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Funny Paper

Death or Citizenship

Nov. 4-10, 2002

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 11/13/2002

PATRIOTIC DUTY DEP'T.: Turnout is light in Election Day on the comics pages. The politically engaged base is especially unmotivated: In Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau spends the week doing football gags; in The Boondocks, Aaron McGruder does a standard Bush put-down, not pegged to the election. Even among the strips that do participate in the civic ritual, the gags are about non-participation. Dennis the Menace laments the fact that Ruff can't vote even though he's registered. In B.C., Peter apologetically takes down an old "Vote Peter for Prez" sign. "Leave it up . . . " Cute Chick says. "It never bothered anyone before." Snuffy Smith is proud to have cast his ballot but disgusted with the options. "Thar all rascals, Lukey, I didn't vote fer 'em!!" he says fiercely. "I voted ag'inst 'em!!" But the most alienated member of the electorate is Thirsty Thurston of Hi & Lois. "Remember, every vote counts!" Hi admonishes his neighbor. "Oh yeah," Thirsty shoots back, "what about last year?" Mr. Thurston's so upset about the 2000 election, he can't even remember when it was.

PATRIOTIC DUTY DEP'T., PART TWO / PART DEUX: Remembrance Day, aka Canadian Veterans Day, isn't till next week, but Lynn Johnston can't wait. Sunday, Grandpa Jim puts on his medals, buckles up his overcoat, and joins his fellow WWII survivors in marching through the rain.



GASOLINE ALLEY: With Walt finally rounded up, bruised and with his clothes in tatters from going walkabout, Jim Scancarelli finally stops pussyfooting around the senility question. "Why did you go out so late at night?" Phyllis asks Friday. "Joe and Eloise wanted me to go for a walk with them," Walt replies forlornly. "But, Walt!" Phyllis says. "They passed away 25 years ago!"

HERB & JAMAAL: Herb pitches a tantrum Tuesday over the funny pages. "Oh, man! I can't believe this!" he hollers. "This comic strip artist put a second 'T' on the word 'out' by mistake! What an unforgiveable faux pas! Now he's ruined the joke with his incompetence and spoiled my reading enjoyment!" "Little things affect little minds," Jamaal thinks in the background. Don't you dare try to outflank Funny Paper, Stephen Bentley. Nobody ever spells "out" with two T's, even by accident. Also, you misspelled "unforgivable."

THE BOONDOCKS: "Is it still, um, what's-it-called season?" Huey asks Thursday, November 7. " . . . That game. The real boring one -- with the ball and -- people standing around." Nope. Hasn't been for a while.

"They should just drop Eddie Murphy bombs on Iraq," Caesar declares Sunday. "You know, like 'Metro,' 'Holy Man,' 'Beverly Hills Cop 3' . . . "

THE PHANTOM: The secret agents of the Knights of the Livonian and Teutonic Orders ignore their throbbing, skull-marked jaws and the Phantom's get-out-of-Dodge note, choosing instead to gird their loins for a rematch with the Ghost Who Already Kicked Their Asses Once. This time, the one with the glasses, Arsenault, has equipped himself with a sword. "Next . . . legends clash!"

Sunday, the escape of "Raz" Rakowski continues to continue. Like Boss Callahan before him, he's fleeing Bangallan justice by boat. But it's a totally different plot line, see, because this time the Phantom is in a Mori sea canoe, rather than stowed away on the getaway ship.

FAMILY CIRCUS: "Three things make me laugh," Dolly announces Thursday. "Jokes, cartoons, and tickles." Note: "jokes" and "cartoons" are two separate categories. This, Funny Paper suspects, is a crucial insight into the work of Bil Keane.

MOMMA: Saturday, Francis is rejected by a loan officer. "You were wrong, Normy," he says as he ambles out of the bank. "A 'second' mortgage is not an old, used one."

SALLY FORTH: The suits upstairs send out orders that all employees must be at their desks by 8:30 a.m. Sally is outraged. Here is what working-class outrage sounds like on Friday:

Sally: The best way to motivate workers is to give them the necessary tools and knowledge to inspire them to do their best.

Ralph: That only works if the company has full faith in its staff.

Sally: The company hired these people. Doesn't that indicate a level of faith?

Ralph: That only indicates a benefit of the doubt. When we hire you, we're not saying "We like what we see" but rather "Let's see what you've got."

Sally: And the best way to see what your staff has is to mandate what they can and can't do?

Ralph: Nothing like enforced boundaries to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.

That's telling 'em, Created by Greg Howard! Funny Paper can't wait for the revolution. After post-industrial capitalism gets overthrown, everyone will be free to make art, the way Created by Greg Howard is.

PRINCE VALIANT: More of the history and folkways of the secret city of Icthyopolis, aka Fishburg. The Ichthyopolitans offer Nathan and Aleta what they say is the standard choice for visitors: "death or citizenship."

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: April's pet bunny falls ill. For worse.

CURTIS: Mr. Wilkins treats Curtis to some unsympathetic parenting on Sunday. "I can't give you advice on impressing a girl," he tells his elder son, "because I never had to impress any girls! Girls loved me!"

CATHY: Saturday, Cathy's mom rebukes her for acting like a nagger.

BEETLE BAILEY: It's Fat Men in Their Underwear Friday, as Cookie confronts Sarge about his 11 p.m. "midnight snack." "My stomach is still on daylight-saving time," Sgt. Snorkel tells the frowning chef. The snack appears to consist of a plate of meatballs and a quart of milk. Despite being stripped to his boxer shorts, Cookie still wears his apron and toque.

Sunday, the men go camping and act out an antiwar parable with the forest insects.

MARK TRAIL: Nefarious cat-accountant Jim Cole hurriedly transfers the money he stole from the feline into an offshore account and prepares to take it on the lam. Before he can leave, Trail confronts him.

Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: Fire! And the CSI: Wilderness investigators who see if it was a natural phenomenon: "Fire police can usually pinpoint the beginning of a fire, and DNA tests from cigarette butts and food scraps can help identify suspects."

YOU CAN WITH BEAKMAN & JAX: Stephanie Mueller of Old Hickory, Tennessee, wants to know why shirts or pants shrink in the wash. Mercifully, Jax fields this one, so Beakman can't deploy another microscopic close-up photo of his underpants. Instead, Jax presents a microscopic close-up photo of Beakman's jeans.

DILBERT: Sunday, Dilbert is overcome when a trio of his superiors starts quibbling about the decorative details of his PowerPoint presentation. "What we need is a committee to set some standards for background colors," one concludes. "What we need," Dilbert replies, "is a meteor to pulverize you three pointy-haired, micro-managing nitwits." Then comes the post-meeting coda panel. "If you didn't move your mouth, how did it get out?" Wally asks. "It came out of my ear hole," Dilbert says. Not to nitpick some more ourselves, but does Dilbert have a mouth, technically speaking?


BLONDIE: Monday, the lights go out and Dagwood falls asleep. Friday, Blondie tells Dagwood over the breakfast table that she's posted photographs on her website. "He's been staring at his computer and drooling like that all morning," an office underling tells Mr. Dithers.

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Monday, it's "Iraqi & Bullwinkle." Sigh. Here we go again. Bullwinkle, you are avenged!

Wednesday, Mike Peters does a pun-gag about how a porn magazine for deer could be called "Playdoe," which could be confused with "Play-Doh." And, hey, if there were a porn magazine for morons like Mike Peters, they could call it "Play-Duh." Saturday, "The Mummy Returns" . . . a sweater.

GARFIELD: Tuesday, Garfield makes lemonade.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Wednesday, Rowdy the dog eats and then expels a toy car.

MARMADUKE: Tuesday, Marmaduke upsets an end table, breaking a vase.

ZIGGY: Thursday, the self-aware everyman scans the funny papers. Saturday, three of his pets sit on his favorite chair.

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Wednesday, "Whose picture do you think they'd put on the thousand dollar pizza?" Yours, Willy.

KUDZU: Saturday, the Rev. Will B. Dunn sits beside a sign saying "Thank you for not boring!" Practice what you preach, Marlette. Practice what you preach.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Tuesday, Rex tells his wife she's grounded. Wednesday, it's acronyms-and-associations time. Rex is flying off to Philly. "It's the annual meeting of Physicians for a National Health Program!" he tells June. "I wasn't going to go, but John Woods is suddenly presenting a paper on A.D.M.I.T! Rex Morgan, comma, Socialist! Mrs. Morgan refuses to be left out. "I have to hear this presentation, Rex!" she beams on Thursday. "And you know how I love Philadelphia!" Friday, she keeps lobbying: "Rex, this P.N.H.P. meeting could start a groundswell for health care reform!" Um, it could have. Maybe if you'd hit the polls on Election Day, Nurse Morgan. Not now. Saturday, the scene shifts to the P.N.H.P. convention reception desk. ""Has. . . cough. . . Dr. Morgan. . . cough checked in yet?" "No, sir . . . but you should see a doctor about that cough!"

APARTMENT 3-G: Margo has a week of man trouble. Saturday, she admires herself in the mirror and thinks she has a choice. Sunday, she talks things over with her birth mother. "I'm not a very good damsel in distress," she tells Gabriella. "You think he wants a 'clamshell'?" Gabriella asks.

MARY WORTH: Mary assesses the psyche of Silas Smedlap. "I'm convinced my neighbor is a mean-spirited old man. . ." she tells Dr. Jeff on Monday, "who takes sadistic delight in tormenting people!" Wednesday and Thursday, the doc proposes marriage. "Have a heart, Mary!" he cries Thursday. "Must I pine for you until they lay the sod over me?" Mary puts him off. "I'm just too lazy to change the monograms on all of my pillowcases!" she says Sunday, fixing the doctor with her wide blue eyes.

LUANN: Luann learns that Tiffany feigned sickness to get out of going to the Q-T Boyz concert with Gunther, then used Gunther's tickets to go with Aaron Hill instead. Luann gets mad.

DENNIS THE MENACE: Friday, Dennis prays to God. ". . . and, do you think you could find another neighborhood for ol' Margaret?" Saturday, Dennis tells his mother he's planning to grease the bannister.

NON SEQUITUR: Monday, it's "The terrible irony of trombone players unable to afford big apartments." See, because the trombone slide can't move in the confined space and so it knocks over the coffee and breaks the window and smashes the picture glass. Ironic. It's like rain on your wedding day It's a free ride when you've already paid It's the good advice that you just didn't take. It's like a trombone in an inadequately sized apartment.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Georgia O'Keeffe. Who looks, as rendered by Vernon Carne, eerily like Mike Wallace.

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