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Funny Paper

What If I Spring a Leak in This?

June 18-June 24

By Scocca & MacLeod | Posted 6/27/2001

FAT WATCH DEP'T.: Body-image trouble is busting out all over. In Cathy, of course, Cathy continues to be shocked by her fatness every time she tries to cram herself into an itsy-bitsy swimsuit. It's like Memento-- please, somebody give this woman a Polaroid of her ass so she doesn't have to keep flipping out over and over again. Two weeks ago, as we mentioned, the spandex-borne hysteria entered the heretofore impenetrable skull of Irving, making him flip out about his saggy gut.

Now, like Cathy's thighs, it's spreading uncontrollably. "Peg and Midge went bathing suit shopping today," Morris tells Ernest Tuesday in The Middletons, setting up a week of uncontrollable self-loathing by the wives. "Do I look fat in this?" Midge demands of Morris. "There's no need for sarcasm!" Peg snaps at Ernest when he tries to praise her with a line about Sports Illustrated. Nobody wins. Nobody laughs.

Meanwhile, in For Better or For Worse, the previously carefree young April joins the moping legions. "Daddy . . . Becky says I'm fat," she whines. "You're absolutely perfect," he says, in an unsuccessful attempt to mollify her. Funny Paper has had more than enough. We're going to go purge now.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT DEP'T.: Two mice confront a singing computer "mouse" in Friday's Kudzu. The "mouse"--it's just called a "mouse," see, 'cause the cord looks like a tail--sings the Mighty Mouse theme song. "The latest version of Windows," one of the flesh-and-blood mice says to the other. Jesus Christ, Doug Marlette, where do we begin? With the fact that a "mouse"-meets-mouse gag is like 18 years out of date? With the fact that you drew the computer mouse backwards, with the buttons on the opposite end as the cord? With the notion that Microsoft is a superhero, come to "save the daaay"? Do you even have a computer, you feebleminded hick? Or are you still waiting for electrification and dial phones? It's the 21st century--why is this even in the paper? Here are some names for you, you Carter-era washout: Billy Beer, Operation Desert One, the AMC Pacer. Join them in Hell.


GASOLINE ALLEY: Scancarelli goes to the ancient and worthless doppelganger device, as Father Murphy encounters a silver-bearded, gnomelike, corncob-pipe-smoking, Irish-surname-mangling figure in priestly robes, with a bashed-in porkpie hat pulled over his eyes. Assuming that layabout handyman Joel is playing dress-up, the priest throws him out--only to discover that Joel is still around. Father Murphy just threw out the new bishop! What an unfortunate coincidence!

APARTMENT 3G: Alex Kotsky (or Boyle + Trusiani, depending on which byline you believe) goes to the ancient and worthless mistaken-assumption device, as Margo and Lu Ann try to team up as matchmakers. Margo: "I want to set the Professor up with my . . . " Lu Ann: "Yes! They might be great together!"

"Matchmaking the Professor and Margo's mother is a great idea . . . " Lu Ann thinks as she leaves. "So, Lu Ann likes the idea of the Professor and my secretary . . . " Margo muses. Gee, how's this one going to work itself out? What about Blaze?

LUANN: Luann, devastated by her discovery that her fantasy man Stuart is married, turns to Bernice--who is devastated that her pet public-service announcement, Royce, has to be returned to Canine Companions. Neither girl is interested enough to feel the other's pain. So why should we listen to either one of them? If we have to choose, though, we'd rather hear about the dog.

MARK TRAIL: Mark and Rusty, looking for ginseng poachers, run into a gun-toting local and his wide-eyed kid. By which we mean, the kid's eyes are too far apart. "Papa, can they come over and visit with us tomorrow and maybe have dinner with us?" the kid asks on Friday. "Taylor gets a little lonesome," says the daddy. "We'd be glad to have you join us for dinner."

"They seem very nice," Rusty says. As if: "Taylor, don't ever ask anyone to our house unless you check with me first," the daddy says, as soon as they're out of earshot. "Yes'ir," Taylor replied. Didn't the last child this obedient in Mark Trail turn out to be an arsonist?

Sunday's featured natural substance: cork. "Cork is an elastic mass of flattened dead cells with a fatty substance that makes it almost impermeable to water and gases." Wait . . . is this Mark Trail or Cathy?

THE PHANTOM: Victoria Carter recuperates from her jungle fever in the shelter of Skullcave . . . home of the Phantom. "While here, she must not learn too much about the Phantom," says the Phantom, referring to the Phantom in the third person--presumably because he's referring to the office of the Phantom. The Phantomship. The Phantomcy. Naturally, he then serves up three days of expository conversation with senior Bandar poison pygmy Guran, covering all the material that he's not going to tell anyone. "My ancestor . . . The Avenger. The first Phantom . . . Survivor of a raid by Singh Pirates . . . People everywhere think I am he . . . " What, like Guran doesn't know this already? When Victoria wakes, the Bandar give her a groovy flower-power off-the-shoulder minidress. "Bandar women made it . . . made it tall like you," they tell her. Hey, it's Guran-imals! Phantom can get them wholesale.

BEETLE BAILEY: Mort Walker gets more and more meta, with a joke about "briffits." "Briffits," Funny Paper has semi-learned, is some sort of cartoon-industry technical term for the dust puffs a fleeing character leaves behind. What ever happened to gags about goldbricking and sexual harassment?

DOONESBURY: Yet another plot-line targeted at the readership of the New York Times arts page, as J.J. gets a MacArthur "genius grant." Because, see, the MacArthurs are all phony, like J.J. is a phony artist. They only give 'em to people like Cormac McCarthy and David Foster Wallace, not the true artistic geniuses like Garry Trudeau.

GARFIELD: After more than a week of preliminaries, Garfield's 23rd birthday arrives with the following Big Payoff: He falls asleep. Funny Paper fell asleep last Tuesday.

SHOE: Skyler is bad at baseball. Doesn't Charlie Brown own the franchise on that one? Why isn't anybody in the comics good at baseball?


SALLY FORTH: Thursday, the Created by Greg Howard Factory clanks out an all-time abomination among punchlines: "I wasn't napping," boss Ralph says. "I was resting my eyes."

HERB & JAMAAL: Jamaal recuperates from a dizzying attack of high blood pressure.

MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM: Grimm and Atilla, left home alone, mistake the returning Mother Goose for a burglar.

DILBERT: Dilbert goes on a business trip, on which he confronts bad airline service, a predatorily priced minibar, and a sexually unresponsive waitress.

BARNEY GOOGLE & SNUFFY SMITH: Jughaid gets beaten up by his girlfriend Mary Beth; Loweezy smiles at the news.

ONE BIG HAPPY: Ruthie prays for the deliverance of the French people from her snotty friend Cylene.

MARY WORTH: Lust and gold-digging takes a backseat to the thrilling world of real estate, as ne'er-do-well Liz plans to take over Brad and Syl's apartment as soon as they find a new place. "Maybe I can help you look!" Liz says. "I'm not exactly a stranger when it comes to real estate! . . . Young lady, you are looking at the best durn commercial property salesperson who ever drew a lease!"

CLASSIC PEANUTS: Charlie Brown, wearing a sack on his head, gets elected camp president.

JUMP START: Pregnant Charlene makes Clarence grill her some ribs at 3 a.m.

B.C.: Wiley's Dictionary: "over-kill . . . adding salt to soy sauce." 'Cause soy sauce is really salty. More like under-kill.

REX MORGAN, M.D.: June's preparations to attend Wendi Karol's arty party are threatened by the specter of unwanted lactation. "What if I spring a leak in this?" she asks, eyeing her reflection in a skintight outfit. "Shawls were invented for nursing mommies," Heather the nanny tells her. OK, Funny Paper won't be reading Rex Morgan, M.D. over our morning cereal anymore.

PRINCE VALIANT: Prince Valiant visits the Hill of Broken Pots.

NON SEQUITUR: The Hollywood creative process is derivative. People like using cell phones in their cars. The tech-stock boom was a sham. Wow, thanks, Wiley.

WILLY 'N ETHEL: Ethel loves Willy, Willy loves Ethel, Funny Paper loves Willy 'n Ethel. "Ethel got an 'I'm With Stupid' tattoo," Willy tells a fellow barfly. "Most husbands would take that as an insult . . . To me it shows she has a lot of confidence in our marriage."

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