CSotD: Friday Funnies with (Con)sequential Art

There’s a fair amount of repurposed classic art going around paying tribute to the lockdown, some better than others.

Many people have been riffing on Hopper’s Nighthawks, for instance, but it’s already a portrait of emptiness to begin with. You can only make his point more obvious.

But while American Gothic has also had plenty of parodies, they generally take the form of putting different people in the place of the iconic couple.

Patrick Blower quarantines them, which is particularly effective since the original was a fairly tight portrait.

Just as Ben Jennings reversed Seurat’s crowded scene on La Grand Jatte, Blower does a bit of jiu-jitsu, turning Woods’ closeup into a far-away.


I’m not sure at what point works as iconic as American Gothic or Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte become familiar enough to merge into pop art, though Nighthawks is specifically such and Norman Rockwell fits in there, intentionally or not.

But Richard Scarry is definitely popular rather than high-culture, and Dylan Horrocks does the flip here, turning a signature busy-ness into shocking emptiness.

It’s similar to the Seurat, only more jarring because Scarry’s crowds were in constant motion, while Seurat’s crowd was serene. And, in this case, “jarring” is the point.

And while Jennings asks us to be culturally literate, Horrocks tickles our inner toddler.


I haven’t decided — probably never quite will — how I feel about Ruben Bolling‘s riff on Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker cover.

The point of the original was that Gothamites have no concept of life beyond the Hudson, which was a bit of playful self-mockery for them and a declaration of the obvious for those elsewhere in the Empire State (or known universe, for that matter).

Here, Bolling points out — I think accurately — that things are more acute in the crowd of the city, with the virus much less dense out in the hinterlands, except for a few of the cities that New Yorkers can only vaguely place.

I’ve seen people say on-line that they can’t get six feet away from anyone else, and it’s likely true on the streets there but it sure isn’t true here.

And I really don’t know how our grocery stores measure up to theirs in terms of crowds and density, there being likely a per-capita equalizing factor involving the number of stores and number of people.

However, as further directions for how to behave come out, there is the fact that they often originate in the Asphalt Jungle where, as Bolling suggests, all those viruses congregate, or the equivalent in DC, Boston, LA and other urban centers.

Which is to say I’ve always been glad not to have to confine my dogs to Boston’s busy Esplanade, and I suspect I don’t need a mask when the 1.4 mile woodsy trail we walk might contain a half-dozen other people at any moment, or a full dozen when it’s super-busy.

We’ve got 34 confirmed cases in our county, which has a population of 89,386. NYC has 4,500 cases among 8,623,000. I’m not sure the difference in numbers offsets the difference in sample sizes.

What I’m sure of is that I’m confining my outings to the park and, less often than usual, the grocery store.

And that I’m still not sure how I feel about Bolling’s take on Steinberg.


Elsewhere on the Funny Pages

Watson echoes my thoughts about the Great Outdoors, and it’s a shame that New England beaches are being closed down, apparently because of a fear of crowds. It ain’t that warm yet, folks, and solitary walkers are far more the norm.

Jim Horwitz has the advantage of being a web cartoonist, so he can be far more current than syndicated cartoonists who have to deal with deadlines.


Terry Beatty posted that this Rex Morgan story arc was written and drawn four months ago, well before this singer’s vocal issues might have appeared topical.

We’ll see where the story leads us, and perhaps it will be a bit of luck.


But Arctic Circle certainly fell on the other side of luck with this pre-pandemic gag. Worst part is that Alex Hallatt is no fan of feedlots and was portraying the cow as foolish.

But, jeezizmaryanjosiff, not suicidal.

Done as intentionally current commentary on cruises and them as takes them, this would have been perhaps not unjustified, but a bit harsh.

Quite sure it wasn’t done on purpose, but there it is anyway.


I have no idea how far ahead Joe Martin works, but this Willie ‘n Ethel seems accidentally current.

The strip is based on Willie being a slacker, and a lot of the appeal of the strip is that we’d all be Willie if we could get away with it.

Now we can.


Jimmy Johnson is up to speed. Arlo and I are both watching old football games, and the real trick is not to think too much about it.

The other day, I was watching one and suddenly realized that the reason it was featured was because this was the one where the rookie QB won the game with last-minute heroics.

I watched anyway, but I’d spoilered it for myself.

Though I DVR’ed Citizen Kane the other day and I’ll watch that even though I know the meaning of “Rosebud.”

Fact is, I knew that the first time I saw it, and I haven’t forgiven Charles Schulz yet. (If you’ve seen the movie but not the strip, scroll down to Dec 9, 1973. Not cool, Sparky.)


And Wiley mocks the poor, displaced literary geniuses who can only create great works in the midst of great camaraderie and overpriced coffee.

Hemingway wrote at home, first thing in the morning, and only became a bon vivant after his creative work was done for the day.

Just sayin’


In Jules et Jim, Jules draws a picture of an old lover on a tabletop and Jim offers to buy it, but I don’t think that sort of thing happens in cafes often enough to be significant.


Finally, this literary segue

Real Life Adventures suggests this slick musical treat:

(Cover by Ron Cobb)

12 thoughts on “CSotD: Friday Funnies with (Con)sequential Art

  1. Hi Mike. To a first approximation, your place has one case per 2600 and NYNY has one per 1900. Not *that* different and as you allude to, hard to separate from sampling issues (code for “lack of tests”).

    It seems New Orleans is much harder hit per capita: something like one case per 500. And it looks like they’re not doing many tests either.

  2. Joe Martin preloads slightly more than a week’s worth of comics on his website, but that could be automated from a bigger queue so it’s only a lower bound.

    Great Ron Cobb cover – I have it on a t-shirt. “Baxter’s” was a gateway album for me, back in the day.

  3. Sadly, Delaware had to close its beaches and boardwalks a few weekends ago when warm weather brought out thousands of beachgoers despite prominent calls for social distancing earlier in the week.

  4. Blinky, there’s a map — I think NYTimes — showing where compliance is least. My own theory is that, if there is a deep state conspiracy, it’s one designed to raise the composite national IQ by about 40%.

    My proof is the crowds that thronged to watch the hospital ship come into NY Harbor. WTF is wrong with these people???

  5. I’ve been shopping once since this began in earnest, and Trader Joe’s (soon after Joe himself passed on, I’ve learned) was limiting access and sanitizing carts for people at the entrance, and not handling reusable bags. It was all very comforting.

    Steinberg has done so much more than the iconic NYer cover. I presented a Steinberg activity at my daughter’s grade school when I was an ‘art ambassador’ there–following the example of a drawing he’d done of a long horizontal line fulfilling a number of different purposes, we had the kids think of different ways to use their line and then put the pictures together out in the hallway to make one long one.

    By the way, I’ve been away from much of the online world for almost two weeks while my laptop was first in the shop and then slowly getting its brain restored from an online backup. I have a question: Did the Seattle Post-Intelligencer change their way of presenting the comics? I used to be able to click on a FAVORITES tab, and I’m not seeing it now.

  6. Hemingway – like you, Mike! – set himself a goal of writing one thousand words a day before he could leave his desk.
    I don’t know whether that was an absolute number or whether he’d write more if he was on a roll.
    I suspect that you also write more than just your blog, and that you sometimes envy Hemingway’s afternoons and evenings as a bon vivant.

  7. I saw a picture of a title page of a book: Of Mice and Men.

    Underneath the title, someone had written “George shoots Lenny”.

  8. About that NY Times map showing where the least compliance is… it was a map showing where people are still driving further than two miles from home. Katie Halper posted a map side by side with that, showing regions of the country where grocery stores are few and far between, and the two maps looked very similar. It’s possible people are just not taking it seriously in those areas, but it’s also possible they just have to drive farther than the rest of us to get their food.

  9. That’s possible, Darrin. The grocery store in my hometown closed down, leaving a convenience store or a 25 mile drive to a small grocery store or a 40 mile drive to anything substantial.

    As far as that goes, I drive 7 miles and back each day going to the park where I walk my dog. Has nothing to do with “compliance” except in a technical sense — nobody else is in the car and everyone at the park is staying well apart, so it’s hard to see how that is worse than stepping out of a brownstone and walking around the block in a major city.

  10. That’s how I feel as well. I’m at my studio right now, 7 miles from home. But I’m the only one who works here, so I’m about as safe here as anywhere.

  11. Here’s the link, and I’d heard about it but only in passing. Reading in detail, they’re assuming … I dunno … that people all travel on subways and such. Traveling alone in your own car seems pretty safe to me — as safe as sitting in your kitchen, certainly.


    You could drive coast-to-coast and be in less danger than someone who goes half a mile on public transit.

    Hey, they’ve banned canvas reuseable grocery bags. Maybe they should shut down public transit. 😉

  12. I’ve thought about taking drives to other states, and they’d all involve gas stations, lodging on the way, service plazas, fast-food take-out… I’m too chicken to contemplate it at present.

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