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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 06/24/2009

Beware All Ye Who Love--Or Loathe--Barry Manilow

By Michael Cavna

Today's quickie a.m. roundup, from the sliced to the diced...


My prediction about today's "PEARLS BEFORE SWINE": Cartoonist Stephan Pastis will soon be hearing from Barry Manilow's people.

Not his attorneys, mind you. No, while Mr. Copacabana might indeed be lawyered up the wazoo, it's his eagle-eyed office of Those Who Represent Him that will likely contact the man who birthed Rat and Pig.

I speak here from experience. I once drew a syndicated strip about Manilow's re-emergence on the pop charts in the '90s. The ink on my comic proofs was barely dry, it seemed, when Manilow's peeps were seeking an autographed copy of the cartoon. In other words: Manilow is hiring especially sharp and motivated folk. So while Barry may "write the songs" (and yes, I know he didn't actually pen "I Write the Songs," O irony of ironies), his publicity folk were equally adept at writing those press releases.

Plus, the jovial Manilow knows how to take a joke -- especially at this own expense. So when his people call, Mr. Pastis, I merely forewarn: If they try to put you on hold, don't let 'em do it! It'll be weeks, y'see, before you get that highly infectious "Copa" earworm outta your head.


'LIO' (UPS)Enlarge Image

LIO: I showed this sharp-edged strip to a precocious 9-year-old relative who likes "SpongeBob." She laughed. And laughed. And LAUGHED.

By that clear-eyed criterion alone, I hereby dub this the Best "Lio" Strip of the Year. Bravo! cries the tween set.

'AGNES' (Creators)Enlarge Image

AGNES: Every so often, the bleak philosophic ramblings in "Agnes" left slip an observation of melancholic profundity. Today's second panel is such an example. If you're looking for prime greeting-card fodder, Mr. Cochran, then trust me: This is the one to sell. Bravo! cries the embittered set.

'SPEED BUMP' (Creators)

SPEED BUMP: So innocent and yet so obliquely suggestive at the same time. Safe enough for kids, but saucy enough for us grownups! A nifty trick on the family funnypages.

'PRICKLY CITY' (UPS)Enlarge Image

PRICKLY CITY: Regardless of one's political leanings, can we all agree that the point of this satire misses the bull's-eye a bit? The knock on Obama by some critics was that he wasn't smooth in his use of TelePrompTers. Satirize that and I'd get it. But this week's "Prickly" makes sense to this Riffster only if Obama were so inept at impromptu speaking that he required TelePrompTers. Help me, O 'Riffs readers: What am I missing here?

By Michael Cavna  | June 24, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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You're missing nothing. Stantis is missing a sense of humour.

This is his third, I think, variation on a theme that makes no sense. Plus, the "Obama needs a teleprompter" item is such old "news" that even given the lead time of cartoons it's late.

There ARE things for the right to pick on these days. Stantis makes it look like there's NOTHING there and all he can do is grasp at straws. I wonder how many sleepless nights he spent before he came up with this line.

Posted by: filfeit | June 24, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Lio was dead on perfect this morning; the occasional cultural references in that Tatulli puts in are great. I think the strip really works because not an episode of SpongeBob goes by when he doesn't get dismembered or grated into tiny pieces or something else disturbing.

You can cut up SpongeBob and it's funny (and somehow appropriate). The same gag doesn't work with, say, Alvin and the Chipmunks or Mickey Mouse.

Posted by: goldpress | June 24, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Michael you're just not thinking like a Republican. Everything Obama does is a cause to them to get their panties in a twist. Most of the time it borders on the petty but sometimes, such as their obssession about the teleprompter, it borders on the insane. Use of a teleprompter does not insure a good speech. Witness George W Bush's many many speeches using teleprompters. In fact you know you got a Republican's goat when he throws the teleprompter and/or Acron in your face like that will make you crawl away in defeat and vote for crazy off-the-grid hiking nude along the Appalacian Trail from SC to Argentina Gov Sanford for President in 2012. You just have to laugh.

Speaking of laughing - Pearls was hysterical!

Posted by: dre7861 | June 24, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh so glad you brought some 'attention' to Barry who will be in Washington D.C. for the celebration of the 4th of July. Like his millions of fanilows, we simply adore him and always will!

Posted by: mellene | June 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Re: Prickly City

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn't get it until now. I'm a fan, but it's a stretch.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | June 24, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I still say Lio is seriously psycotic and needs meds. And thanks for the Lola ear worm, I'll be hearing that for a couple of days.

Posted by: 2old2readcomics | June 25, 2009 2:11 AM | Report abuse

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