Friday, August 31, 2018

A Very Special Fridge Door

When a creator's been working on a title for any extended period of time, they get a sense of importance, and feel the need to be doing something serious with their time.  That in order to get recognized as a platform of notoriety, they should be contributing something of substance to their work, which can wind up being offputting in execution.

At least, that's my interpretation after seeing multiple iterations of what I've seen from multiple works, some with some success, some less so.  And this was present within the features of The Fridge Door with the introduction of a completely new frenetic character, that accurately matches the Word of the Week.

This guy is Morder, and he has something to sell you.

There's a certain ominous quality to these Word of the Weeks throughout the month lately.

Morder's look can't seem to look consistent from one week to the next, which could be representative of his mental state.  One day, he's got bugged-out eyes.  The next, he's wearing glasses and a fancy suit.  The next, he's wearing Dark glasses and a tank top, looking more like one of Antonio Prohias' Spy Vs. Spy.  Oh, and his hair and nose certainly look like weed, and not the plant kind.  Subtle, this ain't.

After a month of idly standing by and watching the scenario play out in front of him, Eugene finally decides to intervene with his alien powers.

And so ends the Say NO to Drugs segment of The Fridge Door.  Needless to say, we won't be seeing this guy again anytime soon, though we will be encountering another important message near this feature's run, which would wind up defining it for better or for ill.

For next month, a welcome return to silly meaningless shenanigans.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Camping Funnies

While Skyler is a frequent goer at Military Camp, there are other instances of comic characters going camping with unfavorable results, usually as being forced into something they don't want to.

The exploits of the Patterson family and Fox Trot are already well-known, so I won't bother reprinting those, and focus on a lesser-known arc from Sibling Revelry.

Due to the scattered selection of the Newspapers, we're missing a few comics from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and I don't want to splurge for the costs of browsing the online Newspapers archives, so you'll have to settle for this.  There's a gap between June 27-28, but fortunately, nothing important's been lost in their absence.

This seems like a random spot to suddenly cut off, and you'd be correct in thinking that there would be more to tell, since the week isn't over yet.  But the very next strip wasn't missing, and went back to daily gag-a-day comics.  To make up for that shortcoming, here's the start of a Sally Forth comic that started on June 22, 1992.

For a change of pace, we've got a child who wants to go to camp.

Or rather, who wants to go to a selective kind of camp.

Who wants to commune with all that pesky nature?

The very next week completely dropped this camp arc, but then picked it up almost a month later on August 10th.  If anybody had been paying attention, that would be some skillful setup right there.  But since Sally Forth comics are rather unremarkable and hardly linger on the mind after you've read them, it's not surprising that people forgot.

For some reason, we cut away from Hillary's camping activities to see the parental figures back home.  I suppose constantly drawing those bunk beds, wire mesh and dense trees in the background was too much to deal with.  Camping can be hard on the kids, but its just as equally hard on cartoonists who aren't used to drawing outside their home turf.

Counting the first half of the second week, it would be exactly three days for Sally to feel nostalgic for her growing child.  And already, you're forgetting what, if anything, actually happened.  If you look above, you'll see that they cut away before doing any activities.  We don't get any sense of anything being accomplished - just general sarcastic reactions.

Which is why things going wrong is a natural mainstay for camping stories, so the painful memories linger in the minds longer.

Because of stories like these, I never embraced camping the same way other people seemed to naturally gravitate being close to nature.  For one thing, I had no interest in the great outdoors.  I could deal with sleeping with total strangers.  I could tolerate the food (of which there was plenty, and I ate myself sick).  But because I was deaf, I couldn't properly understand anything that was happening, and couldn't communicate with anybody in a noisy environment.  So I opted to stay
and watch NFB shorts on a projector instead.

I have no fond memories of camp.  I just waited for the whole experience to be over.  The only things I remember is having a burnt marshmallow at a campfire, and seeing someone read a Hulk Hogan Rock 'n' Wrestling Panini sticker album with 3D hidden images that were revealed through red glasses.

There was also a poster of orange blobby-like Mr. Men men who were shaving, gleefully dropping dishes on the floor, flipping a pancake, and sticking a tongue out at a laughing Mr. man that always made me uncomfortable.  Looking back now, it was supposed to represent the sheer anarchic fun of being at camp, but all I could see was half of it was devoted to destructive behavior.

It's safe to say that camp experience was aimed at sociable people.  And I was not exactly a sociable person.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Dagwood Quitting Revisited

One of the very first blog entries I ever did was that brief interval where Dagwood Bumstead quit his job to work for Blondie's Catering Service.  In all that time, no one dug into the history of this segue, so this long-neglected entry gets another well-deserved look.

But before we start with the dailies, here's a few Blondie comics that could've set up the stage for what happened next.

Typical everyday stuff.  Making trademark sandwiches in the kitchen and getting chewed out by the boss.  So when Dagwood got the usual treatment, we didn't think much of it at first.  I sure as hell didn't.

Even when Dagwood voiced his complaints the very next day, no alarms rang.  This type of reaction was so commonplace it was considered normal.

And when Dagwood gets the recommendation of a fantasy scenario of quitting to a nameless employee, it still feels like a fantasy.

It isn't until he brings up the subject matter in his Carpool that it begins to stick in our craw a little longer than usual.

Even when the very same employee who suggested Dagwood quit brings it up, it still isn't taken seriously.  Because where else is he going to work?

Where, indeed.

Which led to this momentous Sunday Comic that would shake things up and change things forever.  It was also remarkable for ending on a somber note compared to the alternative.

With this new change to the status quo, there were understandable outcries for wanting things to go back to the way things were.

There was also this exchange that could've been a contender of things to come.  (Spoiler alert - Dagwood doesn't stay in Blondie's Catering Service for very long)

Even though Mr. Dithers has constantly berated his laziest employee for his irresponsible behavior, and it hasn't even been three days, he misses him already.

Of course, there's still the adherence to the same ol' same ol' routine, suggesting that some things won't change that much.

But these are just minor issues distracting from the larger issue - how does Dagwood cope with his new position as a helper in Blondie's Catering Service?

That's right - upon being a residential employee of Blondie's own business, Dagwood decides to help out by mansplaining his wife how to do her job.

Apart from the two tail Sunday comics reproduced here, there was one other catering comic that I didn't think noticeable to include.  That oversight is taken care of now.

The week after this,
suggested that things were
dying down.

Dagwood's presence here hardly changes anything.  Blondie usually handled the catering orders with clients on her own, so Dagwood is more of a background presence.

The last noticeable daily comic was this one on Saturday before the reveal on Sunday.

With that stunt over and done with, one wonders what the point of this whole miniarc was.  One thing to remember about Newspaper comics is that as much as they're a comfort crutch in times of uncertainty, they're also a reflection of society in general.  So what could have been happening around back then?

That's right - it was when DC Comics announced that they were going to kill off Superman for reals this time.  The difference being that Supes' death was such that people were constantly surprised to hear that he was still alive, while Newspaper readers have largely forgotten that Dagwood was ever part of Blondie's job.

When this story concluded, it made an article in the paper.  I could've sworn that there was a similar article before the changes were made, but couldn't find it.  But what I find interesting is in what this article says.  Basically, the (female!) writer claims that Blondie was in the wrong for firing her husband in the first place.

"I really think the man ought to think through why he's going back to Mr. Dithers," said Barbara Turk, a psychologist.  "Why is he looking to be abused again?  Why doesn't Dagwood start his own business?  He could go in competition with Blondie.  He's made such good sandwiches all these years.  I mean, he could have 'Dagwood's Doozies - mile-high sandwiches for your next office party.'  He could have Mr. Dithers hiring him.  Then if he wanted to eat the profits, he could eat them from his side of the ledger."
Questions were also raised about whether Bumstead had been treated fairly by his wife.
"I cannot believe that she was not aware of his shortcomings when she hired him after all these years of being together, (...) and I cannot believe they did not discuss this in advance.  Suppose he was on drugs.  Would you terminate him or try to find him help?"
Where did drugs come from in in this scenario?  At no point in this narrative was drugs brought up before or since.
"You don't just, hands down, say 'you're outta here,' particularly to a spouse.  (...) If she has an issue with his performance, i.e., eating the profits, then they should talk it through rather than just firing him."
"I think they're going to have some problems over this. (...) People have an enormous amount of sensitivity about their work.  There's pride involved.  There's the feeling of being adequate or being a success or a failure.  Having worked for Mr. Dithers for such a long time, there's the issue of change involved.  And change in itself is enormously stressful."
"And then to go to work for his wife, and being of a generation where that would be almost unheard of.  That really was quite a risk for both Blondie and Dagwood."
More blaming of the wife and casting doubt on Dagwood's faults, claiming he was of another generation.  Well yeah, originating in the 1930's is unavoidable.  That still doesn't change the fact that Dagwood was responsible for the food.  If he couldn't keep his mitts off the food, then Blondie had all the reason to get rid of him.
In other words, they should have seen it coming.  Just ask Donald and Ivana.
Funny how something written over 20 years ago can still be relevant today.