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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 11/24/2008

The Morning Line: For Busy Holiday Lifestyles: Comics on the Quick!

By Michael Cavna

So many intriguing comics today, so little time for busy folks during the holidays.
As a 'Riffs reader service this week, we will provide the top headlines: Your comics experience now shaved like so much turducken to the juicy essentials. To wit:

DROP-INS TO BETTY FORD CLINIC LINKED TO UNRELENTING MATERNAL CRITICISM

Sally! Jackie! We want to hug you, too, only to let you know that we embrace your familial pain. Come the holidays, all backhanded compliments -- and sometimes forehanded insults -- are relative. And to Sally: May we recommend a Coppolla table red or a Beringer Knights Valley cab? Or, if Mom stays through the weekend: box wine.



ARMED HOTTIE ROBS SAM OF BASIC BRAIN FUNCTION

Let's get this straight: Sam Driver knows that sketchy exotic dancer Dixie Julep (nee "Kathleen Patterson of San Diego"*) might well be the killer he seeks. Yet he still enters the room, instead of fleeing while (a) he's standing at the open doorway; and (b) her back is turned? Methinks Dixie's mere introduction weeks ago began to drain Mr. Driver of some serious IQ points.

(* Interesting to note: The San Diego phonebook has a listing for a real-life Kathy Patterson. "Judge Parker" better tread carefully and toss in those disclaimers.)

ARIZONA 'BOY IN THE BUBBLE' HAS FAUX-REALITY SHATTERED

Lio, that frequent breaker of the fourth wall, instead shatters "Family Circus's" fourth "wall." Poor Billy looks as if he's been rendered unconscious, his snow-globe of a reality punctured by Lio's high jinks. Poorly played, Billy. Well-played, Mr. Tatulli.

COMIC UNCOVERS REAL LINK BETWEEN PRESIDENTS' DAY, MATTRESS-BLOWOUT SALES

Laughed out loud at this "RWO" -- and we don't guffaw audibly for just any strip. More clever than most easy 401(k) gags, since Lincoln$ and Washington$ have been stuffed into the bed.

TRIBUTES TO 'GASOLINE' HIT 90-YEAR HIGH

Nice to see two veteran strips -- "Blondie" and "Dennis the Menace" -- honor the 90th birthday of the pioneering "Gasoline Alley." (Makes sense, too. "Alley's" Walt once got an invite to celebrate Blondie's anniversary.)

By Michael Cavna  | November 24, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Comments

And on Mark Trail Sue expresses her interest in Mark, even though he's happily married, as...OMG! A giant crab, its shell inscribed with Sue's hairdo, marches toward them waving a menacing claw. She's even more of an evil genius than the usual environment-spoiling businessperson in this strip. Her secret genetic engineering laboratories must be responsible for the giant wildlife infesting this area. What will she have her crabby minion do to Mark if he doesn't return her interest to her satisfaction?

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 24, 2008 7:03 AM | Report abuse

It would have to be a compliment in order for it to be backhanded. For example, "Sally, the extra weight looks good on you." is a backhanded compliment. So would "Ted, your fingers are so soft. What sort of moisturizer are you using?"

"Have you two gained weight?" is just an insult.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 24, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Snuffy Smith also did a call-out to Gasoline Alley today:

http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComick.mpl?date=20081124&name=Barney_Google

Keeping up with its timeliness, I expect Beetle Bailey to do so too, about a month from now.

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 24, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Sunday's Mutts had a surprise tip of the hat in the throw-away panel to Tony Millionaire's Maakies - a strip about a drunken crow, among other things.

Posted by: Mrhode | November 24, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Sunday's Mutts had a surprise tip of the hat in the throw-away panel to Tony Millionaire's Maakies - a strip about a drunken crow, among other things.

Posted by: Mrhode | November 24, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Another strip that had a salute to Gasoline Alley's 90th birthday was "Alley Oop" (which celebrated its own 75th birthday a couple of months ago). It made a feeble pun on their two birthdays' being confused on account of their sharing the name "Alley". So there were four strips (Blondie, Dennis the Menace, Snuffy Smith, and Alley Oop), as well as Gasoline Alley itself, that made note of the anniversary. Somehow, I had expected there to be more.

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 25, 2008 3:12 AM | Report abuse

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