"Here's to You, Pop. . . Thanks for Nothing!"
Then there are the dads for whom abuse isn't even a special occasion. In One Big Happy, Ruthie torments her dad with her short-attention-span approach to playing checkers. In Rex Morgan, M.D., the body of bankrupt, colon-cancer-riddled paterfamilias Dick Coleman is laid to rest. In Mary Worth, Dawn Weston beams about having destroyed her father's love life. And in The Phantom, the Phantom hurls himself into dangerous rapids to retrieve the briefcase that his children tossed in the river.
Is there anyone out there who doesn't treat Dad as a dupe, a buffoon, or a punching bag? Why, yes. There's Uncle Art. In Funland, Father is still a figure worthy of respect--the root from whom the whole lead word puzzle descends. "A bird: PArrot. A package: PArcel. A procession: PArade. Cakes and pies: PAstries. Father or mother: PArent." "Or mother"? Not today. Not in Funland! As long as N.A. Nugent is working, the PAtriarchy lives!
REX MORGAN, M.D.: Warming up for Father's Day, Graham Nolan presents Dick Coleman's funeral. On Monday, the late Dick's troubled Goth-y daughter Dana hides in the ladies' room, contemplating the pint of hooch she's pulled from her purse. "Just a little pop to take the edge off!" she says. Get it? "Pop"? She raises the bottle (labeled "Vodka" in classic comic-strip generic fashion) to the mirror for a bitter toast: "Here's to you, Pop . . . thanks for nothing!." Yeah! A pop of Popov for Pop! The three panel tour-de-force closes with an extreme closeup of the bottle neck, inserted between supple young lips.
MARY WORTH: On Monday Woody--or is it "Forrest" now?--calls Dawn "sweetheart." "'Sweetheart'?!?" she thinks. Friday, Dawn comes home to find Wilbur stinking drunk. "Wilbur!!!! . . . Weston!!!! . . . you're drunk!!" she exclaims. "As the . . . (hic) . . . proverbial coot, daughter dear!" he replies, waving his bottle in a circle. "I . . . uh . . . I'm shelebrating my . . . (hic) . . . n . . . n . . . newfound manhood!" Drunk as a coot? Last time we checked the Funny Paper Book of Proverbs, coots weren't drunk. Coots are crazy. Drunkenness is for loons. Also skunks, lords, and motherfuckers.
JUMBLE:ALL WET, SOAKED IT IN, "STEER" CLEAR, STAGE "FRIGHT," "FARE" WEATHER, MUCH TO BE DESIRED.
JUMP START: Joe's dad's out-of-body experience carries him back to the squad car with his circa-1975 partner, Crunchy. "1975," Crunchy says to the apparition. "That explains why you reek of 'Hai Karate'."
LUANN: Luann is impressed by the newly slickened Gunther's makeover. Gunther is sickened by the post-dental-surgery Luann's drooling. Bonus points to Greg Evans for his soggy-cotton-being-pried-out-of-mouth sound effects: "GARK Spoit plook."
GASOLINE ALLEY: The search party keeps looking for Uncle Walt in the graveyard. Hey guys, you're looking about six feet too high. We wish. Die, Gasoline Alley, die.
CLASSIC PEANUTS: Shipped off to summer camp against their will, Charlie Brown and Linus fear the dread "gully cats." Across the lake, Peppermint Patty is jealous of the little red-haired girl.
APARTMENT 3-G: Monday, kidnap victims Lu Ann and Marcella, talking in those dotted whisper-balloons, discuss escape plans. "I have a plan, Marcella . . ." "Yes . . . ?" ". . . for getting Tucker to take off your ropes." "Yes . . . ?" "When he does--you strike." "Yes!" Is Marcella understanding any of this, or is she just saying "yes"? And if she's a major-league ballplayer, shouldn't wait till after the All-Star break to strike?
Tuesday, Lu Ann starts talking to kind-hearted beta-minus kidnapper Tucker. "Why are we here, Tucker?" she asks. "It's Earl, Miss Powers. He doesn't like her being a pro." "You like baseball, Tucker?" she asks Wednesday. "'Course, Miss Powers," he grins. By Thursday, Marcella is untied and signing autographs for him. But Tucker is not so kind-hearted as to refrain from keeping a revolver on the Cuban second-sacker as she works the pen. Still, on Friday the effort bears fruit--when Tucker tries to use the autographs as barter at the package-goods store. By Sunday, Tucker and Earl are getting drunk as coots, with thwarted ballplayer Earl giving his I-coulda-been-a-contender speech from offstage. "They shudda let you play, Earl!" Tucker's voice says. "I wuz good 'nuf . . . !" Earl replies. "I wuz, Tucker, I wuz . . ." Once their captors sound like they've passed out, the girls start working on their ropes.
PRINCE VALIANT: Who will get Prince Valiant out of West Asia and this interminable Romans-and-barbarians plot line? Yuan Chen!
HERB & JAMAAL: Eula corrects grandson Ezekiel's grammar Friday: "Remember 'y'all' is singular, 'all y'all' is plural, and 'all y'all's' is plural possessive."
GARFIELD: Once again, Jim Davis burns a full week on the fat-ass feline's whiny, Cathy-style preparations for his birthday. This time, he'll be 24. Has it only been 24 years? It seems like 74.
CATHY: Cathy keeps carping about e-mail protocol. Friday, she explores "The Bulk Dump." Wasn't that one of her weight-loss schemes?
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: A visit with successful service-station owner Gord reassures Michael and Deanna that they can cope with adulthood. "It's like--if they can do it, we can do it!" Michael says. Way to patronize your old buddy, you arrogant college-boy fuckhead. For worse!
THE PHANTOM: The Ghost Who Kicks Ass exploits his opponents' limited rules of engagement. "If their instructions are to wound, not kill . . ." he muses Monday, reaching for the light switch. "'Darkness disarms them . . .'" Wednesday he suckers one into lunging through an upper-story window. "YAHHHHHH" the man cries, the H's curving with the arc of his fall. When another foe peers out the window Friday, the Phantom, perched on the ledge outside, reaches over and flips him out the window too: "AAAHH--THUMP!"
BLONDIE: Dagwood bounces out of his chair, clutches his chest, and hollers "WHOA!!" at the sight of Blondie trying on a little black dress. Black is still the new black, even in Blondie. And blond is definitely still blond.
BEETLE BAILEY: Freudian psychodrama comes to Camp Swampy as Gen. Halftrack and Lt. Fuzz grapple with their imperfectly developed identities. Wednesday, Lt. Fuzz shows Miss Buxley his reward for writing a good report: The general has put a star sticker on his forehead. "I haven't had one of these since the third grade," he beams. Thursday, Lt. Fuzz regresses even further, as he gets a call from his mother. "Fluffy kitty wants to talk to me?" he burbles into the phone, as Lt. Flap cringes. "You're my little pookie (kiss kiss). My li'l cupcake, yes you are . . ." Funny Paper is hard-pressed to tell who's supposed to be dominating whom in this conversation.
The next day, Gen. Halftrack rebukes his infantile lieutenant for organizing a game of "pin the tail on the donkey" for a visiting senator. Or is that "pin the 'tail' on the 'donkey'"?
Saturday, the general puts a picture of his younger self on his desk and stares admiringly at it. Finally, Sunday, badgered by his wife, he turns to the bottle for relief.
SALLY FORTH: Boss Ralph wonders why longtime employee Liz left his department. Because she was bored, Ralphie. Because she was bored.
ONE BIG HAPPY: Ruthie finds a bunny.
ZIGGY: Tuesday, Ziggy and his dog go to a "video rental" counter. "We'd like to rent a video where the cat loses!" Ziggy says. Wednesday, Ziggy is in another video store. This time it's a Blockbuster, and he's by himself. "Something nice and boring to fall asleep in front of!!" he says. Coming right up!
ZIPPY: Wednesday, a sideways panel celebrates DIESEL FRIED CHICKEN. "He who controls Diesel Fried Chicken controls th' universe!!" cries the pinhead from the rooftop, paraphrasing Vitamin Smith.
MARK TRAIL: Rusty finds Cherry and Doc tied up. Meanwhile, Mark stalks the elusive cell phone. What the fuck kind of nature strip is this? Mark Trail don't need no stinkin' cellie to communicate! Howsabout a few smoke signals or something? Finally, he plucks the phone from the water and dials Lost Forest, so Cherry can warn him that gangsters are on his trail. Saturday, as the danger thickens, three painted turtles sun themselves on a half-submerged log.
Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: the dread thunderstorm. "Whatever their size," Jack Elrod warns, "ALL THUNDERSTORMS ARE DANGEROUS." He goes on to review some "lightning MYTHS and FACTS": "FACT: Lightning may occur as far away as 10 miles from any rainfall . . . MYTH: Rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car can protect you . . . FACT: They provide NO protection . . . MYTH: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and shouldn't be touched . . ." Crikey. Next thing, Jack Elrod's gonna tell us gamma rays don't make you sprout big green muscles.
HI & LOIS: Friday, on his day off, Hiram checks his messages from the beach with his cell phone.
SHOE: Thursday: "How's your autobiography coming along?" Roz asks. "I lost interest in the main character," Cosmo says. No kidding. We lost interest in you too, Perfesser. And Roz. And Shoe. Die, Shoe, die!
MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Monday, a familiar looking spotted tunic and necktie lie on the ground next to where a bunch of lions are having a group feed. One lion looks up, brandishing a human foot, and says, "Hey, anybody want a Flintstone vitamin?" Why is the foot a "vitamin"? Why is Fred Flintstone being eaten by modern, non-Stone Age lions, instead of by saber-toothed tigers or a humorously anachronistic carnivorous dinosaur? What's supposed to be funny about Fred Flintstone being killed and eaten? This is hostile, not funny.
Wednesday, it's "Life at the Vader house," as someone calls out the door to a tricycling, respirator-mask-wearing child, "Darth, remember to wear your helmet." Because, see, Darth Vader wore a helmet all the time. Except, of course, that when Darth Vader was a kid, he was Anakin Skywalker, who was a perfectly normal-seeming little boy, except for a certain lack of acting ability*. This is lame, not funny.
(*Which seems to have been a family trait.)
KUDZU: Still with the fucking "Pray-Zac." Die, Kudzu, die.
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