Comic Strip of the Day: Fewer is harder

Monday can be tough for this feature: A lot of editorial cartoonists don’t work the weekend and so won’t post new material until tomorrow, while a lot of strips are just starting new story arcs and it’s hard to tell which ones will pan out.

But this Kal Kallaugher piece is a good example of someone who doesn’t post often and therefore has to post well, and I’ve got a couple of those to share today.

I’m leading with Kal’s because it’s such a good example of how those who post less often have to try harder.

Everyone with a pen has had time to take a whack at Laura Ingraham over the past week or so. If you’re going to come in last, you have to come in best.

Oddly enough, this cartoon just boils down to two points: She’s not the first to declare her group the best and all others inferior, and she’s an idiot.

Kal always has the advantage of his stunningly detailed draftsmanship, of course, but, in this case, he redeems a simple gag by turning it into a sort of shaggy-dog story, dragging it through so many variations that, by the time you get to the punchline, it’s the bathos as much as the humor that makes you laugh.

If he’d simply gone from first to last without all those stops in the middle, he’d have been several days too late.


Similarly, Tom Tomorrow strings together a narrative in which each panel criticizes a political position that, presented alone, would work as a daily editorial cartoon but, by the time the other dogs have gnawed at the bone, would have little fresh meat left.

Compiled under the Stupidverse banner, they qualify as mounting evidence rather than separate comments.

Several of these could be dealt with on their own, but, for instance, the “photo ID to buy groceries” thing was beaten to death the day after Dear Leader let it fly.

It’s over, except as one piece of evidence in a string of accusations, but, in that context, it still works.

Note, too, that it can’t just be a litany of “things I don’t like about Trump.”

There is a theme uniting each of these separate pieces, and it ends nicely with Sarah Sanders and a sort of “Everybody knows and nobody cares” conclusion. You couldn’t place that panel anywhere else in the array and make it work, even shifting the “next” footer to whatever you had in the eighth position.

That’s the difference between a list and a series. And a list must be immediate, while a series can be more reflective.


Going back to the point about pulling out one element and turning it into a free-standing piece, Jen Sorensen expands on the point in that fourth panel above: The wave of on-line appeals from people with catastrophic illnesses that they can’t pay for.

The absurdity of the situation is well-worth exploiting, because it doesn’t have to be this way. On one hand, it turns out universal health care is more complicated and expensive that its advocates claim.

But even that is problematic because hospitals do accept lower payments from Medicare/Medicaid, which is why some doctors won’t accept those patients.

(It’s also true that states get reimbursement funds from the feds which are supposed to go to the providers but instead are embezzled to balance state budgets. A rant for another day.)

The big issue is not the total cost but governmental priorities, and it’s more than health care: The announcement of the new Buck Rogers Space Force (beedy-beedy) has been met by questions of when Flint will get clean water and when Puerto Rico will get electricity.

Similarly, our health care crisis could be solved if Congress and the Executive wanted to solve it. Meanwhile, they could at least stop trying to undo the progress that’s been made.

But Sorensen addresses little of that directly: Instead, by mocking the absurdity of passing the hat, she makes the reader confront those issues on their own.

That’s how satire works.

And the tote bags crack at the end is brilliant, because they are emblematic of PBS and NPR fundraising, and it’s a shame that the arts have to be funded through beg-a-thons, but that’s only a shame, not a domestic war crime.

(The real issue being that tote bags suck and what they should really give away are high-quality coffee mugs.)


The Exception

The exception to my opening comments are single-panel comics, which can hit any day of the week, and Maria Scrivan got me at a vulnerable moment with today’s Half Full.

As it happens, I’ve not only been to CVS in the past week but went to K-Mart just yesterday and so am now the proud owner of enough receiptage to paper a small room, or, as she suggests, find myself wrapped up like a mummy.

I have no idea why stores generate two-foot receipts, plus additional pieces with coupons that expire almost immediately and invitations to take a survey, when other stores get by with a single receipt about four inches long.

It used to be that you had to buy car parts to walk away with more receipt than product, but most of the car-part stores have smartened up.

And here’s the thing about printed receipts: Our co-op has their cash registers programmed such that they ask if you’d like a receipt and only print one if you say “yes.”

At all the other stores in town except Best Buy — which offers the choice of printed or emailed receipts — every transaction requires printing a receipt even if the customer walks off without it.

Environmental issues aside, it seems idiotic for these companies to spend money on paper that nobody wants or needs. Even if only 20 percent of patrons turned down the receipt, that would be a 20% savings.

If Best Buy and a local co-op can do it, anyone can.

I’m not asking them to be responsible. I’m just asking them not to be stupid.


One thought on “Comic Strip of the Day: Fewer is harder

  1. You do need that two-foot-long receipt at Wal*Mart, since there’s always some item that will set off the alarm at the door because the cashier didn’t wave it over the de-alarmification rays just so.

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