In Which I’m Upset About Comic Strips, Yes, Again


I mean to be sympathetic and kind toward comic strip artists, and especially the ones who do puzzle comics for kids. It’s hard to put in a puzzle worth pondering, in so little space, and when you can’t be sure what your readers can do. So it’s just impossible to hit them all, all the time. But the big puzzle this Sunday in Slylock Fox? The dry-cleaning problem? With the alligator taking a couple of capes in? I have issues. And, just to show that I’m trying to be fair to the cartoonist I’ll put my complaints behind a cut.

The puzzle: 'Slylock Fox and Super Cluck dropped off identical-looking capes for cleaning. Slylock stepped in after solving a cyber crime and Super Cluck arrived after rescuing occupants from a burning building. The clerk accidentally mixed up the capes. How were the proper owners determined?' Solution: 'Super Cluck was recently in a burning building. The cape that smells of smoke belongs to him.' In the six differences panel there's a drawing of a man in the background; in one, he has a slight mustache and in the other he does not.
Bob weber Jr’s Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids for the 28th of February, 2021. Also I haven’t before noticed Super Cluck in the Slylock Fox universe and I’m happy to suppose this is a SuperChicken reference and appreciate that.

Okay so, like, are Slylock Fox and Super Cluck picking up their capes before they’ve been cleaned? Because if they were cleaned and one of them still smells of smoke then the cleaner did something wrong. But if they haven’t been cleaned why are they worried about getting the capes back? Or is this the clerk realized he mixed up the capes before he started cleaning? … I guess that would make sense except that this isn’t much of a mixup. Also, if the capes are completely indistinguishable then then we start getting into problems of identity. Like, if there’s no way to tell which one belongs to who, is there even a “proper owner”? If someone at the laundry swapped the sherpa fleece I put under the rabbit’s play area for an identical one I guess I’d be theoretically irked, but if I couldn’t tell the difference how would I know to be upset?

Anyway I guess I can reconcile this solution to making sense but it should not be this hard to find the Six Differences panel guy’s moustache either.

On top of all that it turns out this is a Les Moore week in Funky Winkerbean. Great.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

9 thoughts on “In Which I’m Upset About Comic Strips, Yes, Again”

  1. I agree this isn’t a deep mix-up. The capes have to have been not yet cleaned, because of the answer– and that he’s walking to the back with them now, not coming from the cleaning station.

    Also Super Cluck’s looking properly put out at the kids being fans of Slylock and not him.

    Also no one’s asking about you, Max, stop trying to get in there.

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    1. I suspect I’d have less — or no — trouble with the puzzle if it had asked how the alligator figured it out before putting the capes into the wash. It would have avoided readers supposing (like I did and at least someone on Comics Curmudgeon did) that they were only sorted out after being cleaned. I don’t think that would have been too much a clue that there was something besides appearance that kids should consider, although I have to admit the Webers are the ones with actual experience crafting these mysteries.

      I think Super Cluck has just realized the letters on his chest need to be better-differentiated, since right now it looks like he’s wearing an f that’s passed out.

      Max, though, he’s answering the autograph request from that insect. He’s justified.

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  2. Should I be ashamed that I remembered that Les Moore shouldn’t be referencing Dick Tracy as a fictional character since he (tracy,not Les) helped find the stolen/counterfitted Starbuck Jones comic books a few years ago?

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    1. I am in no place to shame anyone for remembering things about comic strips, believe me. And remembered that in the Funky Winkerbean universe Dick Tracy is a real person.

      But, first, I’m willing to just suppose that the crossover was a lark that shouldn’t be taken seriously. It would be different if they treated Crankshaft as a fictional character, since Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean interact so much as they do. For a one-week gag, though? … And I understand the fannish desire to get everybody to play together. But if we take it seriously then in the Funky Winkerbean universe then Mars has been transformed into a life-bearing planetary consciousness and there are mermaids. (Because this is what’s happening over in Safe Havens, which is the sister strip with many crossover events to On The Fastrack, which last year had a crossover with Dick Tracy, and so to Funky Winkerbean.) Also since I’m pretty sure Dick Tracy has done crossovers with Gasoline Alley, then through Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat is in the Funky Winkerbean universe and that’s a ridiculous conclusion.

      Second, though, if we do insist on treating Dick Tracy a real person in the Funky Winkerbean universe? … All right. He’s still a person who, in universe, has had books and plays and movies made about him. Recognizing him as a reference would be like recognizing Elliot Ness. Which isn’t all that impressive, which is the real thing I’m dissatisfied with the strip. But I recognize the writing need to have a reference to something the average reader will get, too, and when you start naming famous real-world cops/detectives/investigators there’s a shallow bench. Elliot Ness, Frank Serpico, and then … ? Maybe someone might try arguing Melvin Purvis or the guy who figured out what we know about the Zodiac Killer, but they’re wrong about Melvin Purvis and you try naming the guy who figured out what we know about the Zodiac Killer.

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      1. Duck Tracy solved 2 murders in Gasoline Alley – one of Melba Rose’s uncle, one of a fatal vehicle crash witnessed by Clovia and Slim Skinner.

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        1. I had missed that, but it’s nice to hear about! I’d also forgotten that through the Old Comics Home we’ve gotten some Fearless Fosdick interactions with Walt Wallet (eg, https://www.gocomics.com/gasolinealley/2018/11/28 )

          To my surprise there doesn’t seem to be a Gasoline Alley Wikia. I’d think a comic strip with such an active fan base, and that is about a web of stories and characters, would have drawn one naturally. But life is complicated, I suppose, and you have to get a base together to start writing one.

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    1. I’m not disagreeing with you about Fearless Fosdick, but I think the trouble is we don’t want to be around Les in any circumstance. Funky’s Cataract Surgery was an agonizing story to be told, yes, but at least Les barely appeared in it and didn’t say anything while he did.

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