Friday, March 17, 2006

NCCC Pointless Soap Division Round 1

Game 1

Over in the Pointless Soap Division of the NCCC™, we have Mary Worth taking on the girls of Apartment 3G. Both of these strips move at glacial paces with random strangers wandering in and then disappearing forever once their life has been completely changed for the better by our protagonists. Both strips even feature pot-bellied bearded academics. Created in the thirties, these living fossils recall an earlier grander era when the artwork was actually good.

Mary, however, has a reputation as world-class meddler, while the 3G girls are always stumbling randomly into situations, often with romantic overtones. At least Margo, Tommie, and Luann are easier on the eyes than that old biddy who can’t seem to keep any tenants except the drunks by the pool. In a squeaker, the girls get their lease renewed.

Winner/Loser: Mary Worth

Game 2


Our second game in the Pointless Soap Division pits Mark Trail against Rex Morgan. Both contenders are raven-haired square-jawed do-gooders that date back to the 40’s but haven’t aged a day, largely due to the sluggishness of the narrative. The days in their world literally drag on for months. The pace of these strips makes Mary Worth look like the NBA All-Star game with crystal meth in the Gatorade. Having outlived their original audience by a decade or two, they now serve as camp nostalgia or homework for ESL students. Both have dark haired wives they met at the office and preternaturally clever dogs. The two could probably switch strips for weeks before any one noticed. Throw Sam from Judge Parker on the ambiguously gay dogpile and you would never get the mix straightened out.

Mark Trail’s only redeeming feature is that the freakishly large animals in the foreground distract from the fact that absolutely nothing is happening in the background. Also, the dubiously researched Sunday informative non-narratives prevent the bane of all serial strips, the Saturday-Sunday–Monday time warp where a single panel can be Xeroxed for three days. Rex tries to be relevent by slipping in PSA quality advocacy speeches about things like HEALTH INSURANCE, but no one is buying. In the first upset of the tourney, Mark Trail outlasts Rex.

Winner/Loser: Rex Morgan, MD

The power-packed Just Not Funny Division tips off tomorrow.
Previous results: Dead Writers Division

Side note: Subdivided We Stand is the premiere source for on-line Mary Worth snark. Bob's obsession with the silver-haired busy-body borders on disturbing. This coming from a guy who has linked to Half-Nekkid pictures of April Patterson.

Still having Blogger trouble. The home page keeps flaking out. The archives seem to do OK. this is ultra-annoying. I shouldn't have to babysit my blog like thisl Everytime the homepage disappears I have to re-publish the most recent post. Please be patient.


Anonymous said...

OK, since YOU brought it up: when (and why) did Judge Parker become the Sam story and not Judge Parker anymore? How can you retire a comic-strip character? Don't say he ran out of stories, because that's obvious.

I used to actually read and follow all the soap opera strips when I was a teenager. I do think the stories moved at a slightly faster pace then.

yellojkt said...

I cannot for the life of me figure out Judge Parker. I need to find some SparkNotes™ to figure out just who is who. I can't tell Sam from Randy or Abbey from any other female character. It's too much to walk into without a roadmap. The rather skimpy character bios on the King Features site aren't much help. Sam has been the lead character since 1963, but he's only 33 years old, and he isn't married to Abbey, but they both raise the two hot-to-trot adopted girls. Yieeee! I've got a headache.

Anonymous said...

Best Sentence of the Week:

"Of all the lead characters created by Dr. Dallis, Sam Driver has the most keen sense of humor. His wry, dry wit belies his no-nonsense attorney's demeanor."

I must admit, though, that I am a Nancyphile. I've been a HUGE fan of Nancy since the late 70s (and of course a reader since before I could read). I can't figure out how to search your site to see if you've covered the genius of Ernie Bushmiller.

yellojkt said...

If you go to the Comics Curmudgeon you will find a lot of scattered references to Aunt Fritzi, particularly the newer sexier version. Nancy, not so much. I think Bushmiller's influence is being overlooked.

Anonymous said...

I knew this would be a tough one.

When I was in college I worked at the campus radio station. There was a guy who, in a nod to Mayor LaGuardia, would read the comics on the air for the benefit of dorm students who didn't have access to newspapers. (He went on to become a big wheel at DefJam Records and has worked as a music supervisor on several films.) One afternoon he got a call from a listener who wanted to make a request.

She asked for that day's Apartment 3-G.

Yeah, that's all I've got just now.

yellojkt said...

Here's someone's take on Nancy if you want to follow the links. (I recommend right-clicking and opening in a new window.)

Anonymous said...

The Gilchrist boys have really ruined Nancy. She might look a little better, but she's a little too late-20th-century.

There was a time, right before Bushmiller died, that the name Plastino started appearing as the signature on the Sunday strips. He was pretty good, but I think he died shortly after Bushmiller did.

They should just run old Nancy strips from the 50s and 60s. Pure genius and a new generation could learn to appreciate the perfect placement of three rocks on a grassy hill.

J.Po said...

Rex over Mark Trail? That WAS an upset. I would have figured that better artwork and June's prodigious rack would have doomed Rex to get eliminated in Round 1.