April 14-20, 2003
TAKE MY STASH DEP'T.: Render unto Caesar the gags that are Caesar's: It's tax time! Monday in Curtis, Curtis and his dad go digging through the trash for lost receipts, while in Cathy, Cathy yammers about deducting her wardrobe. Tuesday, tax day proper, a chain-smoking Mr. Wilkins tells Curtis he doesn't have enough money to cover the taxes; in Hi & Lois, Hi sweats over his stacks of receipts; Cathy yammers about how great she is; and in Non Sequitur, a man steps out the door, sees a smoking crater, and says, "Oh, that reminds me . . . taxes are due today." If it were a bomb crater, Funny Paper would take it to be a tribute to the hip-hop social commentary of Sir Mix-A-Lot ("Uncle Sam wanna buy another missile / Strip Mix-A-Lot straight down to the gristle"). But it's a meteor crater. And the strip is by Wiley, who has already explained where he stands on the hip-hop issue. Wednesday, Cathy, chastened by her tax experience, rejects a $3 cup of coffee, while Curtis, non-chastened by his dad's tax experience, hits the old man up for a $250 pair of sneakers. "I barely have enough left in savings to keep us in beans for the next two weeks!" Mr. Wilkins says.
YOU CAN COUNTERFEIT THAT AGAIN! DEP'T.: Monday in Ziggy, an appraiser breaks some bad news to the little man: "I hate to tell you this, but 'Rolex' is spelled with an 'X'." Tuesday in Blondie, one of Dagwood's coworkers shows him a new watch. "It's a genuine Bolex," he says. "I bought it from a guy on the street." He paid almost $35. You got robbed, son. Never buy a Bolex--or Funny Paper's preferred luxury brand, the Ronex--for more than $15. You can sometimes get 'em down to $5.
NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE SNICKERS: ASST, AROD, SEMICOLON, PIS, PEONS, LUMP, MOONPIE, NONOS, HOBBITHOLE, LOAF, BALSA, PSIS, ORAL, GOBI, RAGA, NOLTE.
REALLY LONG-ASS SUN CROSSWORD PUZZLE ANSWERS, SOME OF WHICH ARE BACKWARDS AND OTHERS OF WHICH ARE IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION DEP'T.: CIRTCELENRETSEW, CIFICAPNREHTRON, EASTERNAIRLINES, SOUTHERNBAPTIST, WHATISAQUESTION, WHEREISJEOPARDY, WHOISALEXTREBEK, GIVEFAIRWARNING, OUTERATMOSPHERE, HEARSAYEVIDENCE, COMERAINORSHINE.
ONE BIG HAPPY: Monday through Wednesday, a naked toddler goes streaking through the neighborhood. "YEE!" he screams Monday. "YEEEE!" he screams Tuesday. "Who is that kid?" Grandpa asks. "I don't know . . . " Ruthie says. "But I'm pretty sure it was a boy." "YEE!" he continues Wednesday, with his mother now in hot pursuit. Thursday, we learn that the junior nudist's name is Barrel. Creighton Barrel.
CLASSIC PEANUTS: Snoopy gets rid of his "Bunny-Wunnies" book collection when he learns that author Miss Helen Sweetstory lives with 24 cats. Friday, Linus carts the Sweetstory volumes away, and Snoopy buries his nose in some new reading. "Back to Hermann Hesse," the beagle thinks.
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: On the way to the corner store, Edgar cuts his paw on broken glass. Mr. Singh, the friendly convenience-store proprietor, patches him up. Then the vet gives him stitches and one of those high-comedy cone collars.
Sunday, Baby Meredith busts out crying after they dress her up in a bunny suit, give her a carrot to chew on, and plop the pet rabbit down with her for a photo op. What an unreasonable child. For worse!
JUMBLE: "SCRATCH" FOR IT, A "SWEET" JOB, HE WAS A "HIT" MAN, "GROUSED," THE "ROUNDS," A "ROCK" GROUP. Yes! A perfect all-quotes week!
MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Monday, a anthropomorphic shark raids the fridge in the middle of the night, meaning that Mike Peters raids Gary Larsen's intellectual property. "What? You're eating again? Don't you ever sleep?" another shark asks. The sharks, with their heads bent 90 degrees forward from their bodies, look more like dinosaurs. And if you're going to do the animals-acting-like-people gags, the real point is to flip the script whenever possible. The shark raiding the fridge should be rebuking the other shark for violating their shared behavioral norms by not constantly eating.
Thursday, a terror cell of dogs prepares to implement its "World Domination Plans"--"provided," the leader says, "nobody stops to scratch our bellies." On the wall chart, Peters has labeled steps one through four of the plan, but he's too lazy to come up with actual funny text for them. So each step-label just has a vaguely text-like dummy squiggle after it.
Friday, a giant anthropomorphic housefly watches "All My Maggots." No caption, no boldfaced dialogue to rehash the gag, just the title in script on the fly's TV screen. A steaming garbage pail sits just behind the easy chair. This, Mike Peters, is a perfectly executed gag. Hang on to your original drawing. Frame it. Put it above your drafting table. Every time you see it, repeat this to yourself: This is how it's done--and I did it.
REX MORGAN, M.D.: June gets interested when Rex mentions that writer Kitty Prescott, of Globe Magazine, is covering the doctors' strike. "Kitty Prescott's maiden name was Katherine Burley!" June says Thursday, her eyebrows flying all over the place. "We were cheerleaders together in high school!" "How come you never mentioned you were a cheerleader in high school?" Rex asks Sunday. Maybe because of this "Rocky James" quarterback fellow she keeps casually mentioning, huh?
APARTMENT 3-G: Tommie's blind date continues. "What exactly do you do, Josh?" she asks Monday. He doesn't exactly say, but inexactly, it involves getting big-name celebrities to perform in his New Jersey town. Thursday, Bridge & Tunnel Josh declines Tommie's E-ZPass invitation to come in; Friday, he says goodnight and kisses her . . . on the forehead? A forehead kiss? Maybe he should retract his invitation for Tommie to see his Broadway-in-the-Garden State showtunes revue, and take Cousin Blaze instead.
BLONDIE: Monday, when a leering teen threatens to keep Cookie out past curfew for want of a watch, Dagwood loads the horny youth down with an arm full of Bolexes. Saturday, Dagwood hollers at his favorite baseball team on TV. "Who are you guys?! C'mon, who are you guys?!" he demands.
BEETLE BAILEY: Unable to find anything to do on Monday, Sarge gives in to the Dark Side and joins Beetle in his realm of doing-nothingness. Wednesday, Miss Buxley and Gen. Halftrack enact a scene from Secretary, as the General demands his pencil be sharpened for him. Saturday, Amos calls home from the field. "Where are you?" Martha asks. "35° north, 100° west," he says.
SHOE: Monday, the tech guy tells Cosmo he needs an "undue key" for his bills.
KUDZU: Tuesday, Kudzu asks the preacher, "why did God create Eve from Adam's rib?" "He didn't know her from Adam!" the preacher replies. Huh?
THE LOCKHORNS: Tuesday, the kabillionth iteration of the "Loretta fucks up the car" gag. Saturday, the kabillion-and-first iteration of the "Leroy nurses a hangover" gag. Which will give out first, the Lockhorns' collision coverage or Leroy's liver?
SALLY FORTH: Ostensible plot line: Sally helps Hilary grapple with her excessive homework load. Real plot line: Francesco "Mac" Marciuliano quietly keeps raising the I.Q. of the strip he inherited. Tuesday, Sally's coworker name-checks The Phantom Tollbooth. Wednesday, Sally mentions the literary works of Hunter S. Thompson. The supervisors back at the Created by Greg Howard office are scratching their heads. Friday, "Mac" throws in a reference to "The Bachelor," just to keep the home office from getting panicky.
Sunday, Sally goes hunting for Hilary's chocolate rabbit's ears. Some things you can't tinker with at all.
DENNIS THE MENACE: Monday, on a trip to the museum, Dennis tells Joey that a Venus de Milo-type statue is "what will happen to you if you keep biting your nails." What, he'll grow breasts? Tuesday, Dennis enjoys pudding for dessert. Ah, the eternal five-and-a-half year old. Saturday, Dennis spots a nest in a tree. "Blue eggs!" he tells Joey. "I think we just found the Easter Bunny's nest!"
ZIPPY: Monday, the pinhead discovers square donuts. BFD. The pinhead and everybody. Thursday, Zippy stands in the middle of Mount Auburn Street, talking to the Harvard Lampoon castle. The castle tells him how its inhabitants don't rule Hollywood anymore: "When 'reality' shows took over, sitcom writers went south!" The result, the castle says, is "a nation devoid of wit & satire, condemned to an endless series of brainless & sadistic video fleshfests!" Yeah, that's why your animation deal fell through, Griffy--that sadistic fleshfest with Regis ruined the market. Saturday, Griffy keeps hammering away on the reality-TV-vs.-sitcom thing. "Of course, TV's version of reality has little basis in reality!" Griffy huffs. No fucking shit, Mr. Culture Critic. Speaking of little basis in reality, Funny Paper is offering five bucks to the first reader who can dig up a Zippy strip from before the reality-TV boom in which Griffy was praising the high quality of network situation comedies.
HERB & JAMAAL: Eula celebrates her birthday on Monday, then spends the next few days researching her family tree. "If I wanted to search for my lost relatives . . . " Herb says Wednesday, " . . . I'd win the lottery." Thursday, Stephen Bentley uses the genealogical project as an excuse to break out some Maya Angelou as the text. "Your ancestors took the lash . . . the branding iron . . . the humiliation and oppression . . . because one day they believed you would come along to flesh out the dream." Hey, speaking of unpaid labor, you didn't happen to cut Ms. Angelou a royalty check, didja?
MARY WORTH: Monday, Silas Smedlap breaks out the restaurant lingo again. "Call your friend at the Bumboat, Mary! . . " he says. "If he's got a 'four-top' open I might even try that abalone again!"
"Meanwhile . . . back at Charterstone . . . " Ian is continuing to argue with the loudmouthed delivery boy, whose crack last week about not letting Ian "pinch my pourboire" was so delicious it bears repeating Monday in black and white. And again on Tuesday! This time echoed by the befuddled Ian. "Gyp me out of my tip!" the lad translates. " . . . I guess American is the only language you understand!" "See here, urchin!" Ian roars. "I'm a professor at the university!" "Wonderful!" the boy says. "If I had time I'd bake a cake!" After jump-cutting to a few more days of aimless Smedlapiana, the strip returns to the argument on Sunday. "I'm the son of a diplomat!" the boy brags. ". . . I speak several languages . . . And I can outrun you any day of the week! . . . Grandpère!"
GARFIELD: Thursday, Jon is such an idiot, he calls his own answering machine so he has a message. Sunday, Garfield uses an elaborate array of mirrors to steal sunlight from the napping Odie.
FAMILY CIRCUS: Friday, Jeffy and Dolly are such idiots, they can't tell the difference between "cloves" and "clothes." All part of Mommy's strategy to get the kids in the oven. Sunday, the kids pig out on Easter candy.
CATHY: Sunday, Cathy pigs out on Easter candy.
CURTIS: Sunday, in a Very Special Curtis, our hero fills a couple of plates at the church supper and takes them to the white people living in a cardboard box near the church.
MARMADUKE: Thursday, the kids mace Marmaduke. OK, the kids wet the fucker down with "perfume."
THE PHANTOM: The Ghost Who Smirks in Triumph returns the crew of the secret experimental plane to Bangalla. "Next . . . epilog."
Sunday, the jungle drums go "BOM BOM BOOM BOOM BOM BOM BOOM BO--" as the Purple Man plots a preemptive strike in his jungle edition of the War on Terror.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Dean Kamen. Yeah, the Segway. That was great.
B.C.: Tuesday one of the school-aged everyants wins a Buns Contest. "It's homemaking class, Ma!" she shouts, to defuse her parent's outrage. Before Christ Bun Contest = Barely Comedic. Wednesday, "The Book of Phrases" explains that "The check is in the mail" refers to "A mail-order bride from Czechoslovakia." Why does The Book of Phrases print the punchline first? Is "Czechoslovakia" a deliberately out-of-date reference, to establish the prehistoric setting? Why not do the real joke, about two European explorers being dined on by a polar-bear couple, in which the Czech is in the male?
NON SEQUITUR: Thursday, Danae sings "Nobody knows da boobies I've seen." Why? Dear readers, this is where We Read the Comics So You Don't Have To.
GASOLINE ALLEY: Wednesday, Skeezix tries to penetrate the thought processes behind Uncle Walt's angel visions, by pointing out the similarities between Wyston the trumpet-playing angel and the real-life Wynton Marsalis. So these would really be the thought processes behind Jim Scancarelli's creation of the guardian-angel story line. Oy vey. Thanks for sharing, Jim.
MARK TRAIL: "I hope I have my camera if a bear shows up!" Rusty says Tuesday. Yeah Rusty, you said that like two fucking weeks ago. Are we going around in circles in the woods or something? Thursday and Friday, under cover of darkness, Joe Cobb finds the film Rusty shot of him. He takes it to the river and prepares to throw it in, holding an identical pose from Friday's last frame to Saturday's first one. That extra delay is all the time Trail needs to run him down and yank the film from his hands.
Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: the brood patch, the bare patch of skin that birds use to incubate their eggs. Eggs! Jack Elrod has his Easter on the Q.T.
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