Comic Relief 1985 Part II: Electric Marmaduke

I’ve never been introduced to your family, but I can tell you one thing about them for certain; they’ll be hungry this Thanksgiving. Not for turkey. For conversation that won’t end in bloodshed.


What better topic could you suggest, than heavy-handed comic strips from over thirty years ago? Join the table, for a big helping of nostalgia, extra cringes, and unintentional laughs!

Here’s a recording of the last time we got together for this, if you don’t mind leftovers that have been in the freezer for a couple of years.


It took me a second to catch the change in perspective, due to how the dialogue and images overlap, and the nebulous border between A and B. I thought the dude on the right possessed hearing so acute, he can finish sentences spoken on a faraway rooftop.

I don’t know how typical this particular strip is of the title, but I expected Jack Klugman nosing around a crime scene, or at least Robert Ito. Maybe this is prior to his career as a medical examiner.


Blondie is pretty hot in this strip. Ask Grand-Dad about the times when a cartoonist’s bread-and-butter was being able to draw a woman’s body in profile like that. Actually, don’t ask. You’ll angry up the aunts and uncles.

This is a good one. It looks terrific, with lots of subtle action, and the fourth-wall break at the punch is very cute. Not for nothing is Dagwood Bumstead an enduring sandwich eponym.



First off, what’s that kid’s problem with turkey, anyway? I’m aware of the old “kid won’t eat” chestnut, but that kid’s being a real shit.

Secondly, you could rewrite this strip as an anecdote, share it on social media, and someone would reply “stdh.txt”


Hey, catch this softball!

How nice of the Warner brothers to put their differences aside and throw this together. How old are those dudes, anyhow?



“Barney Google” is more commonly known by the name “Barney Wishes He Renewed His Trademark”.


That little girl is tripping balls, dude. She’s so far gone she’s receiving messages from God, and sticking food in postal envelopes. The old woman seems to be on the downers. She looks miserable there on her outdoor toilet.


Then he shit in it. After that they both shit in the well.

That’s no worse than a kid literally throwing away money while saying “I wish I had enough food”. What is this, Steinbeck?


Newsflash, brainwave: food grows on trees. The money required to purchase cat food does not.

I’m probably probing too deeply into a comic strip where the characters don’t even interact with one another.



If you have any affection for Luann, and her feathered hair rendered in sparse lines, stay far away from her current incarnation. It makes Archie‘s grabs at trendiness look positively tasteful.


Contempt for paying customers and a sinister, martial hound. No wonder “Beanz Greenz” went under in a few short years.


What’s it sound like when punched?

Seriously, the kid is pining for snails. What he needs is a bloody nose.


Love is putting some damn clothes on the family before dinner, so Child Protective Services doesn’t come and take the kids away. You can clearly see how piping hot the turkey is, as Naked Elf Dad prepares to tuck in and spatter burning oil into the eye sockets of the little ones. Naked Elf Mom protects her tender nipples with the head of her infant daughter, holding a plate at the ready to season the sliced bird with children’s tears.

I don’t know what that is, but it ain’t love.


Wh- what?

What is that thing? Why is a “great spirit” sarcastic and mean? Who is “Sols”, and what are the “Snake Tales”?!? Why are there no snakes??


Let’s take a knee here, folks. Huddle in close.

  1. I don’t know what this has to do with Thanksgiving, USA for Africa, or starvation either.
  2. No, I can’t figure out the joke. I’ve got a feeling the bird was raped.
  3. Yes, it reads like the final moments before a grisly murder-suicide.

Alright, good talk. Back in the game! Hup!


“This Thanksgiving, remember these jerks who are thankfully dead.”

This is from the first Golden Age of Dick Tracy that came after the passing of the torch from its creator, Chester Gould. The art is Pulitzer prize winner Dick Locher, and the writer is Max Allan Collins. That’s Sam Catchem talking to Tracy, and the three jerks are Shaky, Pruneface and Flattop. Villians stay dead in Dick Tracy; they just reveal endless vengeful siblings and offspring. Shaky’s daughter was Breathless Mahoney. Pruneface had a wife worse than he was, and Flattop led to Blowtop, Angeltop, and Flattop Junior. Flattop hailed from the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma, so it made sense that he came from a big family.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


The starving people of Africa have that man at gunpoint. They’ve already chopped off his fingers! Oh my god– did they chew them off?! Look at the bone! What has happened here?!?

Someone needs to draw that horse some nostrils; he is obviously suffocating. This is truly a hellish tableau. It calls to mind Picasso’s Guernica in its stark horror. There is a cat in a bucket.



You’re looking at a flawless cartoon. I could ramble all day about Schulz’s simplicity of line, how much character he conveyed with so little ink, or his perfect penmanship. Schulz was the entire package; he designed these characters, beloved by generations, worldwide. 

He was alive at the time of this strip, duh, and at the top of his game. You might be reading these words while one of his creations is floating above the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


This one’s independent, can you tell?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Mick Cusimano didn’t have a real clear idea of what he wanted to do with his comic strip when he started it. I’m trying to be kind, because it doesn’t look good. Maybe he was going for a Mark Beyer sort of thing, or maybe he just wasn’t good. You be the judge.


Uh… I’m not the only one who thought this was X-rated at first glance, am I? Could this terrible, cornball joke not have been staged differently, so it didn’t seem like the doctor is plowing that woman? I had to squint to see that the stethoscope wasn’t an object being fitted into a butt.

Lettering skill aside, this is an awful cartoon.


These schmucks waddled over from The Far Side to inquire if this not-visibly-emaciated woman suffers from anorexia. Whether they came from a superior strip or across the street, it was too far for the joke.

The starving woman’s nose seems to indicate she’s lying. Why, she’s not starving at all! Also, the artist’s name is vaguely smutty somehow. Schwarley Hardon?


“And I’m plowin’ him, Sis. See? Marmaduke loves it! I’m plowin’ him and he loves it!”


“Hey, Oscar, what’s the laziest way we can reference the hunger project? GET ME MY XEROX COPIER!”

I hope you enjoyed this holiday visit, as I’ve had all I can handle at this point. Time to push away from the table for another year. Now begins the shopping hell counting down to Christmas, so remember to take it easy, especially on your loved ones.

Everybody needs comic relief, even if the comics are shitty.


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Filed under Comix Classic & Current, Eatable Things, Nostalgic Obsessions