Friday, October 24, 2008

Tilting at Horrible Comics (and Losing)

A blog called Crosshatch that seems to involve random thoughts and ideas in no particular order has linked Japes for Owre Tymes in a category of its own: "Don Quixotes Crusading for a Lost Cause." I mention this irrelevant but fun fact because I am quite pleased to be compared to Don Quixote. Life is, after all, a series of windmill-tilting incidents; all we can really do is choose our own windmills and hope for the best.*

Today's windmill is Drabble, which, as I have already explained, deserves to be mulched.** Its stereotypical, unlikeable characters bounce from one stereotypical, unlikeable situation to the next, never stopping along the way to do anything interesting or, heaven forbid, original. The comic is only twenty-nine years old--a mere child in newspaper-strip terms--but it clings to the mores of a previous generation or, really, a far-distant century. This week's comics have been trotting out that legacy-strip standby: it is terrible when a woman tries to horn in on a man's manly leisure activities, and it is even more terrible when she is better at them than he is. June Drabble may not understand the purpose of a sand trap or a water hazard, gentlemen, but she doesn't fall prey to them, and--har har har--she wishes that she would! The womens! The womens! How hard to understand how their tiny brains work! And poor hapless Ralph, being ground into the green by this ignorant hausfrau!

Yet again, we have travelled all the way back to the Middle Ages and leapt headlong into an antifeminist tract. Viewed in a medieval light, the comic is both subtle and original; the cartoonist is pointing out that women are not only cheating, lying scum, but dangerously good at stuff. June's competence with that, er, club leaves Ralph's in the shade. If women are able to handle their clubs and balls and men are not, how long will it be before they start believing they are real people? How long will it be before the men have their clubs seized from them? They will be forced to watch, de-clubbed and emasculated, as women roam free across the landscape, slaying villagers and raping young princes. Our only hope, the cartoonist implies, lies in the stupidity of the ladies. The potential for power is there, but women are so dumb (har har) that they don't realise it is. The comic points out the danger but also the fact that even a woman allowed to get her hands on a man's club probably won't know what to do with it.

And I think that's probably enough innuendo for one day right there.

P.S.: The word "golf" came into the English language relatively late (the first known reference, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, is from a late-fifteenth-century Scottish text), but it probably derives from the Middle Dutch "colf" [club], which was written down in medieval England at least once (in 1296), albeit not in relation to golf itself. I have stolen it.

*This sounds pessimistic until you realise that I have spent the past two weeks teaching Alan Moore's Watchmen. Yesterday's class involved a dissection of the various characters, including the Comedian (basically a nihilist) and Rorschach (who at one point brutally kills two German shepherds, flings their bloody corpses at their child-killing owner, chains the owner in his own warehouse and sets it on fire, and comes out with the following sentiment: "Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever, and we are alone"). Compared to them, I'm quite cheery.
**I am not mixing my metaphors. It is actually a windmill that deserves to be mulched. It would deserve to be mulched in any form.


Tony said...

When I was a kid I kind of liked Drabble, though I never read it because it wasn't in my paper. I dunno, maybe I just like the name. Drabble Drabble Drabble. Fun to say.

But I really haven't looked at it since then. Looking at the comic you posted, I gotta say: and apron, pearls, and a bow in her hair? Seriously? And on the golf course, no less? Perhaps it's meant to be ironic, but it just reads as bizarre.

Hell, even the girls in the Peanuts gang were wearing pants by the 80's.

Anyway, Angry Kem: I like your brain.

-Tony aka Li’l BunnĂ« FooFoo

Angry Kem said...

Tony: June Drabble always wears her apron, pearls, and hair-bow. Always. In every conceivable situation. I'm not sure we have ever seen her in formal wear; it's possible she takes the apron off for that. The rest remains the same.

Her husband calls her "Honeybunch." She appears unable to do anything that is not completely stereotypical. It is possible that some irony is involved, but probably not a whole hell of a lot. There is no reason for me not to hate this strip with all the passion of my withered little soul.

Skullturf Q. Beavispants said...

I like "aldai" or "allday" as one word. I wish we still did that.

Irene said...

I know this is an old post, but OMG you teach classes in which you dissect Watchmen?! Man do I wish my little state agriculture college had classes like that. I am so very tempted to transfer. That said, I love this blog, highly amusing, keep up the good work!