Writing a newspaper comic strip must be the loneliest gig in the world. Nobody reads the damn things anymore, and those that do tend to skip the funnies altogether because, well, they’re not funny. Fair or not, the Internet has exposed their lame sight gags, horrible wordplay and woefully outdated references for the hackwork they truly are.
But they’re chugging along, though they’re starting to get a little…goofy. Oh sure, they do their job right most of the time, despite being awful at it, but they appear to be aware nobody’s paying attention. So they’re taking chances, and are starting to slip more and more jokes in that are not necessarily funny, but just plain strange.
These gags would’ve prompted hundreds of angry letters back when people gave a damn, but now they’re just kinda there. Sooner or later, one of these strips will feature hardcore nudity, and will still receive the same attention as a lame observation about how dogs and cats are just so, so different.
9. Arlo Wants To See Janis’s Mother Naked
Arlo and Janis is a “slice-of-life” comic, which means it has successfully gone 28 years without cracking one good joke, ever. That has to be a record; even Family Circus can make you mutter “heh” every once in a while. Yes, you have to be rip-roaringly drunk for this phenomenon to happen, but that’s still more than Arlo and Janis can boast.
Clearly, the strip’s author is burnt out; decades of not being funny will do that to anyone. This would explain his 2008 descent into madness, as Janis accidentally received a picture of her mom in her skivvies, and Arlo wanted to see it. Why the HELL would you want to do that, unless you suddenly desire your mother-in-law? Even if she’s attractive, it’s your MOTHER-IN-LAW. If somebody sent you a picture of your Mom wearing next-to-nothing, would you look, even in curiosity? Or would you immediately delete the pic, set your phone on fire and, just for good measure, set the phone company on fire too? THIS IS YOUR FAULT, VERIZON.
Sadly, the strip did not follow up with Arlo obsessively stalking his matronly prey. It might have been dirty and wrong, but it’d have been a better standout moment then the time that “Janis bobbed her shoulder-length hair.” That’s the best the author has to offer? No wonder he felt like titillating a new (old) generation for a day.
8. Momma And Bestiality
Momma has subsided for over 40 years on a very simple diet: Momma’s kids being losers. Nothing has changed, nobody has evolved, and nobody has questioned why Momma herself is only fifteen inches tall. Maybe she should stop nagging, and start seeking treatment for her crippling case of scoliosis.
Her daughter, Marylou, is depicted as having eternal relationship problems. That’s the joke, by the way: “Hahaha, she dated another dirtball!” A few months ago, the strip finally took that tired bit to the next level. No longer content with human douchebags, Marylou has moved on to animal douchebags as well. And not just one: she screwed both a bird and a squirrel, meaning she not only resorted to bestiality, she was BAD AT IT. She couldn’t even keep a relationship with a damned bird, so you know the squirrel thing is doomed as well.
Why those two people listening to this random confession didn’t just turn around and call the cops is beyond us. Perhaps they were more intrigued than repulsed? Somebody alert the local forest ranger; no small woodland creatures are safe as long as these three sickos roam free.
7. Shoe And Suicide
For 35 years, Shoe has explored what happens when birds work at a newspaper. The answer: not very much. They work, they bitch, they drown in paperwork, they flap their wings, they poop on everything, and they go home. Oh and, apparently, they contemplate suicide.
The writer of this strip didn’t just get weird last month: he got DARK. Perhaps it’s because he knows he’s working in a dying market, but this bird suddenly has no reason to live. He was all ready to jump from his apartment ledge (even though, as a bird, all he needed to do was fly up to the clouds and then stop flapping,) and that would’ve been it. The punchline, if it can be called that, is that this guy’s deathwish was thwarted by his wife making a mean-spirited jab at his fashion sense. How HILARIOUS.
It’s even funnier that this bird has every intent to try again. He’s clearly still depressed, and is resorting to drinking his sorrows away while silently plotting his grand escape from the horrible curse that is life. Truly, giggles and gags galore.
6. Drabble Flashes Children
Did Shoe depress you? OK, how about indecent exposure to minors? Does that rekindle the chuckles?
Drabble is your basic dopey-dad strip, with basic dopey-dad jokes. He’s fat! He’s lazy! He’s bald! He traumatizes his children for life!
Yeah, about that last part. A few years ago, the author decided to get silly for a day, and write a gag where the dad has holes in his sweatpants. Nothing weird about that, right? Except all the holes were strategically placed around his crotch. Not disgusting enough? Well, despite knowing about said holes, he doesn’t stick on underwear, claiming it’s “cooler this way.” He says this to his ten-year-old son, by the way, who is right in front of him, and has a front row view of everything. Feel free to vomit now.
What’s even worse: there are two sons in this strip: an older college-age guy, and the young kid seen here. Guess which one could conceivably handle this situation better. Now, guess which one the author ultimately decided should be traumatized by what helped bring him into the world. It’s times like this we’re glad gag artists suck at drawing details because, if we had to see it as well, we’d be in therapy right alongside that poor kid.
5. Stone Soup and Incest
Apparently, incest is a popular theme among neglected gag strips, because here we have culprit #2. Stone Soup is a relative newbie to the comic scene, having only been around since 1995. Spending the majority of its life in newspaper obscurity, however, has not stopped it from dipping its toes into just-plain-icky territory.
The boy in question here is remarking about how hot Aunt Val is. He’s not just calling her that because she’s a close family friend that he’s known since childhood: she is very much his aunt. Yes, it’s extended – the boy is the nephew of Val’s sister’s husband – but do YOU lust after YOUR stepfamily? And even if you do, would you talk about it to the significant other of the family member you’re lusting over? Because that’s her boyfriend on the right, doing everything he can to not murder the boy in broad daylight.
It’s too bad the author stopped at a mere roll of the eyes. You already wrote in incestual lust; why NOT illustrate the inevitable beating that kid got for opening his yap? That boyfriend would’ve immediately become a new hero of the ages.
4. Heathcliff Shits On Birds
Yeah, this guy’s still around. That cartoon you watched as a kid when you were snowed in, and could find absolutely nothing else to watch, barely scrapes by as a single-panel comic strip that has long run out of ideas. It’s pretty much “Heathcliff does something.” And usually that something is patently uninteresting.
He’s been irrelevant since 1988, when his show got cancelled, so this has left both cat author plenty of time to stew, brood, and snap. This would explain why Heathcliff decides to take revenge on birds crapping on his head, by sitting on a wire and doing the exact same thing. Yes, Virginia: there is scat humor on your daily funny page.
That’s pretty risqu?, and completely disgusting once you factor in the size of the loaf versus the victims, but it’s better than yet another day of being Garfield for people who can’t handle the cerebral humor of “I like lasagna.”
3. Luann And Underage Boobies
Luann is our basic strip about a family and their daughter. At first glance, this particular gag isn’t all that cringe-inducing. She’s displaying what her shirt says, and the guys interpret this as HEY EVERYONE PLEASE STARE AT MY CHEST. What a wacky, vaguely sexist misunderstanding.
But that in itself is not worthy of staring at the strip and wondering what the writer could possibly have been thinking. No, THAT’S reserved for staring at the strip and realizing the chest-jutting girl is 16 years old. In case you weren’t aware (and you damn well better be,) 16 is too young in almost every state and in many, many countries. More than likely, you live in one of those countries, and one of those states. So if you bought a paper on August 15th, 2008, you too could’ve been leering at underage cartoon boobies, in between guesses at the day’s Junior Jumble.
In fact, you’re doing that right now. The fact that it’s a cartoon means nothing in the eyes of the law. So turn your eyes away now, lest To Catch A Predator suddenly take a very keen interest in your reading habits.
2. Zits And Jiggly Mom Boobs
Zits is the youngest strip of the bunch, having only been around since 1997. It’s more than made up for lost time though, by becoming as formulaic and predictable as any other gag strip out there. A teenage boy does teenage things and remains a teenager for all eternity. Does this get old after a while? Of course it does. So the writer randomly decided to spice things up by showing some bouncy boobage. Sadly (or perhaps inevitably,) they took one of the easiest attention-grabbing routes on the planet, and managed to do it 1000% wrong.
Don’t worry about the police; the boobs are legal this time. VERY LEGAL. Jeremy (the teenager) walks in on his Mom dancing, while simultaneously setting the Guinness world record for jiggliest breasts in the history of animation. The Dead Or Alive games wish they had this much bounce, though they would probably cry foul over Jeremy’s mom sporting less than 42JJJ’s. How dare she.
Oh, and in case you were wondering why this gag exists, the answer is pretty much the same as all the other strips: because why not?
1. Big Nate And Animal Suffering
Big Nate only took 22 years to run out of ways for a smart-aleck little boy to remain both fresh and smart alecky. This is understandable; even Bart Simpson gave up on the whole “Eat My Shorts” thing real fast. Sadly, in the gag-a-day world, you’re not allowed to evolve like that; if you’re a smart-aleck in the beginning, you’re a smart-aleck to the end.
Luckily, nobody cares anymore, so why not add a little animal cruelty to your wise-acre flavor? Nate’s supposed to be dog sitting an already badly-injured dog, but is clearly ignoring the poor pup’s needs in favor of hanging with a local old lady. And, of course, the dog gets his tongue stuck onto an icy pole. This is bad enough on its own, but the punch line – Nate shouting “AGAIN?” – adds an extra degree of horror and heartbreak that the gag had been sorely lacking up to that point.
We have no idea if the strip’s author truly hates dogs. We do know, however, that he finds their suffering hilarious. He also deems it irrelevant to everyday life, as Nate is in no way punished or reprimanded for this blatant neglect. The next day’s strip is a joke about men giving women vacuum cleaners as gifts, because men are like this, but women are not like this, and LAUGH DAMMIT. Or don’t; the funny pages honestly couldn’t give less of a shit either way.