October 13th, 2008

krazy koati

Yesterday disaster waited around the bend

Some things are so bizarre or weird or awful that they take on grandeur, which is why I want to commend the current storyline in the comic strip Dick Tracy. Also, the comic strip Dick Tracy is still running. Maybe ``running'' is too active a verb; as a story strip, it more creeps lethargically from one tiny plot point to the next. This is as opposed to humor strips, which when they have storylines actually show the whole story within the lifetime of the readers there at the start.

Dick Tracy is fascinating for packing so much bizarre and gruesome material into stories which have so little happen. One story last year implied Tracy has a way of telling his support team, without using any but ordinary dialogue, to hire bulldozers overnight and have them destroy, over the objections of the police, a building in which all involved know the Mayor, Governor, several ``leading citizens'', and Tracy himself are. Make what you want of the supposed deep implications of the Romans having a word for ``kill one person in every ten of this group''; what does it mean that Dick Tracy has this contingency on call?

In the current storyline (well, it's sort of a storyline; it's really like an infinitely protracted moment enacted by people with no memory of, or ability to anticipate, events), Diet Smith --- whom you may recall for his prescient warning that he who controls magnetism controls the universe --- has somehow concluded what Dick Tracy really needs for his war on human rights is a gigantic, impractical, inconsistently drawn robot which it so happens speaks in what people who've never encountered l33t-speak but who have heard a hasty and inaccurate description of it think l33t-speak might look like. It's very good at punching holes in walls and at putting straws in milk cartons. Honest. And, better, the villainous Mister Braces --- I swear --- has whipped up his own robot who looks like the love-child of Crow T Robot and Larry 3000 from Time Squad. Mister Braces's Shego insists on asking, ``Tell me how an expensive robot makes you feel better'', but, man, how can his awesome insanity leading, three months from now, to Mister Braces's gruesome death at the hands of his own killbot not make anyone feel better? The cartoonists have to be playing for the people who read this with ironic, cackling glee, but do they know how amazingly they're hitting?

Bonus observation for those who read the Houston Chronicle's week-at-a-time Dick Tracy page: the comic strip reads as sensibly going one panel at a time top to bottom as it does going left to right.

Trivia: The designer of the Ferris wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris (Junior), was born in 1859 in Galesburg, Illinois. Source: Remaking The World: Adventures In Engineering, Henry Petroski. This fact does not help: already the statement ``the Ferris wheel was designed by George Washington Ferris'' sounds like something a dumb character says when he's trying to make up an answer and comes up with something desperately implausible.

Currently Reading: An Outline Of Man's Knowledge Of The Modern World, Editor Lyman Bryson.