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Funny Paper

Defeated by Lard and Chicken Fat

Feb. 17-23, 2003

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 2/26/2003

GEORGE W. THE FIRST DEP'T.: Happy federally mandated approximate-and-partial birthday, Mr. Washington! The third day of the weekend brings bows to the Father of Our Country in Classic Peanuts, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith, and Dennis the Menace. The first two gags are set in the classroom. Isn't school closed today? B.C. gets up on its prehistoric soapbox and tries to gin up controversy around the whole Presidents Day concept: "Celebrating honesty and virtue too often, these days, offends some people," B.C. sniffs, then denounces the public for wanting an extra day off. Huh? Lumping Lincoln together with Washington means one less day off, Johnny. Pick one thing to whine about and stick with it. Jump Start, meanwhile, does the mass-presidential-holiday criticism right by having Jojo blame George W. Bush for the absence of postal delivery.

GEORGE W. THE FIRST, PART II DEP'T.: Family Circus solves the Washington-in-the-schools problem by holding its observance on the 21st, the eve of the first president's actual birthday. "George Washington was the father of our country, the dollar bill, and the quarter," Billy reads to his class. Also the parkway that goes to National Airport.

MULTIPLYING LIKE BUNNY SLIPPERS DEP'T.: Friday, Garfield alludes to having thrown Jon's rabbit-shaped slipper in the garbage disposal. Sunday, live pet rabbit Butterscotch in For Better or for Worse develops an unrequited crush on Elly's rabbit-shaped footgear.

YOU CAN WATCH THAT AGAIN! DEP'T.: The Sopranos crops up Friday in The Middletons and Willy 'N Ethel.

HAGAR THE HORRIBLE: Tuesday, an itinerant knife-sharpener offers to meet Hagar's sword-honing needs in mid-battle.

JUMP START: An anguished Jojo confronts a four-to-six-week wait for the delivery of his new "Pete the Pink Possum and His Posse" action figures.

JUMBLE: HER AGE, A DIE IN A DIVE, A WEIGHT "LIFTER," AN "AX-IDENT," ON THE SHADY SIDE, HIS FIRST "DRAFT."

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Mike Peters does a week-long continuing story about Grimm clogging the basement toilet with his bone.

GASOLINE ALLEY: Afro-celestial guardian angel Wynston unfortunately reappears and drags Walt out of the open grave he'd fallen into. Where had he gone? To find his magical, world-destroying trumpet, he says. "If that trumpet falls into the wrong hands, there will be . . . grave repercussions!" he declares Thursday. We've seen this movie. It's called Dogma. It sucks, except for the parts with Jay and Silent Bob. A little Jay and Silent Bob would do wonders for the Alley right about now.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: A long run of tedious friends-and-family business turns into a Phantom-worthy actioner in the span of two panels on Thursday. "Study hard, OK?" Aunt Ruby hollers as the carload of college students-cum-volunteer stock clerks pulls away from her convenience store. "Pass them courses! Go for the gold!" "Put your hands down, lady, an' walk slowly back into the store," says a ski-masked thug, suddenly appearing behind her. Friday, the ruffian and his teammate load up on cash and cigarettes. Then one of them bashes Aunt Ruby in the back of the head with the hilt of his gigantic knife: "CRACK!!" First Mr. B., now this. Lynn Johnston's Canada is a dangerous place. Saturday, Liz conveniently remembers that she left her wallet at the store. But hasn't she gone to bed already? "That's OK," says a dialogue caption over a panel of Ruby sprawled on the floor, in a pool of either blood or deep shadows, under a shelf of canned goods. "We've only been gone a couple of minutes. There's no way she'll be 'out' yet!" Ouch. Talk about a blunt instrument. For better!

DOONESBURY: Monday, as the press prepares to be "embedded" among the troops for the Iraq campaign, a grunt makes a joke about how he want to "embed Ashleigh Banfield." Saturday, Garry Trudeau takes a shot at Geraldo Rivera for making up battlefield stories. Don't think Jerry doesn't read your stuff, Trudeau. Trust us. We know where this can lead.

CLASSIC PEANUTS: Saturday, Snoopy subcontracts his fetching duties to Woodstock.

MARMADUKE: Monday, Marmaduke steals more pizzas. Tuesday, Marmaduke climbs up on a chair while the neighbor is sitting in it. Wednesday, Marmaduke sleeps on the couch. straddles the lap of a neighbor. Marmaduke fits himself in between the legs of a neighbor. The Great Dane simultaneously mounts a chair and the neighbor seated upon it.

ZIGGY: The scourge of seafood-related violence: Tuesday, the $4.95 Tuna Surprise is that the chef is preparing to cosh Ziggy over the head with a whole fish. That's the funniest tuna-surprise gag we've seen in a long, long time. Wednesday, a heavily bandaged waiter tells Ziggy, "I'd take it as a personal favor if you didn't order the lobster!"

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Rex delivers his long-awaited speech promoting socialized medicine. We're not saying that Graham Nolan's heart isn't in reforming the medical system--how could we, when Wednesday's part of the presentation features a visual aide saying "Medical Bills are a factor in nearly 50% of all personal bankruptcy filings!² in huge letters?--but he keeps shifting the action to show June wrestling with Rex's slide projector, with comical and dramatically lit expressions of annoyance on her face. Sort of like the diversionary wildlife panels in Mark Trail.

ZIPPY: Monday, professional nostalgist Griffy gives in to the inevitable and fetishizes the streetcar, with its "non-polluting energy source." Who put the juice in those overhead wires, Griffy, the Electricity Fairy? Thursday, Mr. Toad ruins happy hour by pissing all over the pinhead's concept of "happiness." Funny Paper is all about some Mr. Toad. A little less roadside Americana, Griffy, and a lot more M.T. Friday, the strip detours into roadside Cubanalia.

MARK TRAIL: Jack Elrod presents the dramatis personae for the upcoming Alaskan adventure. Monday: "a renegade grizzly" who, "having been wounded by a poacher, is in constant pain, and he takes out his fury by terrorizing other animals." A herd of bears is shown shunning the grumpy bruin. Tuesday: sixteen-year-old Trailbait Amanda Moore, in headband and demure-yet-snug sweater. "I've never met my real father," she says Wednesday, "but my mother used to tell me how he loved the outdoors . . . I guess I inherited some of his interest!" Thank you, E.O. Wilson! What else does Miss Amanda "Don't Call Me Mandy" Moore know about Daddy? "Before my mother died, she said my father had gotten into trouble with the law, and rather than go to jail, he just disappeared! Maybe someday I'll learn what happened!" And then you'll stop smiling like an idiot. Friday: magazine editor Bill Ellis, who phones in to tell Trail that he's "notified the local paper in Alaska about your trip . . . It will give you and the magazine a little publicity!" Why, for all the people who in Alaska who're gonna read an article about Alaska? Saturday: a crazy man in Alaska, who talks to a pet mouse.

Sunday's featured nature-related phenomenon: the soon-to-be-100-year-old National Wildlife Refuge System. "Protecting these pristine areas is like an insurance policy taken out by the nation to protect our natural resources for present and future generations." Yeah, yeah, yeah. Any oil in there anywheres?

THE PHANTOM: The Phantom leads the mystery pilots to the Rhodian search party, then hides in the bushes to see what comes next. "Next: Treachery Revealed." That's the whole week, man.

Sunday, the dark and lovely snake-based snake goddess Anuga continues to plague "Raz" Rakowski and his henchmen.

GARFIELD: Monday, Garfield eats a ghost hamburger. Tuesday, Garfield shreds the paper. Saturday, Garfield has eaten the household canary.

BLONDIE: "SKNX-XXX-XXX! snores Dagwood Monday. "SKNXXXX-XXXX-XXXX!"

CATHY: The circle will be unbroken: Irving agonizes over calling Cathy. Go on, Irv, pick up the phone. You two crazy kids deserve each other for always. Sunday, all Cathy can think about is a chocolate truffle.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Grandpa takes a story-hour shift at the library. "My first tale is one of danger and intrigue," he says Tuesday. "It's about a flophouse brawl, a Chicago heat wave, and a couple of drifters named Pete and Shorty."

LUANN: Brad gets more emergency-medical-type training and is reunited with his foxy classmate from the previous course, giving Greg Evans another excuse to draw a nubile teen. Her name is "Toni Daytona." Sounds like a stripper name to us. Brad is so stricken by lust that a miniature angel-style Brad appears on his shoulder to try to help coach him into Toni Daytona's pants.

HERB & JAMAAL: Tuesday, Jamaal tells a joke with the punchline "'saltine quackers,'" and Herb erupts in gales of laughter. "I must have really told a great joke," Jamaal thinks, "or Herb's a great friend for laughing at it." Hey, Stephen Bentley--Funny Paper hopes a lot of your friends read your strip.

SHOE: Tuesday, Cassatt & Brookins cast their laserlike wit on medical doctors and their poor penmanship.

BEETLE BAILEY: Wednesday, Beetle interrupts a stroll for a nap among the flowers after Miss Buxley describes the planting as a "bed of mums." "I should never have called it a 'bed,'" she sighs, as a string of Z's rises from Beetle's reclining form. That's what Beetle does with Miss Buxley and a "bed"? Looks like the Bailey-Buxley affair is grinding to a halt. Or not grinding to a halt.

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Monday, Willy mistakes Bondo and Dogmeat's plundering of a candlelight dinner for a prelude to interspecies miscegenation.

KUDZU: Wednesday, Doug Marlette attempts to render one figure in his drawing more sloppy and primitive than the rest. The resulting character looks oddly like Mr. ZIP.

APARTMENT 3-G: As punishment for Margo's illicit diary-reading, Lu Ann sentences her roommate to an indeterminate period of Community Service.

DENNNIS THE MENACE: "Did you know the Wilsons' phones are antiques?" Dennis asks Saturday. "They all have cords."

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Art by Vernon Carne executes a reasonable likeness of Bono, ". . . the stage name of Paul Hewson, the leader of U2, one of the most popular rock bands in the world. . . Bono's current mission is to help stamp out poverty and disease in struggling African countries." And to bust the F-bomb at award shows.

SALLY FORTH: Sunday, Ted wears a cowboy hat in the living room for no good reason. Half of Funny Paper is now looking for the spy-cam Francesco Marciuliano planted in our house.

YOU CAN WITH BEAKMAN & JAX: Doomsday is officially nigh: "Dear Beakman, How does an atomic bomb work?" asks "Room 27, 3rd Grade, Lincoln Elementary School, Cupertino, California." After calling atomic explosions "horrible," Beakman goes ahead and tells you how to detonate one--at least inside your mind. "WHAT YOU NEED: Cantaloupe - good imagination - help from a grown-up." Now have your grown-up cut the melon in half and scoop it out, so you can contemplate the halves. "Imagine that you can clap those two halves together and jam them into becoming one big chunk of cantaloupe," Beakman says, glossing over the fact that they were one big chunk of cantaloupe to begin with. "If your cantaloupes were 25 kilogram chunks of the metals uranium-235 or plutonium, you'd have an atomic bomb." Having destabilized the Lincoln Elementary School, Beakman then tacks on a lesson in Realpolitik, disguised as a lesson in appeasement: "[I]f someone does have plutonium or uranium-235, well, then, that's someone you should get to know and talk to. Talking is a much better idea than atomic bombs." The column ends on a photo of Nagasaki going up in a mushroom cloud. Then Jax, relegated to footnote duty, offers an upside-down and completely untrue coda: "No one ever wants to have an atomic bomb explode again. Every once in a while it's good to say that out loud."

KIDCITY: Sunday, sesameworkshop.org teaches us about the first animal in space, Laika the dog, who orbited Earth in a Sputnik II capsule. Now we get it.

HAL FOSTER'S PRINCE VALIANT: Ink-spatter volcanic debris continues to rain from the sky as Yuan Chen, the gentle scholar of Cathay, steers the trireme into the admiral's warship at ramming speed. "At Yuan Chen's command the trireme pulls back, and the shattered victim sinks." But how to deal with the rest of the fleet? "The volcano-darkened sky is lit by cascades of falling embers--and they illuminate Yuan Chen's imagination as well. He calls for pots of oil and cooking grease to be brought up from below." A few catapult-loads of inflammable material later, and a boatload of Romans is burning alive. "The chronicles record that Yuan Chen must make an example of only one other vessel before the imperial warships break off their attack--defeated by lard and chicken fat." Below decks, flush with triumph, the gentle scholar of Cathay wordlessly studies a cantaloupe.

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