Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Course of "True Love" is Always the Same in the Kiddy Comics

Tom Armstrong started publishing Marvin, the story of a baby named, well, Marvin, in 1982.* Ever since, the little guy with the improbably wild shock of ginger hair has been projecting his inane thought-bubbles into the world. He can apparently communicate with other babies--and his dog--via psychic powers, so we are not spared Marvin's faux-cynical interpretations of his eternal youth. Lately, we have also not been spared Marvin's new ability to communicate aloud in leet. The cringe-inducing fun just keeps coming.

Marvin is characterised by lazy writing and the tendency to cut and paste both jokes and art. This particular strip is a case in point. While, unusually, the artist seems to have drawn all three panels instead of using one of them over and over, he has derived his "joke" from every other comic ever published since the dawn of human intelligence.** In fact, red-headed, bespectacled Clare bears such a strong resemblance to red-headed, bespectacled Margaret from Dennis the Menace that you've got to wonder whence Mr. Armstrong's inspiration has come.***

Luckily, the comic is redeemed by its obvious medieval atmosphere. Dennis and Mar--er, Marvin and Clare are innocently acting out a stereotypical antifeminist scenario, with Clare demonstrating through her embryonic concern with marriage that women are single-minded, grasping vixens, conditioned from birth to trap men into soul-deadening relationships. Her red hair identifies her as an infant witch; her glasses proclaim her short-sighted, narrow-minded nature. Marvin, on the other hand, demonstrates the wisdom of men, as he simply isn't going to fall for that rubbish. That's right, Marvin: put the filly in her place. You can always get her pregnant and abandon her later on.

*Apparently, someone named Pat Moran published an earlier strip called Marvin from 1973 onward, but I can't find out anything about it beyond the name.
**Or, rather, "intelligence."
***However, you haven't got to wonder very hard. And that should probably be "inspiration."

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