Comics

Faster, Pussycat: Think! Think!

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I'd like to give personal thanks to reader Dave Straub for pointing out the Comics Curmudgeon page. (By the way, if you want to keep up with action-packed strips like Mark Trail, don't bother with the King Features site, which for syndication reasons that I've never entirely figured out puts a two-week embargo on its comics; use the Houston Chronicle site instead, which publishes all the comics in real time.)

In his comments on my own favorite strip Mary Worth, Comics Curmudgeon accurately notes that Mary storylines have been moving at relatively TGV-like speeds since Karen Moy took over writing duties from that old manual flatcar John Saunders. While this has somewhat diluted the Beckettesque vacuity that made Mary distinctive, I've been happy to see the narrative goosed a bit.

But in the past couple weeks, Moy's need for speed has resulted in one of the dumbest plot points I've ever seen. In the very likely event that you haven't been reading Mary Worth lately, here's the crisis: High school sweethearts Dr. Brian Good and the yoga instructor Anna have recently reunited—this after the divorced and lovelorn Anna followed Mary's highly dubious advice to track down her married old flame, but it worked out because Brian's own marriage had recently ended. Both Brian and Anna divorced because they wanted children but their respective partners did not; so it looks like everything's coming up roses. A whirlwind romance follows, along with a quickie wedding, but then, in an adagio of thought balloons, Anna reveals that she is infertile—something she found out with her previous husband. Keeping this information from Brian, she confides in Mary, who in turn lays on her signature busybodying even thicker than usual.

Anna frets for weeks about how she can break the news to her new husband, and one day as she's soliloquizing, the mail arrives. Brian being a doctor, the mail includes a medical newsletter: "Some people think of fertility as a 'woman's problem,'" Anna reads, "but up to half of all cases are due to the man…" Hmm! The lightbulb goes on: Could it be Anna's ex-husband Mitch who was the problem? Anna heads right down to the clinic to discover that she not only has no infertility problem, but is already pregnant! She tells Brian about her baby, and about her spurious worries, and of course they have a laugh and a joyful hug.

Comics Curmudgeon points out that this raises serious questions about what, if any, form of sexual intercourse Anna was having with her ex, but my problem is about character: Are we really supposed to believe a woman in the 21st century never even suspected there might be a scientific explanation for her failure to conceive? Did she think her womb was affected by a surplus of yellow bile? And isn't there going to come a point when Brian, a medical doctor, realizes with a shock that he's married a woman who knows less about reproductive science than Henry VIII and thinks the key to good health is to stick a spaghetti noodle in one nostril and out the other? I'm hoping this might all be a setup for such a psychological crisis, but today's strip seems to indicate closure on this story.

Now I've put up with months of Wilber Weston's loser antics, and stuck around when Woody Pine turned out to be mentally unstable, so I can't really say this is the worst Mary plot I've ever seen. But it's a scandalously phoned-in effort. Unfortunately, unlike Saunders, who allowed us to vent to tellmary@aol.com, Moy is a remote and hermetic figure. Karen, if you're reading this, just be aware that the patience of Mary Worth fans, while vast, is not infinite.

NEXT: Friday Fun Link

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  1. Um wow.

  2. Dude, if this is not a put-on, get help.

  3. “No banging your head on the display case, please. It contains a very rare Mary Worth in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide.”

  4. I miss Gary….wahhh!

  5. Tim,

    Your lack of shame is inspiring. Now get a life you wimp!!!

  6. …Gary? Is that you?

  7. Mary Worth is still in print?

  8. Somebody beat me to the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy line.

    Funniest Mary Worth reference… ever.

  9. Love that Curmudgeon page though. God I wish B.C. would be put out to pasure. Sheesh, even Fred Basset is funnier.

  10. Slow day at the website?

  11. My God Tim, what have you done?!?

  12. Get a calendar. April Fool was last week.

  13. Ha! I knew he would resurrect in three days.

  14. Uh, Christ, that is. (ahem)

  15. And this is better than Family Circus, how?

  16. Tim… ummm, you’re welcome. Or, seek help immediately. I’m not sure which.

  17. Dude, thanks for bringing tears of laughter to my eyes.

    BTW, I think I saw a posting on the net of a Family Circus cartoon where the kids are playing Cowboys and Insurgents instead of Cowboys and Indians.
    What an absurd world.

  18. That was the same Family Circus strip where Billy was chased by three ghosts that looked like Michael Jackson, Gary Glitter, and Pete Townshend named “Whodunnit”, “Ida Know”, “Wasn’t Me” ….

  19. Great site. Sadly missing are the strips I most love to hate, the excruciatingly earnest pro-politician “Safe Havens” (check the March 17th strip at the site below) and its anti-capitalist counterpart, “On The Fast Track,” featuring that ever-maligned Dagny Taggart knockoff, Rose Trellis…

    http://www.plan9.org/safehavens/

  20. Will come back to defend beloved Mary when sober.

    Something I heard on NPR several months ago has resonated: “Speed is the eighth deadly sin.”

    Mary lived for quite a few years with her doctor husband in Columbus, OH. This was before she set off into cartoon land.

    Am I right?

    There is something about her.

  21. I used to love reading Ernie Bushmiller’s “Nancy,” because you could always count on it to be screamingly bad. I mean, the kind of bad that made you wonder why Ernie bothered getting out of bed in the morning to ink the damn thing. I mean, unerringly unfunny. It inspired me to get up in the morning to see if Ernie could possibly have written yet another strip without *anything* funny about it at all, and he never let me down. You’d think that once in a while he’d accidentally write something that would bring the ghost of a smile to your face, as you said to yourself, “Well, that was pretty bad, but I see the joke he was trying to make.” But no, Ernie had an amazing kind of negative genius that defied all expectations.

    Then he had to die, and his strip got taken over by someone who was just mediocre. At that point, there was no longer any reason to read it.

  22. Nancy was horribly unfunny, but I recall that Aunt Fritzie was kind of hot.

    Hey — last Sunday, or maybe the Sunday before, the comic strip Beetle Bailey had the graffitist/philosopher Plato scribbling some stuff that was extremely libertarian in character. It was amazing. It just may have enjoyed the widest audience of any libertarian writing in recent history. I’m trying to find a link to it online, but so far I am unable.

  23. AHA! Found it! The libertarian Beetle Baily.

    Gotta see this. Check it out here.

    I wonder what brought this on? Maybe Mort Walker just finished reading some Hayek or Rand?

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