Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Queen of Mean

Today's installment of Mother Goose & Grimm is too strange not to comment on. After reading today's cartoon, I went back and read all of this week's strips to see if this was a one-off gag or the culmination of a plot that had been building all week. As I had suspected, it was a one-off, and my failure to find it funny had nothing to do with a lack of context. The strangeness of this strip begins by building a joke around Leona Helmsley. This might be the least timely comic strip ever penned. Helmsley was convicted of tax evasion back in 1992 and she died last year. Why did Mike Peters wait until now to joke about it?

As I've mentioned before, comic strip writers often times resort to tortured setups in order to cram a desired punchline into the final panel. Peters is going for an Exorcist/repossessed-possessed play on words joke, which is bad enough in and of itself, but using a reference to Leona Helmsley's putative dog to make that joke is stretching artistic license well beyond the breaking point. As if all that wasn't bad enough, the sloppy grammar in the first panel introduces an ambiguity regarding whose car was repossessed by the IRS. I realize that dogs can't own cars, but neither can the deceased. It's not like this joke would make any more sense if it was clear who the car belonged to. It's just another piece of evidence to suggest that Peters really mailed it in on this strip.


Michael David said...

Are you sure this wasn't a rerun of an old strip? That wouldn't make it any funnier, but it could possibly explain the timing.

dhodge said...

I just checked Wikipedia and this cartoon makes a little more sense now. According to this, the vomiting dog is a recurring character named Trouble Helmsley. Trouble is based on Leona Helmsley's real-life dog, who apparently inherited a $12M trust fund upon Leona's death. Let this be a lesson to all bloggers - never write anything before checking Wikipedia.