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Comic Riffs
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Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 10/03/2009

'Riffs Picks: From Superman to Letterman, Today's Cartoon Contenders


From Superman to Letterman, Comic Riffs's favorite five cartoons today, culled from across the mighty mighty Web...


Every now and again, even the Trained Professional Comics Reader (now there's a job my grade-school career counselor never advertised) gets stymied, stumped and flummoxed -- if only momentarily. But today -- in a shocking turn that hadn't occurred since "Frank & Ernest" last made me laugh (re: 2006) -- there were TWO strips that took me at least 4.5 seconds to get. (*Sigh* -- they say the funnybone is always the first thing to go...)

Yes-I-confess, I had to stop and actually do a double-read on "Speed Bump and "Rhymes With Orange.". Maybe I just need to brew a stronger blend, because on these strips combined, there were eight seconds of brain-freeze today that I'll never get back (time that could have been better spent harrumphing over bad grammar in "Pickles" or misused adjectives in "Mark Trail" -- but I egress).

The cold-hard truth is: I stared at "Speed Bump" for some five seconds before the gag kicked in (and don't worry: you'll find no spoiler in this blogpost proper). All I'll say is: I have no trouble spotting licketysplit a similar visual issue in today's "Dennis the Menace."

My real Should-I-Switch-to-French-Roast? moment that smacked me upside the hypothalamus was sparked by today's "Rhymes With Orange." My peepers musta glazed over for several seconds before I finally "got" the gag. (And really -- we're talking single-panel haha's here, my professional bread-and-butter, where I've painstakingly studied most every magic trick in the book. Sad, really.)

Which means that until I switch java blends, I can ask of myself only one pesky question: "What rhymes with 'dolt'?"

The 'Riffs Visual O' the Day goes to the last panel in "Get Fuzzy." The bent perspective is swell, but it's the facial expression that wins the day.

The New Yorker's Web site routinely posts clever one-note animated shorts (which are also available via iPhone app-age). The new (Oct. 2)animation -- by Harry Bliss -- is particularly amusing, right down to the menacing "snap."

Speaking of the New Yorker: Political cartoonist Jimmy Margulies -- as a newspaperman himself -- feels our pain as he flags this hit-us-where-it-hurts New Yorker cartoon by the ever-talented Tom Cheney.

The David Letterman "extortion case" gags have been coming in so steadily, we could already compile a pretty fair Top Ten list. (And we exclude the obvious "World Wide Pants" gags that everyone and their unfunny stepbrother seized on.) My fave spin on the Top Ten shtick so far has come from that master caricaturist Taylor Jones, who coats the joke with that one extra layer. In a flood of obvious haha's, we say: Your cartoon rises to the top, Mr. Jones. Huzzahs.

Your comic mileage may -- nay, must -- vary; if you've got a favorite cartoon today, feel free to share that link.

By  |  09:00 AM ET, 10/03/2009

Categories:  The Morning Line, The Morning Line, The Morning Line

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