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Funny Paper

Bacon and Cheddar Pudding

Oct. 1-7

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 10/10/2001

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR GUN-CRAZED PRE-MIRANDA VIGILANTE DEP'T.: In Gasoline Alley, Melba and the garbagemen arrive at her eccentric uncle's house to find that he's been murdered--and that the case is being investigated by Detective Tracy. Yes, that Detective Tracy. So that cameo by Gravel Gertie and B.O. Plenty a couple weeks back wasn't just a one-off. Naturally, Joel and Rufus refer to the hawk-nosed detective as "Mr. Bracy."

What gives? Jim Scancarelli finally ventures a semi-explanation on Friday, as his knockoff version of Tracy says something about "70 years of my bringing criminals to justice." Aha! It was on Oct. 4, 1931, that Chester Gould's Plainclothes Tracy first appeared in the Detroit Mirror. So Gasoline Alley is paying its respects, one way-past-the-expiration-date Tribune Media Services property to another.

There's more than mere corporate cross-promotion at work here. According to Don Markstein's Toonopedia™--online repository of way more comics info than Funny Paper can handle--the strips share a genealogical connection: Scancarelli's predecessor on the Alley, Dick Moores, got his start as an assistant to Gould. Now if only the strips could conspire to stick a slug or three in Walt's gut, to put him out of his misery.

But the dead-rich-uncle-in-secluded-mansion setup seems more an Agatha Christie situation than a Chester Gould one. Where's the deformed villain in this game? Is it Rover? Right now in the actual Dick Tracy, the hawk-nosed detective is on the trail of a bizarrely slow-moving bank robber named Snails, who likes to snack on the mollusks he's named after. In the shell. Crunch, crunch. Good to see Dick Tracy is still completely fucking weird.

BAMBOOZLEDED DEP'T.: Tuesday, Doug Marlette goes to Overworked Kudzu Gag No. 3: "With all the horrors of modern life," Nasal T. Lardbottom says to the Rev. Will B. Dunn, "give me one good reason to believe in a just and merciful providence!" "Spike Lee's Bamboozled went straight to video!" the Rev replies.

Hang on. First of all, Spike Lee's Bamboozled did not go straight to video. "Straight to video" is a specific film-business term, referring to movies that are never released in theaters. According to Funny Paper's consultation of the infinitely useful Internet Movie Database, Bamboozled came out Oct. 8, 2000 in a 17-screen limited release, expanding to 240-some screens two weeks later. It closed in November, after seven weeks and $2.2 million in box office--a pretty poor run, admittedly, but way better than, say, that same October's Marky Mark-Charlize Theron* vehicle, The Yards. Per screen, Bamboozled outperformed Get Carter and Digimon: The Movie.

Moreover, Funny Paper is not sure why Doug Marlette, author of the quasi-autobiographical debut novel The Bridge**, would be dancing on the grave of anyone else's art. Riding the backscratching news-industry-crony publicity of its release this month, The Bridge presently ranks No. 28,308 on Amazon.com's sales list--even with its price slashed from $26 to $18.20. Maybe Marlette should have released it straight to the remainder bin.

(* Charlize Theron's character in The Yards, the Internet Movie Database tells Funny Paper, is named "Erica Stoltz.")

(** "[T]he novel follows the self-destructive adventures of Pick Cantrell, an 'enfant terrible' editorial cartoonist who has risen to eminence at the Sun, a Long Island daily newspaper that purports to represent the cutting edge of urban sophistication."--Publishers Weekly)

BAMBOOZLEDED DEP'T., PART II: In Friday's B.C., Fat Broad complains to Clumsy's Wheel Repair about a shimmy in her wheel. Then she walks off, with her huge butt going "de boing, de boing, de boing, de boing, de boing" behind her. Clumsy turns to the third wall. "I doan bleeb I gonna find dat shimmy in dis here wheel," he says. Funny Paper doan bleeb our eyes. "De boing"? What's wit de dialect, Johnny Hart? Has the cartoonist gotten so caught up in his right-wing-contrarian thing that he's trying out coon-show material, in the hopes of offending even more of the readership? And Funny Paper thought the broken-English antics of papist wop Anno Domini and Injun caveman Conahonty were bad.

MARK TRAIL: Mark returns to Lost Forest, where he hugs and cuddles Andy, then holds Cherry in a distant embrace and agrees to go picnicking with her. And Andy. Panels showing Mark touching Cherry: four. Panels showing Mark touching Andy: five. Panels showing Mark touching Cherry and Andy: one.

Sunday's featured animal: the upside-down catfish, "the oddball of the jungle streams."

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: "The Wright Brothers Invent Airplane Food."

BLONDIE: Dagwood and Mr. Dithers put on lederhosen and essay the famous Tyrolean "slap dance".

GARFIELD: Garfield goes on a diet. "It's not the dieting that gets to me," he thinks. "It's the NOT EATING part!!!"

LUANN: Bernice, rigid with sexual loathing, tries to preempt the advances of the noble wheelchair-bound Zane. Looks like Zane's not the only one who's damaged goods. Despite dinner in a ritzy restaurant, Bernice is adamant: She's not the type of girl who . . . tutors people for the G.E.D.? Why, Zane's intentions are honorable. Which doesn't stop Bernice from giving him the big freeze, even as she starts reviewing the parts of speech.

Sunday, the girls contemplate Brad's ass crack.

CURTIS: Mrs. Wilkens starts collecting "black cherub angel refrigerator magnets." The boys are unimpressed. Michelle unveils her surgically improved nose.

BEETLE BAILEY: The Camp Swampy boys board a transport plane bound for Uzbekistan. No, not really. The Camp Swampy boys eat, sleep, and engage in their usual rear-guard Army-bureaucracy capers.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Last week, to our alert readers' annoyance, Funny Paper neglected to mention Lynn Johnston's latest plot line: Liz, returning home to femme-y creep boyfriend Eric, discovers some other girl's hair clip in the apartment. This week, John is oppressed by his neighbor's leaf-blower, and Elly picks out a book about puberty and sex, to leave where April can find it. Presumably, she's trying to keep April from being as much of a doormat as her older sister. For worse!

FAMILY CIRCUS: Jeffy exults--"Yee-aay! We WON!"--as Mommy gets money from the ATM Wednesday. Are the Circus Family finances really that shaky? Or is Jeffy confused by all the hours he spent playing the slots with Grandma?

Saturday, a clergyman tells the Circus Parents, "Explaining God to children is a piece of cake compared to trying to explain the children to God." God needs children explained to Him? Maybe somebody should lend Him that facts-of-life book when April Patterson is done with it.

Sunday, Billy gets upset with the length of the line at the playground slide. "The world is getting' overpopulated!" he says. Sure is, little mister first-of-four-children. If you were in a really overpopulated place, like the People's Republic of China, Dolly, Jeffy, and PJ would have been aborted.

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Willy: "I'll bet you can't name one thing that doesn't sound better with 'bacon and cheddar'."

Ethel: "Bacon and cheddar pudding . . . bacon and cheddar Jell-o . . . bacon and cheddar ice cream . . ."

Willy: "See!"

B.C.: Saturday, Wiley's Dictionary sinks into the nether reaches of Jumble humor to inform us that the commander of Air Force One is a "Bush pilot." Yeah, and at family gatherings, G.H.W. Bush is the "Bushmaster."* So when G.W. Bush got too drunk and belligerent, Poppy gave him a "Bushwhacking." And when Jenna's boobs flopped out of her strapless gown at the inaugural ball, the world got a fleeting glimpse of "Bushtit."**

(* Lachesis muta)

(** Psaltriparus minimus)

JUMP START: Benny leaves Jojo to work for Trish, Jojo's new rival as nursery-school boss. He comes back after Trish discovers his résumé is "suspect." "Your résumé is a pack of bald-faced lies," Jojo says, rehiring him on the spot.

ZIPPY: Zippy continues to have a problem with "Dippin' Donuts."

MOMMA: Momma stares balefully through the window, startling Thomas and Tina into breaking their embrace.

THE BOONDOCKS: Huey calls the FBI's anonymous tip line--hoping to report the Reagan administration's support and training of Osama bin Laden--only to be greeted by name. "Spare me the surprised indignation, Huey. You know we've been tapping your phone for years."

MARY WORTH: Dawn Weston continues recruiting Woody "Don't Call Me Forrest" Hills to seduce her would-be mother-in-law.

APARTMENT 3-G: The Three G's keep sailing toward the Bahamas. Greg puts the moves on Lu Ann.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: The mold-infested basements begin to flood.

JUMBLE: FACE THE MUSIC, BE WRECK-LESS, "TANNED", "STUMPED", "STRESS" TESTS, HE NEEDED A "LIFT".

ONE BIG HAPPY: Ruthie is dismayed to learn that there are 24 hours in a day. "They didn't say which day is the twenty-four hour one, but I hope it's not a school day!" This is at the low end of Ruthie's performance scale--which worries us, since Rick Detorie follows it by unveiling, on Sunday, "Things We'd Never Heard Said Until There Was Ruthie!" Sure, "I can't eat any more. My teeth are tired" is sort of cute--but it ain't that much cuter than the utterances of Jeffy. Funny Paper is one big unhappy.

THE PHANTOM: The Phantom harasses the "ghost pirates." "Never . . . disturb . . . what you don't understand!" he calls from his hiding place in the ductwork of their atomic submarine, his words in a shivery Halloween font. Then he tempts a pirate--evidently named "Shard"--into taking potshots at him, diving so the bullets whiz harmlessly past his groin. Shard, sure he's at least winged the Little Ghost Who Pees, is startled to find no Phantom and no sign of his work. "N-No blood! There has to be blood!" Shard says, paraphrasing Ol' Dirty Bastard.

Sunday, the Ghost Who Walks shoots the villain-pistol out of Marshal Zebal's hand, takes him into custody, and installs Prince Bakhmet as ruler of Dharmistan. Why does the final showdown take only four panels, when they wasted two or three weeks on rock-climbing? Regardless, it's over. "Next week: new adventure!"

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