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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 06/10/2009

Morning Quickie: When Our 'Toons Enter 'The Twilight Zone'

By Michael Cavna

The early a.m. roundup of cartoons, from the eye-catching to the head-scratching...

Okay. Either I or the comics are just a little off today, based on these Five Telltale Signs. I'll let you be the judge as to who's askew. The symptoms:

'BEETLE BAILEY' (KFS)Enlarge Image

1. "BEETLE BAILEY" neither insults my intelligence nor stoops to gag today. It's not the Greatest Joke Ever Told, true, but simply a relevant observation that does not rely on violent or sexual tropes. In other words: WHAT the--??...


2. DENNIS THE MENACE is startingly self-aware today about his own effect on frenemies and neighbors. Which is utterly disarming. Two strips in, and things are already getting a bit surreal as I turn to...

'GARFIELD' (UPS)Enlarge Image

3. "GARFIELD" -- that gateway kiddie strip -- just made me laugh. Not aloud, mind you, but still, it produced a sort of internal snicker. Meaning: We're seriously entering "Twilight Zone" territory here...

'TANK McNAMARA' (UPS)Enlarge Image

4. "TANK McNAMARA" opens with such a long-winded, blatantly snoozeworthy word-balloon that -- for once -- the strip did not seduce me into reading till the bitter end, hoping against hope. Time saved, but I'm still further spooked because...


5. Perhaps most alarming of all, "FRANK AND ERNEST" -- straight-up observant and relevant -- does not pun today, nor does it prompt an audible groan.

No, the only sound these all elicit is the "whoosh" of me running from the funnies, sprinting outside to make sure the sky is still blue (or blue-gray), the birds are still a-chirping and the adorable neighbor dog hasn't suddenly morphed into Marmaduke.

By Michael Cavna  | June 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Ditto. I read Garfield by accident this AM. Not bad.
Maybe I'll read it tomorrow, too. Naaaah.
Frank and Ernest took us to the next advertising frontier. I like it.

Posted by: soccermutha | June 10, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I happened to like the Tank McNamara because of the premise: packaging bull riding as if it were professional wrestling.

Posted by: drazen1 | June 10, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Sigh. I never get any mail either.

Posted by: MSchafer | June 10, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh, Mercy!!! Frank and Ernest!!! It's just given ad and vending machine company an idea that they'll run with!!!

Posted by: oldgal49er | June 10, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey Cav, maybe you don't look in the snail mail box often enough. Or maybe you're not expecting that missive from Michael Anthony, writing on behalf of J. Beresford Tipton.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | June 10, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Ah, where would cartoonists be without junk mail to poke fun at. (Dagwood's Mr. Beasley seems to deliver nothing else, to anyone.) Perhaps my favorite cartoon on the subject is the self-referential junk mail that appeared as a subscription card in the National Lampoon. In that mail-in card, a human-sized frankfurter goes to his/its mailbox and opens a letter that reads, "You may already be a wiener." (It was by Ed Subitzky, wasn't it? It certainly seems likely, in any case.)

Posted by: seismic-2 | June 10, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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