Wednesday, March 22, 2006
NCCC Walker-Browne Division Round 1
The Walker/Browne Division of the National Crappy Comics Competition(NCCC™) is the sleeper bracket in the tourney, represented in the first match by Beetle Bailey and Hagar the Horrible. The Walkers and Brownes have been collectively hogging valuable comic page real estate for decades and have begun the process of handing over their domain to the next generation. I wouldn’t be surprised to find these two clans have intermarried to preserve the dynastic bloodlines. Beetle Bailey continues a proud comic tradition of stereotypically offensive caricatures. Anyone seen Sergeant Yo lately? He must be looking for his Coke-bottle glasses and his fake buckteeth. The strip finds yuks in sexual harassment, alcoholism and institutionalized brutality.
Hagar, drawn since 1988 by creator Dik Browne’s son Chris, finds mild chuckles in sacking British castles, being hen-pecked, avoiding tax collectors, and dealing with incompetent lackeys. The fact that there is nothing to take offense to, is itself offensive. Hagar epitomizes the paint-by-numbers paycheck-cashing ennui that sets in once you have a job-for-life that you inherited from Daddy. Talented comics are starving to get the space that seems to be a birthright. Beetle Bailey inexplicably has a devoted following in the genuinely hard working real military and gets a furlough while Hagar is sent packing so someone with an edge can take his place.
In the final game of the first round, we have Hi and Lois taking on Raising Duncan. Hi and Lois, created by Mort Walker and Dik Browne and now done by Brian Walker, Greg Walker and Chance Browne, raises the concept of nepotism to new levels. I guess basically if you are Browne or Walker progeny and can hold a pen without drawing blood, you can draw a paycheck. The strip itself is the archetype of bland inoffensive family fare. If it were a meal, it would be mayonnaise on white bread with a cold glass of homogenized milk and tapioca pudding for dessert. Whenever the new generation slips in some mildly risqué innuendo, it draws gasps where it would barely arch an eyebrow in other more cutting edge strips.
Raising Duncan is Chris Browne’s noble attempt to step out from his father’s shadow and create something original. Relying on the write-what-you-know philosophy, Duncan is about a bearded paunchy writer with bad fashion sense who owns a talking Scottish terrier. Sadly, both the pooch and the strip are no longer with us. If a Son Of Hagar can’t make it in the cutthroat comix biz, what hope do mere mortals have? The Flagstons move on by default.
Dead Writers Division
Pointless Soap Division
Just Not Funny Division
Or move on to the second round of the Walker-Browne Division.