Yes, I know: I said weād look in on more guest cameo appearances in comic strips today, but matters of greater urgency have reared their importunate headsānamely, whatās transpiring in a few of those ostensible gag-a-day strips that are telling stories now in rampant defiance of their genus.
In Wiley Millerās Non Sequitur, the mega-corporate campaign against the good-will-fostering Ekert promises to meet opposition when the story resumes next month. In the interim, more gags per day. For a guy who started out not wanting to have regular cast members or continuities, Wiley is proving adept at creating both even while being false to his prospectus. And in the present instance, heās been interrupting a continuity for weeks on end!
Meanwhile, in Greg Evansā Luann wherein the nearly brainless lout Dirk threatens the romance between his former paramour, Toni, and Luannās nerd brother Brad, D.J., Bradās roommate, has fomented a plan whereby witless Tiffany will take up temporary residence in Toniās apartment to answer the door when Dirk comes calling in order to tell him that Toni isnāt there anymore. If Dirk canāt find Toni, no romanceāright? Ah, but the potent question is: will these two dummies, Tiffany and Dirk, now fall for one another, creating another romance?
Finally, in Tom Batiukās Funky Winkerbean, weāre well into another of Batiukās weekly continuities featuring characters who are never named but who weāre supposed to recognize in order to properly appreciate the import of the story. A week ago, the entire story was told without words. A character whom I assume is the elderly Funky (Batiuk took his strip another decade into the future last year, so all the characters are “older” and at their advanced age, I donāt recognize them anymore; it would help if Batiuk wrote scripts that occasionally mentioned their namesāparticularly since a few of them look an awful lot alike)āthe elderly Funky, as I said, goes to an old folks home called, with evocative double entendre, Bedside Manor, in order to visit another old guy, similarly portly, who is not named but who I vaguely recognize (is it a later yet version of Funky?). They watch tv and smile happily at a rendition of “When Time Goes By,” then Funky leaves. Whatās happening? Dunno.
This weekās continuity involves the incipient romance budding between Wally Winkerbean, a mentally damaged Iraq vet, and a woman whose name I donāt know but should. (Even Wallyās name escaped me; I recognized the character and remembered his predicament, but it was Brian Steinberg at his Comics Examiner website who reminded me of his name.)
But the urgency that prompts this interruption of our regularly scheduled obsession is prompted by the single-panel gag cartoon, Brevity, produced by Guy and Rodd, a duo that consistently foists off onto us inexplicable and therefore humorless cartoon-like drawings. Hereās their offering for Monday, September 27:
No hilarity there, eh? This charming tableau was followed the rest of the week by these, at the rate of one-a-day:
Guy and Rodd (thatās Rodd Perry and Guy Endore-Kaiser, whose cumbersome last name is probably the reason the pair adopted a joint signature using only first names; if they used last names, it would look like three guys are doing the cartoon) are obviously promoting a new cartoonist labor-saving maneuver: theyāve constructed a “comic strip” continuity of six panels that they are now foisting off on innocent bystanders as six individual single-panel gag cartoons. To put it another (more incriminating) way, theyāve divided up a six-panel comic strip, releasing a new panel each day, which enables them to hit the links most of the week because they donāt need to think up a new gag every day, like every other member of the gag-a-day fraternity.
I donāt think any of these six “cartoons” are funny. They are entirely humorless, the Guy-Rodd specialty.
If there will be anything to laugh about, it will come tomorrow, Saturday, when I suppose the seventh panel in the comic strip will be published. And my guess is that it will look exactly like the first panel in the series. Ha. Thatās the joke. (And thatās also the urgency: I had to get this posted in time to make a prediction about tomorrowās Brevity.)
If Iām right, then Guy and Rodd will have escaped any meaningful professional labor for an entire week, producing only one laugh-inducing panel out of seven.
But just so your stop here at Hare Tonic isnāt entirely wasted, weāll plunge now into political cartooning, the socially-useful branch of the medium.
Here, for starters, are a couple of Garry Trudeauās Doonesburys from this week:
Nicely done. The drift of the dialogue is casual, relaxedārealisticāand yet purposeful, concluding each day in an insightful satirical punchline. And the conclusion of the second (“It makes me feel like thinking,” going from emotion to intellect without pausing for the former to take effect) is perfect.
Notice that Trudeau has yet to formulate a symbol for Barcko Bama. He successfully branded OāBamaās predecessors with waffles, feathers, and banged up Roman gladiator headgear; but for the current Prez, nothing. A mark, no doubt, of Trudeauās respect.
The New Yorkerās cartoons often ooze political implications, and last week, they seemed to pile up. Hereās George Booth, commenting on the fickle electorate in an election year:
Itās sweet to see Booth back in the pages of the magazine. Heās been absent much of the time lately. Heās 84. But here he is againāand with his prehistoric creatures, too. Heās as celebrated for his proto-humans as he is for his cranky old men and women in ramshackle farmhouses or a barren apartments.
Notice that the one on the left has big calluses on his/her posterior. When Lee Lorenz, onetime cartoon editor for The New Yorker, did a book about Booth, he asked him where he got the idea for the calluses.
“Just the fact that they sit down,” Booth said. “You know, it gets like that. Hereās where the anatomy I studied paid off.”
“Yeah,” said Lorenz, “Burne Hogarth would be proud of you.
But Booth had the last word: “I donātā think of these guys as made up. Reality is terribly important. These guys are real. I saw one this morning on the Avenue of the Americas.”
Then we have Paul Noth providing a keen insight into the workings of the Arizona illegal immigrant law:
Mick Shanahan, however, moves into a more controversial (if such a thing is possible) arena:
“Call me Ishmael” is the first line of Herman Melvilleās Moby Dick, as every schoolboy knows. But in this context, is Shanahan implying that Captain Ahab is gay? Thatās what they always used to say about sailors, you know: all those months at sea without women.
Well, if theyāre all gay, whey do they all have a girl in every port? Huh? Answer me that.
Monday, weāll get back to business.