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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 10/ 3/2009

'Riffs Picks: From Superman to Letterman, Today's Cartoon Contenders

By Michael Cavna


From Superman to Letterman, Comic Riffs's favorite five cartoons today, culled from across the mighty mighty Web...


Every now and again, even the Trained Professional Comics Reader (now there's a job my grade-school career counselor never advertised) gets stymied, stumped and flummoxed -- if only momentarily. But today -- in a shocking turn that hadn't occurred since "Frank & Ernest" last made me laugh (re: 2006) -- there were TWO strips that took me at least 4.5 seconds to get. (*Sigh* -- they say the funnybone is always the first thing to go...)

Yes-I-confess, I had to stop and actually do a double-read on "Speed Bump and "Rhymes With Orange.". Maybe I just need to brew a stronger blend, because on these strips combined, there were eight seconds of brain-freeze today that I'll never get back (time that could have been better spent harrumphing over bad grammar in "Pickles" or misused adjectives in "Mark Trail" -- but I egress).

The cold-hard truth is: I stared at "Speed Bump" for some five seconds before the gag kicked in (and don't worry: you'll find no spoiler in this blogpost proper). All I'll say is: I have no trouble spotting licketysplit a similar visual issue in today's "Dennis the Menace."

My real Should-I-Switch-to-French-Roast? moment that smacked me upside the hypothalamus was sparked by today's "Rhymes With Orange." My peepers musta glazed over for several seconds before I finally "got" the gag. (And really -- we're talking single-panel haha's here, my professional bread-and-butter, where I've painstakingly studied most every magic trick in the book. Sad, really.)

Which means that until I switch java blends, I can ask of myself only one pesky question: "What rhymes with 'dolt'?"

The 'Riffs Visual O' the Day goes to the last panel in "Get Fuzzy." The bent perspective is swell, but it's the facial expression that wins the day.

The New Yorker's Web site routinely posts clever one-note animated shorts (which are also available via iPhone app-age). The new (Oct. 2)animation -- by Harry Bliss -- is particularly amusing, right down to the menacing "snap."

Speaking of the New Yorker: Political cartoonist Jimmy Margulies -- as a newspaperman himself -- feels our pain as he flags this hit-us-where-it-hurts New Yorker cartoon by the ever-talented Tom Cheney.

The David Letterman "extortion case" gags have been coming in so steadily, we could already compile a pretty fair Top Ten list. (And we exclude the obvious "World Wide Pants" gags that everyone and their unfunny stepbrother seized on.) My fave spin on the Top Ten shtick so far has come from that master caricaturist Taylor Jones, who coats the joke with that one extra layer. In a flood of obvious haha's, we say: Your cartoon rises to the top, Mr. Jones. Huzzahs.

Your comic mileage may -- nay, must -- vary; if you've got a favorite cartoon today, feel free to share that link.

By Michael Cavna  | October 3, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation, The Comic Strip, The Morning Line  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The 'Riffs Interview: Tom Tomorrow Is High on Drawing for Kids & Rock Stars. The Future of Alt-Cartoons, Not So Much.
Next: Should 'Family Circus' Remain in Our Inner Circle? Time to Defend That Toon


The best Letterman top 10 list would be for Dave to rate the staff members involved.

Maybe it's my eyes, but I cna't tell what the substitute leg is. Since I don't do facebook, that may have been included.

Posted by: olddog1 | October 3, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

ait is Strange Brew that is the odd one out this morning...not sure I get it at all. Speed Bump and Rhymes both made sense.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | October 3, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who has time enough to wait for a creakily slow flash animation to load from the New Yorker's overloaded web server probably also has enough time to help improve the Post's comics pages:

Posted by: kilby | October 3, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Meh, Rhymes with Orange was kinda limp; and thanks but no thanks, I don't do koobface so I couldn't tell about the Letterman one

....although I don't think it would be... limp

Posted by: jimbo1949 | October 3, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

So I'll readily admit to not getting Speed Bump--or, at least, I can think of two possible jokes, but one of them is simply stupid and the other relies on something the artwork isn't detailed enough to support.

So what's the point of it supposed to be?

Posted by: dfbdfb | October 3, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

By bad grammar in Pickles did you mean "loan" in place of "lend"? If so that battle was lost years ago, even though it still makes me cringe.

Posted by: PartialObserver | October 3, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

The attribute that the horse in Speed Bump shares with "Dennis" is that neither one has a neck. In defense of Dave Coverly, at least he is drawing his own material, whereas Dennis's neckless condition probably traces back to the templates used by the syndicate's zombie assembly line.

Posted by: kilby | October 4, 2009 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Hey, it's comics mash-up week in the Style Invitational! Maybe we should try to come up with a winning entry here in this blog?

Posted by: seismic-2 | October 4, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

There's no rule against it, but if you discuss an idea for the Invitational openly, the risk is that multiple people will submit it as an entry, and if more than two people submit it, it probably won't even get printed, let alone win.

Posted by: kilby | October 4, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

>> PartialObserver:

I'm glad to hear someone else still cringes at "loan"/"lend." ("Friends, Romans, countrymen, LOAN me your ears"? Nope, just can't do it.)

And while the standards of language use ever morph, mutate and "transmogrify," some of us are still *paid* to know the difference between "loan" and "lend"; to uphold such correct usage as "champing at the bit"; to know that "nonplussed" doesn't mean what so many people think it means; and to know just what the heck a true acronym is (yes, "radar" and "scuba" were born as acronyms).

All that said: I reserve the right to make that occasional typo in a blog. That's the blogger's way of "keepin' it real." At least that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. [A-hem.]


Posted by: cavnam | October 5, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

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