See All Topics

Home / Section: Comic strips

CSotD: Last Sunday of the Year

Speed Bump (Creators) speaks for me.

A year can’t be evil, and I refuse to sit around feeling sorry for myself, but I’m certainly willing to call the past year nuts and illogical and silly and, as the little lad about to take over suggests, simply puzzling.

I don’t much care if they catch him just so long as he’s gone.

I also don’t know why people think everything will change in five days when we swap calendars. I’m focused more on hoping for change on the 20th, but I suspect that that crazy naked guy will also still be running around.

The end of this presidency reminds me of the news story that inspired Randy Newman’s song, “Naked Man.”

It seems the police got a call that a naked man had grabbed this woman’s purse and run off. Sure enough, they found a naked man standing on the street holding that very purse.

He explained that he had been in bed with his lover when her husband came home, so he leapt out the window without his clothes and, while he was standing there wondering what to do, a second naked man ran up and handed him a purse and then ran away.

Nobody believed him, but apparently we have become more gullible in the years since.

Well, never mind. Let’s drop politics and read some Sunday funnies instead.

 

I don’t know if this Lockhorns (KFS) qualifies as seasonal humor or not. It really could run anytime, though there is a lot of complaining at Thanksgiving and Christmas about women doing dishes while men watch football.

Since I’m something of a “Stay the hell out of my kitchen” type, I’d just as soon the amateurs weren’t crowding an already small room putting things away where they don’t belong, but there’s more to it than that.

One of the things I missed most when my nest became empty was cooking for others, and a holiday feast was nearly orgasmic in both the amount of pleasure you were able to give your family and in the way it tested your ability to get everything to come out right at the same moment.

To me, complaining about cooking Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner would be like a professional football player saying, “Dammit, now we’ve got to play in the Super Bowl!” or an actor bitching about having to go into the city to open on Broadway.

The dishes? Most days, they’re an unwelcome chore and it’s nice to have someone else take them over.

To which I would add that having the person who didn’t cook be the one who does the dishes is a gracious concept, but imposing it as an actual rule and then arguing over it is the sign of a relationship with far larger issues.

But they’re a bonding event at holidays, a sort of culminating act in preparing and serving the meal, and, if you weren’t part of the cooking, maybe you should just go watch some football and do your bonding in there.

That’s twice a year; three if you count Easter. The rest of the time, like Leroy, I consider putting them in the sink enough.

They aren’t going anywhere.

 

Wumo (AMS) has Scandinavian roots, but it has lately seemed more American in its humor and settings, and today’s is an example of that, since I don’t think European doctors are as distant from their patients.

For one thing, cost is less of a factor in seeking medical help, and, for another, doctors in other countries make a nice living, but more on the level of a civil engineer. There’s a reason they move to the USA.

I had one doctor whose wife was a good photographer and decorated his offices with pictures of the fabulous places they’d pissed away the money we gave him.

And when we were expecting our second and wondering how the hell we’d pay for it, the doctor who came to address our Lamaze class wore a camel-hair blazer that would have covered the charges and left some change.

Med School should include a rotation in the real world.

 

Some serious criticism: As noted here before, Sunday Mark Trails (KFS) were a highpoint in my young life, particularly since they often taught me about things I could find in the roughly 5,000 square miles of forest that made up my backyard.

So I’ve watched Jules Rivera’s takeover of the strip for awhile, giving her time to get into the flow.

She’s not the only artist who has “re-imagined” a strip lately, and it’s not a bad move either by King Features or (disclaimer) Andrews-McMeel, for whom I work, to modify a dwindling strip that still has a reasonable subscriber base.

I’ve liked some, I’ve disliked others and my reaction does not always line up with general feedback. That’s to be expected.

I haven’t liked the re-casting of the dailies so that Mark is a dope and his family is utterly dysfunctional, but, since the original dailies were already ridiculous, it hardly matters.

However, the Sundays lack the sense of being one-with-nature that were the hallmark of the strip in years past. That’s a genuine problem.

Sundays have seemed superficial, but today’s is actually inaccurate.

 

Bobcats are sometimes called “red lynxes,” but the lynx itself is a separate species — three of them, in fact — and, while the comic strip is set in Florida, bobcats live nearly everywhere in the United States and Mexico.

I don’t know how well better research can substitute for an organic connection to the wild, but — whatever she wants to do with crazy Mark and his insane family on weekdays — Rivera needs to step up her work on the Sundays.

 

And now for something completely different

Jeremy Banx riffs on the impact of the pandemic on “Santa’s Grotto,” a Yuletide fixture in British department stores.

Which I know from its brief, wonderful appearance in the BBC holiday special, “Bernard and the Genie,” which you can and should stream from Amazon, Youtube and some other sources.

Alan Cummings, Lenny Henry and Rowan Atkinson — How can you go wrong?

 

Community Comments

#1 Brad Walker
December/27/2020
@ 11:50 am

In a perfect world, there’d be a panel of experts you could run your strip by, weeks in advance so you could incorporate any changes and vet new ones.

In this world you get thirty minutes on Google.

#2 Brad Brown
December/27/2020
@ 3:14 pm

Mike, thanks for today’s and for all year ling’s. What a strange trip.

I so appreciate your efforts (and your real time lynx fact checking).

You have become a regular guy part of my week.

Cheers and thanks.

All the best to you, Brad

Stay Safe
Stay Strong

#3 Steven Rowe
December/27/2020
@ 3:27 pm

I admit that like many comic readers, I’m more likely to look at the pictures, read the balloon and skim the captions. Thus my unspoken comment was “I came within ten feet of a bobcat. Was that on the Savannah River or on the Sewanee? Why just Florida?” Upon reading your comment, I went back and read the text – and we can add “wildcat” to the wrong answers, as there are no wildcats in North America. Although I’ve heard almost every non-house cat called a wildcat. I’ve known professors would would be happy to proof this sort of thing, either for a small fee – or their picture appearing in Mark Trail yearly giving a lecture on some animal fact. Hopefully one of them will contact her.

#4 Mary McNeil
December/27/2020
@ 5:21 pm

I haven’t seen Mark Trail in years, but it sounds like he has gone the way of Sally Forth, Except that in the art, I didn’t realize that was Mark. I thought it was a parody strip of the “teeth like he swallowed a bar of soap” variety. And yes, even NE Ohio has bobcats – occasionally you hear one scream, which shuts up the coyotes.

#5 Kathryn Pierce
December/27/2020
@ 11:25 pm

What’s missing from the first cartoon? A butterfly net and a straight jacket. Those orderlies forgot their equipment. Still, it mad me laugh out loud. And yes, I’m sure that naked man will still be running well after the first of the year!

Love your articles. We need laughs like this.

#6 Pat Shelby
December/28/2020
@ 10:03 am

Very much enjoy your column.

#7 Pat Shelby
December/28/2020
@ 10:06 am

I saw a video a while back of a bobcat pulling a shark on a beach.

#8 Pat Shelby
December/28/2020
@ 10:08 am

And I am blown away by how responsive and agile your commentary unit is.

#9 Charles Bosse
December/28/2020
@ 11:05 am

There isn’t a polite way to say this, so I’m going to just push forward. As the spouse of a doctor, don’t talk out your ass about med school: you clearly don’t have a clue what it’s like in the trenches.

I’m not saying there aren’t problems with compensation in medicine, but by and large, those problems lie in 1) the selective pressure of the extraordinary cost and time commitment of med school/residency and school in general in the first place (such that it’s much more likely that your doctor had to come from money before ever billing you) and the extraordinary power of large hospitals, investors, and insurance companies on medicine. I bet, actually, a lot of doctors make closer to what you think they should than you are aware of, while hospital administrators and insurance investors are probably doing a bit better than one might imagine they deserve. While some doctors definitely are compensated disproportionately in general doctors aren’t the ones holding most of the money at the end of the day.

#10 Mike Peterson
December/28/2020
@ 12:26 pm

Physicians in the US do very well compared to their counterparts around the world, even with cost-of-living taken into account.

https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/how-much-do-doctors-in-other-countries-make

I agree that educational costs are out of control in the US, and not simply for med school. And I’m also aware that the Ed Dept has attempted to default on a promise to reduce costs for doctors who work in underserved communities.

Still, photos of kite-surfing in Jamaica and trekking up Kilimanjaro might best be displayed at home. I’m happy that my current doctors are more tasteful. (They also don’t put their golf, sailing and travel magazines in the waiting room, though I realize they are sent those and don’t necessarily choose to subscribe.)

#11 Hank Gillette
December/28/2020
@ 9:18 pm

Perhaps it is just awkward wording, but the Mark Trail strip is not set in Florida; the current “adventure” has Mark traveling to Florida.

Mark lives in the “Lost Forest” a location probably as locatable as the Simpson’s Springfield, but it probably somewhere in a northern state, since it has mountains, snow, moose, and a grizzly bear.

I don’t mind the syndicates having a new artist re-imagining a strip, but is there some reason they can’t find an artist who can draw people? The old MT artwork was clunky, somewhat the way the artwork of Gil Thorp is, but the new artwork is terrible.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.