Isaac Newton: a Man, a Plan, a Tasty Snack
Dec. 16-22, 2002
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: The new bunny sheds. April resents Mrs. Sobinski. For worse!
THE PHANTOM: The Phantom rides the Latter-Day Crusaders' crippled getaway plane all the way down to a splash panel of a fiery runway crash. "The evil criminals need my help," he tells President Luaga on the radio Monday, before Wednesday's high-impact impact. The president buries his face in his desk blotter, out of either despair or boredom. Off camera, after the smash-up, the Phantom drags the unconscious crusaders out of the wreckage. Then on Saturday, he lurks by the ambulance, leotard torn and sooty, with a smirk on his face. "Next: Epilog." That's like "catalog" or "dialog."
Sunday, the Phantom tells "Raz" (aka "Killer") Rakowski why the Mori are worried about being on the island of the goddess Anuga. "She's a snake goddess!" he says. "And not exactly the mild and benevolent kind! According to legend, she can control all snakes, and she can transform into a snake!" "All right!" Rakowski says. "This is Anuga Island! But what are they afraid of?"
MARK TRAIL: Rusty makes trouble. "Most people have never seen a deer inside a house, like she was yesterday," he tells Judy as he snaps photos of Sweetie the Unwelcome Pet Deer. "Could I get a picture of your pet deer by your fireplace?" Judy, remembering the beating she got last time her husband found traces of the deer indoors, demurs. Instead, she and Rusty decide to snap pictures of each other. Thursday, deer-hating abusive husband Tom catches them in the act. "What's going on here?" he bellows Friday, shaking his fist. "Oh, hi, Mr. Morgan," the guileless Rusty replies, "I'm just showing Mrs. Morgan how to use my camera." "Well," Mr. Morgan says Saturday, "you'll have to leave, and don't come back here again unless I invite you." "Yes'ir!" Rusty says.
Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: all the "wonders of creation." A flight of ducks goes by as a doe gives suck to a fawn. At least it's not some jive about Jesus bleeding all over the holly berries.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Doug freaking Marlette. Sporting a serious combover, of the Chevy Chase I-don't-really-have-a-combover-I-just-happen-to-have-a-big-old-hank-of-hair-flopping-across-my-bare-dome variety. At least, that's how it looks in the Art by Vernon Carne. Maybe Vernon Carne doesn't like Doug Marlette either. Featured quote: "A . . . political cartoon can change the way you see and think." Nice ellipsis. Actual quote: "A whopping big paycheck and an undeserved Pulitzer for endlessly drawing the same political cartoon can change the way you see and think."
YOU CAN WITH BEAKMAN & JAX: "Dear Jax, Does your tongue really stick to a cold metal pole? Harold Pierson, Wilson, California." Fuck yeth, it doeth. Hurth like a thonofabith. "If you watch TV (and like, who doesn't?)," Jax writes, "you're probably going to have to sit through a holiday movie called A Christmas Story." Probably going to have to sit through? Come on, Jax, show A Christmas Story a little love. If it wasn't for A Christmas Story, you would never have had an excuse to write about people's tongues sticking to metal poles.
HAL FOSTER'S PRINCE VALIANT: Fishburg's guerrilla campaign of psychological warfare begins taking its toll on Justinian's forces. Prince Valiant gets angry at Yuan Chen for talking about how his pet crickets are acting agitated. They're not just crickets, Galan explains--they're little seismographs. "Crickets can sense the motion of the earth," he says. Suspended in a cage, on board a ship, even. Those are some sensitive crickets the Chinese have got.
REX MORGAN, M.D.: With the nearest hospital on fire and the blizzard continuing to pound Philadelphia, Sasha the turban-wearing cabbie keeps looking for a place to take the deathly ill John. The sick man is thirsty, so Thursday Sasha has an inspiration: "How about snow? I have a large paper cup under my seat!" Friday, Rex hops out of the cab to scoop some snow off a parked car. Sunday, faithful Sasha keeps on driving. "With this ice, I can only creep along like a snail!"
APARTMENT 3-G: Margo, still believing that Lu Ann is stealing FBI Pete's heart, looks to Tommie for tea and sympathy. "Do you think Pete prefers Lu Ann because . . . she's weak and I'm strong?" Margo asks Thursday. Not a bad insight into the G-Man's psyche, Margo. He does seem to relish the chance to help poor, helpless, freaked-out Lu Ann. Not so good an insight into yourself, though. Try this: Pete prefers Lu Ann because she's weak and you're a nasty, conniving bitch. Tommie, for some reason, opts to attack the other half of the proposition: "I don't think of Lu Ann as weak, Margo," she says, as Margo clutches her teacup and shows off a little bonus nose-length, which makes her a dead ringer for Maria Callas. Saturday, Tommie tries to offer Margo some moral guidance. "You know what always makes me feel better?" she says. "Helping other people." "No wonder you're a nurse," Margo says. "What makes me feel better is helping myself . . . to more of something I like!"
MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Monday, it's "One Christmas, young Davy Crockett was traumatized when he saw his mommy kissing Santa Anna." As imagined by Mike Peters, the eleven-time president of Mexico is not a braid-bedecked army commander but a scruffy, bewhiskered Frito Bandito type. We're not just busting Peters for ignorance and bigotry here--we're busting him for cartoon malpractice. The text of this gag could never be funny. But a full-dress drawing of the Napoleon of the West would have had far more comic value than a generic Messican bad hombre. Tuesday, Grimm rolls his eyes at hearing "White Christmas" on the radio. "We dogs can only dream of Christmas in black and white," he thinks. It's two canards for the price of one! Peters is conflating his mistaken belief that dogs can't see color with his mistaken belief that human dreams are restricted to black and white. Wednesday, a hunchback celebrates "Over the Hump Day." Who calls it "Over the Hump Day"? It's just "Hump Day." Which would be more pleasing to the hunchback anyway.
MARY WORTH: Joy Tully lays bare the terrible secrets of Smitty's Chop House: "They pushed one specialty item without Smitty's consent and World War Three broke out!" We waited three weeks for this? To find out that Silas Smedlap's son-in-law had slashed the price of the rack of lamb? Rack of lamb, Mary interjects Wednesday, is "my favorite!" Oh, go stick your heads in a jar of mint jelly, you tedious old bats. How 'bout some silence of the lamb special? Friday, Tully calls to Mary from her car. "Follow me home Mary! . . .It's only a few blocks, and I haven't really reached the point of this meeting!" Oh, you haven't really reached the point of this meeting. God forbid you should get to the point of the meeting in LESS THAN A MONTH. The new rabbit in For Better or For Worse is going to die of old age before Saunders & Giella get to the fucking point.
HI & LOIS: Tuesday, Hi shows off his long-term memory: "My old high school girlfriend's phone number was: 555-3007." Hi used to date the telephone operator, it seems. Wednesday, Dot and Ditto go chasing after Mr. Thurston, who's carrying a lunch pail and wearing a Santa suit off to his new second job at the department store. The moon and the stars are out, but Thirsty is toting a lunch pail. Three guesses what's in the thermos. Friday, Chip and Lois go shopping. "I don't know what to get Jessica for Christmas," he says. "How about jewelry?" Lois suggests. Mrs. Flagston is encouraging her teenage son to buy girls jewelry? Big Pimpin' Lois!
JUMP START: Doctor Appleby calls up Santa and tries to pitch him on doing a reality-TV show. Note to Robb Armstrong: The magical-realism thing works better if the "realism" half is not the most played-out pop-culture reference you can find.
DOONESBURY: Garry Trudeau makes fun of college kids for rioting over football games instead of rioting over the war with Iraq. Two words, Garry: volunteer Army.
DILBERT: Monday, Dilbert calculates that he has six months to live. Come on, Scott Adams. Kill him. Kill Dilbert. Thursday, the Grim Reaper shows up. "You don't look grim," Dilbert says. "Unlike you, I love my job," the Reaper beams. Friday, the Reaper drags Dilbert to death's door. "I'm over my limit today, so I'm doing catch-and-release," the jolly Reaper says. Saturday, Dilbert tries to savor his escape. "Technically, I was dead for eight minutes," he says. "I don't know why I wasn't afraid." Sitting in his cube alone, he finally gets it. He's already dead. Genius! Sunday, newly introduced character "Paul Ooshen* (*say it fast)" stinks up and greases up Alice's cube till she gives in to his demands. Note to Scott Adams: "say it fast" = pun isn't good enough.
GASOLINE ALLEY: Joel and Rufus keep wrecking Santa's toy shop by throwing clunky boldface-emphasized gags into the machinery. Tuesday: "Why have you got on 2 jackets?" "Th' paint can say, fo' best results, put on two coats!" Wednesday: "He thinks he's Santy Claus' big helper!" "Yeah! But he's only a subordinate Claus!" Like Rufus knows what a subordinate clause is.
CURTIS: Thursday, Michelle's singing rival, "Queen" Khalid, turns out to be . . . "Gulp! A little girl!!" Is it time for an overwritten series of explanatory captions, Ray Billingsley? Why, yes, it is: "Rumor says a truly gifted talent comes along once every blue moon, which makes it all the more rare. This night, the moon must have been cobalt. 'Queen' Khalid was born with a musical ability way beyond her seven years. When she was finished, there wasn't a dry eye in the place."
BARNEY GOOGLE & SNUFFY SMITH: Creeping along a mountain ledge Tuesday, Snuffy is bothered by the same thing that bothers Funny Paper when we drive the Penn Turnpike: the "Watch for Falling Rocks" sign. "It ain't like we got a lotta options if we see one!!" Snuffy declares. Wednesday, Loweezy is dismayed by Jughaid's grades. "You got an F in art?!!" she asks. John Rose, Funny Paper notices, has created a little boldface-letters constellation in the word balloon, so the F flows neatly down into the art. An accident, we're sure.
LUANN: Monday: Hi-tech gadgets don't make the family Christmas photo any easier. Tuesday: Tuesday: Hi-tech gadgets don't make it cheaper or easier to get Christmas cards. Wednesday: Chubby Brad wants Krispy Kremes for his present. Thursday: Men are hard to shop for. Friday: People get lots of Christmas cards from people they don't really know. Saturday: Electric Christmas lights sure can be frustrating. Sunday: Brad is a cheap and thoughtless gift-giver.
MARMADUKE: Saturday, Marmaduke humps Dottie under the mistletoe.
SALLY FORTH: Francesco "Clip 'n' Save" Marciuliano presents "Sally's Guide to Holiday Business Parties": "Don't use this time to air grievances . . . Always maintain a professional demeanor . . . Seek out and thank your boss for hosting the party . . . Don't spend the next day bad-mouthing partygoers." Each with a gently ironic semi-undermining splash panel. The half of Funny Paper whose employer thought it was a reasonable labor practice to require work on Sunday the 22nd in exchange for closing the office on Tuesday the 24th, with no additional comp time, is looking for something more than gentle irony here. Luckily, Funny Paper picked up two more DVDs of Office Space over the holiday weekend, to go with the one we already had.
B.C.: Curls is selling a "New Democrat Doll." "What does he do?" Peter asks. "The jury's still out on that," Curls says. Last week, it was a New Republican doll. Howsabout an Old Cartoonist Doll?
ONE BIG HAPPY: Monday, Joe demonstrates the purity of his scholarship again, with a report on the contributions of Isaac Newton. The title: "Isaac Newton: A Man, a Plan, a Tasty Fig Snack." "So you didn't bother to read about him first?" his father asks. "Nah," Joe says. "This way's quicker!" Maybe Funny Paper will take a shot at this method.
BEETLE BAILEY: Thursday, General Halftrack is unable to spot a Stealth Bomber. Is it because he's an Army?
DENNIS THE MENACE: Thursday, Dennis microwaves dog food.
JUMBLE: FRENCH HORNS, BLEW HER TOP, TO GREAT "LENGTHS," ILLUMINATING, "CULTIVATED," DIRT CHEAP,
HERB & JAMAAL: Jamaal lacks the manual dexterity required to eat a spaghetti meal without getting wound up in pasta. Yet he was in the NBA.
CATHY: "Never trust a woman during the holidays," says one of Cathy's officemates, after witnessing a passive-aggressive tussle over gift giving. "never trust a woman during the holidays." Women everywhere will thank you for that sentiment, Cathy Guisewite.
KID CITY: In its holiday roundup, Kid City identifies Kwanzaa as one of the season's "religious celebrations." It is? Next thing they'll be saying Christmas is one too.
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