Hare Tonic 2: Fubar

Posted by on December 11th, 2009 at 10:10 AM


In what may be a Historic First for the funnies, Rudy Park, written by Theron Heir (not his real name) and drawn by Darrin Bell (his real name), lost track of the calendar last month and spent the week after Thanksgiving celebrating Thanksgiving instead of vice versa. Probably no one has done this before. At least, no one has done it before in the glaring light of actual publication in print. That’s why there are editors at syndicates: they catch such mistakes before they can be committed to print, worldwide.  The perpetrators of this remarkable gaffe offered a feeble explanation for their mistake in the strip for Dec. 1, as we see above. No one believes the explanation, of course. What the perpetrators were actually doing was staging a stunt to attract attention: If, on a page of comics, you run a comic strip the pictures of which are obliterated by a box of verbiage, your comic strip will stand out among all the others because none of the others look anything like yours. You can achieve something of the same objective if you put lots of silhouettes in your strip: all those solid blacks attract the roving eye of the average reader.

On the same day that Rudy Park committed its verbosity, so did Pajama Diaries. But Terri Libenson, the strip’s author, often deploys so many words that she has no space left to draw pictures in — as is the case here — so I doubt she was doing it to attract attention. She did it because she needs all those words to create the day’s joke. The pictures in this strip contribute nothing to the gag: We don’t need the pictures to get the joke. When she does this, Libenson emasculates her strip. (Maybe, given her feminist plotting, that’s what she intends; or maybe I’ve simply chosen a word for what she’s doing that pokes fun at what she’s doing. We all need occasional lessons in not taking ourselves too seriously.) Comic strips that don’t need pictures to make sense are no longer comic strips. Comic strips blend words and pictures; Pajama Diaries on this date isn’t doing that, so it’s not much of a comic strip. Libenson might as well be writing an ordinary newspaper column. In the Olden Days, that’s what she’d be doing. She’d be that venerable newspaper factotum, the “paragrapher,” who produced personal columns by rattling on for a few paragraphs about some aspect of the Human Condition. Sort of like I’m doing here.

(By the way, Theron Heir’s real name, as everyone knows, is actually Thermometer Down.)

Drastic Fubar No. 1: Contrary to the advice I gave on Dec. 1, 9 Chickweed Lane can’t be found at GoComics.com. You can find Chickweed’s creator’s blog there, under Brooke McEldowney, but not the artifact itself. For that, you must go to Comics.com, where 9 Chickweed Lane is listed first on the alphabetical roster of the site’s comics. Sorry. (“Fubar” is a buzz word that stands for “fouled up beyond all recognition”; just in case you’re collecting such shards of obscure argot. And in this explication, “fouled up” stands for a similar locution that also deploys an f-word. We desperately hope that we’ll have no more Fubars, drastic or otherwise, to explain hereabouts. And we have gremlins working on it, day and night.)

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