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Funny Paper

We're Number Three!!

Nov. 5-11

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 11/14/2001

FLIP THE FUCKING CALENDAR ALREADY! DEP'T.: We're used to seeing the pre-Halloween festivities creep back toward Labor Day. But this week, the post-Halloween festivities are threatening to stretch toward kickoff of the Lions game on Thanksgiving. On Tuesday--six days after the walking dead were already supposed to be back in their holes--three strips were clinging to the Eve of All Hallows. In Cathy, Cathy is complaining to a store clerk that Halloween made her too fat for the clothes she's trying on. In The Middletons, Wilson and Diego are still reflecting on their chocolate gluttony. And in For Better or For Worse, John is still trying to return his rented Hallowe'en witch decoration. The process is so cumbersome it drags on into Wednesday (Nov. 7!), allowing Lynn Johnston to outlast the competition, becoming the comics-page equivalent of the last crumpled, rotting jack-o-lantern in the neighborhood.

Why hang on? It's not as if fall is lacking for other holidays to peg the strips to. While those three strips were still wallowing in Halloween on the first Tuesday in November, the ever-cutting-edge Hi & Lois was doing an Election Day gag. Oh, right . . . Election Day. Admittedly, it was a gag about last year's election. But still. Maybe it's not Election Day in Lynn Johnston's Canada. Or maybe it is. Maybe they elect the King of Canada by shooting arrows into a giant wooden narwhal. After that pimptastic Pierre "Fuddle Duddle" Trudeau guy stepped down, Funny Paper kind of lost track of the nuts and bolts of Canadian politics.

Still, we can't fault FBOFW too much. November 11 arrived with scarcely a hint in the funnies that it was Veterans Day. (Hey, it's not as if we're at war or anything.) Among America's comic-strips artists, as represented in the pages of The Sun, only Charles Schulz observed the day--or at least, he observed the day back in 1973, when Saturday's Classic Peanuts sequence of Snoopy putting on his "Ike" jacket and preparing to "quaff a few root beers" with Bill Mauldin first appeared. (Let's see, 1973 . . . were we in a war then? Who won?) But Johnston gives us the Patterson family's grandpa, with medals on his chest, heading out the door with a tray of poppies to sell for "Remembrance Day." April buys one, then fiddles with it as she broods over the World Trade Center attack. We'd bust on the Pattersons for not knowing the correct name for the holiday, but, y'know, at least the Canadians remembered.

THE HORROR! DEP'T.: As Cathy agonizes over her weight gain, the clerk in Tuesday's strip tries to buck up her spirits: "Last year we showed a little thigh. This year we show a little pie!" Funny Paper can think of nothing we want to see less than Cathy's "pie."

PRODUCT PLACEMENT DEP'T.: Altoids get prominent play in Saturday's Luann.

HYDRAULIC CONVERGENCE DEP'T: Fireplugs appear in, or are mentioned in, Non Sequitur, Mother Goose & Grimm, Marmaduke, and Mother Goose & Grimm again. Best gag by far: Marmaduke sniffing an ambulatory fire-hydrant-shaped alien as it disembarks from its flying saucer. Invasion of the fire-hydrant men. By Brad Anderson. Space aliens? Marmaduke?

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Mike Peters delivers his first hydrant joke as he tries to get into the spirit of national unity Monday, with Grimm leaving "a little message for the firemen": an "I ♥ NY" sign on a fireplug. Thanks, Grimm. "Please accept my urine-soaked message of gratitude for your bravery." Really fucking tasteful.

Wednesday, Grimm naps on the sofa, checking to see if anyone catches him up there. "Sofa, so good," he says. We were going to write "couch" in our first sentence there, instead of "sofa," to set up the "so-fa" punch line a little better. But Mike Peters didn't bother to do that. He just used "sofa" twice. Because he's sloppy. Because he's tone-deaf. Because he's lazy. Because he doesn't think. Because he's stupid. Because we hate him. Because he's Mike Peters.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Eventually, John gets rid of the rented witch. Elly buys secondhand furniture to replace the rec-room furniture she gave away to the kids. Funny Paper tries to wring some sort of filthy double entendre out of a panel of one of John's assistants straddling a broom, but is thwarted by Lynn Johnston's consummate professionalism--she made sure to include the witch dummy in the scene. Accursed context! Why, it's as if she cares how every single panel holds together on its own. Unlike certain single-panel cartoonists we could name. For better for her, for worse for us!

FAMILY CIRCUS: Monday, Dolly informs a peeved-looking Billy that he is "the WEAKEST LINK! Goodbye!" Jeffy titters at this joke. Which is precisely the level of humor that the gag reaches. It's funny enough to tickle the dumbest member of the Circus Family. Barely.

Wednesday, Dolly reads to Jeffy and P.J. from The Story of Adam and Eve. "God doesn't make grownups anymore, just babies," she explains. "They're tiny and easier to make." Who told Dolly how to make babies?

Thursday, Billy and Jeffy talk on paper-cup phones without string. "These are cell phones," Billy says. How many days till this gag shows up in Non Sequitur?

NON SEQUITUR: Wiley Miller, always the last man on the leaf pile, presents "Why HMO care is an oxymoron" on Thursday. Out-RAY-geous! HMOs care more about cost-cutting than about healing people? We are shocked by Wiley's bravery. Next, he'll be telling us why gas is more than a dollar a gallon, or how lawyers are, like, greedy and stuff. Tell it like it is, N.S.-man!

Saturday, Wiley gives us "Why it took Moses 40 years to lead his people out of the wilderness." Answer: Those damn Israelite women spent forever in the ladies' room. Tell us, Wiley: Do women hate you as much as you hate them? Who messed you up, Wiley? What happened?

KUDZU: "I have no more hormones," a weeping woman tells the Rev. Will B. Dunn. "I just have moans." Tell us, Doug Marlette: Do women hate you as much as you hate them? Who messed you up, Doug Marlette? What happened?

BIG NATE: Oh, right. Big Nate doesn't run in The Sun. Sure was funny in that Washington Post this week, though. They have lotsa good comics.

MARY WORTH: The plot continues to degenerate, as Ian, Dawn, and "Woody" sink into apparent insanity. Ian continues to suckle on the booze, despite a waitron's attempts to cut him off. ("Your third cocktail, sir.") Dawn flies into an irrational jealous rage because "Woody" happened to mention that he knows a female person in Chicago. And "Woody" preys on Dawn's madness by telling her more about this person of the opposite sex: "The girl means more to me than any other woman on earth. . . . She has a very sexy voice! . . . She adores me! . . . And she's my only . . . sister!" Grooving on your sister's "sexy voice" is fucking twisted, OK?

APARTMENT 3-G: Tommie seizes the first-mate's duties aboard the Bahamas-bound boat from Wrong-Way Margo, and promptly helps Captain Greg change plans. "We're docking tonight," el Capitan says. Specifically, he's planning to dock with Lu Ann. "I want to invite you out to dinner . . . alone," he tells his old flame. By Saturday, they're setting off on their date, reflecting on their misadventures on the bounding main. "Lucky for Margo," Greg says, "I've never flogged a sailor."

Sunday, Bolle + Trusiani (+ Alex + Kotzky) take the almost unprecedented step of switching scenes, cutting away--via cell-phone call from the boat--to a candlelight dinner between the Professor and Gabriella. Imagine that--two plot lines at once. Somebody tell Mary Worth. And quick.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Chuck Franks pulls a knife on Wendi and June, and Rex, arriving on the scene, cold-cocks him. Two pain-stars shoot from Franks' jaw as the good doctor prescribes, fills, and administers a 900,000-mg dose of knuckle-dust - enough to fully sedate an adult male. Only one pain-star rises from Dr. Whup-Ass' bare hand the next day, floating in front of his lab-coat lapel like a sheriff's badge. Upset at June for endangering her life, he attempts to withhold sex from her. But then he relents.

THE BOONDOCKS: The black residents of Woodcrest celebrate the news that Afro-Americans are no longer the most hated racial or ethnic group in America. "They fell to third place," a newscaster says, "behind people of Middle Eastern/Arab descent and people of East Indian descent--because they look kind of like people of Middle Eastern/Arab descent." "We're number three! We're number three!!" Caesar exults.

LUANN: Luann asks Gunther out to the movies in gratitude for his semi-heroics during that sprained-ankle incident two or three plot lines ago. Knute tries to explain to Gunther how to put the moves on her. "Is this first base?" Gunther asks, as Knute puts an arm around him. Saturday, Gunther caps the over-preparation by loading himself with a barrage of over-the-counter odor-masking and -substituting products. "You smell like a French hoor," Luann says. "Let's fuck." No, she doesn't. Funny Paper says that. Ms. DeGroot just coughs daintily.

GASOLINE ALLEY: Slim and Clovia go to their high-school reunion. Thursday, Slim wants to wear his grease-monkey uniform shirt to a "casual dress" gathering. Friday, he mistakes his aged classmates for the teachers. Saturday, he mistakes an aged friend for that friend's father. They should stop calling him Slim and start calling him "Smart."

JUMBLE: A "SOLUTION", "HAM" AND EGGS, QUITE A STIR, A GRAND "OPENING", ALARMED, A "SPORTS" CAR.

DILBERT: Word fun from Scott Adams. Asok wins a "prestigious award for attendance." "My name is misspelled," he says, "as an obscenity." "Typo," he's told.

"Typo?" he says. "You added four letters!!"

Hmm. After a brief blind foray into the F's and C's, Funny Paper solved this one without buying a vowel.

B.C.: The anteater nabs an ant, only to find something clogging his snout. "Ants got air bags!" he thinks. Ants got air bags. Ants got air bags. Ants got air bags. Hey . . . ants got air bags.

ZIPPY: Zippy reverts to the source text. "We accept you, you are one of us!!" the microcephalic says. Gabba gabba hey.

MARK TRAIL: Jack Elrod fires up the kerosene-powered Stupid Coincidinator to advance his feeble plot. Sarah the dog, companion of old man Matt Crawford--who once took the fall for stealing a lumber-camp payroll--follows the scent of a raccoon to . . . the hollow tree where two crooks just hid their stolen lumber-camp payroll. Can't the lumberjacks just get direct deposit and save everyone a lot of trouble? "The old raccoon isn't home, but Sarah sees something that will help line her bed under Matt Crawford's house." Put some more fuel in the Coinicidinator, Jacko. And have a nip yourself.

Sunday's featured animal: the intrepid scallop. "Some shellfish spend their adult lives permanently attached to one spot, but not the scallop. . . . [W]hen danger approaches, they can dart through the water by opening and closing their shells." Also, they can write better plot twists than that dog-bringing-the-stolen-lumber-camp-payroll-back-to-the-guy-who-was-wrongfully-convicted-of-stealing-a-lumber-camp-payroll-so-she-can-sleep-on-it crap. Funny Paper hates to pick a fight with Nature Expert Jack Elrod here, but what's the most effort you ever saw a dog go through in search of comfortable bedding material? Like, maybe turning around three times before it flops down at random?

THE PHANTOM: The Phantom is plucked out of the water by Guran and a suddenly seafaring band of Bandar forest pygmies. The Singh pirates start to have second thoughts about having surrendered to a Ghost Who Walks.

Sunday, the newest band of doomed crooks heads up the Llongo River, looking for the lake where the natives dump diamonds for the river goddess. "I can't wait to take a peek into her jewel box!" the one with the spider tattoo says. Somewhere, Ronnie Mervis is drooling.

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This One Is Not a Sweetheart (2/11/2004)
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Haiku for the Holidays (12/31/2003)
Dec. 22-28, 2003

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