybe you can lease out the extra punchline to Shoe. Those guys haven't had a punchline in weeks.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Grandma chats with unemployed neighbor Leonard, who says he has registered with "a national employment agency!" "Ah!" she says. "So now you're out of work all over the country!" Either we've seen this one in Momma, or we will see it in Momma. Then we'll see it in Kudzu, Non Sequitur, and Mother Goose & Grimm.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Afflicted with either Alzheimers or BSE, Grandpa Jim keeps getting lost and forgetting things. Thursday, though, he's not too far gone to leer at a curvy health-care aide. Saturday, confronted with the evidence of his mental decline, he clutches his daughter and cries, "Oh, dear God . . . don't let me forget how to dance!!!" Dear God, don't let us forget how to puke! For much, much worse!

Sunday, Lynn Johnston reprises the gag about how the pet rabbit thinks the bunny slippers are its kin. For worse!

THE LOCKHORNS: Wednesday, Leroy is paralyzed by a coma-inducing screensaver.

SALLY FORTH: Francesco "Mac" Marciuliano plays with space and time, as a Monday conversation between Alice and Sally leads backward to the previous weekend, setting up a week-long series about Ted refusing to part with any of his old crap in housecleaning. But the setup is the only innovative thing about the whole sequence.

MARY WORTH: Thursday, with a sigh of resignation, Mary prepares to "break in a new neighbor." Is Mary growing aware of her Sisyphean existence? Thursday, Brint Prescott shows up without his ballcap. Bareheaded, the sassy youth is a dead ringer for Mary Worth.

MARMADUKE: Monday, Marmaduke runs on the treadmill. Wednesday, the Great Dane strains at his leash, eager to "race" with another dog.

CATHY: Cathy and Irving diet together. Just when we thought Cathy could not suck more, she takes it to a new level. We salute the singlemindedness of Cathy Guisewite.

THE BOONDOCKS: Monday, Huey fantasizes about a Jack Nicholson-Spike Lee sideline deathmatch if the Lakers were ever to face the Knicks in the NBA Finals. Yeah! Soon-Yi and Dyan Cannon on the undercard! Go, Lak-- . . . Go, Lakggxxxx-- Um, go, Knicffff . . . ? Sorry. Half of Funny Paper can't type some of those words, even in jest. Knicks! Ackgx!

But we can suss out the odds. Youth and fitness, if not height and weight, appear to be on Mr. Lee's side. Then again, Mr. Nicholson would cheat. So we'll open the wagering with Spike as the favorite, but only by 5-to-4. If it goes six or more rounds, though, look for Nicholson to wear him down.

Wednesday, Huey points out that Jayson Blair was a liar, but he wasn't a stooge. Saturday, Aaron McGruder confesses that he was a fellow student of Blair's. What other antisocial media figures has that pernicious Diamondback spawned?

FAMILY CIRCUS: "I'm gonna give my bobbleheads a workout," Billy says Monday, standing in front of an electric fan. That's one letter away from being a really disturbing caption. Thursday, more moral peril looms, as Dolly asks "Besides the Bible, did God write any other books?" Someday, Funny Paper is gonna get Bil Keane off in a room and convince him to write the real punchlines that go with his daily setups. Friday: "Why are you plantin' sticks?" Saturday: "Daddy, I think your tuxedo looks kinda nice with cat hair on it." Stop teasing us, Keane! Write the comebacks! We know you can do it. Deep down, you want to do it. Just e-mail 'em to us. We won't tell anybody.

Sunday, the barrier between the Circus-world and the real world is breached, as Billy doodles a flip-book cartoon in the corner of his math homework, under the title "Math Homework by a Future Disney Animator." Actual firstborn Keane child and current Disney animator Glen Keane even gets his name tacked onto the signature for this one--though not above that of Jeff Keane.

APARTMENT 3-G: The G's are awed by the theatrical production that Tommie's new swain Josh comped them into. "Tap-dancing can be like drumming," Lu Ann muses Tuesday. Yeah, annoying. Wednesday, Margo wishes she could tread the boards. "It's not silly," Josh tells her. "And it isn't too late."

Sunday, Margo tells Tommie that she's not interested in making a play for Josh. "The man is attractive, but he's not my type, Tommie," she says, bopping her roommate on the head with a flower.

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: The tiresome "Iron Dog" gagline continues. "Iron Gag." We get it: it's an endurance contest for the readers, too.

DENNIS THE MENACE: "I feel sorry for Mr. Wilson," Dennis announces Tuesday. "When he takes a bath, he doesn't have room for any toys." Yeah, right, we were just reading about somebody with that problem.

Thursday, Mr. Wilson injures himself attempting to ride a skateboard. Friday, Joey weighs himself on the bathroom scale--while holding his shoes in his hand. So is he indifferent to the shoe-weight issue, and just trying to keep the scale clean? Or is it that he's a tard?

SHOE: Tuesday, Sen. Belfry decries people who won't take responsibility for their actions, then asks not to be quoted. If Cassatt & Brookins get any more perfunctory with the gag writing, they'll just start pasting Bazooka Joe strips into their space.

BEETLE BAILEY / OTTO THE ARMY DOG, FEATURING BEETLE BAILEY: The man-vs.-dog tussle for the strip's spotlight shows no sign of ending. This week, Beetle leads in appearances, 3 to 2. Tuesday, the conflict comes out in the open again, with Killer warning Beetle that Otto is a spy for Sarge. Friday, Otto goes out for a drink with Sgt. Snorkel, smugly telling the bartender via thought balloon that he's "21 in dog years." Unless memory deceives, Otto is at least 21 in people years, too. Sunday, Beetle goes on another date with Miss Buxley. Careful, private. You're having fun now, but you won't be when Greg + Mort Walker marry you off and send you away to live in Hi & Lois' guest room.

BLONDIE: Monday, Dagwood delivers a complicated punchline about how Mr. Dithers' conversational timing has been affected by "one too many embedded reporter video delays." This is fucking Blondie, guys. Less reality, please, and more SX-NNXXX! Wednesday, spendthrift Blondie maxes out the credit card. That's still technologically current, but at least the theme is a suitably timeless one.

KUDZU: Monday, Doug Marlette uses that stupid If-God-is-so-good-why-is-[INSERT CELEBRITY OR TV SHOW]-still-around routine again. Today, the object of ridicule is Madonna. Uh, 140 million albums sold, that's why Madonna's still around, idiot. Just like Elvis would still be around if he was uh, still around.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: The childless Kitty Prescott plays with baby Sarah. Tuesday, the authors get cute with their signature, writing "Wilson" and "Nolan" on the covers of the book Sarah is burbling over. They also experiment with extreme foreshortening in drawing Kitty's face at dynamic angles. Wednesday, by the third panel, she looks like the Joker.

In actual supervillain news, Heather's rarely appearing mystery date resurfaces in Sunday's last panel, with his handler Armand, discussing their nefarious and inscrutable evil designs. "Once you have the lens, what do you do?" Armand asks. "I inflate the helium balloon and send the lens up through this opening . . . here!" the Brit replies.

ZIPPY: Tuesday, tiresome discussions of Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle finally filter down to the pinhead.

NON SEQUITUR: Tuesday, Wiley presents "The Fashion Model Retirement Plan": "One of everything, please," a skinny woman tells a bakery clerk. We thought the retirement plan was just not puking.

LUANN: Brad explains to Luann how to get Aaron. "He's a guy," Brad says Monday. "There's nothin' to figure out. Girls are onions: lots of layers. Guys are oranges: one thick skin, then a drippy mess." So he advises her to play hard-to-get. Thursday, Brad worries about his own chances with Toni Daytona. "She's filet mignon," he says. "I'm bologna." Nothing wrong with that, Bradski!

Sunday, Greg Evans opens with a title panel showing his heroine in workout clothes, with her gym shorts lovingly rendered to show her ass-crack. Completely gratuitous. Observe. By the last panel, you can see him thinking about giving her a camel-toe too.

CURTIS: Curtis continues to torment his bedridden father and nag him about his smoking. Friday and Saturday, things get steamy between the parents during a sweet-talking and back-rubbing session.

B.C.: "My uncle was the biggest celebrity our town ever had," Clumsy says Thursday. How big? "At his wake, they had 'gawking' hours."

Sunday, unfazed by President Luaga's threats, the Python gives his thriller-style explanatory speech: "My men keep watch on Government Center from all sides . . . . If fewer than 300 souls are inside at any given moment . . . I will detonate a high explosive laced with nerve gas . . . !" The Phantom clenches his fists and flexes his trapezius muscles in rage.

HAL FOSTER'S PRINCE VALIANT: Storytime continues with one about the cross-dressing exploits of Thor, God of Thunder.

THE MIDDLETONS: Thursday, Bumper pokes his head out of a tipped-over garbage can and invites canine pal Rusty to "Step into my Oval Office." It's not oval, it's round. When you look at a garbage can, you're not thinking "oval." You're thinking "can" and "metal" and then possibly "round"--assuming you're already done thinking "smelly" and "dirty." Try this, Dunagin & Summers: "Might I interest you in some canned meat?"

GASOLINE ALLEY: The source of the otherworldly voice tormenting Rufus appears to be a bunch of moonshiners hiding in the theater basement with access to the P.A.

MARK TRAIL: Monday, the witness-protection-program-separated family unit of Joe and Amanda makes up for lost time, with father and daughter taking turns stroking each other's head. Tenderness, Jack Elrod-style. "Will you come back with me and be my real father?" Mark calls out from the background, taunting them. Oh, wait. That seems to be one of Elrod's patented mis-aimed dialogue balloons. Amanda, in the foreground, is supposed to be talking. At least, that's how Joe interprets it. "No, honey . . . that would put your life in danger!" Yeah, and, uh, that's why I can't pay any child support, either, see?

Wednesday, you can practically see the broom pushing the Alaskan adventure story out of the frame: "While Mark continues to do research for his story on grizzlies, we visit friends of Mark who live in the Southwest," a hurry-up caption explains. "I just can't take this much longer," a woman cries, slumping on her doorstep. "This is not what I had in mind when I agreed to follow Bob wherever his job took him . . . " she sobs Thursday, as her blond child cheerfully plays with its rattle in the dust. Your husband has a job, lady? Stop whining, then. "I thought it would be some romantic place . . . " she adds, a tear trickling down her left cheek. "Not this awful place in the desert." A giant scorpion looms in the front of the panel, underscoring her hatred of nature.

Friday, hubby Bob rolls up with a new surprise: "Beth, honey, look what I have! I found their mother, she had been shot! . . . . They are coyote pups . . . They will probably die if we don't care for them!" Yeah, got to save them precious coyote pups. Who are you posted with, Bob, the Varmint Protection Agency? Saturday, after Bob cheerfully explains that the pups will need a bottle every two hours, Beth melts down entirely. "I can't do it . . . I just can't!" "Beth, what's wrong . . . Why are you crying?" "What isn't wrong, the bugs, the snakes, the lizards . . . It's this place, Bob, I've had enough!" Oh, don't cry, honey--the coyotes will eat the lizards!

Sunday's featured animal: the pestilence-spreading mosquito! Bearer of the dread West Nile Fever! "The virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and it primarily infects birds because the mosquitoes that transmit it feed mainly on birds!" says a gargantuan mosquito, bestriding the landscape behind Mark. Possibly we are dealing here with yet another of Jack Elrod's patented mis-aimed dialogue balloons. Even if it's not really a talking mosquito, it would appear, based on its size, to be the kind of mosquito that feeds mainly on whole fir trees. You could drive a Jeep Wrangler up that proboscis.

For dealing with regular-sized mosquitoes, Trail urges vigilance. "You can do your part in monitoring the virus by reporting dead birds," he says, hoisting a dead bird in his bare hand, "and by eliminating places in your yard where mosquitoes can breed . . . Bird baths, flower saucers, gutters, toys and even fallen leaves can be breeding places . . . A tablespoon of standing water is enough for mosquitoes to breed."

OK. This is where Funny Paper has to stop for a minute and call bullshit. We've been hearing this line of crap from so-called mosquito-control experts for years now, and we have had enough. Listen to yourself, goddammit! "Fallen leaves can be breeding places . . . a tablespoon of standing water is enough." The half of Funny Paper that does its own yardwork owns a mere two-tenths of an acre. And we could patrol that patch of land from dawn to dusk and not be able to eliminate every tablespoon-sized pocket of water. A fallen leaf? If we've got a mosquito problem--and we do--it's our fault because we didn't go out every time it rains and tip the water out of every single fallen leaf? Fuck you! Fuck you, you chickenshit, victim-blaming, so-called mosquito-control expert! You're fired!

That bail-out-the-stagnant-kiddie-pool line may have worked back in the old days. But we've got the Asian tiger mosquito now. Those are the ones that can breed in a fallen leaf--or in a knothole, or in the space between patio bricks, or pretty much goddamn anywhere you can fit two drops of water. Short of paving over our entire yard with glazed tile and installing pool drains at five-foot intervals, there is nothing we can possibly do to eliminate Asian tiger mosquito habitat. So shut up.

And while you're at it, shut up with your crap about trying to stay indoors at dawn and dusk. The tiger mosquitoes don't siesta. They keep biting right through the middle of the day. And shut up with your crap about wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants for protection. If we lived somewhere where you could run around in the daytime in July wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, then we'd probably be living somewhere that's too cold for mosquitoes. Got it?

Listen, mosquito-control professionals. Your job is to control the mosquitoes. And when you cut through all the bullshit, that means you've got to start killing the fuckers again. Kill 'em. Slaughter them by the millions. That's how you control mosquitoes. Not by hassling civilians about their birdbaths.

Yeah, you did that whole DDT thing, and it caused a helluva lot of problems up and down the food chain. Funny Paper is a big fan of the peregrine falcon, and we regard the banning of DDT, with its restorative effect on the peregrine population, as a great victory in the battle for sound environmental policy.

But just because the first great mosquito-poison turned out to be environmentally toxic, that doesn't mean you roll over for the mosquitoes, you gutless schmucks. Last summer, they found malaria along the Potomac. Malaria, nitwits! Malaria! And you're talking to us about fallen fucking leaves? Oh, yeah, and you tell us to slather our skin with DEET anytime we step outside. Good one. What's the theory--once we absorb enough of that shit that our internal organs start dying, we won't smell appetizing to the mosquitoes anymore?

Get your ass back into the laboratory and find something that kills the mosquitoes without killing us or the entire ecosystem, OK? And not that BT larva-control stuff. That has to go into the water; it's no better than telling everybody to towel-dry their flowerbeds.

Or maybe you could bust out some more of those carbon-dioxide machines that you use to collect mosquito samples when you're testing for disease. Like maybe a few hundred thousand more of them. Put a mosquito-harvesting death machine every 50 yards, filling the air with that irresistible fake mammal breath. Funny Paper has been keeping an eye on the civilian version in the Sharper Image catalog. It's already dropped from $599 to $499 this summer. And we've got a friend testing another model out on the Eastern Shore. In the meantime, we're staying indoors and drinking gin and tonics. Quinine is good for malaria, we hear.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: James Coburn? OK, why?

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