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Funny Paper

Some of This Gum Is Still Kind of Fresh

April 1-7

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 4/10/2002

APRIL FOOLISHNESS DEP'T.: In Family Circus, Billy rings in All Fools' Day by leaving a balloon under his covers, on his pillow, with a face drawn on it. "April Fool!" he cries, popping out of the closet as Thel tries to wake the fake child. If you'd just kept quiet, kid, she might never have noticed the difference.

Other holiday entries: B.C. builds a clunky evangelical gag around Psalms 53:1: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Non Sequitur has dour recurring character Danae profess interest in improving the planet. In Hagar the Horrible, Hagar offers his men "a 50% raise, free health insurance, plus a good retirement plan." And in Gasoline Alley, Rufus uses the holiday to justify his plan to use a mop as a fake rifle.

But nobody celebrates like the Sun crossword does. 17 across: "Impetuous." 25 across: "Cause to look silly." 36 across: "One too shrewd to be tricked." 52 across: "Allow oneself to be duped." 62 across: "Like a perfect plan."

TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS DEP'T.: Friday, Ziggy stands in the middle of a bed of heart-shaped flowers, watering can in hand. "People's hearts grow better if regularly showered with love!" he declares. Immediately next door, Marmaduke is flat on his belly in the family flowerbed, slurping and chomping. "Oh, no, Marmaduke!" Dottie cries. "You've developed a taste for tulips!"

GOODNIGHT AGAIN, MOON DEP'T.: Two daddy's-too-lazy-to-tell-a-good-bedtime-story strips show up on the same page of the Sunday color supplement. In Family Circus, Billy and Dolly berate a dozing Daddy for telling them, "Once upon a time a very tired father had 4 children who got into bed and went to sleep." In One Big Happy, Ruthie objects to her dad's attempt to pass off "The Velveteen Slug" as a new story.

YOU CAN PUNCH THAT ROTTEN BASTARD IN THE FACE AGAIN! DEP'T: Thursday, in neighboring panels, Mark Trail and the Phantom deliver nearly identical overhand rights to the domes of their enemies. Trail gets a little more leverage, but the Phantom has a smoother follow-through. Plus he's got that fucking skull-ring. Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: In other mayhem, femme-y creep Eric gets a good old-fashioned Canadian beat-down on Tuesday after he tries and fails to mack his way through a confrontation with his two girlfriends. "I'm completely, hopelessly in love with both of you," he ventures--prompting Liz and Tina to give him a quadruple-decker Ca-knuckle sandwich. When Tina picks up a saucepan on Wednesday, he beats a retreat, but not before Liz tells him she gave his new hockey skates to the Salvation Army. Violence, domestic and imported! For better!

GARFIELD: Garfield does a week of accordion jokes. The accordion joke: the accordion of comedy.

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Willy compares his sister-in-law to Clever Hans.

THE LOCKHORNS: Leroy waxes appealingly absurd Saturday. "I can't remember when I've had a longer time," he says, bidding a dull-looking pair of hosts goodnight.

SALLY FORTH: "I'll trade you my Wednesday 401(k) seminar for a Tuesday pass on proper work posture," Ralph says Monday. "Throw in lunch and you've got a deal," Sally replies. And off the setup goes, lumbering through the rest of the workweek. Hey, Created by Greg Howard: There's a reason why Dilbert gets all the book deals.

CURTIS: If Gunk is around, Scott Corbett-style weird-science hijinks can't be far behind. So when Curtis complains on Monday about the bald patch he got from his nocturnal encounter with Barry's used chewing gum, his exchange-student pal has a ready solution. "Just a dripplin' of Flyspeck Island liquid hair vitamins can fix it!" Gunk says cheerfully. "100% guaranteed!" To demonstrate the power of the potion, he grows hair on an egg. Once Curtis' hair is restored, the logical next step is for Gunk to entrust the tonic to Curtis' care--so that on Friday, Michelle can tell Curtis about her call-back for a Spike Lee movie: "Oh, how I wish I had something to help me win that role," she says, "like a stunning new hairdo!" "How's that for a coincidence, folks?" Curtis asks the third wall. Um, kind of contrived, actually. Since you asked.

GASOLINE ALLEY: In other contrived plotting, Ada and Amanda's pursuit of the rumored Moronian saboteurs leads to Rufus lighting a match in a darkened fireworks factory. Reading by its light, he announces he's found "boxes 'n' boxes o' candles." At least, "candles" is one of the two words on the boxes. Can't quite make out the other word.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Ruthie is queen of the post-punch-line digestif. Monday, Grandma calls orders out to Grandpa as she cruises by in the back seat of a BMW, with her tiny friend Blanche vanishing behind the wheel. "A drive-by nagging," Grandpa says. "Grandpa," Ruthie says worriedly, "nobody was driving that car." Friday, in a restaurant, she tells a waitress she doesn't want any "toothpasty stuff" with her fish sticks. "In the little cup, the tartar-control sauce," she explains. But while her mom and the waitress work their way through to the Family Circus-level payoff--"The tartar sauce"--Ruthie is disavowing any role in the limp main gag. "You know," she says, ducking under the table, "some of this gum is still kind of fresh."

BEETLE BAILEY: Wednesday, Beetle beats Sarge at table tennis. Saturday, Plato objects to the sight of hip-huggers on a fat woman.

LUANN: The Pitts School kids, attempting some schoolwork for once, struggle academically.

JUMP START: Marcy and Joe take the kids to the Big Apple. "You going to do 'Ground Zero'?" one of Marcy's colleagues asks on Tuesday. "I didn't know it was a tourist attraction," she says, embarrassing of the questioner. Um, well, it is. They've built a viewing platform, printed up tickets, the works.

JUMBLE: PUT A "STOP" TO IT, CARRIED AWAY, TIRESOME, "PIPE" DOWN, "RE-NOUNED," "POWER" GRAB.

THE BOONDOCKS: Huey plots to become a cyber-revolutionary.

ZIPPY: Zippy wanders through San Simeon, talking to the statuary--and by Thursday, to the undead specter of William Randolph Hearst himself. "I've always wanted to know," the pinhead asks Friday, "did you ever understand 'Krazy Kat'?" "That thing?" Citizen Hearst says. "No way! I just enjoyed Herriman's orneriness! But I loved 'Mutt and Jeff'!"

BARNEY GOOGLE & SNUFFY SMITH: Friday, the moon shines over Hootin' Holler. "Paw, don't that full moon give you any ideas?" Loweezy asks. "Why, 'Weezy, you li'l vixen, it shore does!!" Snuffy says. "Fetch my chicken stealin' sack,, Maw, an' don't wait up!!"

DENNIS THE MENACE: The Luddite Wilsons resist the siren song of newfangled technology. Thursday, Dennis and Joey watch Mrs. W. hanging up the wash. "Mrs Wilson says that's the only way she goes 'on-line'," Dennis says. Friday, Mr. W. demonstrates a wind-up toy truck. "You mean you just wind it up and it doesn't need batteries or nothin'?" Dennis goggles.

THE PHANTOM: A wanted fugitive gets off a plane at Newark, sporting a skull mark on his jaw.

In the Sunday plot, the Phantom, with the golden-ox statue under his arm and his diamond-stealing prisoners in tow, stops the Llongo and Wambesi forces from going to war in the nick of time. "Halt!" he cries. "The Llongos are innocent! These men poisoned your cattle and stole the statue of the golden ox!" Ignoring the tribesmen's calls for immediate vengeance, he remands his captives to the custody of the council of chiefs. "Next week: New adventure!"

MARK TRAIL: Violence and sex in Lost Forest! When Mark confronts Moss Moses with his singed, goose-feather-laced fishing net, the would-be poacher and accidental arsonist denies all responsibility. "Without proof, there's no way the law can touch me!" Moses sneers Thursday. "No, but I can!" Trail retorts, punching him in the eye socket. Standing over his vanquished enemy on Friday, Trail symbolically castrates him. "Mrs. Moses," he says, "if you need any food, come over to Lost Forest, we'll be glad to help you out." Nor is Mark the only male claiming dominion over a female--Friday and Saturday, at long last, Lucky the Unlucky Goose gets lucky.

Sunday's featured animal: The sadly diminished salmon. "The amazing ability of the salmon to return to the stream of its birth is one of nature's great stories," the opening caption says. But it's a story Jack Elrod isn't interested in telling. Instead, the remaining six captions dwell on the usefulness, edibility, and domesticability of the fish--"the fastest-growing segment of seafood, placing third in popularity behind only tuna and shrimp." Forget the upstream odyssey to its native waters. What can the salmon do for us? Even the final splash panel, usually showing the natural being of the week at the height of its glory, treats the fish as object, not subject: Rather than cresting the rapids, the salmon in question is dying in the jaws of a bear, while seagulls circle, hoping for scraps.

APARTMENT 3-G: Lu Ann shrugs off the experience of having her love life dragged through the front pages of the New York tabloids. So healthy is her attitude, she joins the other two G's in going to see gender-bending Cuban-refugee second-sacker Marcella--the woman who stole her fiance--make her major-league exhibition debut. Which baseball team she's playing for is unspecified: In the proud tradition of all the baseball players in locally produced TV ads, Marcella's team wears blank jerseys and featureless blue caps.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Power-achieving ballbuster Helen fires Stuart as her lawyer and as her fiancee. "Thank you Helen," he says, taking the engagement ring and mentally adding two months' salary back into his checking account. "I didn't have the guts to do it myself."

Sunday, as June and Melissa discuss Merle's health, Graham Nolan dabbles--not wholly successfully--in adding depth to characters' faces by leaving white highlights in the pink.

MARY WORTH: Woody/Forrest tells Dawn that he's convinced Liz Hoag to go to Chicago. "Woody!" Dawn says. "If you proposed to that woman, I'm going straight to the campus carillon tower and jump off!" Dawn! It's not him romancing Liz--it's just his fake identity. You know, the fake identity you guys came up with. When you hatched this plot. Remember . . . the plot? We barely do.

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