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Funny Paper

I Suck Ketchup

Oct. 22-28

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 10/31/2001

PRE-HALLOWEEN COSTUME CONTEST DEP'T: In keeping with Halloween's ever-expanding share of the public-holiday calendar, the comics are already preparing to go trick-or-treating. In Sunday's For Better or For Worse, Grandpa Jim and Iris dress up as wild-haired young punkers for a Halloween party--or, as April puts it, a "Hallowe'en party." We're not sure whether Lynn Johnston is using a Canadian spelling here, or just a pedantic one. Shouldn't it be "Hallowe'e'n'"? For wo'rse!

The Middletons pull out all the stops. The mother-in-law dresses as a witch, Morris tries on a mask, and Wilson broods about being stuck with a butterfly costume. Diego suggests he try being a "vampire butterfly." And little Wendie plans to go out as a clone of herself.

In Sunday's Family Circus, Billy confronts a school bus full of dressed-up children--including a Harry Potter, an Imperial Storm Trooper, and a Cleveland Brown. "I forgot!" he tells Mommy, "We're all s'posed to wear Halloween costumes today for the party!" Your child has no costume! Bad Mommy! The news makes Thel drop Billy's carefully hand-packed bag lunch.

And so the winner this week is Willy 'n Ethel's Willy. He's prepared a costume for Ethel's sister: a belt with a flip-out stop sign. "All she needs is that big yellow dress of hers," he says proudly.

OTHER SEASONAL BUSINESS DEP'T: Funny Paper nearly forgot to reset our clocks Saturday night, what with the comics' near-total failure to observe the return to Standard Time. Only Classic Peanuts and Hi & Lois rose to the occasion. In Peanuts, Snoopy's stomach is enraged when dinner is delayed by an hour. In H&L, a sleepy Hi sets the clocks wrong, making Lois two hours early for a real-estate appointment. In Cathy, meanwhile, Cathy has skipped straight ahead to dro'oling over Hallowe'en candy.

HARMONIC CONVERGENCE DEP'T.: Saturday, Momma and Herb & Jamaal both mention marshmallows--and neither does so in the context of Halloween candy.

YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN! DEP'T.: Two similar philosophy-of-rain gags show why Charles Schulz was a poet and Bil Keane is a doof. Monday, in Family Circus, Billy and Dolly are walking through the rain, wearing rain hats and slickers. "Grandma said, 'Into each life some rain must fall,'" Billy says. "This should take care of us for life." Tuesday, in Classic Peanuts, it's Linus and Charlie Brown in hats and slickers. Schulz's rain looks wetter; the two are more visibly trudging. "The rain falls on the just and the unjust," Charlie Brown says. Linus pauses for a panel to consider this. "That's a good system!" he concludes.

Saturday in Dennis the Menace, Dennis and Joey are out in their rain slickers. They don't try to wax philosophical. "Come on out, Mr. Wilson," Dennis calls to his porch-bound neighbor. "You're missing all the fun up there."

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES DEP'T.: On Friday, Shoe is weirdly fuzzy, thanks to the failure of The Sun to convert it from gray-scale to bitmap.

GARFIELD: Absolutely inexplicable. Monday, a caped and masked dog plummets from above and crushes Garfield. "Bungee Dogggg!" it cries (via thought balloon) as it rebounds upward. The rest of the week consists of minor variations on the same thing, just like when Garfield goes on a spider-squashing binge--only this time, it's Garfield being squashed: "Sling-shot doooggg!!" "Aaattic doooggg!!" "Roooof doooggg!!" "Warm-up doooggg!" "Dooorrrr doooggg!" Compounding the mystery, Dooorrrr Doooggg appears to be approximately 7 feet tall and weigh 500 pounds.

MARK TRAIL: The felonious lumberjacks, equipped with ski masks and a revolver, go "trick-or-treating."

Sunday's featured natural phenomenon: migration. "Somewhere in the early history of our planet, wild creatures began regular journeys to avoid winter's cold and famine."

CURTIS: Curtis, forced to do community service after uploading a photocopy of his butt to the school computer system, complains to a squirrel about his lot in life. "Don't be such a 'wussie'!" the squirrel says. Actually, it's a friendly hobo talking, from behind a wall where Curtis can't see him.

MARY WORTH: The endless plot by Ian and the kids to interfere with the relationship between Ian's sister-in-law and Wilbur gets thicker. By "thicker," we mean "stupider." Ex-thespian Forrest "Woody" Hills announces his willingness to seduce the wicked woman in the guise of snobbish timber baron "Woodrow Pine the Third." "'Woodrow Pine'?!?" Dawn Weston exclaims. "Where did that name come from?" Yeah, where in the world would Forrest "Woody" Hills get the inspiration for a name like "Woodrow Pine the Third"?

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Wendi Karol and Chef Tito plunge into the mold-laced waters of the flooded basement, looking for June. Tito daintily hoists the skirts of his bathrobe as he goes. They find her, still trapped where she fell into the old packing crate, haul her out, and diagnose her with hypothermia. Rex Morgan, M.D.? More like, Everybody, M.D.

LUANN: Luann moons over Aaron Hill. When Delta goes to get ketchup and straws, Luann gives away her friend's seat to make room for the dimwitted girly-hunk. The extra lunch tray? "I'm extra hungry today," Luann offers lamely. When Delta returns, Luann enlists her in the deception. "That your lunch?" Aaron asks Delta. "Oh, yeah," Delta replies. "I suck ketchup."

YOU CAN WITH BEAKMAN & JAX: In other condiment-related news, Dario Jackson, of McComb, Miss., asks where ketchup and mustard come from. Mustard --no problem. Jax provides a nice, tight account of the origin of mustard, complete with recipe. But ketchup . . . ketchup, it seems, is beyond the scope of science. Jax's explanation is one of the most long-winded and confusing things we've ever seen in You Can. In a muddled, globe-spanning presentation, Jax jabbers about mushroom-and-walnut sauce, "oyster ketchup," and the Reagan White House. "Ketchup has so many spellings because it's based on a word that wasn't written with letters," Jax writes. "It was written with a picture, or a pictograph, in Chinese." But the You Can't crew fails to provide said Chinese character. Worthless.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Ruthie turns grace into a prayer rally: "Dear God, Miss Lucille said that on the bus ride of life, the last stop is the graveyard. Well, I say unto you, please help us all get a transfer . . . a transfer to heaven . . . Can I get an 'Amen,' people?!"

SALLY FORTH: A full week of "classical rhetorical questions for the home." "Am I the only one in the house capable of using a toilet brush?" Sally asks. Also: "Who put a half-empty ice tray back in the freezer?" "Can no one else see the lint in the lint trap?" "I don't suppose those gutters are going to clean themselves, are they?" "What makes you think I'm the only one who knows how to open a can?" "How do people know to call at the exact moment my bath is ready?"

A classic rhetorical question from Funny Paper: "If hundreds of passive-aggressive housewives clip your strip and stick it to their fridge, do you think that makes it funny?"

GASOLINE ALLEY: Jim Scancarelli's crossover version of Dick Tracy concludes that the butler did it.

DOONESBURY: Army reservist B.D. is called up, leaving the football squad to fend for itself. "As a security precaution, all laps have been cancelled," Zipper Harris tells his teammates.

NON SEQUITUR: Wiley brings back "Pierre of the North." "Pierre of the North" still sucks.

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Author "Ann Nonymous" wonders why she never gets any credit. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution rests.

APARTMENT 3-G: Margo steers the Bahamas-bound boat toward the rocks. Why is Margo such a fuck-up lately?

THE PHANTOM: The Phantom continues to banter with his foes. "You two must be the skeleton crew . . ." he says to a pair of captured pirates, in his usual stentorian boldface. "Ghost ship? Skeleton crew? . . . Never mind!" But enough with the wordplay. The Ghost Who Knows How to Skipper a Soviet-Built Nuclear Submarine has work to do. "Emergency blow! Starboard tanks only!," he orders his captives. Now--bow planes back! Aft starboard ballast. Aft planes . . . NOW!" How come the Phantom, who was raised in a cave surrounded by pygmies, is so assured at the helm, while Margo, who grew up in yacht culture, can't handle a simple sailboat? The violent heaving of the sub wakes the ghost-pirate queen in her berth--"Who ordered a %!# !*% emergency blow!?"--and forces her to arch her back, thrust out her breasts, and assume a cheesecake pose as she bellows, "All hands to the conn! NOW!" Somewhere, we fear, devoted Phantom readers are in fact putting their hands on the conn.

On Sunday, Guran reminds the Phantom to update his social calendar: "It's time to renew the covenant of the ox in just a few days!"

JUMBLE: ON HIS "BREAK", STANDING TALL, BOWLED OVER, RAILROAD TIES, A "FIXED" INCOME, "WINGED" IT.

SHOE: "What's in the folder?" "Pictures and letters from all the women I used to be married to. I call it the ex-files." Funny Paper would like to retroactively retract any praise we might ever have given this comic strip.

FAMILY CIRCUS: On Thursday, Billy, looking at the title screen for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? [sic]*, raises his hand, and announces "I do!" Dolly turns and snaps at him: "Billy! Do you hafta say that EVERY time?" Wow. Billy is so dumb he even gets on Dolly's nerves. The Circus Family kids, we notice, watch TV from about four inches away.

Friday, Jeffy contemplates a sign with a ghost saying "Boo!" "What does B-zero-zero spell?" he asks. That's your class group in preschool, you beta sub-minus.

Saturday, Billy and Bil look at a field with a sign with the words "Nellie Gail Ranch" on it. "Is this a meadow, a field, or a vacant lot?" Billy asks. Looks to us like it's a real-estate swindle. Funny Paper's online research into the meaning of "Nellie Gail Ranch" yielded the following, verbatim: Nellie Gail Ranch is one of the most exclusive areas in Orange County. Homes in this area range from the $400,000's to over $4,000,000. In this area a Cadalac is an old beater. Home prices per square foot are much higher so you can not use this as a measuring stick with other areas in the county (except in the more exclusive areas of the beach communities and Coto de Caza). Conveniently located between the 5 Freeway and the Pacific Ocean, Nellie Gail Ranch is the community for those who want the best and can afford it. We also turned up a web page documenting the "Nellie Gail Ranch Landslide." Caveat emptor.

* Who Wants to Be a Millionaire joins Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the Titles Almost Nobody Knows Don't Have Question Marks Hall of Fame.

BLONDIE: Alexander buys those baggy jeans all the cool kids are wearing. Dagwood erects a flagpole, with heavy collateral damage.

KID CITY: This informative Sunday-color-supplement feature, from the folks who brought you Sesame Street, gets a little too informative about the human body: "Your lungs contain nearly 1,500 miles of airways. If they were opened out and laid flat, your lungs would cover a tennis court." This is accompanied by a picture of a tennis court with a lumpy pink surface. "Is this surface clay or grass?" one player asks. "Don't ask . . ." the other says. Funny Paper would have welcomed the chance not to ask.

UNCLE ART'S FUNLAND: N. A. Nugent serves up some beta-minus-minus comedy in the "Riddles 'N' Giggles" region of Funland. "What animal never misses a baseball game?" . . . "A bat." Haw. But wait, there's more. "What's the best way to hit a golf ball?" . . . "With a golf club." Huh? In Funny Paper's experience, the correct answer to the second riddle is also "a bat." That's the bestest way to hit a golf ball, we've found. Pow! Yeah!

CLASSIC PEANUTS: "Do falling leaves make you feel sad?" Charlie Brown asks Lucy. "Absolutely not!" Queen Fussbudget replies. "If they want to fall, I say let 'em fall! In fact, falling leaves are a good sign. . . . It's when you see them jumping back onto the trees that you're in trouble." It's the Great Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown!

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