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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 07/30/2008

The E-Mailbag: Dr. Duncan, Studmuffin

By Michael Cavna

WARNING: This blog-post contains saucy material that might be inappropriate for impressionable young (or not-so-young) souls who could reasonably be offended by such words as, oh, "studmuffin."

We at Comic Riffs were remiss in one regard yesterday when prattling on about "Judge Parker." We forgot "to go there," and by "there," we mean what four out of five comics-reading doctors refer to as "STD." Or by its full, comically correct name:

Sexual Tension Dialogue.

Perhaps it's all those gloriously sculpted two-dimensional bodies, or maybe it's the Easter Island Effect of the dialogue ("See in it what you choose to see"), but something about "Judge Parker" spurs some readers to revel in the strip for the cut-it-with-a-pocketknife sexual tension. That's right: To some folk who shall remain anonymous -- that means you, Uncle Frank -- "JP" is one hotbed of hunks and hussydom.

Which all prompts the question: Is this innuendo really as cartoonists Harold Ledoux and Woody Wilson intended? To which we would reply: Does it really matter anymore? Yes, we know: Sometimes a pocketknife is just a pocketknife. But once each strip is out of Ledoux & Wilson's hands, then the whole matter is figuratively, well, out of their hands. To many readers, the wordplay's the thing and heavy-breathing, tart-tongued innuendo will not be denied.

And in that vein, in league with some commenters, we re-turn our attention to Sunday's "Zits," in which frisky Papa Duncan, the dentist, is about to give the missus a very personal tonsillectomy. (Talk about "The Secret Lives of Dentists.") On Sunday, we chose to focus on George Carlin's (via Garry Trudeau) reminding us, for instance, that certain synonyms for "sex" are verboten in a family newspaper. But in our recent talk with cartoonist Signe Wilkinson -- the Philadelphia Pulitzer-winner who now draws the United Media strip "Family Tree" -- she reminded us that comic characters are barely permitted to even say the word "sex," even as a casual aside astride G-rated visuals.

So what do we make of all this alleged "STD" in "JP? Well, to be blunt, we see this as the strained domain of some sad, demented souls who can derive no other pleasure from comics than to --- YOWza, did that come-hither woman just mouth a double-entendre for the Titleists in Sam's golf bag?!? You saw that, right?!

Somehow, it's like that old joke about the patient who ultimately says to the Rorschach Test-wielding psychiatrist: "Hey, you're the one showing all the dirty pictures." And if you don't know that joke, just do what some of the fastest gag-writers in the business do: Google it.

SIDENOTES: Did anyone not get the literal "joke" in yesterday's "Judge Parker," about all the top-ranked amateur golfers run amok? We were so quick to snark, we might have presumed too much. No, everyone got it (with varying results). Swell, thought so. (We'd moved on to look deep into those characters' inky eyes, longingly, for acknowledgment of secondary, subversive winks from the cartoonists. Something to keep us scaling the glacial pace.)

By Michael Cavna  | July 30, 2008; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  The E-Mailbag  
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Next: The Morning Line: Garfield -- Bring on the Crazy


Well played, sir.

I actually started following JP when I saw Abby and Sam in the boudoir getting ready for bed. Abby in a hot looking nighty while Sam undressed with a knowing grin on his face. I later found out that's when she had eaten the hash brownies, so she fell asleep before any tonsil dancing occurred.

(Like that would ever happen in real life...)

The drawing kind of jumped off the page.

Posted by: JkR | July 30, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Never mind this trivia, I believe we have a Pastis sighting in Jane's World

Posted by: jimbo1949 | July 30, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

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