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Funny Paper

Nice "F" Holes

Aug. 27-Sept. 2

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 9/5/2001

DR. BOWDLER, WE PRESUME DEP'T.: All hail the comics editors at The Sun, who chose to run an unexpurgated version of Friday's For Better or For Worse. On Wednesday, while Deanna is at her bridal shower, Michael's pals ambush him, promising to "take you out for one last night on the town, and get you hopelessly ripped!" What happens next, according to a piece we read in the St. Petersburg Times, depends on what paper you got. In the original version, Michael crawls into bed with Deanna Friday. "Where did they take you?" Deanna asks. "The bar, a strip joint, the 24/7 arcade," Michael says. This was so innocuous, by Funny Paper's standards, that we read right over it; when we later heard that Lynn Johnston's editors had offered nervous newspapers a censored version, we thought that's what we'd gotten when we first read For Better in The Washington Post. (Funny Paper reads by descending the Great Newspaper Chain of Life.) We were all set to castigate the Post when we realized that it, like The Sun, had run the naughty bits. In the edited version, the lads have gone out for a nice, wholesome trip to . . . a pool hall. Goodness. This is what passes for morality these days? Where's Professor Harold Hill when you need him?

YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN! DEP'T.: Tuesday brings two gags with the same hook. In Luann, Luann tells Bernice how Gunther carried her out of the ravine on his back. "Amazing!," Bernice says. "Imagine the strength that took."

"Are we praising Gunther here," Luann asks, "or insulting [me]?"

Meanwhile, the ever-neurotic Ziggy faces the reader and says, "When someone tells me I'm smarter than I look . . . I can't decide if it's an INSULT or a COMPLIMENT." For you, Ziggy, it's a COMPLIMENT. Luann, it's an INSULT.

HERB & JAMAAL: Stephen Bentley continues to erect pointless obstacles to Jamaal and Yolanda's budding romance. This time, the implausible detour comes when Herb, playing Cyrano (minus the nose and the romantic aspirations of his own), writes a love note to Yolanda on Jamaal's behalf and signs his name to it by mistake. Yeah, that happens all the time. And why is Jamaal recruiting Herb for this? Didn't we already establish that Jamaal is smarter than Herb? Luckily, Bentley gets bored with the mixup almost as fast as Funny Paper did, and so Sarah, confronted with the note, immediately understands what went wrong.

MARY WORTH: Dawn Weston, in mental turmoil about the erotic danger Liz Hoag poses to her father, gets into a fender-bender with a handsome fellow student. Funny Paper can't help but notice that Saunders and Giella have been subtly reworking Dawn's looks over the past few weeks: Her figure is slimmer, her droopy hair has become a sleek bob, and she appears to have had a jowelectomy. Her new acquaintance, meanwhile, looks in different panels like the pre-accident Mark Hamill or like a slightly pudgy Hugh Grant--which makes him a dreamboat, by Mary Worth standards. "My name is Hills!" he says. "Forrest Hills, with two 'R's! . . . So I'm not confused with the golf course of the same name!"

What is this, Dick Tracy? Funny-name coincidences are funny in real life because they involve somebody's actual name. There's nothing inherently funny about giving a fictional character a wacky name. Forrest Hills. If you're going to confuse things, you'd better use a really funny name. Maybe "Forrest Lawn." "Forrest Tucker." "Forrest Primeval."

At least the arrival of a new youngster allows S&G to lay down more of their patented groovy youth-culture lingo. "I'm a psych major!" Forrest says. "Or, as the unwashed call us . . . a 'rat runner'."

ZIPPY: Monday, Bill Griffith keeps whining about the price his artistic integrity exacts. "If we could just push th' grossness envelope a bit, we'd be megaplex material," says a dripping, pustule-covered version of Griffy to a similarly oozy Zippy. The rest of the week, Griffith follows his muse, which means Zippy talks to a giant doughnut, a giant hammer, a one-log house, and a giant fiddle. "Nice 'F' holes," he tells the enormous stringed instrument.

CATHY: Cathy spends the week flipping out about the pending wedding of Alex, whose marriage proposal she rejected a few years back.


B.C.: Monday, Johnny Hart tries to get in on that "irony" all the kids are talking about. "Who can give me an example of 'irony'?" asks the teacher in the anthill schoolhouse. "Yes, Johnny?" "An animal rights group caught in a stampede," little Johnny says.

Funny Paper feels compelled to point out that there's nothing especially "ironic" about an animal-rights group being caught in a stampede, seeing as stampeding doesn't have anything to do with the question of animals having or not having rights. Not that we don't like the idea of an animal-rights group being caught in a stampede. We just don't see where it's "ironic."

Saturday, Hart turns his attention yet again to C.: "There is no account of Jesus ever swimming," someone writes to Fat Broad, working the Miss Know-It-All desk. "Why is that?"

"Why swim when you can tread water?" Fat Broad writes back. Get it? Tread water? Like, walk on water? Hey, Johnny--Exodus 20:7. "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." We don't see any exception here for has-been cartoonists. Jesus Christ, Johnny--treading water? Just like you. Isn't that "ironic"?

THE BOONDOCKS: Huey and Caesar carp about African-American pop culture. "Beef just ain't what it used to be," Caesar laments. "What ever happened to MC Shan vs. KRS-One? What about LL Cool J vs. Kool Moe Dee? Or remember when Ice Cube had beef with N.W.A.? Now what do we have? Usher vs. Sisqo. There's nothing to believe in." Yeah! Whatever happened to the great old-school beefs, like Tupac vs. Biggie? Oh.

FAMILY CIRCUS: Patriarchy for Dummies: "My dad calls her Thel or Hon or Love," Jeffy tells a friend, "but her real name is Mommy." Yeah, and John Kenneth Galbraith calls her a "crypto-servant."

Speaking of dummies, the kids are at especially low cognitive ebb this week. Wednesday, Dolly covers her body with self-adhesive stamps. Thursday, everybody gets excited because "PJ caught the ball!" Friday, Billy wears a gut-baring too-small T-shirt--"this good ol' shirt"-- apparently oblivious to the fact that he's outgrown it.

Saturday, Dolly gets theological: "God never takes a vacation 'cause He can't find anybody good enough to fill in." Poor God. Handcuffed by His high standards. Too bad He can't just slap in two weeks of reruns from 1977, like Bil Keane. And Bil Keane has Jeff Keane to help him out. If only God had a son to help Him out. Oh.

LUANN: Gimped-up Luann bosses Brad around.

BEETLE BAILEY: "Has [Beetle] always been this slow?" Lt. Flap asks. "Well, let me put it this way," Sarge says. "His birthday is Sept. 4, 5, and 6." Riight. We've seen the exact same punchline used for "this fat?"

BLONDIE: Dagwood lofts a rare thought balloon. We always assumed Dagwood was devoid of interior life, like Leroy Lockhorn, Snuffy Smith, and Marmaduke.

MARMADUKE: Marmaduke menaces a pair of door-to-door evangelists, who are wearing Roman collars and black hats. Good boy. Now go rip Johnny Hart's liver out. If it's still there.

GASOLINE ALLEY: Low-octane laffs as Hercules Ogle reappears on Skeezix's doorstep Wednesday, apparently marking the end of the senior-bashing Life Ring plot line. Thursday, the scene moves to the diner, where the braless Mayor Melba is hogging the pay phone. Isn't Mayor Melba 70 years old? Is she immune to aging, like Rufus' pet kitty? Oh.

APARTMENT 3-G: Nude Margo gets pounded by Ernesto for five straight days. "OWWOW . . . WHOAH . . . EASY!" When she gets back to the apartment, there's a huge stack of back mail, held at the post office during the building renovations. "I've been fired!" Lu Ann cries, reading one letter. "According to this date," Margo says, "you were fired months ago." Call us crazy, but we think this is Alex Kotzky's plot device for getting all three G's on that Bahamas-bound boat.

NON SEQUITUR: Sunday, by quote "popular demand" unquote, Wiley presents "the return of Pierre of the North." Pierre talks like zees. He hates zee snow. Zees ees not one tiny bit funny. Zees ees merde.

MARK TRAIL: Luke and Luther Hillwilliams deal with their young intruders. "Okay, you little pest," Luke tells Taylor, "since you're kin, we're going to let you go. . . . Now get home and keep your mouth shut!" Rusty, meanwhile, gets bound and gagged. OK, so the poaching Hillwilliamses are adding kidnapping to their rap sheet--while letting a witness run free. Criminal masterminds is what we've got here. Taylor, running as fast as his spindly, poorly drawn legs will carry him, goes looking for Mark. "Mark! Mark!" he calls at a fleeing deer. No wonder there are so many hunting accidents in Western Maryland.

Sunday's featured animal: the dolphin--the cold-blooded and scaly kind, the kind it's OK to kill and eat. A coup for The Sun over the Post, as the latter omits the panel that explains the difference between Flipper and the Catch o' the Day. "It's often confusing to have two animals known by the same name," Jack Elrod teaches us. Alas, the poor readers of the Post will have to stay confused.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: Mr. Frank--whose first name, we learn, is "Chuck"--flies into a panic after June badgers him about the dangers of toxic mold. Since most of the week's action involves people talking on the phone, Graham Nolan amuses himself by drawing extreme close-ups of people's mouths.

THE PHANTOM: Mozz goes into a trance. The Phantom falls asleep. We fall asleep. The "ghost pirates," now identified as "mere men" by Mozz, set to sea in some sort of oversized Sea Doo.

PRINCE VALIANT: Just when we thought it was behind us: "Of the gladiators who had attacked Val and his companions in Rome, a single one survived the ordeal in the Cloaca Maxima."

CURTIS: How does the pet-sitting routine always end? "'Puff Tabby' can't be dead, Barry! He's sleepin', is all!!"

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Michael has that bachelor party at a STRIP CLUB; Deanna's psycho mother makes Elly change her wedding wardrobe. For better!

DOONESBURY: Uncle Duke sells stem cells.

DILBERT: "How did you learn to swear like that?" "I used to date a one-eyed carpenter." Either Scott Adams knows a colloquialism that Funny Paper doesn't, or he's making a very elliptical joke about depth perception.

JUMP START: How big is Charlene's impending baby? "Last night," Clarence says, "that baby kicked both of us."

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