Panel 2: Mike has sprouted pointy ears and lost his eye, while Merrie has gotten so dizzy she has to hold the post to keep upright. What could the source of this deviltry be? Could it be Melville Kelpfroth? Please note, Melville’s face shape and nose shape will change in every single panel of this strip, where he appears. It is either another sign of his deviltry or a sign the artist is an incompetent boob.
Panel 3: Melville comes outside and does his impersonation of a storybook troll or a dwarf, except without the usual accompanying facial hair. Melville also does something I have never seen him do before (a strip of firsts). Melville begins a pleasant conversation with Mike Patterson. Is the world coming to an end? I was sure he was going to complain about the hammering noise. Good heavens, that board Mike is removing, looks completely shattered. It has to be completely shattered, because most times when you remove a board, you have to use something stronger than bare hands to remove it and to take out the nails. Something like that hammer sitting on the step. Merrie looks on in amazement at her father’s (a) missing eye, (b) hunchback, (c) girly waistline, (d) enormous butt. So many choices.
Panel 4: Melville states the obvious, but he doesn’t know what longtime readers of this strip know which is doing his own repairs is part of Mike’s rental agreement. Mike could tell Melville that, but instead he stays silent and lets Melville continue on. Of course he could just be looking down and closing his eyes to avoid Melville’s “pupils going 2 directions” gaze. I wonder if Melville has a glass eye or a lazy eye. More like a lazy artist.
Panel 5: Melville goes to silhouette so we can concentrate on Mike’s back view and he is wearing purplish-grey socks?! A note to the artist, the emotional content of the scene would be in either Melville’s or Mike’s face, both of which are obscured. I expect we would see Mike’s smirking face as he ignores Melville or Melville’s exasperated face as Mike continues to ignore him. Either would make this panel convey the story better than what is here. We can see that Mike apparently has a set of pre-cut wood. Unfortunately for Mike, the wood on the table appears to be longer than the wood he is replacing. I bet he wishes he had a tape measure and a decent saw to do this repair properly. I hope he doesn’t use that crooked board leaning against the table.
Panel 6: Melville has now been there so long, he has lit a cigar. He has been making his case for Mike Patterson for 3 panels now (what we call stretching the thin story for the Sunday colours) and Mike finally responds with the straight line for the punch line which will come after yet another 3 panel-stretch. It is so odd to see Melville speaking so passionately in favour of Mike Patterson. What is wrong with him?
Panel 7: Someone hit the mute button. I will fill in the dialogue for you. Mike says, “Look Lovey, I am wearing purplish-gray socks. And I only lost one finger on my right hand when I was doing repairs. Come and give me some loving, you sexy thang!” Melville says, “He’s gone crazy if he wants to hug that old bat. My hands are staying right in my pockets. I don’t want to get a collateral hug.” Merrie says, “WTF! Look at these boards. They are all uneven lengths now. My dad is a lousy carpenter.” Lovey says, “Oy. My back. I can’t lift my head up high enough to see your hands, but your socks are making me all verklempt.”
Panel 8: More silence. More dialogue to fill in. Mike thinks to himself, “Ah. The sweet, sweet smell of old Jewish, Polish landladies. And my finger grew back. Bonus.” Lovey says, “I can hear your heart. You do have a heart after all. After almost 5 years, you finally made one of our rental agreement repairs. Now I can stop thinking of you as a Gonef or a Schnorrer.” Melville says, “Hey! Who turned out the lights. I wanted to see what he did with the old lady.”
Panel 9: Mike does a hand gesture to his crotch and gives Melville a knowing look, and says, “Paid in full.” Jeez, Mike, this is a family strip. Melville has no answer but a completely contemptuous look at Mike Patterson, which I will have to admit, matches my own. I have a sudden urge to smack him across his smirking face. In the background Lovey shows why Mike is still way in debt to her for all the times she has taken care of his kids. At least Merrie know who her “real” parent is.