This Week in Milford

January 21, 2023

They seem confident, but Toby’s looking a little jaundiced tbh

Second day in a row and third of six this past week on Rod and Tobe selling vapes. That’s practically a complete story arc in the nu-look Thorpiverse. Still some dots to connect, as usual. Where are they getting the vapes? Where is the chocolate going? Is it straight up barter or are there additional steps in between? Are tattoos and legit DVDs doctored to look fake somehow involved?

Coach Ochoa* is playing bag lady for these two and she’s probably better off not knowing where the money came from. Plausible deniability could go a long way for her and Gil when this racket gets busted and Dr. Pearl comes headhunting.

Chief Lind’s officers will have no problem picking these two miscreants out in that blaze orange shitbox that must’ve come off Foxy’s lot. No problem hauling them in either, as long as they stay away from the trunk. What’s in there with the candy bars that has the power to change the color of clothing and skin? J. Frank Parnell’s aliens? Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase? Bitcoin?

*Who is Coach Ochoa coaching, exactly? The only strips we’ve seen in this season had her holding Gil’s balls in a sack or running the Milford boys through a dribbling two balls at once drill. Is there no Milford girls’ team this season? Some confirmation would be nice (hint, hint).

January 4, 2023

Marty can’t tell front from behind. Should we worry?

The Mudlark boys’ basketball opener is under way and, as it’s a non-conference game, it falls upon us to try to figure out where it’s happening. Judging from their bird mascot and that Forest View is two words, not one, I’m venturing a guess that this is the no longer extant Forest View in the Chicagoland region. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a shout-out* to a defunct high school, though I’m not gonna comb the archives to find the example (it was a Detroit-area school IIRC).

Marty’s looking a little thicker around the middle and in the hand, which must be a side effect of his continued sobriety. Milford was shown yesterday in its road black-and-reds, so why is Forest View wearing what looks like the old “Block M” jerseys Michigan trots out from time to time (and which Milford also wore BITD)? Bigger question: where is this behind-the-back pass Marty’s calling happening, in his mind? Why is Marty continuing to call out uni numbers for the Mudlarks? Is the game being simulcast on TV2 and WBIG radio?

All that aside, how ’bout this NBA-style halftime score! Have both of these teams broken out the run-and-gun or forgotten how to play defense? At the risk of repeating myself, I appreciate Barajas incorporating the trans kid into the strip fairly seamlessly, with virtually no reaction from anyone in Milford, but making the kid magically become a star athlete on every sports team he goes out for strains credulity just a little bit. Can’t wait until baseball season when he breaks Joe Sharkey’s and Kevin Pelwecki’s long-ball records.

*I’m not sure if Mudlark big man Darius Simmons is also a shout-out to a friend, Rubin-style, but sadly the first hit I get when searching for him is a 13-year-old kid who was murdered in front of his mother in Milwaukee about a decade ago. There’s also a Darius Simmons playing football at McGill, where he could be a teammate of Chance Macy’s.

November 19, 2022

“Onomatopoeic Saturday,” or “A Slap on the Wrist, Then a Crack on the Ankle”

Welp

SLAP! AGH! AHHH! CRACK! Keri’s turning into an episode of 1960s Batman all by her lonesome. She might’ve had help from Luhm with that last one, though. Such a shiny, shiny floor.

What’s all this about a nurse? Where’s Rick Scott when you need him, not available for the jayvees? No matter; Keri’s getting sidelined for a bit. Call it karma for not getting benched or kicked off the team for punching out Dorothy if you will. Gil has done the same to kids not named Thorp for less.

This should give Barajas time to drop a couple of reaction strips about Keri’s preferential treatment. With all the jumping around we’ve seen, those have been in a little short supply. Consider the Tabitha-now-Toby making the team, making funky plays and converting into a skill position player subplot. In the days of Rubin we’d have had at least one if not more pissy middle-aged person complaining about Toby being allowed to play football, followed by A Very Special Gil Thorp in which some preachy lesson would be learned. In the days of Jenkins this would just not be spoken of.

With Keri sidelined, maybe we’ll smash cut to another subplot. Time for the Luke Martinez Revenge Tour to resume? Or The Last Days of Meemaw? Will she outlast Funky Winkerbean?

meta: Gocomics has been down all day (rumors of turning into a pay site circulating), plus I’m on the road today. Sorry for the late post.

November 5, 2022

What’s Next, Exhuming Boo Radley?

Seriously, Barajas? Now what am I supposed to do with this?

Rubin wrote Marjie out of the strip in August 2021, sending her off to an early retirement with “a nice buyout” and making way for former girl Mudlark football player Heather Burns to take over the sports reporting job at the Milford Star. So why is she back in her old job now? Was the buyout in cryptocurrency? Did Heather just use the job as resume padding and move on to bigger pastures?

Could be that Marjie came back to take over Marty Moon’s job. Why would I speculate on that? Because Gil’s holding Marty’s old sippy cup of hooch, which Marjie is discreetly topping off from her flask disguised as a tape recorder. Marty won’t be needing it anymore after Gil and Marjie made him redundant. What they did with the body will be the season’s biggest mystery – bigger than why the Mudlarks’ pants and uni trim went from Texas Orange to red from one panel to the next and why Toby is making doe eyes at someone.

Now we’re left wondering who else from the strip’s past will be brought back after having been written out. “Exhuming Boo Radley” has a nice ring to it; would make for a good song parody if I felt up to it. Talk amongst yourselves and don’t forget to turn the clocks back an hour tonight.

October 15, 2022

Mimi dumps her job in Gil’s lap, yet somehow he’s the “deadbeat.” Ohh-kayy.

I lost my draft late last night so coming back to this on Sunday morning. Mea culpa.

So it was Shit on Gil Saturday in the shiny Milford Gym. Mimi’s back from the wild north to give Coachella a hand with the jayvee volleyball team – and she brought Meemaw, who made a funny (“fill in for Gil again [Gilligan]”)! Joke’s gonna be on her, though, when Gil gives her the Richard Widmark treatment.

Coachella feels compelled to damn Gil with faint praise, glossing over the part where “doing all right” includes giving her a membership in the Mile High Club. Joke’s gonna be on her, too, when Mimi gives her job to Meemaw. She can go back to school and play hoops again in the winter, though.

Meemaw’s gonna instill some discipline in these girls, starting with that girl in the brown tights her own grandperson, Keri. Keri’s happy to oblige her, but you gotta wonder how long before the effort to turn them against their dad backfires.

I debated last night on whether to label Meemaw’s dome with the Pantheon of Hair or Premature Baldness tag. Father of teenchy had a massive head of hair until he underwent chemo, so I’ll assume that’s true for Meemaw as well. You know what? Maybe I’m not the guy to play the cancer angle. I’m no Tom Batiuk and have no interest in milking that for laughs, maudlin sentiment, or anything. teenchy out.

October 8, 2022

A Mudlark Victory, Both Literal and Symbolic

Milford, having dropped its opener due to a Kaz spaz playcalling error, came into the Goshen game as rare underdogs (right? Hasn’t Goshen been historically a bottom dweller in the Valley?). The Mudlarks pulled off the upset win thanks to a play obvious to Marty in the press box but not to Goshen and the toe of new kicker Tobias Gordon. Now for a rare look into the stands post-game, pre-Bucket.

The entire Thorp family is in the stands in a rare show of support – but for whom? Apparently less so for Gil than for Toby and his mom, Mel. The current incarnation of Mel Gordon has been known for wearing t-shirts of metal bands, which makes her choice to wear the AC/DC shirt again bit less fraught with meaning. Keri’s choice – that of a vigilante anti-hero embraced by the military, the police and the far right – is a bit more confusing…

… but no more confusing than Keri flashing the love hands to Tobias. Is it her way of saying “I’ve been supporting you since I was a kid and you were a fetus“? We’ve already seen a bit of awkwardness on Keri’s part where Toby is concerned. Why encourage it, especially now that she’s been shown to be moist for Pedro Martinez?

Maybe we could ask Henry Barajas himself, as Whigham appears to have drawn him into the stands in front of Keri. When the snarkers suggested that Barajas should actually watch a couple of football games before he starts writing about them, I don’t think this is what they had in mind.

September 21, 2022

It Must’ve Been Zane Clark’s Doing

How bleeding edge are we now, kids? The Linda Lindas’ new album is their first album, released only this past June. They’d previously released an EP in 2020. Their breakout hit was “Racist, Sexist Boy” which kinda seems on brand for the nu-look Gil Thorp. Here they are performing it at a public library, which kinda seems on brand for the old-look Gil Thorp.

Rock ‘n Roll Thursday comes a day early to TWIM, then.

That, in a nutshell, is what today’s strip is all about: getting past the hard candy shell of modern society to get to the chewy middle of adolescent desire to be popular and part of a group. Look beyond the hijab-clad volleyball player and her brown-bagged meal (possibly halal, because the MHS cafeteria can’t be trusted) and see the girl who wants to let her circle of friends know she’s hip to the latest music. Look past Arianna’s acknowledgement of the hijab-clad girl (who hasn’t been given a name yet IIRC) and see the girl who wants her friends to know she uses Urban Dictionary. Look beyond Keri’s suddenly green-dyed hair and bejeweled everything and see the girl whose nose is out of joint because she’s not in the team picture one of her teammates took and posted to social media.

So sit back, relax, and watch the old Too Cool For School drama play out with a bunch of new faces. At this rate, we’ll probably see more of that than we will of Mudlark football.

September 3, 2022

Disoreinted

Gentle readers, I’m just an old newspaper comics reader. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the comments section of your blogs makes me want to put down my laptop and run off into the hills, or wherever. Sometimes when I look at a strip on GoComics, I wonder: “Did little demons get inside and draw it?” I don’t know! My primitive mind can’t grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know – when a new writer takes over a legacy comic strip and infuses it with too many current-day issues all at once, I want to complain and vow never to read that strip again. Thank you.

That’s how I felt, not after reading today’s strip, but after making the mistake of reading the GoComics comments before I posted like I said I’d never do. If I hadn’t, however, I wouldn’t have been able to put together the backstory behind today’s strip. For that we have to go back to a time before TWIM even existed, nearly twenty years ago, during the Jerry Jenkins era.

Melissa was a high school student who became pregnant by her boyfriend Kyle Gordon. Note the blatant product placement.

December 30, 2002

Melissa’s father forbade Kyle from seeing her again. The baby’s future was not in doubt, as least for the moment.

January 4, 2003

Melissa’s parents gave her the boot, and Kyle had no intention of marrying her…

January 13, 2003

… so his parents moved him out of state and forbade him from contacting her. Then the baby’s future came into doubt.

January 16, 2003

Kyle and Melissa concluded that Melissa should do something she had the constitutional right to do at the time.

January 18, 2003

Melissa ultimately decided to keep the baby and not Kyle, and the Thorps welcomed her into their home.

January 27, 2003

Note that the kid sitting next to Melissa is Keri Thorp, who would go into a state of suspended animation until very recently.

Marty got wind of the situation and tried to make a thing of it. Gil nipped it in the bud.

February 5, 2003

Mimi noticed Melissa “craving” Gil’s attention (!) but Gil was oblivious.

February 7, 2003

Turned out Mimi wasn’t wrong.

February 11, 2003

After Melissa concocted a story about Jami getting hurt and getting Gil to chaperon a movie date with three other MHS girls who mysteriously backed out, she got caught in the lie.

February 25, 2003

Melissa tried to play the Fatal Attraction angle…

February 27, 2003

… and then Gil blew a shot at an easy threesome professed his eternal faithfulness to Mimi. Where was Luke Martinez when this went down?

March 1, 2003

The Gil Thorp plot then pivoted to The Brent Raptor Story. I lost the scent after that, so I can’t say for certain that Melissa and Tabatha/Tobias appeared in the strip again until today. Now that she’s Melissa Gordon, can we conclude she and Kyle eventually did marry? Going down the rabbit hole of 2002-03 strips exhausted me. I’m sure someone will have done that legwork before I post again.

There was blowback to Jenkins’ anti-abortion/pro-life stance (e.g., the Chicago Tribune dropped the strip), but I can only imagine it will pale in comparison to the blowback Barajas is going to get after today.

Our minds could race with the possibilities raised by the mere presence of young Tobias in the strip. (Never mind that he should logically be a college freshman by now, with Melissa in her mid-to-late thirties and Keri in her mid-to-late twenties.) Gil’s attempts to get Tobias on the football team would no doubt meet with greater resistance than getting Heather Burns to play tight end. I won’t even dwell on Gil’s lame attempt at hygiene theater, his free-floating mask, or the loving care with which Steve Luhm polished the oreintation desk. Today’s strip has brought out Luann levels of commentary from people apparently as invested in this strip as the Luann trufans are (and if you don’t know anything about them by now, you’re better off not knowing.)

Me, I’m here for the ride. I just don’t know if I can dig through decades of archives every time I post.

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