Oct. 28-Nov. 3, 2002
FUNNY PAPER PRESENTS THE FUNNY PAPER HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTEST: Dennis the Menace wears a devil outfit, accompanied by Joey in a full-body pumpkin suit. Grade: Dennis, C; Joey, B. Various neighborhood kids in the Middletons wear tie-string masks, face paint, and hats. Grade: D. Various neighborhood kids in Jump Start do Haley Joel Osment, Hannibal Lecter, a severed-head f/x look, and Joe's mother. Grades: C, D minus, A minus, B minus. A trio of strangers in Gasoline Alley are Frankenstein's monster, a pirate, and Walt Disney's Stitch from Walt Disney's Lilo & Stitch. Grades: C, A minus, F. In The Boondocks, Cindy shows up in full-on pimpwear, with leopard accents and a big plume on her hat ("Trizick-or-trizeat!!"). Grade: A. Kit Walker, in The Phantom, once again puts on purple tights and claims to be an immortal crime-fighter. A classic, even if it didn't work for Billy Zane. Grade: B plus. Zippy the Pinhead just straps on a clown nose. Grade: F. In Sally Forth, Hillary and her friend go, uh, forth as heroic firefighters with helmets saying "NYFD." Note to Created by Greg Howard: The pandering would be more effective if you spelled FDNY right. Grade: F. Curtis wears no costume at all, but accessorizes with a platoon of grim-looking men in quasi-cop outfits. Grade: B. Dolly, in Family Circus is a witch. "It's a witch's hat, not a dunce cap!" she tells Billy. No, it's a dunce cap. No, wait, in your family, it's a mortarboard. Grade: C minus. Dot and Ditto of Hi & Lois are a cat and Frankenstein's monster. Grade: C minus, and son of C minus. Finally, in One Big Happy, Ruthie goes door-to-door in a witch costume--grade: C minus--while Joe shows up in shoulder pads, toting a football helmet and wearing a No. 19 jersey. It's the Late Johnny Unitas, back from the dead! Grade: A plus! Winner: Joe!
IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE HYPOCRISY DEP'T: Saturday, The Middletons pokes fun the Christmas season expanding into the Halloween season. The same day, Jump Start has Santa Claus checking into the hospital with a heart attack from his preseason overwork. Both Jump Start and The Middletons spent the first half of the week doing premature Halloween gags.
UNCLE ART'S FUNLAND SNICKERS DEP'T: "Can you spell 15 four-letter words using only the letters in the word 'football'?" BALL, LOAF, TOOL . . .
CHOCOLATE MESS DEP'T: Tuesday in Dilbert, Dogbert the Attorney says "We need to convince a judge that you're dumber than chocolate pants at an outdoor Las Vegas photographers convention." Funny Paper hasn't heard a snappy statement this dumb in a long time. How long? How long is a Chinaman's name? Wednesday's Cathy features "Halloween Chocolate." The only thing dumber than wearing chocolate pants at an outdoor Las Vegas photographers convention would be wearing chocolate pants in a Cathy comic, because Cathy would eat your pants on account of she likes chocolate a lot and can't control herself. On Friday, Mary Worth is mad enough to melt Godiva: "Put down that phone, doctor! before I forget I'm a lady and turn you into a dripping imitation of a chocolate bunny!" And in the Sunday color supplement Doonesbury, a high school newspaper journalist quizzes the football team: "So what do steroids taste like? I've heard they're chocolatey."
DEP'T OF CORRECTIONS DEP'T.: Alert reader "Suzii" notes that last week Funny Paper identified the Dr. Corey who squires Mary Worth around as Drew Corey, when he really is Jeff Corey. Suzii is correct. Funny Paper has never been able to tell our Coreys apart.
DEP'T OF CORRECTIONS DEP'T, EPISODE II, FEATURING READER MAIL:
I understand that covering the fast pace world of newspaper comics a detail might slip by unnoticed, but Greg Howard has not been involved with "Sally Forth" since 1999. According to the King Features site, "Sally Forth" is written by Francesco Marciuliano and drawn by Craig Macintosh.
Funny Paper replies: Sally Forth is written by "Created by Greg Howard." Funny Paper accidentally left off the "Created by." Funny Paper regrets the error.
SUN CROSSWORD PUZZLE OREO WATCH DEP'T: Friday, "Sunshine Hydrox alternative."
NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE OREO WATCH DEP'T: Friday, "Snack since 1912."
DECONTEXTUALIZED TEXT PANEL DEP'T: Saturday's Blondie: "That dripping was driving me crazy."
THE BOONDOCKS: How to do a good premature Halloween gag: "I've decided to really go all out for Halloween this year," Caesar says Monday. "What are you dressing as?" Huey asks. "Your moms," Caesar says. "I'm so mad I fell for that," Huey says. "Tough part's gonna be the giant horns she has on her back . . . " Caesar muses.
CATHY: How to do a bad premature Halloween gag: Monday, Cathy laments her inability to avoid gorging on candy.
ONE BIG HAPPY: On Halloween, an unprepared neighbor gives the kids nicotine gum.
MARMADUKE: Wednesday, Marmaduke goes over to the neighbor's house and sits in the neighbor-man's lounge chair and the neighbor calls Phil and says "Winslow, I'm coming over there to read my newspaper in your chair," because, well, he can't read in his own chair because there's a big dog in it!
MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Monday: "Pavlov's Cat." How about "Schroedinger's Cartoonist"? We'll seal Mike Peters inside a box with a poison-gas dispenser triggered by atomic decay. As long as the box isn't opened for observation, Mike Peters won't be able to write cartoons! Tuesday, it's "Driving Miss Daisy," with Daisy Duck being driven somewhere by grim-faced mobsters. This gag doesn't make any sense at all. But it does compel us, once again, to make Peters' characters suffer for his crimes against other cartoonists.
HERB & JAMAAL: Stephen Bentley continues to let great black writers do his work for free. Monday, over panels of Uhuru being ostracized in the school lunchroom, it's Zora Neale Hurston being hijacked for caption material.
BARNEY GOOGLE & SNUFFY SMITH: Monday, Snuffy joins the parade of cartoon characters with back trouble. Unlike the flatlanders of Flatland, though, Mr. Smif doesn't let the pain double him over or keep him pinned to the couch. Instead, he stands extra-upright, tottering around Hootin' Holler with his nose in the air. And in that mountain-folk spirit of keepin' things movin', John Rose refuses to milk the pain scenario for a week like everybody else does. By Tuesday, having evidently self-medicated from his jug, Snuffy is pain-free and palavering with the sheriff and the parson like usual.
APARTMENT 3-G: While baby-sitting FBI Gretchen, Lu Ann yearns guiltily for FBI Pete. Meanwhile Margo, out on her date with Jay the winemaker, thinks half-guiltily of the G-man while Jay makes his move. Then she lets Jay get some love in the elevator. How much love can he get, if they're only going to the third floor? Enough, it turns out: Sunday, the elevator doors open on Margo and Jay's lip-lock, just in time for the departing FBI Pete and Gretchen to witness the whole thing. "Why is Margo kissing that man, Daddy?" Gretchen asks.
THE PHANTOM: SMAK! CRASH! SMAK! CLICK! And that is that for the ersatz archeologists from the secret society of Knights of the Livonian and Teutonic Orders.
Sunday, "Raz" Razowski--aka "Killer" Razowski, according to a caption--has completely escaped.
GASOLINE ALLEY: Uncle Walt wanders off again. Alas, Skeezix finds him.
DENNIS THE MENACE: Friday, Dennis tells his friends how good his mom is, and then he brings them over to watch her do her thing in the bathroom.
ZIGGY: Thursday, the roundheaded everyman introduces his parrot to Zbiggy. "He's a refugee from an eastern European comic strip!" Zbiggy looks exactly like Ziggy except he has a moustache. Wow, Ziggy with a moustache. What's next? Ziggy with a hat?
LUANN: Gunther keeps planning to take Tiffany to the sold-out Q-TBoyz concert. Luann has a vision of Gunther transmogrified into a hunk. Tiffany bails on Gunther at the last minute. Funny Paper can't imagine where this one is going.
CLASSIC PEANUTS: Charlie Brown goes to confront his pediatrician, a school board member, about the banning of Miss Helen Sweetstory's lastest Bunny-Wunnies book.
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Mrs. Saltzman gives Deanna an egg timer, so she can give the baby 10 minutes to cry before getting up in the middle of the night. Friday, Michael sees it by the bedside and momentarily thinks it's for timing his conjugal performance--though Lynn Johnston slyly doesn't say so. Um, Mike, you've got a baby squalling through the night, and Deanna's been using Tucks pads to relieve the lingering pain of parturition. Offhand, Funny Paper would say you're gonna be needing a calendar, not an egg-timer. For better!
MARK TRAIL: Mark confronts Jim Cole with before-and-after pictures of Anne's million-dollar pussy. Jim claims ignorance of the feline switcheroo, and Mark goes back to Lost Forest to mull things over. "It must have something to do with the money Anne will eventually inherit," he says Thursday as he drives up. "Jim may owe someone a lot of money," he tells Cherry Friday, as two deer dominate the foreground. "I overheard him telling someone over the phone he would have the money by the end of the day! Apparently, he plans to get the money from the bank . . . maybe from Anne's account! . . He may be cooking the books!" Saturday, as the camera pulls back to show a great blue heron, Mark decides to check his sources in the demimonde. "I have a writer friend in Las Vegas," he says. "Maybe he can check on my theory!"
Sunday's featured animal: the 30-odd exquisitely sensitive species of catfish. "A catfish that is found in murky, silt-laden water has little trouble locating food . . . For its whole body is loaded with sensory organs that help it to 'home in' on its dinner."
JUMBLE:IN THE "BULL PEN," A NIGHTMARE, ICE CUBES, A PIN-UP GIRL, WHICH IS WITCH, IN A REAL "FIX."
REX MORGAN, M.D.: Monday, Marsha Coleman opens the envelope that Berna found among her papers. "An insurance policy?" she says. "I don't believe it!" "It's a paid-up policy," Berna says proudly Tuesday, as the widow weeps tears of joy. "I called the company." Lesson: Our heartless American medical-insurance system may let your husband die of colon cancer, but the benevolent life-insurance system will be there to make it all better! Thursday, to finish taking care of the Coleman family, June gives the wayward Dana a referral to a rehab program. Sunday, a stony-faced Rex rebukes June for chasing dangerous armed robbers while "trying to play detective!" You're supposed to be playing doctor, Nurse Gale!
MARY WORTH: While Dr. Jeff gets bossy and possessive, Mary brews up her cocoa and her wrath. "For what it's worth, Jeff, I highly resent being told who I can or cannot permit to use my phone or drop in for coffee!" she snaps Friday. "Then I trust you won't mind if I use this to call a cab!" Corey huffs. "Put down that phone, Doctor!" Mary barks, brandishing a cup and saucer. "Before I forget I'm a lady and turn you into a dripping imitation of a chocolate bunny!" By Sunday, the ever-sensible Mary has subsided into an analytical mood. "It hurt to realize you thought I could be taken in by Silas Smedlap's flirting!" she says. But that's not the real problem, she says. "You were too busy being jealous to see through him!" she says. "Heaven help me! . . . In my zeal to aid a lonesome old man, I've inherited a sadist for a neighbor!"
PRINCE VALIANT: The Icthyopolitans continue to tell the by-now-Icthyobvious history of their volcano-buried, semi-submerged city.
SALLY FORTH: Sunday, with Hillary out of the house, Sally and Ted rent adult videos.
THE COLL-EGG-TIBLE EGGERS FAMILY: Baltimore's own Allie Linn, age 10, gets political: "Egg-Ron: 'Cracked'"
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