Saturday, March 25, 2006

More fine points

Today's culprits are:
For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnston (Debut!)
Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman
Non Sequitur by Wiley Miler (indisputably this time, but with a unique "double-stack.")

And as we further clarify our definition of a silent penultimate panel, today's Meaning of Lila is excused.

It's an old gag, yes, but this isn't the recycled gag watch. (If it was, I would never stop writing.) The gag lies in the silent panel. Without it, there would be no joke. So Lila is off the watch.

The winners for the Monday through Saturday watch are Boondocks and Prickly City with three each. Swinging from both left and right, those strips are batting .500.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Upon further review...

A big day today. Three in the L.A. Times:

Candorville by Darrin Bell
Boondocks by the Aaron McGruder Collective
Baby Blues by Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman.

From elsewhere, reader Chuck points out Monty by Jim Meddick. Thanks, Chuck.

Non Sequitur and 9 Chickweed Lane had to be reviewed and discussed today.

I declare this not an SPP, however my wife disagrees. If anything, it does not fit the rhythm of the true SPP--and Wiley Miller is actually pretty creative in showing two concurrent actions. Because it's my blog, it is off the watch.

And, with 9 Chickweed Lane, I'll cut Brooke McEldowney a break today. For both the joke, and the on-going storyline, the kiss in the silent panel is important.

So, there you go.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Prickly City

Just one today:

Prickly City by Scott Stantis

That's three out of the past four days on the watch for Mr. Stantis. One thing I've noticed here is that a comic strip's SPPs seem to appear in cycles. Two weeks ago, Pearls Before Swine and Frazz were non-stop here. The past two weeks, they've hardly appeared at all. Maybe a rash of SPP usage is a sign of an artist marking his time, waiting for the next good idea. And when you've hemmed yourself in with an arbitrary construct of a conservative little girl and a naive liberal coyote living alone in a desert, you can be waiting a long time for one.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

hmmm Doonesbury

Here's what we have today:
Prickly City by Scott Stantis
Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau

Doonesbury's use of the silent penultimate panel is interesting. Maybe I'm just making apologies for one of my favorites, but the SPP is used more as a dramatic beat than a comic one. So far, Trudeau has handled the B.D. storyline very well--staying funny and honest without resorting to heart-string tugging melodrama or cheap jokes. But, we'll see what I have to say if Trudeau's SPP streak keeps up tomorrow.

And, to explain my inclusion of Prickly City: I've tended not to include an all silent strip that leads up to a spoken punchline, and here we may have that. (If you consider a newspaper headline silent.) But, really, is that middle panel necessary at all? Would anything be lost without it? It's a lame joke to begin with, of course. And its a lame use of a silent penultimate panel.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Doonesbury's debut

Today's silent penultimate panels are from two usual suspects:
Boondocks by "Aaron McGruder"
Pearls Before Swine by Stephin Pastis

and, in a special debut to the watch:
Doonesbury by Gary Trudeau

We've seen that the SPP tends to be a tool (trick, crutch, whatever) of the younger generation--the McGruders, Pastises, and Malletts of the comics world. But even a grizzled veteran like Trudeau can pull a silent penultimate panel on us from time to time. Well, why not? Any cliches that he wants to use--an SPP, or a child's malaprop--he can. (As long as he never has B.D. say "I fell on the slidewalk.")

And reader Suzzii points out this week's This Modern World:

That's a silent penultimate panel, allright. Thanks, Suzzii.

Monday, March 20, 2006


So today we have Boondocks...again. And we have Prickly City with the increasingly less rare Silent Double.

The irony is not lost on me that the ellipsis I used in the phrase "Boondocks...again" serves basically the same function as a silent penultimate panel. And when I speak I sometimes set up a joke by doing a trail-off, then a cough and a shrug and then the punchline. I am what I critique.

I have to point this out:

Why is there a semi truck in the Forth's driveway? I know Ted's job is kept off-screen, but I didn't think he was a long haul trucker.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday Funnies

Sunday SPPs are a little less dull. The rhythm is different, and, well, they're in color. But here are today's:
Candorville by Darrin Bell
Dilbert by Scott Adams (SPPW debut for Mr. Adams)
Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley


Earlier this week 9 Chickweed Lane was noted for its two panel silent reaction. Today's Herman reprint brings us a three panels of set-up-the-punchline silence! And, as a bonus, there's even a silent first panel.

A while ago I worked with an old Russian woman who thought Herman was the funniest thing in the universe. "I love the Herman," she would say. I never really understood why, but I just read on that Herman was the first Western comic to be printed in East Germany. So, maybe somehow Herman was seen in the communist world as a shining beacon of freedom, a sample of the glorious wonders of democracy. Herman, ladies and gentlemen, equals hope.