CSotD: ‘Toons That Make You Go ‘Hmmm’

Jimmy Johnson has a dedicated following, but it was still ballsy of him to produce a comic using only Arlo & Janis’s former hairstyles as an indicator that it’s set in the past.

I’m just pointing it out, not criticizing it, and he’s crafted a cartoon that stands up even if you didn’t realize it was set in the past, though it’s funnier if you do.

FWIW, my new great-granddaughter was just in town and, when she went off to hang with her grandfather’s and mother’s 40-30-and-20-something cousins, they did a few selfies but also some “set the timer and run” pictures.

Good photography still matters. I’ve even seen people too young to remember Tri-X reprocess their shots into B&W.


My guess is that Jeff Stahler is banging his head on the table over the timing of this Moderately Confused, which was almost certainly filed before GHWB died, but the point remains.

Hey, it would be harder to hit on a day when it’s at full staff.

We should lower the flag for presidents and other major figures, but we’ve taken to lowering it way, way too often.

Wit’ all doo respeck, when you tear her tattered ensign down for every town councilman and clerk, you seriously deplete both the honor and the significance of the gesture.

A half century ago, when, for instance, Eisenhower died (1969), seeing the flag at half-staff was a solemn reminder for 30 days that we’d lost a president.

Today, it is lowered so often that I wonder why the halyards even reach past the half-way mark. Certainly not because anybody knows you’re supposed to raise it smartly to the top before slowly lowering it.

Hell, you’re also supposed to light it at night and take it in when it rains, and God knows we gave all that up decades ago.



Mr. Fitz continues his war against sterile, prescriptive writing, with a cartoon that pinged a particularly odd memory, though at the college, rather than middle/high school, level.

My then-GF was a non-traditional student at Smith, majoring in poli-sci and assigned to write a paper on a whistleblower.

She wrote about a professor at Georgia who had touched off a fury by blowing the whistle on their athletic department for academic dishonesty.

So she’s walking across campus with her prof, talking about how her paper is coming and he suddenly stopped, having noticed that she was quoting the whistleblower directly.

“Wait, did you call her up and interview her?” he asked, and was taken aback that she had, telling her that wasn’t how you were supposed to do it.

He didn’t lower her grade, but he did plant an unanswered question of why the hell you aren’t supposed to use genuinely primary sources when they are available?

Well, don’t.

It’s apparently a rule.


Also on the academic track, today’s Argyle Sweater got a laugh because there’d have been a helluva crowd of ghosts ’round my bed if this were true.

I graduated, as Shannon Sharpe put it, not “Magna Cum Laude” but “Thank You, Lawdy.”

I only know my class rank because I needed a transcript when I took a Civil Service test a few years after graduation. My place in the class was in a little box at the bottom of the last page that said “15 percentile” and I was totally stunned.

Then I remembered the difference between “percentage” and “percentile.” Ah! Far less surprising.

Anyway, I’ve vanquished the Student Dream, that nightmare in which you have to take a final for a class you never attended.

I still have the dream from time to time, but, in recent years, my dreaming response is, “Who gives a shit?”

It’s not a nightmare if it no longer scares you.

Helps if it never much did.


I wish this Pros & Cons had run yesterday, because it is relevant to our discussion of bowdlerizing Popeye.

When I was writing serialized stories for kids, I spent a fair amount of time going through mythology and folk tales, looking for adaptable stories.

It was appalling how many of them were resolved by beating the crap out of the villain. It became a little more inventive as a particular civilization matured, but it still mostly boiled down to the final two panels of that cartoon.

And, no, not just in Western Europe.


But Bado‘s tip on the Billy Ireland’s latest exhibition suggests an alternative, since this exhibit on cartoonist Barbara Shermund is titled, “Tell Me A Story Where The Bad Girl Wins.”

Oh, please do.

I’ve ranted recently enough on that very topic that I won’t repeat it all, except to say that one of my favorite movies, “Destry Rides Again,” has a sad ending because poor Jimmy Stewart ends up with that damp dishrag Janice Tyndall instead of the far more fun and interesting Frenchy.


And here’s a heavy damn twist for a comic strip: Johnny Hazard has fallen in love with a widow.

I don’t know where this is going, except I doubt it’s wedding bells and bliss, since the Vintage strip has another 30-some years to go.

But I’ve dated divorcees and I’ve dated widows and if her smashing that favorite record resets things, I’m going to be furious, because it sure doesn’t work that way in three dimensions.

It’s not hard to be better than a divorcee’s ex because she’s done with him. A widow’s needs are more complex.

Frank Robbins just bit off a very big bite for himself.

We’ll see if he chokes on it.


On a much lighter note

Pickles has a story arc in which it is revealed that the animosity between Earl and his sister-in-law is because they once dated.

Which, for our Moment of Zen, might suggest

Sometimes you really dig a girl the moment you kiss her,
And then you get distracted by her older sister.
When in walks her father and takes you in line,
And says, “Better go home, son, and make up your mind.”

But the gag itself is better served thusly:

8 thoughts on “CSotD: ‘Toons That Make You Go ‘Hmmm’

  1. I am a big fan of the vintage strips but they are a bit predictable. Johnny Hazard is my favorite but the dead husband/Dad is assumed dead and his body has not been found. Now that his son and wife have replaced him with Johnny, he should be showing up any day now.

  2. When Wikipedia marks some statement with “citation needed” they try hard to exclude an author from presenting their original research. The think a conventional footnote to somebody else explaining it in an existing publication is better!

  3. As I tweeted a week or two back, “Father, why are the flags flying from the tops of the poles? Did something happen?”

    I’ve also urged flagpole manufacturers to use cheaper material for the top half of each pole, since it doesn’t get used much.

  4. My take on Stahler’s cartoon was – mass shooting victims usually get half-staff flags, at least in their hometown. That seems more in line with the tone of the toon.

  5. I’m a dedicated follower of Jimmy and “Arlo and Janis”… the peasant blouse was also a dead giveaway– Janis hasn’t worn anything like that for at least 20 cartoon years.

    : )

  6. There’s finally an improvement over the “mad timer dash” for group photos. Lots of modern cameras have wireless and some way to connect to a phone. So you can get everyone together and check the composition and focus and *then* hit the timer and slip the phone into your pocket and smile.

    I prefer the honest narcissism of an old-school selfie to the ridiculous “selfie stick.” It will all be replaced by the buzzing clouds of selfie drones in a few years, anyway. They’re already showing up in the H&S catalog…

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