Getting off the political merry-go-round for a moment to salute the silly, in which category Soup to Nutz is certainly included.
Today's is a good example of the logical twists this strip delivers, "so dumb it's smart" exchanges that work particularly well with the cast Rick Stromoski has assembled.
It's hard to do "time bomb humor" in a comic strip because they go by very fast, so that, if the reader doesn't get it quickly, they're on to the next strip and distracted before the bomb goes off: You have to spring the gag quickly.
This is why old-school cartoonists would have that final panel where the recipient of the snappy comeback faints or otherwise reacts: It slows the reader down and asks them to go back to the previous panel and think about it.
But that's clumsy and a bit like saying "Get it? Get it?" At best, it's a sort of pathetic begging for the laugh.
Today's Soup to Nutz is structured so that, when you hear Royboy's explanation, your response is, "Yeah, I've heard that," which sets you up for Andrew's punchline, which spins you quickly into "I never thought of that," rather than hoping for a later "Wait a minute ..."
A minute is a long time on the comics page. You can't use a gag that takes a minute to go off.
Workplace Follies, Part One
Reply All explores the dreaded conference call, and interfaces it with the Emperor's New Tech, in which we all have to be hip and embrace whatever gizmos we're told are the newest and best.
The gag here is that nobody ever admits they don't know what the hell they're doing, and they'd rather leave everyone hanging for half an hour on a call that hasn't been properly set up than simply admit that it ain't gonna happen.
Often, however, you do have that person who has learned how to use the technology, and there are some easy interfaces that allow them to do things like put a screen up on everyone else's screen and move stuff around on it while they drone on and on and half the people either don't care or have no idea what they're talking about or aren't involved in that part of the project. Mostly a combination of those.
Any conference call that involves more than six people is a waste of everybody's time. That's an immutable law.
Meanwhile, a conference call that does involve six people is only a waste of three people's time.
My main exposure was back before it was all that high tech and we simply got on a huge partyline of 30 people or so and pretended to listen. The technical-ineptitude part was pretty much limited to the knucklehead who would check in and then put the call on hold, forgetting that his newspaper had hold music.
Ah, the good times.
Workplace Follies, Part Deux
Over at the Blabbing Baboon, Richard Marcej continues his relentless stint in the unemployment line. I've gotta say, he sure does a good job of communicating the soul-crushing experience.
As with "Soup to Nutz," Marcej needs to make his point quickly, but for a different reason: I can take, and appreciate, one quick shot of this a day, but I'm not sure that, if he ever collected it into a book, I'd be able to read them one after another.
I realize he's getting the "relentless" experience firsthand. But he just gave "The Revenant" a positive review the other day, so I assume he's cool with my saying that there are experiences I'd rather share vicariously.
Incidentally, when I was in a hiring position, I used to get resumes from people who went to these meetings and, boy, you could smell the bogus expertise the minute you opened the envelope: Die-cut folders with action-word-stuffed resumes and cover letters on expensive paper not "written" so much as extruded by committee.
Did the ad I place include the word "gullible"?
'Cause, when I was trying to hire a reporter, "gullible" was not one of the attributes I was looking for.
And Speaking of Ads
The King Features Archivist has an interesting feature on a short-lived cartoon that was intended to run in the classified section of newspapers in the late 20s.
It's pretty ghastly, self-serving stuff, but fascinating in its awfulness, so go have a look.
I'm all in favor of putting comics back there, in order to draw readers to the section, and it's a long-standing tradition, or, at least, it was back when newspapers had classified sections instead of classified pages. In fact, that's where the comics were in the 20s, 30s and 40s, for small papers that only had three or four strips.
But it's not hard to see why this particular piece of self-serving drek didn't catch on, because why would a newspaper pay for self-serving drek when they could earn income from self-serving drek?
I popped back into the early 90s for a couple of examples of fillers intended to generate at least a modest amount of income. I don't remember if there was an industry term for these things in my newspaper days, but in TV, we called them "P.I.'s" for "per inquiry," because the station got a commission on sales generated by these unpaid fillers.
And I would suggest that all this capitalizing on the section was a large part of why newspapers didn't respond to Craigslist until it was too late: Bringing readers into the section was good business, but bringing them into the newspaper in the first place was critical.
By the time newspapers smartened up and started giving away non-business classifieds, the battle was lost.
Plus ça change