Funny Pants Week
Sept. 3-Sept. 9
THIS AIN'T NO HOLIDAY DEP'T.: "Today's International Literacy Day," Luann announces on Saturday. The Sun, ever civic-minded, amplifed the annoucement in a "Reading by 9" blurb: "Garfield and Luann tackle the subject of literacy on today's comics pages. The two nationally syndicated strips are marking International Literacy Day by participating in Cartoonists for Literacy's attempt to raise public awareness on the importance of reading. . . . Besides Garfield and Luann, three other nationally syndicated comic strips published by some newspapers other than The Sun are participating--Agnes, Frazz, and Potluck Parish."
So this is the national literacy crusade. One public-service announcement from Luann, one Garfield where Jon jabbers about reading (nice message: Read a book, be dumber than your cat), and . . . what? We respect Agnes--we'd swap Agnes for Garfield any day--but what the hell is Potluck Parish?
Ah, but this is what reading is for! Funny Paper went straight to the United Media Web site, where we read the following. "Potluck Parish is a daily comic strip about the goings-on at a small-town parish where the congregants and the clergy bring their different perspectives to every situation."
Wow! Reading is neat! And what the fuck is Frazz, may we ask? "Bryson Elementary's janitor is the most respected educator in the school. Every kid's pal and peer, Frazz exudes a love of learning that's contagious. The principal wants to be just like him. The other teachers want to learn from him. The students can't get enough of him. A Renaissance man, friend, role model, and so much more, Frazz makes learning fun for everyone."
THURSDAY, DAY OF CONTROVERSY DEP'T.: The long-absent H-bomb drops again in For Better or For Worse, as the psychotic Mrs. Sobinski challenges Michael about having Lawrence be his best man. "I've just been told that he is a homosexual!" Mrs. S. says. Hey, Mrs. S--things are gay all over. Down in Doonesbury, Mark Slackmeyer is talking about WWII The Big One with his ailing old man. "Let me get this straight," the elder Slackmeyer says, "because I spent two years being shot at in Europe, that's why you turned out to be a radical gay disc jockey? . . . Because it's funny how Ike never mentioned that possibility!"
In the other Big Issue of the day, in Jump Start, Charlene tells Clarence that her pottery exhibit got cancelled because "the curator has some kind of problem with interracial marriage."
Meanwhile, Marmaduke is sleeping on the furniture again.
MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Monday--which really is Monday, on the right-hand side of the spread--Mike Peters gives us "Custer's Last Stand-Up," with the long-haired, fringe-wearing Gen. C bombing at a comedy club. It's like a double negative: If Mike Peters tries to write deliberately bad jokes, do they come out funny? "Take my scalp, please." No, they don't come out funny.
WILLY 'N ETHEL: Gluttony is philosophy. "I'll have the bacon-cheese-sausage-egg-chilli-ham-combo-chicken-barbecue-rib eye-salami-french fried-double-pizza burger," Willy says.
"Will there be anything else?"
"Is there?" he asks.
CATHY: Independent of The Sun's bungling, Cathy Guisewite creates a tonsorial continuity error of her very own. After a week of shaven-headed-Irving material, Sunday's strip shows Irving with his full head of hair again. We're guessing the Sunday strip was done first--which suggests that Guisewite has been improvising the whole daily plot line on the fly. And here we thought she had it all mapped out in advance: "4/19/04-4/23/04: Cathy goes on a lettuce-and-Popsicle diet."
MARY WORTH: Dawn Weston continues to resolve her fender-bender with hunky psych major Forrest Hills, allowing Saunders and Giella to replay their fave bit of newly made-up extraterrestrial-style youth slang. "I'm what you other students call a 'rat runner,'" Forrest reiterates. Slain by his lingo and his charm, the blushing Dawn gives him her digits. "Dawn, baby," she thinks, "it could be you just met 'Mister Right'!"
GASOLINE ALLEY: The Gasoline Alley Garage hangs out a closed for labor day sign. The International Brotherhood of Old Coots and the Federation of Dimwitted, Alcoholic Junk Haulers are having their annual parade.
The rest of the week, Joel and Rufus--back from the FDAJH union hall--are conscripted by Mayor Melba to give her a ride out to her Uncle Fred's place in Snorin' Creek.
DENNIS THE MENACE: Wednesday, the Hank Ketcham Memorial Cartoon Foundry stamps out a copy of an ancient gag: Perched on a box at his lemon aid 5¢ stand, Dennis tells a spitting Margaret, "For an extra nickel, we'll put sugar in it." Cripes, couldn't they even bother updating the price?
Saturday, the Ketcham reanimators get unusually topical--perhaps more topical than they understand. "There goes the best argument against cloning," Mr. Wilson says, looking at Dennis. Hear, hear.
JUMBLE: A MINIMUM WAGE, A "CLUTCH" JOB, UPS AND DOWNS, "SIDE" EFFECTS, TO "LAUNDER" IT, STACKED THE DECK.
ONE BIG HAPPY: "Today is a very special day!" Miss Avis says on Wednesday. "Can you tell by looking at me what it is?"
"Funny Pants Day?" Ruthie ventures.
Wrong answer. Miss Avis storms off. "There's a National Beefsteak Tomato Day?" Ruthie says, puzzled. Well, if Miss Avis says so. And Saturday, we hear, is International Literacy Day.
LUANN: Greg Evans is King of the Bogus Holidays! Having done his duty on Saturday, he turns around and presents a Sunday strip pegged to "Grandparent's Day." Hey, Mr. International Literacy--there's no apostrophe in National Grandparents Day. We checked with the National Grandparents Day Council Web site.
"The impetus for a National Grandparents Day," the site tells us, "originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day."
How sweet. Too bad Luann lets her mother handle the whole card-shopping and -mailing end of things.
BLONDIE: Thursday, Young + Lebrun try to do an ugly-chick joke without mentioning the ugliness. Blondie is in a catering consultation with a bride-to-be and the mother-of-the-bride-to-be. The bride is a comic-strip horror: chinless, bucktoothed, with a thrusting nose and thick glasses; her hair sticks out like straw, her breasts are small and droopy, and she's afflicted with either pimples or freckles. "The wedding will be this coming Sunday," the mother says. "When you find a man willing to make a commitment these days, you need to move fast! You don't dilly-dally!"
"I wish it were tomorrow!" the bride says.
Are Y+L trying to be kind? This seems much more cruel--having the mother blame their haste on conditions "these days"--than just coming out and saying the girl is hideous and desperate.
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Michael and Deanna's wedding draws nearer, with bridal-party squabbles over hairstyles and Lawrence's sexual orientation. The rehearsal is Sunday in the color funnies; unlike Cathy Guisewite, Lynn Johnston appears to have everything worked out in its correct sequence. The wedding feels like it's coming up fast, just like real ones do. For better!
HAGAR THE HORRIBLE: Dik Browne gets all fancy Saturday, putting Honi in close-up in the foreground, speaking to her parents in the middle distance. But he gets so caught up in the composition, he leaves out the joke: "How was the dinner party last night, Mom?" "Same old thing . . . your father ate a huge dinner . . . and then he partied!"
ZIPPY: Zippy shows up Sunday on City Paper's very own Park Ave., paying his respects to the Nipper statue atop the Maryland Historical Society. Two blocks from Funny Paper HQ! Our brush with greatness.
KUDZU: Doug Marlette borrows a trick from Mike Peters, with a Thursday strip in which the Rev. Will B. Dunn is marriage-counseling the misappropriated and crudely drawn Donald Duck and Minnie Mouse. Donald has five fingers per hand in the first panel, then four per hand in the second. Minnie looks sort of like Pluto. Uncle Walt continues to spin in his freezer.
SALLY FORTH: The gang goes scavenging at the office-equipment tag sale for the defunct dot-com next door.
MARK TRAIL: Mark finds Rusty bound and gagged in the underground lair of the smuggling Hillwilliamses. Jack Elrod pulls back from the action to sketch a wild turkey.
Sunday's featured living thing: fungi. All 75,000 varieties of them, with special attention to the mushrooms. Yeah, Jack, we're hip.
REX MORGAN, M.D.: Chuck Franks tries to badger Wendi Karol into blocking June's investigation of the toxic mold.
APARTMENT 3-G: Lu Ann grapples with the loss of her teaching job. Tommie discovers that a procurement scandal has shut down her nursing unit. Hey, now everybody's available for Sailboat 3-G!
DOONESBURY: Slackmeyer pere and fils discuss WWII The Big One. Good character-driven dialogue here. Garry Trudeau hasn't gotten bored with Mark and his dad yet.
FAMILY CIRCUS: Jeffy wants Mommy to buy pink lemons. Dolly wants to know if it's "evening or night." Jeff and Bil Keane need three Sunday panels to convey the idea that when Grandma says "Every time I see you, you get bigger," Jeffy thinks she's describing cause and effect.
CURTIS: Michelle returns from vacation with bandages on her new nose job. Curtis prepares to tell her Puff Tabby is dead. Sunday, Ray Billingsley introduces a Miss Cleo-style schoolbus driver, jabbering in vaudeville Jamaican dialect: "Miss Lilly can smell all you mischief-makers! De air ees theek wid it! And she doesn't allow any mischief-makin' on dis bus!!" Sho' 'nuff, Mistah Billin'sley.
THE PHANTOM: The Phantom stalks the "ghost pirates" as they raid the Bangalla Mint. In the Sunday plot line, Graham Nolan presents a Phantom-free Phantom--six panels of the dastardly Marshal Zebal addressing the royal counselors of Dharmistan.
B.C.: Peter exits a cave labeled "Annual Critics Convention," saying, "My thumb is killing me." Our thumbs feel fine, Johnny Hart. In their restful, downward-dangling position.
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