CSotD: Laughter in the Graveyard

David Ostow is right, and so was my professor, all those years ago.

We were reading Hamlet and he led off the day’s discussion by asking what purpose the gravediggers’ scene served.

Being sophomores, we knew everything, so we chattered away about rising and falling action and the need for comic relief in a tense drama and so forth and so on. Then he made the point that, all that perfectly valid drama class stuff aside, Shakespeare had a couple of clowns in his rep company and needed to give them something to do.

I’m neither forgetting the current sense of impending doom nor am I denying the need to break up the mood a bit, but there are still cartoonists who need something to do and so here we are.

And I suppose it’s worth something that the only scene in that entire play that people seem to remember is Hamlet holding the skull of Yorick and remembering how funny the poor old fellow once seemed.

Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,
 Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.

Then he gets in a near-fistfight with Laertes over who loved the dead girl more, which was more clownish than anything the gravediggers had to offer.

This installment of Francis responds to the papal gaffe, in which he undid a lot of his previous support of the gay community by referring to them with an Italian equivalent of the F-insult.

Gabby is right that the moment will make Francis’s critics happy, both those who have been criticizing him for not doing enough and those who have been criticizing him for doing too much, which makes him indeed seem like Biden’s spiritual leader, a devout Catholic trying to do the right thing but repeatedly, unintentionally upsetting people on both sides.

Okay, that’s not so funny either.

Wiley is a relentless critic of both social media and of willful ignorance, and, in this Non Sequitur (AMS), his timing is excellent, given the uptick in deliberate disinformation flooding the Intertubes from Russia and China, the deliberate disinformation being promoted by backers of a certain felon and the inevitable ungrounded nonsense spouted by people who post things they haven’t bothered to examine.

Now, speaking of accuracy, not everything on social media is phony, and not everything printed in newspapers has been adequately backed up. But you have to approach things intelligently and, though they may fret you, not let them play upon you.

But, come, let us speak of country matters, or their aftermath, because this Rhymes With Orange (KFS) got a genuine laugh.

I have subscribed to a number of Substacks, some of which I support and some of which I am a free reader of, but not the “free” ones which offer only a paragraph and a paywall.

And I can’t afford all the competing TV streamers no matter what wonderful shows they feature. We’re being nickled and dimed to death and while $2.99 per month doesn’t seem like much, note the disclaimer that the rates get higher as things progress.

The gag is funny, the disclaimer less so.

Dave Blazek addresses shrinkflation in this Loose Parts (AMS), and the woman’s response may not be clear, in part because you can take it either way and in part because, if you are trying to read cartoons in print or on your telephone, you may not be able to make out the dialog anyway.

Having laid out pages at home for the last decade of my working life, I have a nice big screen which counters visual shrinkflation. Still, I have to assume that all the people who got through Covid by Zooming also own reasonably sized computers and could make use of them.

Meanwhile, if you go to the store today and pass by copies of the Sunday NYTimes or Washington Post or Boston Globe or whatever major metro is sold in your region, consider what it was before corporate failure to respond to Craigslist and the Internet in general turned those massive papers into pamphlets.

I remember lugging a bound volume from the 40s up to the photocopier once. A 20-something clerk saw that dense 8-column layout, in which Alley Oop, Red Ryder and Freckles got six columns each, and said, “Wow! So much to read!” with a touch of envy.

By then we were down to six columns on a narrower sheet and comics only got three of those tiny columns.

Alas, poor Freckles! I knew him, Dear Reader. A lad of infinite jest! Now how abhorred in my imagination he is!

Juxtaposition of the Day

Dave Granlund

Crabgrass (AMS)

Cartoonists face a scheduling issue this time of year because schools get out on such different schedules, but both Granlund and Bondia make good points, though dismissal may yet be three weeks away for some readers.

Granlund might better have said “Parent” rather than “Mother,” but if we were back in the days when it was economically feasible for one parent to stay home, they’d be smiling, too. As the at-home parent, I was eager to have the boys around because we had a good time all summer and little of it cost money.

Today, it’s a major budget item because both folks are likely working, which explains why kids are at various day camps instead of just running around the neighborhood with their friends, forgetting how to do long division.

The solution to summer learning-loss is year-round school, but we haven’t figured that out, either, and overlapping schedules mean families may not have all their kids off at once. That makes family vacations impossible.

Which is okay, because Disney and Universal have killed off the small regional tourist attractions and if you think putting a kid in daycare is expensive, wait’ll you see what it takes to have fun in Orlando.

Juxtaposition of the Job Market

Willie n’ Ethel


Jobs that suck are plentiful and you’ll likely be hired on the spot.

Otherwise, listen for two phrases: “Let me show you around” or “There’s someone I want you to meet.” If you don’t hear them, you’ll be home cracking a beer in no time.

But keep that beer handy, because, as Alex assures us, it’s getting easier to lose a job every day, though, by the time the hammer fell, I never lost a job I still wanted.

12 thoughts on “CSotD: Laughter in the Graveyard

  1. My problem is: who does Granlund think is the principal and who is the teacher.

    1. Plot Twist: the frowning woman is the Teacher and the lady with the notebook and pencil is the Mom.

      Of course, these days the guy with the mop and overalls could be the Mom, so it’s really anyone’s guess.
      You know what happens when you assume.

  2. The irony is that “shrinkflation” was very much a thing for newspaper comics, which got printed smaller and smaller as the years went by and space became a premium.
    Of course, now everything is online and webcomics don’t even have to adhere to standard layouts.

    I don’t subscribe to any streaming service, mainly because there’s too many of them and there’s nothing I really want to see anyway.

    It’s realistic that A.I. will take over CEO jobs, yet those CEOs will still get obscene pay while laying everyone else off.
    Such is the way of things.

  3. I was fired from a job at a comics distributor and several co-workers urged me to fight to get my job back. My response: “Why would I want to work for somebody who doesn’t want me?” There is no future in looking over your shoulder every day waiting for the other shoe to drop…on your head.

    1. Mad Magazine, Peanuts, and my local public library made me what I am today. Not that I blame them…

  4. As a number of commercial artists I worked with, who were refugees from disney, put it:
    EDSOBID (Everything Disney Steals Or Buys is Degraded). And, as Mike put it:
    ‘Disney and Universal have killed off the small regional tourist attractions and if you think putting a kid in daycare is expensive, wait’ll you see what it takes to have fun in Orlando.’

    Mike, the jobs market you illustrated (pun intended) with those comics is just one symptom of the massive and growing divide in this society of wealth/power vs. the populace. If I sound like an ‘extremist’ you would be surprised at how many enlightened people feel the same way.

    To lighten things up: when we lived in Oregon there was (and still is) a fun little amusement park:

    1. A lot of those parks were designed, in whole or in part, by Arto Monaco, an Adirondacker whose parks there I enjoyed as a kid and who I got to spend an afternoon with as a reporter. He had quite a resume both in building parks and in cartooning. Also he was a nice fellow to hang out with and talk to:


  5. I’ve been on the road this past week. On Friday, I wanted to buy a newspaper. Any newspaper with a TRUMP GUILTY headline. Anything at all.

    Couldn’t find anyplace selling a newspaper. Not a gas station, not the bookstore, not the grocery store. No place. One clerk told me they only get the paper on Sundays. The hotel didn’t even have the McPaper, which used to be a standard freebie anywhere in the country.

    1. The paper you got at a hotel wasn’t free. You just weren’t told that there was a charge you could have declined, which would have saved you about 50 cents on your hotel room. “Hotel copies” were a way to keep circulation numbers pumped up for ad sales. Because think of all the times you opened that paper in your hotel room and decide to go buy some furniture or maybe a set of tires!

    2. In 2019 Starbucks corporate told their stores to stop carrying newspapers. The stated reason was not that people who buy a newspaper might take up a table longer while reading it, but that too many papers were being taken by people who didn’t think they needed to pay. Should we blame free news content on the Internet?

Comments are closed.