The Morning Line: When Evil Lurks Right Under Their Noses...
Our favorite character in today's funnies is not confined to any one strip, but rather makes conspicuous appearances in at least four features.
Who is this cameo-happy fella, you ask? Why, this character -- to put a name to a face -- is the metaphoric Mustache of Menace.
Facial hair as symbol of cartoon scoundreldom, of course, is an old as comics themselves. But now, we speak not merely of the Stubble of Trouble, the Beard o' the Barbarian or the rough neck of the, well, roughneck. Specifically, we single out the upper-lip larceny of the heart. The flavor-saver. The 'stache that billboards the dark soul.
Today, we particularly relish the crisp whiskers in "Mark Trail," in which the project honcho is straight outta Hair Club for Men's Central Casting.
Besides, without the facial hair, his Brylcreemed cranium might look too similar to our titular hero's -- an "evil twin" look that would be too soap-y, even for "MT."
Then there's "Amazing Spider-Man," in which editor "Triple-J" Jonah -- talkin' tough as he vows to battle "Big-Time" -- sports a crewcut-and-skinny-'stache look that can best be described as "Hitler Gump."
And lastly, mouthing off as the ultimate example, is "Watch Your Head," in which Cory Thomas flat-out spells it out: The "EVIL ex-husband" points straight at his handlebar 'stache and says, "I grew this when I started cheating."
Thanks, Mr. Thomas. What it took us paragraphs to say, you summed up perfectly in a well-trimmed one-panel.
SPEAKING OF SPIDER-MAN...
STAN LEE, creator of Marvel Comics's "Spider-Man," was in Washington yesterday to receive the National Medal of Arts at the White House. Comic Riffs yesterday asked Marvel writer-producer Reg Hudlin ("Black Panther") what Lee has meant to his medium:
"Stan Lee revolutionized a great American art form: the comic book," Hudlin told us. "As a writer, editor and showman, he transformed and popularized the medium, creating characters and stories whose appeal crosses generations and mediums. Stan is The Man."
| November 18, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: The Morning Line
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