August 18th, 2017


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Those darn bugs! The only good thing about them is that they make Michael Patterson crazy enough to talk about the seasons.

(Strip Number 6731, Original Publication Date, 21 August 1988)

Panel 1: Mike appears to be spooning some mustard onto his hotdog and he is annoyed by the sleeping insects.  You know they are sleeping because of the ZZZZZ sound.  All of them are sleeping except the one on the far right of the panel who appears to be passing gas.

Panel 2: With a mighty WHACK! Michael closes his eyes and swipes his giant Q-tip at the bug approaching his arm, causing him to drop the mustard, the hot dog and the bun.  If only Farley was there, he would gobble up that dropped hot dog.  Where is Farley anyway?

Panel 3: Fortunately for Michael, Elly is bringing out an entire plate of hot dogs, making me wonder if this is a hotdog only dinner.  I don’t see anything else there to eat.  Elly might not ever get them to the table, because close-eyed Michael is WHAP!ing and SMACK!ing and SLAP!ing in a manner that looks suspiciously like his Flamenco dancing has paid off wonderfully.  In the meantime, Michael’s plate and cup of blue juice (not seen in Panel 1 imagine that), magically appear.  Lizzie and Elly keep their distance and watch in amazement. 

Panel 4: Still keeping his eyes closed for the third panel in a row, Michael yells, “AAAGHH!”  This seems to work as the bugs are not coming anywhere near the giant red letters of that “AAAGHH!”  We can see inside Michael’s toothless mouth and wonder how he was going to eat that hotdog in the first place.

Panel 5: With his eyes still closed, Michael reaches out and grabs Elly’s breast.   This sort of thing would perturb most mothers, but Elly is eating and with food filling and expanding her right cheek as if she were a gluttonous hamster, she can’t be bothered with minor things like breast fondling.  Food first.  Fondling second.  Now, if John was there, he would be seething in jealousy.  Where is John anyway? In the meantime, Michael’s left arm swings so vigorously across his body that his hand falls off and attaches itself to his right shoulder.  Michael expounds, “All year we look forward to summer, an’ when it comes, we hafta put up with the *@! bugs!!” I guess if Elly is willing to put up with Michael’s hand on her breast, what’s a little cartoon cursing between a mother and son?

Panel 6: Eyes closed now for an incredible five panels, Michael has somehow managed to get a hotdog.  Either the colourist has forgotten that the liquid they are drinking is blue, or the bugs have sucked the blue out of all the cups and apparently out of the sky too because after five panels with a blue background, the sky suddenly turns purple.  Michael expounds, “There isn’t one season in the year that’s perfect.”

Panel 7: Time passes.  The sky turns blue again.  The beverage turns blue again and for the first time since Panel 1, Michael opens his eyes and walks away carrying a giant stack of plates/tortillas.  Both Elly and Lizzie notice that the bugs are hanging around Michael’s head exclusively, which kind of implies that Michael has either been using a shampoo that attracts bugs or it has been a really long time since he last bathed.  At this point, Michael decides to start up the conversation just where he left off when the sky was purple and says, “Winter’s too cold, Spring is too wet…”

Panel 8: More time passes and I assume at this point they are back in the house, since the bugs are not there.  Michael puts down the plates/tortillas as Elly speaks for the first time to address what Mike has been talking about.  Elly expounds, “I don’t know – I think Autumn is a lovely time of year!”

Panel 9: Michael is incredulous and even though he did not actually specify why Autumn is bad, he displays a hand gesture with thumbs forward and out that looks as though he is either preparing for a double thumbed nose picking or he is going to make a move back to Elly’s breasts.  It worked in Panel 5, so why not?  He expounds, “Are you kidding?!!  That’s when we all hafta go back to school!!!

Panel 10: Elly gets a look on her face as though she has peed herself in excitement over the idea of getting Michael back to school.  Mike stares at her in blank-faced astonishment.  Who can blame him?  How often does he get to see his mother when she’s happy?

Summary: This is a really labored setup for a joke that is yet another in the “Elly hates being around her kids” category.  Even so, the setup does not work.  Summer has bugs.  Winter is cold.  Spring is wet.  All the complaints are about nature and the weather.  The complaint about Autumn with school does not fit because, after all, Mike goes to school in the Winter and the Spring too.  Nevertheless, I still have to give the strip a thumbs up because Elly peed herself in the last panel.  That makes up for everything that came before.