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Funny Paper

Nail Wilbur to the Floor, Honey!

March 25-31

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 4/3/2002

EASTER EGG-STRAVAGANZA DEP'T.: "Well!" Grandpa exclaims in Sunday's For Better or for Worse. "It looks like the Easter Bunny still comes to this house!" Not only the Pattersons', Gramps--the combination of multicolored egg art and easy food gags proved irresistible to nearly half the population of the Sunday Color Supplement. The Easter Parade: For Better or for Worse does a rotten-egg gag. Mark Trail features various Easter nature myths. Non Sequitur does a weak gag about carnivorous bunnies on Easter Island. Hi & Lois presents an alternative Easter cosmology. In The Middletons Morris eats bunny slippers after mistaking them for candy. In Dennis the Menace, Dennis and Joey put up with Margaret long enough to loot her Easter basket. Classic Peanuts revisits the Easter Beagle. In Cathy, marshmallow peeps go right to Cathy's hips. The Family Circus kids cram goodies into their mouths under a holiday assortment of free-floating jabber balloons. In Curtis, Curtis wants to make collectible eggs with "a likeness of every rapper in history." Sally Forth does its annual routine about Sally eating the ears off Hilary's chocolate bunny, this year's variant being that Mom eats the head too. Uncle Art's Funland features a rabbit-themed riddle (A: "Hop rods") and a "Drawing Fun" entry asking budding artists to draw the left side of a cartoon rabbit's face. You Can with Beakman & Jax offers two demonstrations of the incredible natural engineering strength of the eggshell--incredible strength, that is, provided you squeeze the egg gently (if you "don't jab or jerk," B&J caution, you'll find that "you probably couldn't break the egg"). Um, wow. Funny Paper also gives Easter credit to the immortal Vernon Carne, of Don O'Briant's In Their Own Words, for drawing the complacent game-show host/character actor/GOP mouthpiece Ben Stein with a perfectly smooth egg-shaped head.

Even The Coll-egg-tible Eggers Family gets in the act this year, with "Egg-ster Bunny" listed among the honorable mentions. Though Lori Lee Landi herself profanes the holiday with a disturbingly saucy "Eggs-ample": "N-egg-lige."

NATURAL BORN CHRIST-KILLERS DEP'T.: But there's more to the Easter season than bunnies, painted eggs, and chocolate. It just wouldn't be Holy Week without Johnny Hart using B.C. to attack the Jews. And so on Wednesday, just as Chag ha-Matzoth arrives, Cute Chick lays her curly blonde head down and announces, "My friend Fats is an incurable liberal." Peter, taking the cue, asks, "How liberal is she?" Answer: "During Passover this year, she's setting an extra place at the table, hoping maybe Elijah will drop by to announce the candidacy of Tom Daschle."

Before we start digging, let's start with the surface fact about this strip: It's not funny. It's not funny at all. It takes a traditional setup and delivers absolutely no payoff. There's no wordplay, no absurdity, no subversion of expectations--just a clunky, convoluted would-be punchline.

So it's not a joke, in any identifiable way. Johnny Hart wasn't trying to amuse the reader; he was trying to say something. And what was he trying to say? That the majority leader of the U.S. Senate is somehow not a mainstream political figure--that he represents not the average views of roughly half the American voting public, but those of a small faction on the fringe. Specifically, Daschle stands for the "incurable" political extremism of the Jews. This is the world of Johnny Hart: The Jews are all Democrats. Passover is when they get together for political scheming.

And who's the Jew--or rather, Jewess--among the cavepersons? Why, it's Fat Broad--the crude, swarthy, butch one. The one with the huge schnozz. While shiksa Cute Chick goes around charming the boys, Fat Broad spends her time crushing the snake with her club. Something's incurable around here, all right.

SUN CROSSWORD PUZZLE SNICKERS & INSIDE SNICKERS DEP'T.: Wednesday, the giggles move to the front of Section E. "Correction: The Sun crossword puzzle was incorrect yesterday. The correct puzzle, along with the answers, can be found on Page 2E. The Sun regrets the error." No regrets, fellas. All we care about is this week's answers. POOP, VAG, BRA, SCREW, HORA, HED, PILEDRIVER, GLOB, SEEDER, SCRAG, ODOR, BEERS, ANNA, ANDY, EDIT.

PLANNING TO PLAN DEP'T.: "I called this family meeting to discuss family meetings," Sally announces in Monday's Sally Forth. Thursday in Dilbert, the hero is moved to ask, "What's the R.O.I. for this new policy about calculating the R.O.I.?"

BOOK LEARNIN' DEP'T.: What are books good for? Books are good for physics lessons! "Place a book on a table and push it off," Sunday's Kid City instructs curious-minded kids. "Then place the book on four or five straws lined up as rollers. You'll find that the book is a lot easier to push when you use the straws."

Immediately below, You Can With Beakman & Jax is demonstrating the structural strength of the mighty eggshell, in conjunction with the ever-adaptable bottle cap. "Make 3 little egg/cap towers as in our drawing. Place them about 4 inches apart and lay a book on top. See how many books you can add until an egg cracks."

MARY WORTH: Three weeks into his lunch date with Liz Hoag, Woody/Forrest finally makes his move. "I think I'm in love with you!" the thespian-turned-psychology major-turned-fake TV tycoon* declares Thursday. "If this conversation is headed where I think it's headed," Liz thinks on Saturday, "you'll get a 'yes' answer in a New York minute!" Or six more weeks, in Santa Royale time.

Sunday, as Liz heads to the powder room to mull over the new development, Woody/Forrest whips out his cell phone to swap zany kid lingo with co-conspirator Dawn. "Dawn Weston here," she answers. "Talk fast . . . It's my nickel!"

"Get home and nail Wilbur to the floor, honey," Woody/Forrest shoots back. "The dice have been cast!"

(* We know that Woody/Forrest is supposed to be doing a Man of a Thousand Faces act here, but Funny Paper is perplexed by the fact that Saunders & Giela keep changing his appearance from panel to panel. Despite weeks and weeks of practice at drawing the talented Mr. Hills, the artist can't seem to give him the same eyes, nose, or hairline from day to day--or even panel to panel. Tuesday, in an all-new variant, he suddenly looks like a young Henry Kissinger.)

APARTMENT 3-G: Lu Ann's picture is plastered on the front of the New York tabloids, under a screaming JILTED LOVER SWEARS VENGEANCE! headline.

BEETLE BAILEY: Beetle goes home on a pass for Easter weekend, and takes to his bed. "He says he'll be up by suppertime," Mr. Bailey reports to Mrs. Bailey, who appears to be planning to cook a whole ham in a frying pan.

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: "Good carp/Bad carp."

LUANN: Gunther starts following Tiffany's blueprint for self-improvement. "I brushed with a whitening toothpaste," he reports on Wednesday. "Dude!" Knute interjects. "Tell her about Number 104! You used a hair remover on your--" "That's private!!" Gunther snaps. Yeah, private. Thanks for the lovely hint, Greg Evans. And how did Knute know he'd used hair remover on his [private]? And how did Tiffany know he needed hair remover on his [private]? And what did Tiffany--no, we don't even want to think about this anymore. We're dismayed that Greg Evans thought about it.

Thursday, hunk-on-wheels Zane recovers from his huff and starts putting the moves on Bernice again, steering her to a listening station in their books-and-music megastore. "Listen to this song by Leonard Cohen," he says. "It makes me think of you." Miss Eiffel is not amused. "I'll tolerate no more of this time-wasting and socializing," she barks at Zane, as Bernice sits obliviously in her headphones. "If you value your job here--and hers--you'll shape up!"

Sunday, Evans spends two-thirds of his space on a splash panel depicting an avian version of Luann swooping into a plate-glass window.

HAGAR THE HORRIBLE: Being a Viking marauder means you can sail to almost every stock cartoon setup. So it is that Monday, Hagar and Lucky Eddie, crawling across the scorching sands of the Scandinavian desert, hallucinate a giant mug of beer.

MOMMA: Yet again, the headlines creep into Mell Lazarus Land, as Monday finds Normy making a paper-shredding joke.

THE BOONDOCKS: "I'm going to go vomit," Huey says Wednesday, after Caesar tells him George W. Bush has complained about the rigged election in Zimbabwe. In some strips, this would just be a figure of speech. In The Boondocks, it means Huey actually spends Thursday and Friday shut in the bathroom, with vomit-noises issuing through the door. Saturday, he emerges and starts ranting again. "You've been vomiting," Caesar says. "Go brush your teeth."


CATHY: Despite all those past strips about the cabbage-soup diet, Cathy is still too fat for the spring fashions.

B.C.: "Representative government," B.C. reads in The Book of Phrases on Monday. "Where many crooks get to vote one crook into office." If Ambrose Bierce has a grave, he's rolling in it.

DOONESBURY: Monday through Saturday, Mike lectures Alex on the sanctity of intellectual property--the implied fair exchange between the creator and consumer of entertainment. Sunday, Garry Trudeau whips out another rerun strip.

GASOLINE ALLEY: Ada and Amanda recruit Joel and Rufus to defend America against Joseph and his family of apparent saboteurs.

KUDZU: Doug Marlette, last man on the pigpile, makes a Greta Van Susteren eye-bag joke.

ZIGGY: "My life is totally controlled by a cartoonist!" Ziggy tells his shrink Thursday. That's not the problem, little man. The problem is that you're obsessed with it.

ZIPPY: Monday, Bill Griffith presents "Real Conversation" at Baltimore's very own Bel-Loc Diner.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Mom suppresses an obsessive-compulsive freakout when a salamander or lizard crawls onto her at the garden center--at least until she manages to fool her daughter into picking up the little vector of uncleanlinesss. "You're cute!" Ruthie tells the little critter, as her mother shudders uncontrollably behind her back.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: When Eric heads out to "hockey practice" without his skates, Liz finally goes looking for him. "If Eric's playing games, Liz, it isn't hockey," one of the lads at the rink tells her Tuesday. Last they saw, he was with some chick named Tina. At Tina's apartment, Liz discovers that Tina didn't know Eric was a two-timer either. "You said Elizabeth was just a roommate!" Tina hollers, as the two girls beat on the door of the bathroom where their Don Juan is hiding. "You said there was nothing between you and Tina," Liz yells, "but there is--isn't there!!!" For better!

MARK TRAIL: Andy hauls the broken-winged, partially cooked goose Lucky away from the flames sparked by would-be poacher Moss Moses' cigarette. Armed with leafy boughs, Mark, Cherry, and Rusty beat out the spreading fire. "I saw what you did Andy," Mark says when the danger has passed. "You saved Lucky's life--good boy!" "To be named Lucky," Cherry muses, "he sure has bad luck." He sure does, Cherry. He sure does.

Sunday's featured suite of nature-related phenomena: The many, many natural symbols of the risen Jesus! "There are many symbols used to signify Easter," Mark says, "and the butterfly is one of the most popular . . . Its entire life cycle is symbolic of the meaning of Christianity." The butterfly is one of the most popular symbols of Easter? Stop by the store, honey, and pick up a couple dozen butterflies so the kids can color 'em tonight. Mmm . . . is that honey-baked, spiral-cut butterfly we smell? Hey, Dad--Mom ate the antennae off my chocolate butterfly again!

What else? "Easter eggs also represented new life in early times and the new birth of the risen lord . . . The dogwood tree became a symbol because it was selected to be made into the cross that was to bear Jesus. The Easter rabbit is commonly believed to be a symbol of fertility, and in ancient Egypt it also represented birth and new life." Ah, the ancient Egyptians and their Easter bunnies.

PRINCE VALIANT: Fresh from destroying the Garden of Eden, Val and pals are busted by the Emperor Justinian, who announces that he's finally seen through Prince V.'s nondisguise. What tipped you off, boss, the pageboy haircut?

THE PHANTOM: The Phantom talks jurisdiction Tuesday. Animal poacher Noah von Belon will confess, he says, "because that puts him before a government judge in Mawitaan. If he disputes the charges, Wambesi law has first claim." Wednesday, the Law & Order: Special Jungle Unit episode continues. "Noah committed capital crimes under Wambesi law," the Ghost Who Happens to Be an Expert on Criminal Procedure explains. "Trespass on forbidden land . . . Theft of animals revered as guiding spirits." "The penalty in Mawitaan?" Diana asks. "Loss of his jet, deportation, prison if he ever returns," the Phantom says. What happens to offenders who don't have amphibious jets to forfeit?

Finally, on Thursday, the Phantom--unmasked and stripped to the waist--gets back to the whole second-honeymoon business that brought him to Eden Island in the first place, crushing Diana in his arms beside the campfire. Friday, he's shipped her back to New York so he can hang out with the pygmies.

In the Sunday strip, the Phantom emerges from the swamp with an unconscious diamond-thief slung over one shoulder and the golden treaty ox of the Wambesi and Llongo tucked under the other arm. Didn't that golden ox used to be about the size of an actual ox? "We have a war to stop!" the Ghost Who Abhors Violence announces to the rest of the diamond thieves. "Pray God we are not too late!"

REX MORGAN, M.D.: John Clement, irritable golf instructor, has disappeared. "I'd bet he's driving around thinking he has Alzheimer's disease," Rex muses. Or else he's just driving around, huh, doc?

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