Archive for August, 2009

Daddy’s Home (8/31/09)

August 31, 2009

08-31-09 (Daddy's Home)

I’ve had my share of meatloaf dinners and while some of them have been good, none of them have had a particularly appetizing aroma. At best, meatloaf has a neutral smell dominated by ground beef and ketchup. Even the most adventurous variations (and I’ve had some rich, flavorful ones with ample seasonings and bacon on top) don’t make my nose perk up. I doubt this would change if someone were cursed with an enormous schnoz. But I do pity the poor woman with the gigantic ears who has to hear the amplified crunch of Corn Flakes as they’re used to fill out the baking pan.

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Pearls Before Swine (8/30/09)

August 30, 2009

08-30-09 (Pearls Before Swine)

While objectification of women is nothing new, today’s Pearls Before Swine brings the practice into sharp relief. I’m not bothered by Rat’s plan to bring a scantily clad woman into the forest with him, but I am put off by the words he uses to describe her. He doesn’t refer to “my friend, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader” or “my companion, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader” or even “my date, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.” Instead, he uses the phrase, “my Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.” I didn’t know women were available for purchase the same way iPhones, Xboxes and kegs of beer are available for purchase, but in Rat’s world, apparently they are. (On a purely grammatical note, I feel compelled to mention that this woman should be referred to as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, since she is almost certainly cheering for the entire team and not an individual player.)

Rudy Park (8/29/09)

August 29, 2009

08-29-09 (Rudy Park)

When I’m not reading, clipping or commenting on comics, I sometimes wonder what the future holds for this newspaper-dependent industry. Cartoonists Theron Heir and Darrin Bell have been thinking about the future as well; specifically, the future of their comic strip, Rudy Park. I was surprised to read on their website, for example, that “newspaper closings and bankruptcies have cut in half the already modest amount [Heir and Bell] make for writing and drawing Rudy Park.”

That’s pretty sobering, and it makes me wonder how comics fans can support their favorite cartoonists. I personally subscribe to both of Chicago’s high-circulation newspapers, although I realize that makes me part of a dying breed. I also paid for a subscription to Comics.com until they inexplicably decided to make themselves a free service. (Coincidentally, this is how I continue to read Rudy Park on a daily basis.)

Another point Heir and Bell bring up on their website is that cartoonists can’t earn a living when their work is distributed on the Internet for free. That brings to mind the rapidly sinking music industry, but it also makes me wonder whether web comics could ever be a viable business model. When a musician puts his music on MySpace for free, he can entice listeners to buy T-shirts or come to a live performance. When a cartoonist puts his comic strip on the web for free, what else does he have to sell? A coffee mug? A collection of reprints? An advertisement or sponsorship? None of those options are particularly lucrative.

It may be that Heir and Bell have decided the diminishing financial returns on their strip are no longer worth the time and effort they put into it. Both men have other jobs, after all; Heir as a journalist for the New York Times and Bell as the creator of the excellent strip, Candorville. Maybe Rudy Park will find a way to draw paid viewers to its website for “premium” content. Or maybe it will end up as a side project that had a good run, but was destined to fall by the wayside. If that’s the case, I can only hope it won’t be a harbinger of other strips collapsing under various financial pressures.

Dilbert (8/28/09)

August 28, 2009

08-28-09 (Dilbert)

Today’s Dilbert left me scratching my head in amazement at the fact that anyone, anywhere could find fault with a cell phone app that hurls pirate insults. Sure, it might get old after the hundredth time or so, but the woman in this strip is seeing this app for the very first time. How can she not grasp is juvenile charm? How can she not sit there pressing the “automatic pirate insult generator” button ad nauseum? Dilbert is right to taunt her with the app after she’s left the table. Anyone not charmed by a surly pirate on a cell phone is not someone you want to share a meal with.

The Family Circus (8/27/09)

August 27, 2009

08-27-09 (Family Circus)

As a dedicated tea drinker, I can safely say that there is little to no stigma attached to not drinking coffee. I say this as someone who grew up in a house full of coffee addicts. My mother? Homemade coffee in a cup the size of your head. My father? A tall Starbucks to go. My grandmother? Multiple bags of Eight O’ Clock Coffee lining the top of the pantry. My grandfather? Dunkin’ Donuts medium decaf, cream and sugar with a senior discount. But even though I love the smell of the stuff, I’ve only had two cups of coffee in my life: one to try it and another to make sure I didn’t like it.

Cul de Sac (8/26/09)

August 26, 2009

08-26-09 (Cul de Sac)

What’s the point of an imagination if it’s not used to obliterate the mundane? Why would an artist take pen to paper if he’s not planning to seriously blow some minds? What would possess a cartoonist to start a rumble in panel one if he can’t pay it off with a completely insane toddler stampede in panel two? Fortunately, these questions don’t have any bearing on today’s Cul de Sac, which continues the strip’s proud tradition of rendering suburban childhood in strange and wondrous ways. If Shel Silverstein had been asked to write Peanuts, he might have come up with something like this. It’s the type of aesthetic that makes Cul de Sac a constant source of surprise and delight, and hoists it head and shoulders above its contemporaries on the comics page. Ngyah, indeed.

One Big Happy (8/25/09)

August 25, 2009

08-25-09 (One Big Happy)

Maybe I’ve seen too many Wilford Brimley infomercials, but when I think of the classic old American male, I tend to think of white mustaches and receding hairlines. The man in this strip fits the bill pretty well, although his doesn’t have the girth to compete with Brimley. But what he lacks in stockiness he more than makes up for in mustache presence. This is especially evident in panel four, which gleefully depicts the type of facial hair that can overwhelm a man’s mug if he’s not careful.