Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The First Surprise.

The first surprise was...inevitable. The soup kitchen (right after Clyde had taken Barney for twenty simoleons, Clyde had mentioned the dumpsters were restocked at 6:00 P.M.) is not the usual religious establishment, but something right out of a Depression Era socialist propagandist's imagination. The Pauper's Palace is evidently run by a deluded devotee (Jeremy, we are reliably informed) of Rousseau.. We also get a glimpse of Clyde's noble nature. He has the Jackson in his possession, but he asked Dabney if he had any money. Continuity or character flaw? It's ironical!

Monday, June 28, 2010

White Rabbits -- It runs in the family.

He's not six feet tall and invisible. He does not wear a waistcoat and carry a gold watch. But Adolf is a white rabbit all the same. What do we make of that? White rabbits are not all that common in nature, where the usual hues are brown and brownish. Is he an escaped pet? He seems domesticated, for sure. Wild rabbits do not hang with people, let alone follow them around. And he seems to understand the language of the grumbly tumbly. Has he looked into the maw of the stewpot before? One thing is for sure, all white rabbits have magical qualities. It runs in the family. They are often seen in the company of top hats. Sometimes they befriend philosophical drunkards. Occasionally they lead little girls down rabbit holes. Best to be cautious.

Get Out The Vote!

Get over to the Modesto Bee, register and vote for Barney & Clyde! The Modesto Bee is running Barney & Clyde and some inferior strips on a trial basis for four weeks. They are inviting comments from readers of the paper as well as participation in an online survey which rates the current and sample comics on a scale of 1 to 1o. Daily voting is encouraged as a means of judging the staying power of a comic. So stuff the ballot box for B&C. And for the moment, ignore the fact that Gene has decried reader polls on comics in the past.

The Secret To Understanding Barney & Clyde.

To all those who have been disappointed in the apparent lack of real laughs to be derived from the strip, to those who were expecting belly-laughs, to those who find themselves wondering why this strip is not funny, there is an explanation. It's your fault. You see, Barney & Clyde is not your grandfather's Oldsmobile. It is a completely new form of comic strip. It is a Post-Modern comic strip. That's right. You read it here first. This is the first comic strip of the Post-Modern Era of newspaper comic strippery.

In the Olde Days of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, when most of the current comic strips were created, the cartoonist did all the work, supplied all the gags, wrote all the jokes. In the Modern Era, cartoonists got away from that paradigm and started writing more naturalistically, but still they were supplying all the humor, doing all the work. Barney & Clyde's creators, seeing how tired and threadbare these forms were, and being naturally lazy, came up with a brilliant innovation in comic strip writing, Post-Modernism. Post-Modern comics require the readers to do the work of the writers. It's not simply a collaboration between the writer and the artist. No! It's a full partnership between the writers, the artist and the readers. The job of the writers and the artist is to provide the setup, the situation, the framework of the joke. You, YOU THE READERS, must provide the actual joke. When you understand that, then the strip becomes hilarious. It is the paragon of strips. But you don't get any of the constipated bunny. The joke's on you, after all.

A new phrase added to the language.

Similar to Cockney Rhyming Slang. hobos have their own jargon. New to the lexicon is this fine phrase, Constipated Bunny, n., money.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Last Panel Syndrome

This is in no way a negative criticism. No, it is simply an observation. In almost every case, the strip has a problem in the last panel that prevents any given strip from being truly funny. With the one notable exception of the exploding kitten eyeballs, the strip falls down or stumbles in the last panel. Hey, falling down can be funny, you say. True enough, but the pratfalls should be intentional. Anyway, usually the last panel can be easily fixed, so that the strip is really funny. Take the June 24 daily, for example. The moralizing is so heavy-handed, that the humor lands with a thud. How to fix it? As they say in screenwriting, hang a lantern on the defect to make it into an asset. In this particular case, one tiny change could have saved the strip.

The anvil drops! Problem solved.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What went wrong.

OK, not with the strip. We all know what's wrong there. No, this time with AT&T, the phone company that wants to know, what AT&T can do to make me and you satisfied customers? At the fundamental level, nothing. AT&T doesn't really want satisfied customers. It doesn't care whether its customers are satisfied or not. It just wants to keep milking them. Contented cows make better milk, but, really, AT&T just wants to line its customers up in darkened stalls and milk them. Barney could take lessons from AT&T on how to run a business. If someone complains, throw them a sop. But how about removing the sources of the complaint? Like, say, poor service and poor response to problems? How about doing that? No, of course not. It's just easier to clean up the mess afterwards, rather than have policies that mandate doing the job correctly. Sounds like BP, doesn't it? Yes, it's the universal business ethic nowadays. Scrape by with the least expense at the front end, and then make the least effort to correct the inevitable resulting messes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

First Second Sunday.

Yes, there really is a scientific study to back up the polka dot clown color scheme for Pillsbury's R&D Labs. The University of British Columbia found that red makes one more cautious and attentive to detail, while blue does, indeed, stimulate creative thinking. I would have gone with the red spiral on a blue background for panic-inducing vertigo, but that's just me.
Update: Note the subtle change in the by-line above the strip.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Potential Post Pulizter Pandering.

Father's Day article about how Dan & Gene were healed by the mirculous power of a comic strip. Father Damien should have been so lucky. Also, an obscure allusion to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Take my wife...

That will teach Barney to get married, not once, but twice. And even worse, to have a child!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Dread Dream/Fantasy Strip.

The sequence that can make or break any story. Ta-pocketa. The Dread Dream/Fantasy episode. If you invert the strip and squint, you can see Clyde on water-skis jumping over a whale shark that has Barney's face. Ta-pocketa. c.f. Dred Scott v. Sanford., and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Separated at birth?

Clyde and Queen Beatrix. The resemblance is uncanny. Clyde cannot be insane, because he is a living monarch, not a dead emperor.

Now Cut That Out!

Today's Jack Benny homage, brought to you by Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Jello, J-E-L-L-Oh!

Jack had many famous routines. He was an infamous miser. The trips to his vault, which had a series of man-traps, moats and other outlandish defenses, and which began as an extended sound-effects laden bit in radio, was a favorite skit on the TV show. Perhaps most famous of all the miserly bits, however, was based purely on Jack's impeccable timing. Jack was held up at gunpoint.

Thief: Your money or your life.

Long silence.

Thief: I said, your money or your life.

Jack: I'm thinking, I'm thinking.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Clyde Discovers Gene's Twitter Monetizing Scheme.

Like his Creator, Clyde has learned that Silence is Golden, if you can get people to pay for it. Perhaps, nay, certainly, the most important historical discovery since the unearthing of the Rosetta Stone.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The First Sunday.

My withering criticism of the first Sunday strip: Not that it's trite and predictable. Barney is funny because he is a stereotype. He might have said something funny, i.e., "I'm missing the pork bellies futures report." Pork bellies have been funny for generations. But that would have been too funny for the straight man. No, as written, the punchline is "To the office, Charles." But that is not the point. If they had wanted to have Barney say something funny, they would have gone with, "Charles, we need some compact fluorescent light bubs." That is the point. Barney doesn't have a Smart Phone! New Last Panel: Barney pulls out his iPhone or Blackberry, and says, "I'm missing the soybean futures price report." Even Luddite Gene has an iPhone. Epic Fail.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Some Blog Business.

Some of the long-time readers might have noticed recent changes to the layout of the Blog. Don't be alarmed! These changes are designed to add more utility to the Blog while retaining the traditional features that you have grown to love. You will see that a links section has been added to the left of the Posts. These are hyperlinks to sites and items deemed significant to Barney & Clyde. You will also note that a "Hidden Penis Count" has been added to the bottom of the Blog, that will keep track of the Hidden Penises in the strip. We hope these additional features will add to your enjoyment, as well as provide important information regarding the strip.

We turn now to the comments:
flysct4472 said... Maybe I should read more into the fact that the Miami Herald interview garnered no "recommends" or comments?

This is in reference to the video from the Miami Herald in which the decision to add Barney & Clyde (as well as Pickles)to the paper's lineup of cartoons is explained. The lack of ratings can be explained.

A scientifically conducted poll of Miami Herald readers, similar to the one cited in the video, found that 64 percent of Herald readers think that YouTube is a Urinary Catheter, while 29 percent think it is a tube used to conceal illegal drugs or other contraband inside the human body. We hope this explains the lack of ratings.

Keep those comments coming.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gene Assesses the First Reports from the Front.

Q: How many casualties were there among people fighting to get a copy of the June 7 paper?

A: Post authorities have assured me that the collateral damage, while significant, was well within acceptable levels.

Q: Have the testimonials from grateful newspaper publishers overwhelmed you, or merely inundated?

A: I understand that Anders Gyllenhall, the executive editor of the Miami Herald, is trying to get his niece and nephew, Maggie and Jake, to star in the film version.

Q: Based on the early returns, do you declare victory?

A: Yes, though as I noted, I think as of day two, it is clear to most readers that the strip's best days are behind it.

Q: Has David Clark threatened to strike unless he receives a bigger share of the syndication fees?

A: No, worse. He has threatened to sneak some penises into the strip.

Q: In a related question, so it really is true that poor people are happier and more fulfilled than rich people?

A: Yes.

Q: Is there any truth to rumor that you plan to kill off one of the major characters and replace him with a clone?

A: We already did that. You will notice that Barney in Day One has a small scar on one finger. In day three, it is gone. That is his clone.

Q: When will the 3-D version of the strip be debuting?

A: We are working on it. It will be x-rated. Lucretia is the key.

Q: Will Barney or Clyde make a guest appearance in Pearls Before Swine?

A: That's up to Pastis. I will reveal that in week 9 or so, a character from another strip makes a guest appearance in B&C. (ME: See also the above link to the Miami Herald video on YouTube.)

Q: To all those who doubted that you could write a comi">c strip, how do you respond? Neener neener or nyah nyah nyah nyah?

A: I do not yet respond. It would be foolhardy.

Q: This question was raised by alert reader Alexander Mitchell:

> I wonder if the Herald got it just because of their past connection with
> Weingarten and the fact that he retains a level of connection - he is
> involved in the annual Herald Hunt (formerly the Tropic Hunt) and is
> friends with Dave Barry (who I believe is still (at some level) on staff
> there even though he now longer does weekly columns (he does do
> occasional pieces)), Carl Hiaasen and probably other senior types, etc.
> ted

My personal theory is that he has something with which he can
blackmail the staff at said papers.

The other question: since Papa Weingarten has demonstrated, through
his writings and online chats, to be somewhere to the left of Obama &
Co. and Bill Maher and maybe a bit to the right of Stalin, given the
subject matter of this strip, will it actually focus on humor and
character development, or eventually drift towards being an
overbearing polemic screed?

Not sure which you want me to answer. Why the Herald took the strip is addressed forthrightly here.

As far as politics, yes, by week 7 or so, Clyde and his friends will have marched on Pillsbury Pharmaceuticals with pitchforks, and beheaded Barney.

Thanks, Gene.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

We Analyze the First Strip

The first panel clearly establishes in spatial terms the Spiritual and Philosophical dichotomy that the strip will explore, with Barney placed on the left of the panel and Clyde on the right. Clyde is clearly shown to be at one with nature, as he and the tree are leaning in the same direction. Also, he has his hands in his pockets. Barney is dressed in black. Is he the modern devil, the Corporate Malefactor? Or is his view of life symbolized by his black-and-white costume? Clyde is dressed predominantly in brown with black vest. Obviously, based on his earthy color sense, Clyde has a more subtle view of life than Barney. The second panel is certain to be the most controversial ever printed in an American newspaper. Clyde has taken off his hat in deference to the great billionaire, showing that he recognizes the innate superiority of Barney. It's also a cheap trick to set the readers up for the last panel. The third panel is hilarious. The curled third finger is priceless. The last panel. of course, supplies the moral, and illustrates why it would have been actually funny if Clyde had been African-American.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't Look Now!

OK, you can look. Here are the Official Samples of the strip on the Post Writers Group site. As Gene would say, "There is sex."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Question that Gene Weingarten Did Not Want You to See!

Double Secret Unexpurgated Suppressed Addendum

Q: Did you (David Clark) start out wanting to be the next N.C. Wyeth, Frank C. Pape, or Arthur Rackham? Or were you more into Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak?

A: All the above (you forgot Eakins). Classically trained but only drew laughs...

ME: The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins, regarded by many art historians to be the most important (not to mention side-splitting -- Har!) 19th Century American painting. It is owned jointly by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
(We also forgot Howard Pyle.)