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KRAKOW!

July 9-15

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 7/18/2001

MEAT IS MURDER IS MURDER DEP'T.: Monday brings a three-pack of oddly unsatisfying meatless humor. Best of the bunch is Classic Peanuts, in which Linus admonishes Lucy for leaving an egg uneaten: "That poor chicken gave his life for nothing!" In Family Circus, a downcast Jeffy walks away from the living room, where his dad is entertaining a guest, saying, "Mr. Heywood* said he doesn't eat animal crackers 'cause he's a veggietarian." This from the kid who thought his Jell-O was alive last week. And in Sally Forth, uninteresting child Hilary announces, "After a lot of thinking I've decided to become a vegetarian." After too little thinking (e.g., a joke from Sally about the quality of Ted's stew), the "Created by Greg Howard" factory spends the rest of the week flogging the same dead theme.

*Mr. Haywood, Funny Paper notes with bafflement, is wearing a sweatshirt that says SCRATCH + SNIFF.

HERE'S LOOKIN' AT YA DEP'T.: Thirsty Thurston may have lost his red nose in Hi & Lois, but the suds and spirits keep flowing on the rest of the page. Monday, the always reliably loaded Leroy Lockhorn stares limply at the TV screen, clutching a can, three empties by his side, as his wife inquires whether he's ready for solids yet. In Mary Worth, the pool party's been going on for a month, and Ian has gone from spilling his drink to a more controlled, glowering level of drunkenness--keeping his glass charged and in his hand for the entire week. Hagar the Horrible has a tankard at the ready as he talks to Lucky Eddie about something entirely unrelated to beer. The cast of Rex Morgan M.D. enjoys polite party cocktails. Willy, in Willy 'N Ethel, tells how he doesn't drink and drive, even when he's too drunk to walk. And--who'd a thunk it?--Momma catches Francis coming out of a bar, where he's drunk up the money he bummed off her. "Bartenders' kids have to be put through college too," he explains. Oh, yeah: And Grimm, in Mother Goose & Grimm, bellies up to the bar and orders a "distemper shot." Ecch. Trust Mike Peters to supply the buzz-kill.

THE SUN CROSSWORD POACHES ON JUMBLE'S TURF DEP'T.: Friday's puzzle, written by Richard Chisholm (snicker), includes GNATKINGCOLE, GNASHVILLE, GNUFOUNDLAND, and GNEISSWORK.

BLONDIE: The Anywhere, U.S.A. world of Blondie turns geographically and culturally specific on Monday as Dagwood asks Alexander if he wants to go to "the Rays ball game." The Rays? The Bumsteads live in northern or central Florida? Dagwood is a fan of a .323 baseball team? Don't they do snow-shoveling gags in the winter?

JUMP START: The Jump Start crew goes bowling, and Clarence can't find a ball with holes big enough for his huge fingers. Eastern European sound effect of the week: KRAKOW!

ONE BIG HAPPY: Ruthie's love-hate relationship with the mysterious Buggy Crispino continues and deepens. Now she's carrying his picture in her pocket. "I'm not even sure what your boyfriend, Buggy Crispino, looks like!" her grandfather says. "HE'S NOT MY BOYFRIEND!" Ruthie yells. We're not sure we know what Buggy Crispino looks like either.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: Liz's past and present roommates, gloom girl Candace and slob Rudy, are attracted to each other.

FAMILY CIRCUS: "Was the world in color when you were little, Grandma, or was it still just black and white?" Jeffy asks, contemplating a black-and-white sunset on Friday. We remember this gag being a lot better years ago when Bill Watterson did it in Calvin & Hobbes--mainly because Watterson put the idea in Calvin's dad's mouth, as a lie he told his kid. A child's cluelessness isn't funny. Preying on a child's cluelessness is funny. Sunday, the kids respond to being told to wash up for dinner by staring at their hands and declaring, in unison, "I don't see any germs!" Why is the emphasis on "any" rather than "see"? We don't see anything funny about this. We don't see anything funny about this. We don't see anything funny about this

DENNIS THE MENACE: Sunday, an apparently sandbagging Dennis whips Mr. Wilson at chess. "Wow! Now I can capture your horse!" This is not the late Hank Ketcham's vision for his strip

ZIGGY: "Your Snoopy commemorative plates are here," Ziggy tells his dog. As if Ziggy doesn't have its own overgrown merchandising empire.

PRINCE VALIANT: Chasing a mysterious figure through the Cloaca Maxima, Prince Valiant is ensnared in a gladiator's net. And we are ensnared in John Cullen Murphy's trivia of the ancient world. "Some [gladiators], like the 'Dimachae,' were given a short sword for each hand. Others, like the 'Retiarii,' used nets and tridents . . ."

APARTMENT 3-G: As the mismatched-setup party continues (Lu Ann: "We're matchmaking, Tommie." Tommie: "The Professor and . . . ?" Margo: "Joyce." Lu Ann: "Gabriella." Tommie: "What a dilemma!") Cousin Blaze--who has traded in his cowboy hat and kerchief for a more subdued jacket-and-bolo-tie ensemble--lassoes Joyce's attention by praising her history-writing skills.

DOONESBURY: Boopsie prepares an application for Survivor. God, this is the strip that helped take down Nixon.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: It's not hot, yet Tito's sweating*. Wendi Kane lies in the dark, feeling as if her head is going to explode.

*If you get this reference, write to Funny Paper, c/o City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201 or editorial@citypaper.com.

MARK TRAIL: Mark takes his leave of the Hillwilliams clan, and the paterfamilias and his bear-murdering sons immediately start the damage control. "Remember, we're a family here, we don't discuss family affairs. . . . You hear that?" the old man barks at his daughter. As if the old man wasn't jabbering Trail's ears off with the family history himself last week. Sunday's featured animal: the good-natured Shetland sheepdog, which Mark Trail never actually mentions by its full name. "The islands off the north coast of Scotland have over the years produced small versions of a number of animals, including a small breed of sheepdog," he says. "The breed was at one time known as a miniature collie, or a Shetland collie." He subsequently refers to it as "the small dog," "the Sheltie," and "this hard-working pet."

MARY WORTH: Ian, alarmed by Liz's designs on Wilbur, plots to "spike the lady's cannon."

GARFIELD: A week of spider-smashing jokes somehow enables Jim Davis to stretch out a little. Funny Paper salutes Tuesday's meticulously rendered, Calderesque spider-in-octuple-traction gag and Saturday's high-concept spider-in-a-black-body-cast gag. Who says cruelty can't be funny?

THE LOCKHORNS: Leroy gets mad at the comics page. Take a hint, Bunny Hoest.

THE COLL-EGG-TIBLE EGGERS FAMILY: Susannah Ruzbarsky, allegedly age 9 1/2, wins with "Egg-zema." Good one, Susannah Ruzbarsky! Bring on the heartbr-egg of psoriasis!

CURTIS: Again, the little details pay off. An unexceptional week of Curtis playing his rap music too loud is enlivened by the sight, on Tuesday, of our hero making himself a sardine-and-jelly sandwich.

LUANN: Luann and Bernice plan to use Puddles to cheer up an old lady. Enough with the good deeds; let's have some more hormonal high-school hijinx, please.

GASOLINE ALLEY: Joel, despite being barely able to speak English, drops "folically challenged" into a sentence. Is Jim Scancarelli making some subtle point about how played-out the whole politically-correct-language gag is?

BEETLE BAILEY: A secluded moment between Beetle and Miss Buxley is ruined by the arrival of Sarge.

JUMBLE: GOT "IN LINE", A "ROUND", SPEAK VOLUMES, THE "LOWDOWN," "ABSORB" THEM, A "NET" ASSET.

THE PHANTOM: An underwear-clad Victoria Carter tries to remember how she got back to her hotel room. "A gentleman brought you in, miss . . . " the hotel physician tells her. "Tall chap . . . deep voice . . . said his name was Walker." Right. Also, he was wearing a purple leotard.

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