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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 10/ 3/2008

The E-Mailbag: Bucky and Beetle? Them's Fightin' Words

By Michael Cavna

BEETLE BAILEY: No war, but a real commentary on war. (KFS)Enlarge Comic

Some weeks ago, I offered thoughts on how to revivify "Beetle Bailey's" relevance. One of my toss-off suggestions: Have Beetle go to war.

So imagine my surprise when I saw that in this morning's strip, Beetle and Plato give the appearance -- and commentary -- of having gone to war. Zoinks! Did I miss a week of run-up to a sudden surge?

Turns out, the Camp Swampy gang is not in combat at all, but rather again participating in military exercises. The strip's soldiers have done this before, of course, but somehow, the dialogue was enough that I could imagine otherwise.

"Beetle and Plato are participating in war games in the strip," "Beetle" co-cartoonist Brian Walker tells Comic Riffs. "Hopefully, Beetle and his buddies will remain perpetually in boot camp and never face the horrors of real combat. It is a humor strip after all."

Regardless of the setting, it's the dialogue's age-old truism (perhaps warriors have been saying this since elephants first crossed the Khyber Pass) that prompts us to pin "Beetle" with its first Riffy.

Our other awards this week go to:

GET FUZZY: Debating like cats and dogs -- and one D'crat owner. (UFS)Enlarge Comic

GET FUZZY: As mentioned in this space earlier, this week's debate storyline has been not only funny, but has made for great commentary. I'm in complete agreement with commenter Jayelle, in fact, who posted this week (of "Fuzzy" and "Brewster Rockit"): "They're not only making points, but the strips have stayed funny and true to their characters." (And speaking of "Get Fuzzy," this just in: The strip's fourth treasury collection, "The Potpourrific Great Big Grab Bag," will be released this month.)

TANK McNAMARA: Who should be offended more: The Nats or writers? (UPS)Enlarge Comic

TANK McNAMARA: Meantime, a lighthearted Miffy goes to the tart-tongued "Tank" strip today. We don't know whether to be more offended on behalf of the Washington Nationals or on behalf of writers. And if you're The Post's excellent Nats beat writer, Chico Harlan, have you just been doubly insulted?

We also offer Riffys (in no particular order) to some recent Comments inspired by our poll to determine which strip you would boot from The Post's funnypages. ("Zippy the Pinhead" outpointed runner-up "Prickly City.") Here were some of our fave responses:

1. Drop Judge Parker? As Dixie lounges around in a bikini top? What's the matter with you people?
[Posted by: Mike Rhode]
2. Beetle and Peanuts (and Garfield) are gateway drugs. They're the reason my youngest picks up the newspaper.
[Posted by: f2 ]
3. It was a tough choice, but I had to go with Family Circus just on principle. My hatred of that strip smoulders deep within my soul.
[Posted by: Drew ]

By Michael Cavna  | October 3, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The E-Mailbag  
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I'm not sure, but I think the dialog in that Riffy-winning Beetle Bailey is kinda borrowed from one of Bill Mauldin's WW2-era Willie and Joe cartoons done for Stars and Stripes.

Posted by: Remember Bill Mauldin? | October 3, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Although everyone from George McGovern to Bob Dylan has expressed a similar sentiment to today's "Beetle," I wasn't able to pinpoint the origin of the saying -- not even in the great Willie and Joe. If you can, please let us know.

Posted by: M.C. | October 3, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Glad the comments can get back to comic strips - that last post got a little crazy!

Posted by: Julia | October 3, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Why are there never any political discussions on this blog?

Posted by: f2 | October 3, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Those people who named "Beetle Bailey" as the strip that most deserves to be dropped, citing how "dated" it is, have had their worst suspicions confirmed today. While the rest of the Army trains to battle the Taliban in the mountains, the men of Campy Swampy train to battle the Kaiser at the Second Battle of the Marne. And the "punchline" was already old by **then**.

Posted by: Seismic-2 | October 3, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Beetle is not only outdated ... it's taking old sayings and passing them off as original commentary. I'm in my 20s and Ive heard that saying hundreds of times. Somebody hold Beetle Bailey to the same standard of quality as the rest of the paper.

Posted by: Horacio | October 3, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Come on people, LIGHTEN UP! Beetle Bailey is a "Comic Strip"! Something to be read for ENTERTAINMENT! There are enough so-called comics out there being used for their writer's personal political agendas. Save it for the Editorial Cartoons.

Posted by: Sam | October 4, 2008 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Does everything we read have to be revelent? Bettle is the army at peace. I read about war every day.Bettle and his friend do not have to I want to be entertained on at least three pages pf the paper and forget what is just outside my door.

Posted by: templecat | October 4, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

But Beetle Bailey is a bad comic strip ... grandfathered into the paper. If it was presented to the editors today, I highly, highly doubt they would buy it. That's all I'd ask: if the Post has actually read the past year's BB and judged it worthy than fine, no problemo, But if they keep it in the paper due to sentimentality or fear of a few phone calls, the Post should be ashamed of themselves. Change is good. Make your product the strongest it can be. You are the editors, not the 80 y.o. housewife in McLean and the calling circle she arranges when one of her favorite comics is cancelled.

Posted by: J. Meahan | October 4, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Why do I keep hearing the Davy Crockett theme when I come here? Does anyone else hear it? How do we get rid of it??? Pleeeeease!

Posted by: Nelson | October 5, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Bill Griffiths and Zippy don't get the market penetration Mr Toad would demand, Shelf life may well have a solution in the works, I for one, would like to find out, enquiring muu muu's need sunshine too.

Zippy is one of the best comic strips around. A sure bet to levitate the mood with something so far out, it still makes sense. Perhaps not for everyone, still, I'll let off Family Circus and Fudge Parker, leave Zippy to those who appreciate the clever wit and obtuse advice.

And enjoy the happy sights and sounds of Dingburg....having fun yet?

Posted by: skeep | October 7, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

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