May 30, 2007

Call me crazy, but I actually laughed out loud at Jump Start this morning. Maybe I was just sleepy, or maybe this strip is actually really funny. YOU DECIDE.

Not a big deal, BUT — this morning’s Opus comic was really funny, to me. I often don’t think Opus is that great anymore; the grotesque nature, while I “get it,” usually just deters me from enjoying. But I liked this one a lot.

One things I’ve neglected to mention over the last few days was the upcoming film adaptation conference at Pitt that I noted a couple months ago. I wrote about it for the paper here. I swear I posted about this this morning but apparently I didn’t.

Now on to important comics stuff: it’s been a while since I’ve checked in with you about Rex Morgan, M.D. and all the Troubles there. Suffice it to say, the strip has taken on the heavy subject of the relation between the state and morality, and the state has sustained a bruising.

It all came to a head the night Elvis showed up at the Morgans’ house to off Niki. Abbie (or “Ginger,” as I like to nostalgically call her) came to the rescue, digging under the fence to get to Elvis and pin him before he could do any harm (since, presumably, it took him hours to stand around outside the house before he got up the nerve to go to work).

After Elvis was apprehended, one of the officers stuck around, and announced that he’d have to be taking Niki away — I mean, his mom’s in the hospital with injuries sustained in a meth lab explosion for cripes’ sake, and the Morgans have to legal rights or responsibilities to him. Can you say CYS? Of course Niki was sad, and of course the Morgans were too. Their ire was nothing, though, in comparison with Abby’s Ginger’s:

We’re faced with the ultimate dilemma, hypothesized about by Kropotkin, Goldman, Wolff and so many others: when the state’s actions lie in direct contrast with what’s morally good and right, what are our rights with regard to resisting the state? Abby Ginger would clearly say that it’s well within our rights to snarl and grrrrowl at the state until it backs off — and in this case it does:

As we speak, another subplot is being hatched, to distract us a bit before the Ruby Ridge part of the story comes down.

eat, drink, and be mary

March 5, 2007

Busy times here at Andybot, Inc.

  • First order of business is kudos to Bob Subdivided for his piece in the P-G yesterday about Mary Worth. It was of magnitudes higher quality than the main story that ran with it, which sort of basically made Mary seem as boring as everyone thinks she is.
  • <complain>I now use a Mac at work and still use a PC at home, so every day I re-learn how to do keyboard shortcuts, twice. What a difficult existence.</complain>
  • The new gig affords me the chance to find out about cool stuff that’s going on that I might otherwise miss. Witness: the Bricolage Production Company. They’re doing a staged reading NEXT Sunday/Monday (the 18th and 19th) of a play called “Weightless” by an Australian playwright named Christine Evans. Could be cool. They’re also doing an Amiri Baraka play next month. Keep an eye out.

comics on fire

February 3, 2007

Here’s a comic we haven’t discussed lately: Sally Forth.

One of the reasons I don’t talk about Sally Forth as often as some other comics is that it’s one of those that I can’t just snag online and repost here — the images of recent strips are protected so you can’t save them to your computer (or link to them from elsewhere). I guess I could take a screenshot, then save that and post it, but that would be a lot of work and would set a dangerous precedent, eh?

My point in bringing it up is twofold. First, I realized only yesterday that all week we had been privy to Ted Forth’s workday life in the strip, a first for it. Being centered on Sally as the working mother, of course, Ted’s work has always been essentially ignored; in fact, lately, it became something of a joke within the comic: someone (I’m pretty sure it was that impudent strumpet Faye) cracked wise about not knowing what Ted even did during the day. I began to postulate that perhaps he worked for an intelligence service of some sort.

Here’s what we know: he apparently works in some sort of office, and it’s populated exclusively by white men, and it would appear actually that one of them is G. Gordon Liddy. And this morning, just as I was thinking of writing on this subject, I saw today’s strip, in which one of the co-workers makes a joke about not knowing what they do at their workplace.

Liddy’s presence suggests to me that perhaps this workplace is in fact Radio America, which would explain a good bit. If I worked there, I probably wouldn’t want to tell others about it either, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, in order to keep employees from realizing what stupid media content they’re responsible for, the higher-ups there kept workers relatively in the dark about what the tasks they did all day accomplished (kind of like working for the Manhattan Project).

Anyway, the second reason I write about Sally Forth is this: in snooping around to try to find an image of a recent strip that I could cop, I learned that the current writer of the strip, Francesco Marciuliano, writes a pretty great web comic called Medium Large and also runs a standup series in Manhattan. The web comic in a lot of cases appropriates characters and situations from famous comics and cartoons, sort of in the style of the myriad “Family Circus” spinoffs, but without one particular comic being used every time. Worth checking out.

Yesterday was an interesting time on the comics page, making today a big day on a comics-interested blog.

First, let’s check in on yesterday’s Born Loser. You probably know by now how I feel about the Born Loser, but occasionally there IS something weird enough in that strip to be worth a second look. Yesterday, Brutus was eating at a diner, and setting up the requisite weekly joke about “FOOD SO BAD EVEN THE EMPLOYEES DON’T LIKE IT!” But in order to change things up, Art & Chip placed him at a table, instead of at the counter where he usually is, and instead of ordering from the cook, he’s ordering from a waitress . . . who . . . looks . . . like his wife?

Is is a joke? Is it a biting social commentary, revealing the alienation of Gladys as domestic servant to Brutus? Is it simply proof that these guys can only draw 5 different characters, or is it the first glimpse of a new, more critical direction for the Born Loser? I suppose time will tell.

Oh, wait. Today’s Born Loser gag is another joke about getting a wrong phone number. Oh well.

Now, that having been explored, the meat of the issue: yesterday’s Beetle Bailey:

On the surface we see a simple gag: Beetle is signing up for another year in the service (his 57th year, for the record), his reasoning is his “desire to live another year,” when he says this, Sargeant Snorkel is revealed and the implication is that Sarge will, yes, kill Beetle if he fails to enlist again (protest THAT, POG!)

But look beneath the surface. What if Beetle DID decide not to enlist? What would happen? His entire universe, as constructed by the boundaries of the strip, is Camp Swampy. Occasionally the characters “hit the town” on the weekend — otherwise, there is nothing beyond Camp Swampy. If Beetle decided to throw in the towel, one can envision a large-scale crumbling of his world: perhaps he couldn’t escape if he tried.

On one hand, yes, the strip is about Beetle (ostensibly, given the title), but in fact the strip is about the entire camp, the ridiculous bureaucracy and the power relations within the structure of the military unit. (OF COURSE I realize that it’s generally a boring, silly, largely uncritical look at these things, but bare with me). The fact that it all ties into Beetle is important only on the surface; if Beetle left the army, I would venture to guess that the strip would soldier on (bad pun intended) without him, or, more likely, it would just end — that whole universe would collapse. I can’t foresee Beetle’s life outside the military being fodder for the strip — that’s just not what it’s about.

All that having been said, I heartily endorse the idea of Beetle finally just packing up and running away with Miss Buxley, even if it means the collapse of their universe. I think it would be worth it for both of them.

comics update, 1/9/07

January 9, 2007

Some things have been going on on the comics pages, and I thought you might like to know.

Most importantly, Mary Worth is fixin’ to pack up and go to ‘Nam1 to find Jeff Cory, since he went there without keeping in touch with his mission (or whatever you call it) and has been gone for like months, which I realize usually translates to about 6 days in Mary Time, but trust me, it’s been months for her too. Also, there’s been a lot of hemming and hawing in the Weekend Mailbag of the P-G about fears of Mary being cut. Some people have even insisted that her plot lines have grown weary and she needs to be given a rest. These same people laud the creativity of “The Amazing Spider-Man” (and its marketability, what with a new Spider-Man movie in the works). I kid you not.

Bill Amend went Sundays-only with Fox Trot, which makes me pretty sad — for a guy who was apparently feeling inferior and dried-up, he was still as of last month writing a comic with more original material in a week than most newspaper comics have had in the past five years. But it’s good that he at least thought to slow down while he was ahead. Take a hint, Chip Sansom. (While we’re at it, Chip Sansom’s nephew, read the rest of Wikipedia and take a hint not to disclose your relation to the subject of an entry when you’re creating it.)

Lio is the new comic that took the place of Fox Trot in the daily paper; it’s actually pretty good. I would’ve preferred “F-Minus,” or “Pearls Before Swine” (which was never ever test-run), but I’ll settle and not complain.

Speaking of “Pearls Before Swine,” it runs daily now in BOTH the Trib P.M. and the regular daily Trib. I don’t endorse reading either of these, but since the P.M. is now delivered to my house through no request of anyone living here, I feel justified in opening it up just to read that comic. I try not to glance onto the opposite side to see the immensely idiotic “Girls and Sports.”

Oh and also, little Niki from “Rex Morgan, M.D.” is about to get capped by his mom’s pathetic loser drug user no-shavin’ haircut-needin’ boyfriend, and if June gets in the way, she’s toast too. Same with the landlady. Same with that crazy lady with the bad hair from last summer’s plot line. No one is safe.

1. Do you capitalize the N in “‘Nam” even though it’s not the first letter of the proper noun, really?