Tag Archives: Family Circus

The Great Newspaper Comics Challenge Part 12

It’s our weekly look at what’s funny in the funny pages. Because surely we’re still enjoying the “tip of the hat” from “They’ll Do It Every Time.”

“Classic Peanuts” gets an “awww” from us this Mother’s Day. Charlie Brown calls Snoopy to the phone. It’s Snoopy’s mom on the other end of the line. Snoopy sniffs and Charlie notes, “On Mother’s Day, you should have called her.” What do you want to bet we’re going to get a lot of Mother’s Day premises today?

Once again, “Baby Blues” hits the target as the kids watch clouds, spouting the scientific names for the types. Dad says somebody invented a lot of new cloud names since he was in school. Mom says, “Probably the same guy who keeps coming up with new ways to confuse me about math.” Right there with ya!

Finally, a good “Wizard of Id,” and it’s a Mother’s Day gag. The king’s mom comes for Mother’s Day and Rodney persuades the king to let his mom be queen for a day. The end result is the king is in irons, hanging in “Wizard of Id’s” Amnesty International-approved dungeon.

“Pickles” has old guy Earl making a BLT but using the dog snacks Beggin’ Strips instead of bacon by mistake. Finally the comics page addresses the societal problem of old people being forced to eat dog food.

Can anybody explain today’s “Speed Bump?” A rainbow leads to a pot of gold. A man finds it and the leprechaun offers his treasure … a french fry? I just don’t get it.

“Hi and Lois” addresses Mother’s Day, of course. Hi notes that Lois doesn’t want anything for Mother’s Day but to be left alone in bed. Marital counselor on speed dial?

“Dennis the Menace” marks Mother’s Day by that age-old gag of male incompetence in the kitchen. Dennis and his dad burn all the bread trying to make toast — in a toaster, for frak’s sake — and burn the eggs. Guess what? the family goes out to eat, just like in “Blondie and Dagwood.” Authorized and paid for by the National Restaurant Association.

Finally, you thought “The Family Circus” would have some maudlin Mother’s Day panel, didn’t you? The strip begins with PJ crying in a store. “I’m right here, PJ,” mom says from nearby. “Heh-heh — Just checkin,'” PJ thinks. When did PJ become that round-headed kid from “Family Guy?”


The Great Newspaper Comics Challenge Part 10

In which we look at today’s comics page offerings. Because we can depend on “Batman” for all our laughs anymore.

“Classic Peanuts” shows Charlie Brown’s frustrations when his all-girl outfield leaves during a game to attend a tea party. Snoopy comes to the rescue with a bunch of blue birds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Snoopy with any birds besides Woodstock before. I’m a little concerned about their relationship.

“Baby Blues” shows the harried mom picking up toys. Ooops, she put the baby in the toy box. The expression on her face in the last panel perfectly captures parental guilt and the feeling of “Did anybody notice that?”

“Garfield.” Two words. Projectile spitting.

“Blondie:” Dagwood uses Earth Day as an excuse not to mow the lawn. What’s the final panel? If you guessed Dagwood on the couch … you’re read “Blondie” before.

“Curtis” has an idea for a different kind of zombie movie. Instead of attacking people and eating brains, the zombie is an annoying houseguest: He leaves the refrigerator open, accidentally deletes his host’s iTunes playlist and … leaves a toe in the breakfast cereal? I can’t count the number of times that’s happened.

Another Earth Day message from “The Family Circus.” The family stands on top of a hill, looking out over a landscape. “God does a lot of coloring in the spring, doesn’t he?” Dolly says. Awww!



Madchen Amick fans assemble!

What do actress Madchen Amick, the newspaper comic panel “The Family Circus” and the giant flying snake thing from the previews for “The Avengers” have in common?

They’re pretty much the most popular topics I’ve written about in this blog.

Since early this week, when I followed up on my “Mad Men” review with an entry noting that Andrea, the old fling of Don Draper who showed up on Don’s doorstep — and under his bed, choked to death, in his fever dream — was played by Amick, hundreds of readers have checked out the blog.

So, in the spirit of cheap plays for page views, I wanted to note the popularity of Amick, best-remembered for most of us as diner waitress Shelly in the cult classic TV series “Twin Peaks.”

I also wanted to note that most sources online appear to agree that Amick, born in 1970 according to her IMDb entry, looks pretty amazing.

It doesn’t take much Googling to determine that clips of Amick, particularly in a bikini from the cable TV series “Californication,” are out there.

Go ahead and Google. I’ll wait.

Anyway, Madchen Amick is now forever enshrined in this blog’s hall of fame, along with Billy, Jeffy and the the rest of the Keane comic strip family as well as the Leviathan or whatever flying beastie the Avengers will face.

Now if there was only some way to get Madchen Amick, the ghostly grandparents from “The Family Circus” and the flying snake thing from “The Avengers” all into the same blog item.


The Great Newspaper Comics Challenge Part 7

It’s time for our weekly look at what’s funny — or not — in the Sunday funnies. Because surely there’s a modern-day successor to “Pogo?”

“Classic Peanuts” offers a take on Charlie Brown’s love/hate relationship with baseball. Charlie Brown’s on the pitcher’s mound and it’s raining. Lucy asks if he’s going to call the game. He tells her to get back out into centerfield. A pop fly ball is hit and … bounces off Lucy’s umbrella. That Lucy!

“Garfield” looks at a common problem for bloggers. Jon worries that no one is reading his blog. He theorizes that cute pictures of Garfield would generate clicks. But Garfield won’t cooperate. The last panel shows an extreme close-up of a mouth. Jon’s I think. With the entry, “Today I ate a smartphone.” Am I missing something?

“Wizard of Id” gives us our first April Fool’s joke of the day. The king is delighted to hear the soldier in the turret announce, “The king’s popularity is higher than ever.” But everyone else is laughing — until the king has them put in chains for playing an April Fool’s joke on him.

“Marmaduke” barks in response to the tweeting birds … and they all fly away. Are we sure that the creator of “Marmaduke” has ever seen a dog?

“Dilbert” features Catbert offering the pointy-haired boss advice on leadership. After Catbert tells him he’s being too panicky in his warnings, the boss says, “We’re doomed, and yet, I am not the least bit worried.” Catbert frowns. “That one had a creepy vibe.” And that’s not even the punchline. Pretty funny.

In “Beetle Bailey,” the men of Camp Swampy are complaining about Cookie’s meatballs. Sarge advices him to make something they would like to tear apart with their teeth. Cookie makes … cookies that look like Sarge and the men are eating them up. I’m confused. Is “Don’t ask, don’t tell” over or not?

“Foxtrot” offers “Game of Thrones” as it might be filtered through a “My Little Pony” sensibility for an April Fools Day joke. And, you know, it works.

In “Hi and Lois,” Lois cleans up the house all day and then wonders aloud if mother birds ever look forward to an empty nest. I sense a very tragic Lifetime movie in the offing.

An April Fool’s joke backfires for “Dennis the Menace.” He’s trying to be funny, but he convinces Margaret that she’s gorgeous and that he wants to hear her practice piano. I sense a very tragic Lifetime movie in the offing here too.

Okay, now we’re getting into the spirit of this special day as well as the spirit of horribly embittered and disappointed mothers. In “Family Circus,” all the kids thank their mom for vegetables, come home with perfect report cards and thank mom for taking them clothes shopping. “April Fool!” those devilish Keanes announce. Tragic. Lifetime. Offing.

And finally in “Non Sequitur,” an alien and a little boy tell a little girl they’re calculating when an asteroid will strike earth. She realizes it’s April Fools Day. Whew. After she leaves, they go back to calculating the date of impact. Wow, thanks, Wiley, for spoiling the spirit of April Fools Day! (And thanks for the plot of a SyFy Channel movie.)

If you’re scoring at home, that’s five April Fools Day jokes and three potentially tragic tales of parenthood gone off the rails.

The Great Newspaper Comics Challenge Part 4

Here’s our latest look at what’s funny in the funny pages. There’s something fun in the post-“Calvin and Hobbes” era, right?

This week: The return of Ida Know and Not Me!

“Classic Peanuts.” Okay, spring is definitely here. The estate of the late, great Charles M. Schulz gives us the first (?) Charlie Brown vs. kite strip of the year.

But oy vey, this is a lame one. Good ol’ Charlie Brown talks to the tree that’s eaten his kite for, let’s see, six panels, ultimately giving up and acknowledging, “You can’t argue with a kite-eating tree.”

Moving on …

“Zits.” Okay, good stuff here. “Ridiculous stuff moms say” includes “Wear a coat” and “Does anybody want some kale?” As Homer Simpson would say, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

“Garfield.” Jon talks to Liz on the phone, fretting about what movie they’ll watch because he doesn’t want a weepy chick flick. He’s happy she’s picked a monster movie! But she’s chosen “When Godzilla Met Sally.” Ladies and gentlemen, my nominee for funniest newspaper strip of 1989.

“Dilbert.” The pointy-haired boss spouts techno-gibberish like “Do we have enough room in the cloud to Skype?” and Dilbert explains that he “slips in and out of understanding basic technology.”

Dilbert reassures him, “We have plenty of space because we upgraded to a cumulonimbus cloud.” Good stuff.

“Foxtrot.” One of the kids gets ideas for “John Carter” sequels once they run out of Mars stories, including “John Carter of Tattooine.” Extra geeky!

“Blondie.” Dagwood and Blondie continue their master class on household budgeting and economics. Dagwood buys Blondie an expensive necklace at the jewelry store.

“Did you see anything new at the golf shop today?” Blondie asks. “You won’t believe the amazing golf bags they just got in,” Dagwood replies. ‘Cause it’s okay to spend as much money as you can when everybody shares the loot.

“Curtis.” Curtis gets good grades so his dad takes him to buy a reward, “something called an iPad,” Dad says. They return later, sans iPad, at odds over spending money. Counting this and the “Blondie” strip, I think this week’s theme is household spending.

Finally — and I am so excited about this, “Family Circus.” Mom has the kids — have they always had four? — lined up for interrogation.

There’s a broken dish in her hand and a disappointed look on her face.

“I think I know the answer but I’ll ask you anyway,” Mom says. “Which of you broke my good plate?”

Wait, the Keenes have only one good plate? Times must be tough in the newspaper comic strip industry. But I digress.

Joining the line-up of kids being grilled: The see-thru forms of Ida Know, Not Me and Nobody.

Nobody in particular is unfamiliar to me and has me a little worried. He’s got a moustache, for Pete’s sake. How old is this imaginary blame-taker? What’s he doing hanging around with a bunch of school-agers?



The Great Newspaper Comics Challenge Part 3

I’m way overdue for a look at the funny pages in this, an irregularly recurring look at newspaper comics.

The premise: The glory days of the newspaper comic ended with “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side,” but there’s still some good stuff out there. And if not good stuff, at least familiar. And you know the old saying: Familiarity breeds content. That was the old saying, wasn’t it?

In today’s Sunday strips:

“Garfield” talks about the weather. Seriously, this strip sums up my feelings about the transition from winter to spring. Standing outside, Garfield experiences sun, snow, rain, hail and wind. “I’m done with March,” he tells Jon.

Weather is the theme of the day. In “Classic Peanuts,” Linus grumbles about having to walk to school in the rain, worrying that he’ll catch  a cold. When he finally sneezes, he takes it as a sign to head for home. One more weather strip in my Sunday paper and I’ll take it as a sign the cartoonists collaborated like they do for those fabulous annual Arbor Day tributes.

“Pickles” actually has a pretty good joke that cat owners can relate to. Two people dispute the possibility that cats really care about people, noting that a neighbor with gourmet cat food could lure the cat away. “Muffin would never do that to me,” the lady says. “Would you Muffy?” The cat thinks — because cats don’t talk — “I’m doing it now. I actually belong to the lady down the street.” No weather.

In “The Wizard of Id,” campaign leaflets are tossed from a balloon and rain down on people below. Does that count as weather?

“Dilbert” features a robot with attitude that calls for a robot apocalypse. Does the end of the world count as weather? I’m sure the Weather Channel would claim it.

In “Hi and Lois,” one of the kids is sick and hopes he misses school. Hmmm. Counting “Peanuts,” maybe the real trend for today is childhood illness.

Meanwhile, Dagwood considers taking a nap at work.

In “Dennis the Menace,” Dennis and Joey try to hit Margaret with a snowball. I think that counts as weather.

In “The Family Circus,” Dad takes a nap and one of the kids gives him a teddy bear. Awwww …. and dammit. Now I think naps are the trend of the day.

“Non Sequitur” has the little goth kid complaining that it’s snowing when it should be spring. I think that settles the matter:

Weather: 6 (right? right?)

Kids too sick to go to school: 2

Grown men taking naps: 2.


The Great Newspaper Comics Challenge Part 2

For a moment there, I thought I had slipped through some kind of time portal into the distant past.

Here in front of me, in an Indianapolis community newspaper called the Eastside Voice, was the old “Flash Gordon” newspaper comic strip.

I hadn’t seen “Flash Gordon” in years. No newspapers that I knew of carried it. Yet here it was, in this little neighborhood newspaper.

Upon doing a little research on the Interwebs, I figured out why I hadn’t heard of the strip lately. “Flash Gordon” hasn’t been an actively-published newspaper comic strip since 2003, when artist Jim Keefe — following in the footsteps of classic “Flash Gordon” auteur Alex Raymond — stopped drawing it. Papers like the Eastside Voice run reprints of Keefe’s strips, which ran for several years.

So no danger that I’ve been missing new adventures of Flash, Dale and Ming the Merciless all these years.

So if “Flash Gordon” is still stuck on Mongo, what is in the comics lately?

A few weeks ago I acknowledged that I haven’t been reading newspaper comic strips regularly since the passing of “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side” and vowed to remedy that.

Well … I haven’t been reading the funny pages daily. But I thought I’d check out the Sunday edition today.

In “Peanuts” — a rerun, of course, since the passing of Charles Schulz a few years ago — takes a page from Calvin’s book by having Linus make a realistic snowman figure of Lucy. But instead of destroying it, Linus says he’ll get back at Lucy’s latest bullying by standing and watching the Lucy effigy “slowly melt away.” Yikes.

In “Garfield,” Jon insults Garfield’s bulge. Check. Garfield says talk about his waistline is making him hungry. Hmmm. Check, I guess.

In “Zits,” the teenage son in the household complains about having to take out the trash. Weirdly, however, the artists show the guy’s naked butt in the shower. Do we normally see naked butts in comics? Not since the great “Sgt. Snorkel Goes Streaking” incident of 1975, I would bet.

“Dilbert” looks at smartphone rage. It leads to a silly gag but it’s a good idea.

Jeff and Bil Keane’s “Family Circus” is a good execution of a simple idea. One of the kids — Billy? Jeffy? Honestly I can’t tell them apart — is seen giving a recitation of excuses about how he didn’t make his little brother cry.

More to come next time. Hopefully.