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CSotD: Friday Funnies and the Futility of Life

So say we all, because we can simply enjoy a few giggles over things of no particular weight and import.

Theoretically.

Let’s at least start with some light-hearted fare.

By July, 1935, “Thimble Theater” was firmly given over to Popeye, but it had not simplified things down to (A) Bluto grabs Olive, (B) Popeye eats spinach (C) Popeye beats up Bluto. Or even Brutus.

In fact, Popeye’s not even in this particular episode, which consists of cynical, grumpy Castor Oyl going at it with feckless, whimsical Wimpy, and, whatever you may think of the new, improved Popeye, it’s pretty clear Segar was not aiming at the Teletubbies demographic.

And, silly as it is, the exchange sets our topic for today, because we may all feel we’re being kept in the dark like dear Thelma, gratefully enjoying a cup of milk from the hands of the man who just not 10 minutes ago extracted a few quarts.

Castor Oyl obviously being a socialist or perhaps someone with a sense of fair play but, in either case, a character to be avoided.

 

And if Thelma’s situation is pitiable, what about this poor aging woman in Pardon My Planet, ’round whom the commercial world no longer revolves?

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with reading a stinging review of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which gets you nodding and realizing that, despite Amazon throwing praise-laden promos all over your social media, you actually don’t much care for it.

Or, for guys, the realization that, while the Bud Light commercials are actually kind of clever and funny, you are as unlikely to ever say “Dilly Dilly” as you are to consume the flavorless, insipid carbonated pisswater they’re selling.

Until, finally, you complain that you have 150 channels and yet there is nothing on, whereupon you switch the thing off and promptly crumble into dust like a vampire in the sun.

 

Or possibly enter a prolonged period of well-justified self-loathing, as outlined in today’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, the rest of which you can read here.

 

While even those not addicted to media are prone to trying to recapture that which never existed to begin with.

When this Between Friends arc began, I noted that “Seeing Maeve fall in love is like seeing Ralph Kramden come up with a sure-fire way to get rich,” but the major difference is that we loved to watch Ralph fail and we’d kind of like to see Maeve get her act together.

Though it would ruin the strip if she ever did.

In that earlier CSotD, I said I’d never date Maeve, but, in fact, I did go out with girls like that, when I, too, was much younger.

As it happened, my divorce came just as I was passing out of the much-sought-after 18-to-34 demographic, at which stage in life I found myself much more clear eyed.

Women like Kim and Susan had become a whole lot more attractive, because I could now recognize that, for every Peter Pan, there is a Cinderella and you don’t want to get mixed up with either.

 

It does provide some laffs when Reply All touches upon the things that really matter in life, assuming that growing up is an option and not an inevitability.

I could see myself getting at least temporarily sucked into Maeve’s orbit, but this mashup of “Sex in the City” and “Laverne & Shirley” has “Run away! Run away!” emblazoned all over it.

I mean, just because you read the Katzenjammer Kids, it doesn’t mean you wish you were living with them.

 

Finally, this Rabbits Against Magic strip happened to hit at a time when its small dose of contemplative wisdom was greatly magnified.

An artist of proven talent and marketability complained online about the impossibility of making a living, and he wasn’t talking about being able to go to Barbados every winter. He meant mortgage and groceries.

Maybe it was just a moment of late night doubt, or maybe it was the result of a long process of things falling apart. I don’t know.

But I’ve seen a trio of awfully good editorial cartoonists lose their gigs in the past year or so, either through political pressure or newspaper cutbacks, and it occurs to me that, while I admire their work and we’ve mingled at a function or two, there’s a lot I don’t know about them.

It’s easy for me to play the starving writer, because I have the dual advantages of having been part of the counterculture where money was not the thing, and of being empty-nested and single at 45, which gave me a chance to see if all that hippie shit still resonated.

Which it did.

As I have often said in times of career stress, it’s just me and the dog, and he thinks sleeping in the park and eating out of Dumpsters would be a blast.

It’s funny and it’s true but it’s not everybody’s situation.

I had one job where my boss was just as miserable as I was, only he had two kids in junior and senior high, a wife who was a tenured teacher and a substantial mortgage on a place in which his family was happily settled.

So I took off for another paper in another state, while he stayed put at the cost of leaving the industry entirely. I’ve heard he’s doing well, so that’s a happy ending.

However, marketing is marketing. I don’t think it’s nearly so easy for an artist to put his easel in the attic and his brushes in a drawer, and here’s my thing:

I’d hate to see anyone do that before they’d asked their spouse and kids what they felt about alternatives.

You might be surprised about how they feel about sleeping in the park and eating out of Dumpsters, if what they want is to have an artist in the family.

Though it’s a question you shouldn’t ask until you’ve figured out how to deal with all the possible answers.

 

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