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Funny Paper

He's Holding My Butts

Nov. 26-Dec. 2

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 12/5/2001

INTERTEXTUALITY DEP'T.: In Thursday's Ziggy, the Ziggy household gets a phone call from elsewhere on the comics page. "It's for you!!" Ziggy says, handing the receiver off to his dog. "It sounds like Dogbert!!" In Saturday's Curtis, Ray Billingsley--king of the extra business--slips a missing-child poster of Good Ol' Charlie Brown, tacked up on a utility pole, into the corner of the fourth panel.

Saturday's Beetle Bailey ups the ante, with Gen. Halftrack standing at the bar, his arm around a human-sized Bugs Bunny. "Gimme another martini," he says, "and my friend here will have the same." "I think you've had enough," the barkeep says in the next panel, which shows the general with his arm draped around thin air. It's Harvey the Invisible Rabbit. It's Bugs. It's a figment of Amos Halftrack's pickled imagination. Instead of seeing bats, will the general see Batman?

And if a thing's worth doing, it's worth Bil Keane doing it badly. "Our password has to have at least 4 characters," Daddy says, setting up his computer Thursday. "How about MickeyMinnieGoofyDonald?" Billy suggests. Cripes, Billy, how stupid can you be? Daddy can't type "MickeyMinnieGoofyDonald" with one hand.

YOU CAN'T QUIT THE DAY JOB WHEN YOU'RE WORKIN' THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT DEP'T.: On Sunday, Hi & Lois marvel over little Trixie's huge output of crayon drawings. "You're becoming quite the artist, young lady!" Hiram says. "I have higher aspirations!" the toddler (who's wearing what Funny Paper is forced to identify as a raspberry beret) sniffs via thought-balloon. "As soon as I learn to spell, I'm going to be a cartoonist!"

If only cartoonists were so well balanced. Funny Paper has already winced over Kudzu hack Doug Marlette's moonlight career as a quasi-autobiographical ersatz-linthead quasi-novelist. (The Bridge now stands at a respectable Amazon.com sales ranking of 3,319, thanks to the support of such devoted readers as A Mill Town Girl from South Carolina, who declares that it "offers insite into the little known tragic events involving working people in the south. . . . There are some opinions that this is a trashy, homophobic book, and those who think this are narrow minded and mean spirited individuals who obviously envy the brilliant writing of Mr. Marlette; and apparently did not read the entire book.") This week, we stumbled into a whole new artsy cul de sac off the Cartoonist Boulevard: the paintings of the late Jeff MacNelly.

We know, we know--Del mortuis nil nisi bonum, blah, blah, blah. But MacNelly's artwork is still for sale, at prices ranging into the neighborhood of $1,800 for a size "large" (we're assuming that's sofa-sized). And it really, really sucks. According to his Web site, MacNelly wielded his paintbrush in his winters in Key West, "while sitting on the bungalow porch next to a pool." The results are exactly what you'd expect from the Salon de Margaritaville: lots of anthropomorphic critters having lo-brow adventures. There's your bull on a Harley, your naked pig being booked on a drunk-and-disorderly, your transvestite rooster. There's your "Hemingway Cat #1," six-toed front paws poised over a typewriter. Then there are the human-themed pictures--Big Johnson-style girly works, such as "Dink's Dreamboat," where the nekkid women's breasts are two or three times the volume of their tiny craniums.

And then there was the one that put two themes together: "Dog Beach,", the "Guernica" of Jeff MacNelly vacation paintings. Nekkid women frolic witlessly on the sand, under the benevolent eye of their anthropomorphic-canine masters. A blond leaps to catch a Frisbee in her mouth. A redhead begs for a treat, which may or may not be a cigarette. MacNelly had explored the theme of dogs dominating women in his earlier work "Personal Trainer", but "Dog Beach" is his tour de crap, the full flowering of his diseased imagination. Who knew the newsroom-nerd hijinks of Shoe came from the mind of such a slavering degenerate?

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS DEP'T.: An irate Canadian reader informs Funny Paper, via the City Paper Online Forum, that we've been misstating certain geopolitical facts about our neighbor to the north. It turns out that the King of Canada is actually a woman. Funny Paper regrets the error.

SUN CROSSWORD OREO WATCH: Thursday, 58 down, "dunkable treat." Friday, 59 down, "popular cookie."

DILBERT: Presented with a plan to lay off employees on Employee Appreciation Day, human-resources director Catbert has an orgasm on his desk. Right there on page one of the Sunday Color Supplement, above the fold, in lurid red. "AH-AH-AH-WOOO!!! Catbert cries, rearing back and thrusting his stubby legs in the air. "What was that?" the pointy-haired boss asks. "You don't want to know," Catbert says, his fur and whiskers disheveled. You don't want to know. Funny Paper is incredulous that this got past the censors. Frank Cho must have crapped his pants. So we have no choice but to salute Scott Adams for his pioneering work in the portrayal of feline sexuality. Truth to tell, we didn't think Adams knew that much about sex.

LUANN: Luann, outraged by the rumors that Gunther ditched her at the movies to hook up with his secret girlfriend, dumps a bowl of cafeteria spaghetti on his head. Then she apologizes for the spaghetti incident, after she realizes how stupid and improbable this whole High School Confidential plot line is. Then Gunther dumps spaghetti on her head for being such a dumbass. For better! Wait, wrong strip.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Candace tries to explain to Liz that her femme-y creep boyfriend Eric is treating her like dirt and cheating on her. The attempted consciousness-raising goes for naught, as Eric macks Liz into submission, then fantasizes about his other girlfriend while he's kissing her. For Liz, for worse!

JUMP START: Joe, Clarence, and the about-to-pop pregnant Charlene get hopelessly stuck in traffic en route to the hospital. Calling on the reckless driving skills of Joe's mom, Marcy meets them there and delivers the baby in the car--the second automotive-midwifery event in the history of Jump Start.

JUMBLE: A"PRINCELY" SUM, A "WAIT" PROBLEM, A "HEAD" FOR IT, THE FUR FLY, QUITE A "SIGHT," PUT A LID ON IT.

WILLY 'N ETHEL: For the World's Laziest Dog, the newly introduced Bondo sure requires a lot of real estate to run around in. Wednesday's dog-telepathy gag takes an unprecedented five panels to get through. Funny Paper hesitates to complain about the work of the great Joe Martin, but we miss the lazy two-panel rhythms of the old, Bondo-free WnE.

HI & LOIS: Vice comes to the Flagston house Thursday as Lois finds cigarettes in Chip's room. "They belong to a friend of mine," Chip says. Lois disbelieves, but a buzz-cut and tattooed teen appears on the doorstep. "Is Chip here? He's holding my butts." Fine, but we're waiting to see who shows up to claim the sample-size tubes of Astroglide and those copies of Torso under the mattress.

MARY WORTH: Dawn Weston and Woody "Don't Call Me Beverly" Hills continue fine-tuning their scheme to seduce Liz Hoag. For the record, Dawn's lightbulb thought-balloon that announced the inception of the inception of the inception of this plot appeared in mid-September. In that same time span, Gasoline Alley took its crossover Dick Tracy story from start to finish, the Rex Morgan, M.D. gang conquered its toxic-mold infestation, and For Better or For Worse celebrated Hallowe'en and "Remembrance" Day. And Dawn Weston has lost 20 pounds and gained an upturned Barbie-like nose--by week's end, the formerly dumpy Dawn is lounging in bed in an attempted cheesecake-on-the-phone pose.

At least this week Saunders & Giela decided to bring back some of their daffy, with-it Youth Lingo. "What have I done?" Woody asks. "That's what I'm wondering, Mister El-Slicko Don Juan!" Dawn says. Funny Paper no habla the Español so good, but shouldn't that be "Mister Señor El-Slicko Don Juan"? Meanwhile, the still-stewed Ian amuses himself with tweedy lexical games in his head: "The wily fish has taken the hook . . ." he muses, "and gobbled up the line! . . . All that remains is to "sink her!" Hook . . . line . . . sink her! We bet Ian is a real barrel of laughs when he sits in on a thesis defense.

APARTMENT 3-G: Saunders & Giela's bid at cheesecake pales before the work of the undisputed masters of Apartment 34-C, Bolle + Trusiani, who stop the Bahamas-bound boat on Sunday for a full-color (read: pink!) group swim. "I for one am ready to cast off the chains of a windless day!" Margo announces, leading the girls in a scantily clad scamper around the yacht.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Tiger Morgan keeps talking about golf. Melissa shows up in leathers, riding a motorcycle with an elderly companion.

ZIPPY: Sunday, the peripatetic pinhead drops in on the violently pink, airplane-impaled Corn Crib Family Restaurant, in Christiana, Pa. As it happens, half of Funny Paper had motored by the Crib the day before, while touring the land of the Plain People and the Unbelievably Massive Outlet-Mall Complex. We were shopping for a rustic, unfinished-pine rocking chair, but we somehow came away with a pair of those newfangled slip-on Skechers.

THE MIDDLETONS: Wilson resents his backpack on Thursday. "It hangs too low!" he complains. "You can't even see my boxer shorts."

THE PHANTOM: We're still not seeing any new adventure. Just more paddling around and hashing over back story. "Even you were not able to save Aron," Mrs. Ghost Who Walks says. "No . . ." the Phantom says. "He died at Trader Joe's . . . shot by cowards!" He died where? What, over by the bulk bins of chocolate-covered almonds? Funny Paper once saw three Volvos in a Mexican standoff at Trader Joe's, when they were all trying to back out at once. But that's about as violent as it got.

Sunday: "The Wambesi have killed our fish! This means war!" "The Llongos have killed our cattle! This means war!"

PRINCE VALIANT: Pulse-pounding infrastructure improvements. "The Roman empire, whose traditions Justinian carries forward, offers no greater legacy than its engineering."

THE LOCKHORNS: "Your cooking instructor called, Loretta," Leroy says Wednesday. "You've been voted out of the class." It's a played-out Lockhorns gag, reinvented as a played-out Survivor gag. Wow, Bunny Hoest. That's sort of an innovation. By your standards, we mean.

KUDZU: The post-post-terrorism age has arrived, as Doug Marlette does a "911" joke that has nothing to do with Sept. 11. "I tried putting the moves on my husband last night," a woman tells the Rev. Will B. Dunn. "He called 911!" Now that we look at it, this joke has nothing to do with itself either.

B.C.: "I just finished 'Voyage of the Damned,'" Peter tells Curls on Wednesday. "Sounds pretty scary," Curls says. "Yeah," Peter replies, "it's about a pack of runaway beavers." This doesn't work, because it required Johnny Hart to spell out "damned" correctly. The only way to set up the gag is to do it backwards, so the punchline is "Voyage of the Dammed." People think puns are easy. And funny. Wrong on both counts, Mister Before Christ.

THE COLL-EGG-TIBLE EGGERS FAMILY: Thirteen-year-old Molly Baer of Reisterstown collects "artist egg-strordinaire" laurels with "B-egg-toven's Egg-mont Overature." Yeah, well, you misspelled "overture," smart-egg-pants.

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Thursday, Mike Peters delivers "What Geronimo yelled": "ME!" This is transparently the what-Jesus Christ-says-when-he-hits-his-thumb-with-a-hammer gag.

BEETLE BAILEY: Thursday brings a rare appearance by the Camp Swampy psychiatrist, Dr. Bonkus.

GASOLINE ALLEY: At the class reunion, Clovia comes across her old beau Gravely Poupon--and when we say old, we mean old: Poupon's cheeks are so sunken, we thought at first that he was wearing long, twirling mustachios. We know the characters are supposed to age in the Alley, but ol' Gravely seems to be living in some whole different space-time continuum. He's like David Bowie in The Hunger. We guess that makes Clovia Catherine Deneuve. And Slim would be Susan Sarandon.

NON SEQUITUR: "Why supermodels hate this time of year": a man clutching his hat against the wind, watching a pair of skinny legs in a miniskirt blow clear out the frame. Ooh, Wiley. We bet that really stung those supermodels. Actually, supermodels, being so thin, have a small aerodynamic profile, with a relatively low amount of lift. Funny Paper suspects that in a windstorm, a supermodel would be the perfect place to be.

MARK TRAIL: The cops haul old Matt Crawford to the clink, with Sarah the Incredibly Concidental, Sloppy, and Needy Dog trying to follow along. Mark volunteers to take care of her while he's gone.

Sunday's featured vaguely nature-related phenomenon: "hundreds of beliefs and sayings about animals." ""Snug as a bug in a rug'," says Mark, relaxing with a cup of coffee. "Did you ever wonder how that popular saying got started?" Not really, no. Sorry, Mr. Trail.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Tuesday, the kids try to check out Dog Day Afternoon and a dictionary at the library. The library lady says they can't have the movie, because it's rated R. "In that case, we won't be needing the dictionary either," Joe says.

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