Friday’s for the classics

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 12/4/20

For those of you who don’t know the history (and really, why would you), this comic strip started out as Barney Google, in 1919, and the titular character was a sharp city slicker, but then the strip aimed to cash in on the Depression-era vogue for hillbilly humor already being exploited by Li’l Abner, so Barney went and visited his pal Snuffy Smith in Hootin’ Holler, who by the 1950s had become the strip’s main character, with increasingly infrequent visits from Barney Google. The current creative team brought back Barney in 2012 in his first appearance in 15 years, and he’s appeared intermittently since, but this week he’s actually taken Barney and company back with him to the city, which raises the question: we all know that this strip’s main setting is a grotesque, distorted caricature of rural life, but what will its take on urbanity be? Well, it appears to be people dancing in brightly lit clubs with floor-to-ceiling windows that make them visible from outside, where various draft animals rear about grotesquely on dirt streets, so, in other words: accurate.

Dick Tracy, 12/4/20

Meanwhile, in Dick Tracy, another decades-old strip whose depiction of everyday life is composed of multiple layers of continually updated nostalgia, one of our villains has terribly injured himself in a sewer while the other is about to be killed by his own giant spider, which he keeps captive for venom-milking purposes. How sad is Dick going to be that he doesn’t get to shoot anybody? Maybe he’ll shoot the spider, but his heart won’t really be in it.