CSotD: Overthinking the Funnies

I was hoping for a day of frivolity, but this Vintage Radio Patrol (KFS) brought me up short, my first reaction being that Lennie Briscoe would do the same damn thing and torpedo the State’s case against her.

Next reaction being to examine that middle panel, which reveals that the strip ran in 1940, which in turn sent me to the googles to find that Escobedo v Illinois, which guaranteed that defendants had a right to have an attorney present during questioning, came in 1964, followed in 1966 by Miranda v Arizona, which required police to inform (“Mirandize”) defendants of their rights, which directed me to the earlier (1963) case of Gideon v Wainwright, which established that the Sixth Amendment means defendants who cannot afford an attorney must be provided with one.

Then I got lost in Gideon because of the All-Star cast of attorneys involved, including a couple of future SCOTUS judges, including Gideon’s government-appointed counsel, who, as Wikipedia reports made a pretty good argument:

Fortas noted that when Clarence Darrow, who was widely known as the greatest criminal attorney in the United States, was charged with jury tampering and suborning perjury, the first thing he did was get an attorney to represent him. Fortas suggested that if a lawyer as prominent as Darrow needed an attorney to represent him in criminal proceedings, then a man without a legal education, or any education for that matter, needed a lawyer too.

From whence I got into the 1980 TV drama about the case, “Gideon’s Trumpet,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame production which also had an All-Star cast, including Henry Fonda, Jose Ferrer, Fay Wray, John Houseman, Sam Jaffee and Dean Jagger.

Which, in turn, got my juices all riled up about people who call this the Golden Age of Television because they’re too young to remember back then.

To which I would add that nobody calls this the Golden Age of the Supreme Court.

Or, at least, nobody I hang out with.


I’d already been in Overthinking Mode, because I suspected that Gary Varvel (Creators)’s cartoon was not supposed to evoke a strict interpretation, given that, in the novel, the Old Man hooks and lands a large, trophy-sized fish, only to have it nibbled away by smaller parasitic fish.

Which reminded me of the last column Eric Boehlert wrote before dying in a bicycle/train accident, a piece headlined  “Why is the press rooting against Biden?” in which he noted the administration’s ongoing record of achievements and wondered why even the non-Fox press insists on running the guy down.

I understand Varvel’s motivation, of course, because if Biden cured cancer, he’s still The Enemy and the response would be like the lady whose child was saved from certain drowning: “Where’s his hat?”

Now, in case you think I only criticize conservatives, this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Jack Ohman)


(Mike Luckovich)

The same gag in two skilled-but-different hands.

Luckovich gets the trophy for the “preserve our heritage” argument implicit in both but more clearly brought out in his. He loses a small style point for labeling Mike Lee, but, in addition to having no outstanding moral values, Lee also has no outstanding physical traits.

Which is a small point in favor of Ohman’s more didactic approach: You do have to tell a lot of people who this “Mike Lee” fellow is, since his duplicity has not been as loud and public as that of Kevin McCarthy, who flat-out lied about his part in things.

Not that many Fox viewers would know about that, either.


Getting away from politics, Mike Peters faced a choice in this Mother Goose & Grimm (KFS), since gags based on homonyms carry a burden in print.

I’d have spelled it as she intended it, since the joke is that the waiter misunderstood.


By contrast, the pun is spelled out in the last panel of this Dark Side of the Horse, a wink to those scientifically literate enough to have followed the conversation in the first place.

And as long as I’m adding and subtracting style points today, extra credit here, given that the cartoonist’s first language is Finnish.


My guess, Frazz (AMS) is that maybe Christiaan Huygens and Isaac Newton are easier going once translated into Finnish. It would have made me happy.

Note, by the way, that Disneyland is still, officially, the Happiest Place on Earth, despite not being in Finland, because it’s in California, not Florida. But we’ve flogged that issue sufficiently for now.

Well, maybe one more lash:

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Ward Sutton)


(Andy Marlette – Creators)

Funny that Greg Abbott wants to charge parents with abuse for giving their children counseling and medical treatment, while, at the other end of the Gulf, Ron De Santis wants to groom them as puppets and use them as props when he’s signing anti-grooming laws.

No, not that kind of funny.

I’m currently reading David Blight’s biography of Fredrick Douglass, and am just through the John Brown portion, when Douglass’s opposition to slavery became more supportive of violent resistance because of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Fugitive Slave Act.

A good reminder that these things creep up incrementally until they make it all suddenly unbearable.

The good thing about the Fugitive Slave Act was how it energized abolition and the Underground Railroad.


The other good thing was that we didn’t have TV in 1850, so Millard Fillmore didn’t feel compelled to recruit the cast of a minstrel show to surround him while he signed the thing.


The bad thing is that we still don’t know which state Candorville (WPWG) is in. There are several possibilities.


On the Fastrack (KFS) spoofs office bureaucracy, and this one touched a nerve, because I’d have never been hired as a reporter if I hadn’t applied to a newspaper so small that it didn’t have an HR department.

Dethany has a soul while Fi just ticks off boxes on the form, but, in the real world, they don’t allow Dethanies in HR, and ticking off boxes means the end of a boss hiring someone because, as Lou told Mary, she’s got spunk.

There is no box on the form for “spunk.”

And no chance to hire an inexperienced person you sense is talented and trainable.


3 thoughts on “CSotD: Overthinking the Funnies

  1. My take on Mother Goose & Grimm, given the $2.95 price, is that “tale” is spelled as it’s spelled on the menu, and the mistake is not on the part of the waiter, but on that of Ms. Goose.

Comments are closed.