Saturday, August 19, 2006

Only one

I think this it for today.

The Duplex by Glenn McCoy

The panel is simply filling space.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Almosts worthy of mention

Neither of these really count as silent penultimate panels, but they're bad enough in other ways to make them worthy of mention.

Cathy's penultimate panel is a scene-changing device. It let's us know that Cathy's mom is at a different location in the last panel. But it's entirely unnecessary. Dilbert has shown over and over again that we can follow a scene and time change without any signal other than different characters and a slightly different background. This sort of thing is something young and learning cartoonists do when they're not entirely confident of their graphic story-telling abilities. How long has Guisewite been at this?

And good ol' Mark Trail... Here's an example of drawing so fundamentally incomprehensible, a caption is needed to explain what the hell is going on. And even then, it's not entirely clear. But, of course, the appeal of Mark Trail is it's constant fundamental incomprehensibility. So this sort of thing just makes us love it even more.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Something new

Only two silent penultimate panels today:

Frazz by Jef Mallett
Monty by Jim Meddick

The Frazz SPP is particularly useless, as the joke would probably work better if Frazz's punch-line was delivered right after his set-up. It's wasted space and an awkward rhythm.

And now for something completely different.

As a member of the American Library Association, I receive their quarterly catalog of promote-your-library items. Of course, the most exciting of these are the new "Read" posters. (Yes, they make new ones. If your local library still has Alf and Balki posters up, it's not because the ALA is woefully out of date. It's probably because you voted against that last library bond.)

Anyway, the Fall 2006 catalog brings us two sports-themed ones:

Amateur motorcyclist Ben Roethlisberger with his favorite book, The Giving Tree.

And female Hostess spokesperson Danica Patrick with James Patterson's Sam's Letters to Jennifer.

Rothelisberger continues a tradition of athletes posing with kid's books, and Patrick looks sincere with the sort of mainstream, weepy kind of book she might actually read.

Unlike this jack-ass, pretending he's some sort of Joycean scholar. (With puppy-dog eyes.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Some real winners today:
Cathy by Cathy Guisewite
Momma by Mel Lazarus
Piranha Club by Bud Grace
Pooch Cafe by Paul Gilligan
Shoe by Gary Brookins and Chris Cassatt

I wasn't going to count it, but Ugliness Man insisted that today's Piranha Club is an SPP. He's right; there is no essential information in the penultimate panel. But I also think this is a case where the beat provided by the SPP is necessary. And I think it's funny.

Ugliness Man, by the way, has become an essential partner in this site, keeping his eye out for SPPs in strips must of us don't dare bother with. All the appearances of things like Garfield, Momma and Cathy are thanks to the Ugly. He has his own blog now at

Momma is nothing horrible, it's nothing to hate, it's just so barely there. It's just sitting right on the edge of non-existence. One gust of wind could just wipe it out of the universe and no one would even notice it missing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

When is a lazy gag not a lazy gag?

Four silent penultimate panels:
Bo Nanas by John Kovaleski
Garfield by PAWS inc
Red & Rover by Brian Basset
Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! by Tim Rickard

If a lazy gag points out the fact that it is a lazy gag, is it still a lazy gag?


Monday, August 14, 2006


Four silent penultimate panels for this Monday:

Drabble by Kevin Fagan
Monty by Jim Meddick
Mutts by Patrick McDonnell
Sherman's Lagoon by Jim Toomey

It looks like Kevin Fagan might not have originally intended to use an SPP today.

But, after a few failed attempts at dialog in the third panel, he just erased the balloons and added some lines to June's mouth to make it look (sort of) like she was smiling.
(I read Drabble every day of my life, and I had to do a Google search to find out the wife's name. I should either pay more attention or just stop bothering with it all together.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Have I mentioned that I really like Peanuts?

I think I'm missing some--it is Sunday, after all--but here's what I have:
Andy Capp by Roger Kettle and Roger Mahoney
Bo Nanas by John Kovaleski
Overboard by Chip Dunham

Frazz avoids the watch by stretching out time with an extra-wide single panel. Good job, Mallett.

Today's 1959 Peanuts reprint shows a good SPP in action. (If you ever get tired of my talking about how great Peanuts was, please let me know.)

Over the course of fifty years, Charles Schulz did make some useless, space-filling SPPs--but this is not one of them. He makes the SPP look very easy and natural (as he did with almost every aspect of his craft.) Younger cartoonists copy the rhythm, but can't copy the skill and wit.