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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 07/22/2008

The Morning Line: Go 'Forth' and Multiply

By Michael Cavna

Some mornings if we're not careful, the comics -- especially prior to that first jump-start cup of coffee or Darjeeling -- can really play with our sense of Commonly Accepted Reality. Text doesn't match facial expression, or sequential time is warped beyond recognition. Or, in the immortal words of Grace Slick: "When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead." Don't say we didn't warn -- to wit:

Time and space are no match for Sally's '90s hair. (King Features)

This cannot be. Sally Forth = young hottie? Perhaps it's just that glow of new pregnancy, but she's looking awfully carefree and rockin'. In the strip's latest long-haired flashback -- to '97 -- she and her randy, tank-topped self are pretty darn smok--waaait a minute. We were reading "Sally Forth" back in 1997, and she was sporting her same-ol' up-and-coming-officeworker hairstyle. Which means today, we've entered a parallel universe here worthy of DC Comics -- either that or the artist is just messin' with our minds for sport and profit. (Assuring to see, though, that the tear in the space-time continuum hasn't altered Ted's cheesy fashion sense.)

Who's really doing the talking? Our lips are sealed. (King Features)

Five -- count 'em, five -- word-balloons and only once does anyone's mouth ever "move." Apparently, unbeknownst to us, the kids of "Curtis" are enrolled in Ventriloquism School.

"Paging Dr. McPherson on the telegraph machine..." (Universal Press Syndicate)

A patient's in surgery but there's not a single IV bag, scalpel or electronic screen to be found, eh? That's because artist John McPherson loves to get visual laughs out of the rudimentary. So in terms of "medical advances," our expert staff of historians places this scene in, oh, the old Soviet Union. Which means today's strip hits most close to home if home is Leningrad. In 1952.

Which cartoons today do you like, love or loathe -- or laugh at despite yourself? Our "Line" is open ...

By Michael Cavna  | July 22, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The E-Mailbag: Beyond the Irony Age
Next: The Interview: 'Boondocks' Creator Aaron McGruder


Love the expression "sequential time"...and what strip besides For Better or For Worse ever gives more than a passing (or maybe non-passing would be a better word) nod to it?

My daily run comprises Baldo, Candorville, Cathy, For Better or For Worse, Sally Forth, and my favorite, Zits. I don't know why, because it isn't particularly logical, but I keep wanting to compare Jeremy in Zits to Calvin...

Posted by: cat52 | July 22, 2008 7:17 AM | Report abuse

I read all the WaPo (print) strips, because they're there. For my out-of-print experience, I wrote a little script that gives me a page of about 60 strips + opens another 7-8 I enjoy.

The ones I'd hunt down if they moved (they sometimes change syndicates): Adam, The Duplex, In the Bleachers, Loose Parts, Overboard, Stone Soup, Arlo & Janis, 9 Chickweed Lane, Herman (repeats, I think), Luann, Rudy Park, Least I Could Do, User Friendly.

I like Clear Blue Water, Dog Eat Doug, and Heart of the City but I'm not sure why.

I wish Jantze was still doing The Norm. He went to a pay-on-line format and then decided to focus elsewhere. The Norm was one of the great strips!

One Big Happy, the Fusco Brothers, and Shoe are funnier now that they're no longer in the WaPo. Go figure.

I should track down Kevin and Kell, Bizarro, and Sluggy Freelance. I lost track of them and never sought them out.

BTW: Heart of the City, a cute kid strip is by the same guy who does Lio.

Posted by: f2 | July 22, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

I occasionally have a very hard time with the reality distortion field of For Better or For Worse.

Special ed children are all sweet and never really difficult. Step parents are accepted so easily. Broken hearts mend effortlessly. Authors always become successful right away. I mean, the only person who ever seemed to truly suffer is that poor dog.

I realize this is just an idealized world created by a cartoonist, but still, sometimes I get frustrated that nearly everyone must have a heart of gold. I dunno. Maybe it's a Canadian thing.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 22, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

As far as comics I love, Zits is great therapy for the parent of a teen. It gives me hope.

Posted by: RD Padouk | July 22, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I like the ones that don't center around "family humor." Zits is the exception. The "aren't-kids-just-the-darnedest-things" humor is just so tired to me. Baby Blues is the worst. Doonesbury, Dilbert, Mutts, Non Sequitur, and Rhymes with Orange are my usuals. And Tom Toles--do editorial cartoons count here?

Love this new blog! Thanks!

Posted by: No kids | July 22, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I, for one, loathe "Nancy" which is in my local paper (unfortunately NOT the WaPo). Mouths don't move, hair doesn't move, Aunt Fritz's bosom is so unnaturally perky. Seriously, what kind of issues will Nancy have if she ever reaches puberty with that hussie as her guardian?

Can't stand that strip.

Posted by: erin | July 22, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Very few comics these days make me laugh out loud or cry, "Ewwww!" One that does so consistantly is "Red Meat" avail via the WaPo website.

Posted by: BDWESQTM | July 22, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Didn't they just run a sequence about being together at the bicentennial? If they were 30 in 1997, they looked really old for 9 in 1976...

Posted by: Forth and Fourth | July 22, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I absolutely LOVE Sally Forth. I know it's totally uncool, but I think it's hilarious! (That's what drew me to this blog.)

I liked Funky Winkerbean when they were doing the cancer storyline. I missed a week, though, and have remained confused ever since...

My regular reading includes Get Fuzzy, Sally Forth, Frazz (finally caved to that one) and Dilbert.

Posted by: JEGS | July 22, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Love the blog!

A favorite--Frazz. Take a look: It's Calvin grown up and Calvin's little girlfriend, Susie, too! Yay!

Frank and Ernest bring a smile almost every single morning. A great way to start the day.

Now that I check out the Web comics, too, In the Bleachers frequently brings a laugh-out-loud reaction.

I read them all, have other favorites (including Mark Trail, who reminds me in many ways of my beloved father), and a list of "can't wait 'til their gone" which shall remain unnamed here.

Re "all faces drawn the same" theme from previously, a drawing teacher told us that people tend to draw their own faces or aspects of them when doing portraits, that this is hard for artists to overcome. Perhaps that helps explain it?

Thanks for a good--and intelligent--read.

Posted by: Zero | July 22, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

re: "flashback -- to '97"....

Sally Forth, as far as I can tell, has never aged at anything approaching a one-to-one rate. Hillary may be two or three years older now than when I first saw the strip in the mid-1980s, but no more than that. So the "11 year" flashback is eleven years relative to Sally and Ted's timeline--not to the reader... after all, Hillary has been around since the start of the strip, so the overall timespan has to be less than the 11 years indicated.

Posted by: Dirty Davey | July 22, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Here is a question: Why are the old people in so many comics mean to each other, especially the married ones? The stream of verbal abuse (and sometimes physical) is disturbing. Take a look at "Pickles", which would seem to be a family-friendly strip at first glance. What lesson is their grandson Nelson (and why are Nelson's parents rarely in the strip?) learning about human relations and marriage relations with these two making snide and digging remarks about and to each other?

Off the soap box now, sorry ....

Posted by: Zero | July 22, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

For gosh sakes, IT'S THE COMICS! Why does everything have to fit like a glove. I find it odd that people look for goofs in movies, too. You're not getting much entertainment value if you're overthinking it.

Posted by: MSchafer | July 22, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I have to read Rudy Park online every day. I wish it was in my local paper. I also read Opus on Sundays online because it isn't in my local paper. My local doesn't run Doonesbury on Sundays so I have to go find that too. It must be more expensive on Sundays? I did find a place to visit for a daily rerun of Calvin and Hobbs.

Posted by: Omaha Mann | July 22, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to hate Brewster Rocket and it became one of my favorites. I look forward to Gene Weingarten's weekly chat because his Comic Pick of the Week choices are very close to my favorites.

One of my least favorites is Curtis. If they were real, I'd report the parents to social services.

Posted by: Arlington Gay | July 22, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

My faves are Big Nate, Brewster Rockit, and Get Fuzzy. My least favorites have to be those that are overly sanctimonious ones like Prickly City and Frazz. It's terrible to think that Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes grew up to be such an insufferable bore.

Posted by: Linus Van Pelt | July 22, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Please somebody help me here. We all know Charles Schultz died some time ago, but WaPo is running a strip called "Classic Peanuts." Is this just a rerun, or has somebody else in the Schultz clan picked up the pen and continued the strip? I'm not a huge Peanuts fan, but just curious.

Posted by: Jeff | July 24, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I did a blogpost on Comic Strip Temporal Dynamics:

Posted by: yellojkt | July 30, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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