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Funny Paper

I Want to Quit My Job and Travel

Sept. 9-15, 2002

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 9/18/2002

9-11 IS A JOKE DEP'T: Of all the funnies commemorating the anniversary of last year's attacks, only The Boondocks does it by making a funny. "We are not scared," the TV says to the Freeman family. "You tell 'em!" Grandpa says. "But I ain't leavin' the house . . . "

9-11 IS NOT A JOKE (TODAY) DEP'T.: Funny Paper had not thought there was much danger of forgetting about September 11. Nevertheless, plenty of cartoonists turn away from their stockpile of gags, dip their pens in ashes, and make a point of Remembering September 11. In Family Circus, Dolly prays, weeping, below an image of the burning towers. "September Mourn," a caption inside the circle puns dolefully. In Dennis the Menace, Dennis, wearing a fireman's hat, weeps under the numbers 9-1-1, over the caption, "A time to remember." Sally Forth and her family troop off to church, with raised eyebrows and annoying half-smiles on their faces, past a today's-sermon sign reading "Remembering: ONE YEAR LATER." Gasoline Alley takes the occasion to do another holiday-style splash panel, this one a head shot of the Statue of Liberty, surrounded by engraving-type trim that makes the whole composition look like some new kind of greenback. Where the dollar numbers would go, in little wreathlike ovals in the top corners, the strip says, "Permit us to pause a moment to . . . Remember and pray!" That's what they're putting on the dollar once "In God We Trust" gets struck down. In the midst of Curtis' ongoing plot line about the perils of inoculation, the family pauses to watch a Sept. 11 commemoration on a TV in the pediatrician's waiting room. "And you were whining about getting a needle!" Curtis tells Barry. In One Big Happy, Joe and Ruthie look up into a night sky filled with white lettering spelling out the names of the dead. "Joe, why is the sky so bright tonight?" "Angels." Feh!

The most startling take on the day, though, comes from Luann's Greg Evans. Earlier in the week, novice EMT Brad finally confessed to his family that he had gotten in trouble for violating protocol while pulling Zane from the burning bookstore, and that he'd made up the story about having a parade in his honor. And so, on Wednesday, the cast chips in to give him a surprise DIY parade on foot, with handmade signs -- producing a salute-to-rescue-personnel splash panel on Sept. 11. Every apparently idle plot line converges in the moment, like sleeper cells rising to coordinated action: Brad's foray into grown-up employment, Bernice's workplace hassles at the bookstore, the romance between Zane and Bernice . . . Greg Evans was setting it all up, all along. The Comics Intelligence Agency is going to have to reassess Luann's threat level after this one.

A JOKE IS NOT 9-11 DEP'T.: One conspicuous nonobserver is Beetle Bailey, the only strip to have responded promptly and sensitively to the attacks last year. While the comics-page kiddies get all teary, the boys at Camp Swampy busy themselves with a comedy bit about techie jargon, which has nothing to do with anything.

9-11 IS A JOKE AGAIN DEP'T: Saturday in Dilbert, the hero is sent off to Elbonia.

Scott Adams no longer fears poking fun at the bearded, impoverished masses of the developing world.

HE GOT GAME DEP'T: There's more to life than rehashing old tragedies. There is, for instance, the pursuit of honeys, in a busy week of cartoon mackin'--especially among the senior set. In Jump Start, widower Clayton takes widow Maureen out on a date to go fishing. "Tell me about your husband," he says, as he floats his lure on the waters. "Marcy told me his name was Rick." "You don't really want to get me talking about Rick, do you?" she asks. "'Course I do! He was the love of your life!" Clayton says. "I'm going to tell you about Francine, too. She was really somethin'." "Clayton, you're really somethin', too," Maureen says. "I still got skills," he thinks. Meanwhile, in For Better or For Worse, Grandpa Jim plies his new bride Iris with beer on their British honeymoon, then turns to the same page in the playbook as Clayton. "Here's where 408 squadron was based," he says. " . . . When we were on leave, Marian and I used to bicycle everywhere. We made many friends here in England . . . and lost some, too. This brings back so many memories." "Maybe you would rather come here alone!" Iris ventures. "Oh, no," Grandpa Jim says, reaching for her. "This is all part of my past. And Iris . . . you are all of my future."

In other bald-headed action this week, Silas Smedlap starts putting the moves on Mary Worth. "I had a shower this morning, but a nurse hung on to me!" he says. "I'm now strong enough to scrub myself into shape for dinner with a lovely lady." Jeff Corey frowns with jealousy while blush-lines radiate from Mary's face.

And in the younger generation, Brad spies one of the hotties from his EMT class, wearing a nice tight uniform shirt, at the impromptu salute to his heroism. Saturday, when he moves in on her, she chews him out about the rescue: "What if you'd passed out? Woulda been two corpses to bag. There's a reason for rules, y'know. You're not a hero, you're just a lucky idiot." "Oh, really?" Brad says. "Really," she says. "So why'd you come to my party?" he leers, raising an eyebrow. "To tell you off," she says, raising an eyebrow in return and walking off. "Havin' fun?" T.J. asks, arriving on the scene. "No . . . " Brad says, watching the girl go, his other eyebrow cocked. "And yes." Nice opening round, Brad. One tip from Funny Paper: Don't try the old folks' game plan and start talking about your exes.

GASOLINE ALLEY: Monday, the lights in Slim and Clovia's cheap hotel room blow out, leaving them in the dark. "I've got a good idea!" Slim says. "It's perfect for sleeping!" Slim does not have game. Friday, they try an expensive hotel. "Sorry, you cahn't pahk here!" the doorman says. "Deliveries are made in the rear!" "We're guests," Clovia says, "than kew jest a whole lot!" That's how fancy people talk.

MARK TRAIL: Time for another of Jack Elrod's expository soliloquies, after the financial manager of the millionaire kittycat gets a menacing phone call Monday. "I'm in control of a fortune and those casino vultures won't leave me alone," he says, sitting at his gleaming desk with his arms folded. The camera pulls back to show a red-tailed hawk soaring above some pines; off in the distance is a little clot of medium-rise buildings surrounded by wilderness, with no feeder roads or residential outskirts to be seen--as if someone had simply dug up a 15-block chunk of downtown Dayton and transplanted it to the middle of Yosemite. A speech balloon rises from the buildings, and the lament continues: "If I move around too much money at one time, the bank accountants might get suspicious and audit the account! I think I'm safe as long as the cat stays alive . . . and the account isn't transferred to Anne!" Haven't you read a newspaper in the past year, young feller? The accountants say that cat is worth $44 billion! Thursday, as the unethical financial manager goes shopping for vitamin-enriched cat food, to give the elderly feline millionaire a little pep, his eye falls on the pet store's living merchandise. "That gray-and-black cat looks exactly like my friend's cat," he says. "May I see it out of the cage?" Friday, he continues to be staggered by the resemblance. "It's hard to believe," he thinks. "I think this cat is the spitting image of Anne's cat . . . maybe she wouldn't recognize the difference!" Whatever, Elrod--it doesn't even look like itself from panel to panel. How's it going to pass for the other cat you also can't draw? In the last panel, it has a gigantic domed cranium, like it's got macrocephaly, or like it's a Cat From the Future, With Enhanced Cranium. "Because of the gray and black markings, it's called a tabby cat," the proprietor says, inaccurately. "Many of them look alike!" Stop making excuses, Elrod. Just 'cuz you can't tell what a cat looks like, that doesn't mean it's impossible to tell what a cat looks like. Saturday, the guy buys the duplicate cat--wasn't this an episode of Diff'rent Strokes, only with Arnold's goldfish? And also the plot of The Talented Mr. Ripley, only with Jude Law? And also Gattaca, also with Jude Law?--and starts plotting the switcheroo. But Mark Trail has already snapped photos of the real millionaire cat. This adventure had better not come down to Mark Trail presenting photographic evidence in probate court. This better come down to Mark Trail socking somebody in the jaw.

Sunday's featured animals: the drab but euphonious thrushes, master singers of the bird kingdom. "A bird creates sound through a syrinx deep within the breast cavity!" Trail explains in the first of the optional introductory panels. Syrinx, schmirinx--in the second panel, an owl appears to have taken over the narration duties, as a speech balloon appears over its open beak. Finally, we get to the actual subject: "Most members of the thrush family are brownish birds that blend into their woodland habitat! When these beautiful birds begin to sing, it becomes apparent why some are world-famous for their songs. Even birders have a hard time deciding which is the most accomplished singer! Perhaps the nightingale is the best known, but the melodies of the hermit thrush, song thrush and wood thrush are second to none." Bah! Pick a winner, already!

DILBERT: The new CEO--a former "trailer park burglar"--robs the company blind, leaving everyone wearing barrels. The payoff comes Saturday, when Dilbert, under orders to travel to Elbonia as cheaply as possible, gets rolled to the airport under the hind paws of an upright-walking bear wearing a ruffled clown collar. "And then I started Brownie's Barrel Service," the bear says. "He's a talker," Dilbert thinks, staring at the newspaper he's tucked into his barrel.

HERB & JAMAAL: Yolanda works on repairing the cab-damaged restaurant. Herb and Jamaal prepare for their 30th reunion at MLK High. Saturday, Herb plots to give an old nemesis, Mark Scruggs, "an atomic wedgie!"

THE PHANTOM: The archaeologists are nonplussed when President Luaga tells them that he's been to the secret cave they want to plunder--er, study--and has not seen their footprints there. "We, uh, brushed ours away, sir!" one says. "In case you forbade us to return!" Luaga relays the incident, via shortwave, to the Ghost Who Is an Expert on False Cover Stories. "Frankly, I don't think my scholars were ever there," the president says. "I suspect that they are acting on information from a third party." "If the scholars have a secret source, he is a latter-day knight," the Phantom thinks, leaning back in the saddle as his steed goes sliding down an impossibly sheer slope. "Fearing to come here again . . . knights would deceive honest men into bringing the treasures out!"

In the Sunday plot line the Phantom, having doffed his rain slicker, takes out the heavies on Boss Callahan's yacht one by one, in the dark.

THE LOCKHORNS: Continuity comes even to the Lockhorn house: Tuesday, Leroy tells a stationery-store clerk, "I need a card that expresses my undying love for under two dollars." Thursday, Loretta tells the couple's marriage counselor, "We'd like to resolve this quarrel today . . . Tomorrow's our anniversary." Friday, Loretta opens the mail. "Our neighbor sent me a sympathy anniversary card," she announces. Saturday, Loretta contemplates a spatula with a "Happy Anniversary" tag on it.


REX MORGAN, M.D.: Scowls and wide-eyed double-takes fly as Bud and Holly learn, via a crooked bail bondsman, that Dana has been arrested for armed robbery.

MARMADUKE: Saturday, Marmaduke sits in the chair.

NON SEQUITUR: Monday, a doctor offers a dejected family a child-sized business suit, complete with a tied necktie. "The tests indicate that your son was born without a conscience," he says. "I'm afraid he'll have to wear this from now on and be confined in a Fortune 500 company." Thursday, a CEO steps out of an alley with a gun to demand a passerby's 401(k). Saturday, a torch-bearing mob chases a car with license plates that say "CEO": "The unfortunate timing for Charles Elton O'Brien to get personalized license plates." Those dang CEOs! Somebody really ought to point out how crooked they are. Doesn't Wiley do strips about the adventures of Obviousman? Wiley is Obviousman.

ZIGGY: Thursday, Tom and Tom II make fun of their creation. Quoths the parrot: ". . . For Ziggy, life is a game. . . namely, 'Hungry, Hungry Hippo!'" Well, it was a fun game. We wish we still had ours. Friday, Tom and Tom II let us know their greatest fear. "I used to be a big-shot cartoon character like you," a funny-looking bum on a bench tells Ziggy. "And then I forgot to renew my copyright!"

FAMILY CIRCUS: Monday, Bil Keane deploys the eerie, not-quite-effective word-balloon/caption combo to do an eerie, not-quite-effective gag. "Back to your own bed, Jeffy," Thel says. "But, Mommy!" Jeffy replies. "My bed isn't the same kind of warm as yours."

ZIPPY: Monday, the microcephalic name-checks Larry David. Griffy definitely watches a lot of teevee.

DOONESBURY: Zonker gets a call from "Ol' Surfer Dude," summoning him back to Malibu. His child-care charge, little Sam, gets the extended latchkey treatment. "Sam, how old are you?" he asks when she protests. "Ten? Eleven? Nine?" "Ten," she says. "Ten. If you lived in some parts of Africa, you'd be an orphan raising three siblings on your own!" "What a useful thing to know," she says. "Well, that's what I'm here for," Zonker says. "Except this weekend."

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Monday, Willy invents the "double-sided fork." "Two people eat off the same fork?" Ethel asks. "No . . . " he says. "Try to take that french fry." Wednesday, Ethel makes "Jello in the shape of a juicy T-bone." "It's all right," Willy says, "but I feel like an idiot putting whipped cream on a nice cut of Jello like this." Thursday, Willy is at his typewriter. "Which title do you like better," he asks. "'The Culinary Conservationist' . . . or . . . 'How to Keep Food on Your Face for the Ride Home'?"

APARTMENT 3G: The restaurant-table open warfare between Margo and little Gretchen continues. "See that game over there?" Margo asks Tuesday. "Here are 10 quarters. . . have fun!" FBI Pete is appalled. "She's four years old!" he barks Wednesday, chasing after his daughter. "Someone could kidnap her!" Chill, FBI Pete. If she lived in some parts of Africa, she'd have a 10-year-old orphan looking after her. Friday, a busboy spills pizza all over Margo's expensive outfit. "It wasn't your fault," she says. "If you hadn't been stabbed by a fork!" Gretchen, still clutching the implement, glares at her. If she had a double-sided fork, she could have kept eating. "He took my pizza, Daddy," Gretchen says. "And I was still eating!" Funny Paper is firmly on the kid's side here. But we wish Bolle & Trusiani had the bolles to show the tyke doing the actual stabbing.

B.C.: Monday, the skoolhouse ants make a bathroom joke about "squatter's rights." Tell it, "Johnny" Hart. Thursday, Fat Broad tells an advice-seeker that "vanity goes all the way to the bone." Isn't vanity supposed to be a mask for underlying insecurity?

ONE BIG HAPPY: "I want to quit my job and travel," Ruthie tells one of her art customers on Monday. "Really? Where would you travel?" "To the playground." Hey, there's worse places.

CATHY: Boss man Mr. Pinkley gets a botox facial.

HI & LOIS: Tuesday, "Lois Flagston's How to Speak Real Estate" reappears, to tell us that "Asking price available on request" means "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." We'll give Walker & Browne this much credit: at least they didn't run all of their clip-'n'-save items in one week, like some strips we could name.

BARNEY GOOGLE & SNUFFY SMITH: Tuesday, Tater has church-state separation problems. "Amen Bmen Cmen Dmen Emen," he writes on his slate. "He's gittin his kiddygarden mixed up with his Sunday schoolin'!!" Loweezy frets.

MARY WORTH: Thursday, Jeff Corey announces that dinner will be at "our epicurean Mecca . . . The Bumboat!!

Sunday, Silas shows up dresed for the meal in an expensive new sportcoat. "As I told Doc, about a month ago I went into a delayed midlife crisis and came into a lot of money at the same time!" he says. "I burned my work clothes and bought everything new, so if this restaurant don't like it, I'll have to go naked or starve!" "The Bumboat doesn't care if you're wearing top hat and tails or a buffalo skin!" Corey says.

BEETLE BAILEY: Friday, Chip Gizmo presents Sarge with "Microsoft Word for sergeants." "It automatically inserts swearwords where you need them." Saturday, Killer asks Beetle what his favorite musical group is. "Probably the Beatles," he says. Beetle Bailey's favorite musical group is probably the Beatles, get it?

HAGAR THE HORRIBLE: Saturday, Chris Browne employs the Steve Martin "I forgot" punchline. Seriously, is there a royalty structure for this stuff?

FUN-EGG PAPER INVEST-EGG-ATION, PART ONE, FIRST IN A SERIES, TO BE CONTINUED: Funny Paper was able to scrounge up 50 weeks' worth of The Coll-egg-tible Eggers Family's "Artist Extrordinaire" results from our Sunday color supplement archive. We do the l-egg work so you don't have to. Next week:"eggs-amples!"

AMERICAN CITIZEN (Yes, the entire "egg" concept was overlooked in the name of this Nov. 2001 entry.)
B-EGG-KER ("baker")
B-EGG-TOVEN'S EGG-MONT OVERATURE (Yes, "overature." Overature easy! Har!)
EGG-BERT (an ovoid rendering of Dilbert)
EGGSAMPLE #1 (Yes, the word "eggs-ample" appears every week in the Eggers examples, but this was a winning entry.)
EGGS-ASPERATED! (The only case of punctuation in 50 winning entries)
EGG-SHUR (Funny Paper thinks it's finally sussed this one. It's Tupac Shakur. We think.)
EGGS-ITS (exits)
EGG-ZEMA (Funny Paper doesn't remember this one. Yuck.)
HARR-EGG-POTTER (Yes, twice. Two different entries.)
NATALIE'S EGG-SPRESSION (This looked more like a wedge of imported swiss than an egg. Funny Paper believes the implication to be "cheesy.")
SN-EGG-PY (Snoopy)

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