Philosophical Friday: Beetle's Last Kiss

Beetle Bailey's relationship with Sergeant Snorkel is a complicated one. You assume that as Beetle is lazy and incompetent and Sarge is constantly berating and assaulting him that they would feel nothing but enmity for one another, but it seems that that is not the case.

Beetle Bailey, 2014-02-28.

That aside, today what I really wanted to talk about is a different comic. It's called Last Kiss and it is awful. First I'll let you read what GoComics has to say about it.

Pairing vintage comic art with hilarious, new dialog by Disney veteran writer John Lustig, Last Kiss revels in the absurdities of love, lust and 'life with lip.' The series originated when Lustig bought the publishing rights to a romance comic book series from the 50's and 60's, and started rewriting the stories for fun. Since then, the re-dialogued comics have been a popular feature in newspapers, magazines, comic books and greeting cards. Today Last Kiss is gaining popularity and is also available on email cards from Jib Jab and greeting cards from NobleWorks. Check www.lastkissinc.com for the latest news and product launches.

Sounds OK, right? There's certainly plenty of potential there. Let's take a look at today's.

Last Kiss, 2014-02-28.
Oh. Well, everyone has their off days. Maybe that's a bad example. How about the previous one?

Last Kiss, 2014-02-26.
So... third time's the charm? One more? OK, I can't even bring myself to link any more of these. It's not that they're lazy, it's that they're just not funny. At all. And someone's actually printing this garbage as greeting cards.

I don't mean to imply that it's easy to think of funny captions for these images. It clearly isn't. They're just single panels of one or two ordinary people with absolutely no context. And that's the problem, I think. John Lustig has set himself an impossible challenge. If he'd gone with an entire strip (or a row of panels from a comic book) for each one then it would not only be easier, it would be funnier. Even if he's bad at being funny (which I suspect he is) it would still be better than this.

But more importantly, if re-captioning other people's comics is a legitimate option, why am I not a syndicated cartoonist yet? I do that all the time!


Sitcom Thursday: Beer or Wine?

A man in a brown suit strides pompously into Jack's bar waving a fistful of money.
"I had a big win on the horses." he declares. "Cocktails all round, Jack!"
"Coming up" replies Jack, fetching the drinks.
"What's this?" asks the brown-suited man.
"Jack's idea of a cocktail" replies Andy.
"A pint of beer with a little umbrella in it" clarifies Chalky.
But really, what was he expecting just asking for "a cocktail" rather than a particular drink?

Mrs. Halftrack answers a knock at the door to find Lt. Fuzz standing there.
"Why, Lt. Fuzz!" she says. "What a surprise to see you on a Saturday! Amos will be so sorry to have missed you"
Meanwhile, Amos has hidden behind the couch, spilling his wine in his haste. The big surprise though is that he's actually drinking it from a glass rather than straight from the bottle.

"I swear I shall never, ever drink the fruit of the vine!" says Hägar.
"Unless you run out of beer" corrects Helga.
Given that Hägar had a beer in his hand the whole time, it's really not clear what point he was trying to make. Maybe he just doesn't like wine?


One-Panel Wednesday: Cats and Dogs

Heathcliff walks down the street chatting with Marmaduke. Two children watch them pass.
"They commiserate about fleas." says one boy to the other, failing to appreciate the incredible honour bearing witness to two such majestic being passing by.

Marmaduke sits by the window, watching the snow fall, thinking of the boy who so casually disrespected him earlier. Soon he must pay.
"Do you really have to go out, or do you feel like the snow is challenging you?" asks Phil.
Marmaduke turns and fixes him with an icy glare.

Heathcliff strides down the street wearing a centurion's helmet, wielding a net on a stick and a shield with a picture of a dog on it. Two dog-catchers watch him go by.
"He's our chihuahua guy." says one to the other.
Little do they realise that it is not chihuahuas that Heathcliff hunts this day. A human child must be taught a lesson.


Action Tuesday: Iron Jonah

The Phantom's spent the last couple of months (well, not really, it just seems that long) showing off his collection of stolen treasures to a woman whose memory he's going to erase anyway, and I can't remember the last time anyone in Dick Tracy was suddenly and horrifically killed, but even if that weren't the case there's still only one comic that would have my attention today, and that's The Amazing Iron Jonah. I mean Spider-Man.

Oh my god, Iron Jonah. Not just the best super hero but the best thing.

So, J Jonah Jameson donated some money to Tony Stark's favourite charity, and in return Tony let him borrow an old Iron Man suit fitted up to be operated by remote control. JJJ wanted to use it to track down Spider-Man (because he's a menace!) but Spidey broke the remote control and got away.

But J Jonah Jameson doesn't give up that easily. With Tony out of town, there was no one to prevent triple-J steamrolling over the protests of Stark Industries employees and having the suit returned to its original condition. Pausing only to draw his trademark Hitler moustache on the face, Jonah suited up and took off to look for Spider-Man, and also smash a bunch of stuff.

This alone would be one of the greatest things ever to happen in The Amazing Spider-Man, but there are two more little details that are just the icing on the cake. The first is that Jonah misunderstood the safety instructions and is going to fly too fast, and the second is a tank. Actually I guess that's not such a little detail. Iron Jonah is going to fight a tank.

Up in the sky: J Jonah Jameson, in Iron Man's original armor...
"The minute I spot Spider-Man — he's toast!" roars Jonah as he hurtles through the sky at terrifying speeds.
On the ground: A tank  operated by two daring bank robbers...
"See, Spike?" says one bank robber as they plow through a bulding. "Nobody can stop this getaway 'car'!"

Meanwhile, Peter Parker is taking the day off to watch some TV.


Melodrama Monday: Violence, intrigue and an awkward dinner party

While Tommie in Apartment 3-G has spent the past week keeping a baby deer in the flat and hyping up her new fiancé, and Luann's friends Bernice and Delta dither over whether or not they're going to the prom (which isn't even happening for months yet), things have been a bit more exciting in Judge Parker. Yes, I used "exciting" and "Judge Parker" in the same sentence.

Things started off in typical fashion, with Alan, the original Judge Parker, and his wife Katherine writing a screenplay which is guaranteed to make them even richer than they already are (because that's just what happens in this comic) while on a cruise to the jungle for the current Judge Parker's wedding to April, but things got a little bit weird along the way.

The Parkers won some money at the casino, but that goes without saying, the first hint of things to come was that time when it looked like April had just thrown a woman overboard. April works for the NSA, you see, and the woman was following her for some reason. But it now appears that April didn't do it. And there are more people following her.

But that only came up after they got to the jungle. They're in the jungle for the wedding, remember? Well, her father is hiding out there in this secret, hidden medical facility with armed guards, because he used to be a spy or something, and now Russian spies, who are working for some people he used to do some smuggling for, have tracked him down and are probably trying to kill him.

Also there's a drug cartel and a big spider. Meanwhile, Alan is having a lovely time and just wandering blissfully unaware through this dangerous world of spies, cartels, smugglers, mercenaries and deadly jungle creatures, secure in the knowledge that he is rich and therefore safe from all harm.

So basically what I'm saying here is that if anyone can explain to me what the hell is going on in Judge Parker right now, I would love to know.

Rex Morgan MD is much less confusing. We're just at the point where the boring build-up suddenly transforms into insane violence. Rex recently ran into Buck, an old highschool friend. It turned out that Buck's wife, Doris, had started drinking heavily and had attacked him with a drill. Rex was concerned and convinced him to call the police, which he did the other day. He made one little mistake though, in that he told her he'd done it before they arrived. While she had a knife in her hand.

Doris reacted in the calm and rational way typical of violent alcoholics, which is to say that she started yelling, threatening and waving the knife around. In yesterday's Sunday strip the police arrive and hear the commotion. Today's strip picks up with them opening the door and seeing Buck and Doris.

"Doris... no!" yells Buck, holding his briefcase up to defend himself.
"After all I've done for you!" yells Doris, stabbing the briefcase.
"Drop the knife, lady..." says one of the police officers, aiming a taser right at her head.
"This is my house!" screams Doris, lunging at the police officer. "Get out!"
Buck cowers against the wall as the second officer also raises a taser.

So in tomorrow's Rex Morgan MD either someone's getting stabbed or someone's getting tased, or, if we're really lucky, both!

Mary Worth should also be worth keeping an eye on over the next couple of weeks as Wilbur's former girlfriend Iris is back in town, with her son Tommy, the former meth dealer who's recently gotten out of jail and is looking to turn his life around. Will he go back to his old ways, or will Wilbur's sandwiches and frolicking be enough to cure him? Either way it should be pretty great. In today's strip, Wilbur, Iris and Tommy have been invited to Mary's house for dinner.

"I've heard nice things about Jefferson. What's it like?" asks Mary as Wilbur and Iris keep their eyes on Tommy. "I've never been there."
"Tommy will have a better chance of getting work in a big city like Santa Royale..." says Iris, having mistaken Santa Royale for a big city. "But Jefferson's quiet pace was wecome in light of his status change. The months we spent there were good."
"Just say it. mom/ Jefferson eased the way for this former drug dealer who finally left prison!" thinks Tommy, gritting his teeth and grimacing at the floor.
Wilbur continues to glare menacingly at Tommy throughout the conversation,.


Weekend Workshop: Christ, what an asshole!

Based on Arlo and Janis 2014-01-29.
They say that if you don't understand an Arlo and Janis strip, it's probably about sex. I thought I'd remove the "sub" from the subtext.

Based on Jane's World 2014-02-11.
It works everywhere, but some places better than others.

Based on Mark Trail 2014-02-15.
Mark is not a clever man.

Based on Safe Havens 2014-02-17.
That last panel now works as a follow-up to around half of all Safe Havens strips.

Based on Luann 2014-02-19.
Delta is joking, obviously. Bernice is not.


Big news!

I haven't posted anything here in a couple of months now, and part of that was being busy, but also being lazy. But starting next week, all that changes. By which I mean that I'm going to start posting again.

There will be a couple of changes though. The content will be the same sort of stuff I've always posted, but I'm going to make some changes to my schedule. Specifically, each day of the week will get a particular focus (and a catchy name). Here's how it's going to work.

Weekend Workshop - Edited comics previously tagged as "Improving the Comics".
Melodrama Monday - Soap-opera strips. Mary Worth, Apartment 3-G, Rex Morgan MD, etc.
Action Tuesday - Action strips. Spider-Man, Dick Tracy, The Phantom, etc.
One-Panel Wednesday - One panel comics. Heathcliff, F-Minus, Dennis the Menace, etc.
That's the Joke Thursday - Sit-com strips. Sally Forth, Shoe, Garfield, etc.
Philosophical Friday - The sort of content previously tagged as "Ponderation". That was a really dumb name, and this one only is a slight improvement. Oh well, can't win them all.

The first post on this new schedule will be a Weekend Workshop on Sunday consisting of a few I've done over the last couple of months.