This being the Sunday before Valentine's Day, the comic pages are full of bow-and-arrow gags and jokes about chocolate. The only strip that struck me as particularly romantic didn't mention the holiday at all:
Judge Parker manages to combine storytelling with classic graphics and a sense of humor that doesn't involve jokes. And hot, brainy women, which is okay in my book.
On the other hand -- speaking of hot women -- there are rewards to reading the classics at DailyInk, because deliberate camp will never match the kind of sincere, bizarre oddness that inspired it in the first place:
I don't know where to even begin with this. I've been reading vintage Mandrake -- daily and Sundays -- for well over a year and still am not sure why everything in one situation can be resolved with a hypnotic gesture while other predicaments cannot. I think he could gesture hypnotically and stop this fight to the death if he wasn't kind of turned on by it.
What I'd really like to know is what general audiences thought of this when it first ran in 1940. The Amazon queen is a great mashup of Greta Garbo, Irene Dunne, Anne Sheridan and others, and her "thinker" pose is part of the mannerisms that go with it -- you can almost see the gelled-lens live version.
And I'll leave analysis of the helmets to any first-year psych majors in the room, because I'm more fascinated by the gym shorts.
As said above, nobody trying to be this campy could ever pull it off. In order to produce something like this, or the moving picture serials of roughly the same era, you have to be immersed in the moment and the genre. You can't set out to be this delightfully strange. It must be sincere.
Otherwise, the focus shifts from the characters and story to the artist, and that's almost always a failure of craft. ("Almost always" being a nod to Dali, but the reason I prefer Chagall.)
Well, this isn't 1940, and we need to acknowlege that, while the hot, brainy women of Judge Parker may exist in real life, the odds of one becoming devoted to you are remote at best. And probably even moreso if you admit to getting off on a fight to the death over you between six-foot helmeted women in gym shorts.
And so, let us close today's romantic commentary not with chocolate, roses or impish arrows, but with a dose of modern reality from the brush of Tatsuya Ishida: