This episode of “Beetle Bailey” isn’t suitable for young children.
Yowtch! Beetle Bailey has been smacked down before, but the beat-down he received in yesterday’s edition of his comic is one of the most savage attacks we’ve seen on the funnies page in years.
Take a gander at the mess, in which Beetle looks as if he’s barely hanging on to life after yet another brutal attack on his person by the insanely unpredicatable Sgt. Orville Snorkel. It’s a wonder the lanky fellow isn’t gushing enough blood to drip all over the “Momma” strip three places down.
It’s true, yes, Beetle has been laid out before, but never have the effects seemed so, well, real. Ms. Buxley looks truly horrified, screaming, “Oh, Beetle! You’re all broken!” Bits of what could be bone, teeth or flesh are strewn about his beaten carcass. If Beetle were human, we have no doubt he’d be a quivering mass of jelly.
Because this is a comic, however, the characters try to play things for laughs.”Don’t worry. It’ a comic strip, and I’ll be up and around in tomorrow’s edition,” says the strip’s longtime protagonist.
Let’s get this straight: So because comic strips have little to do with reality, creators Mort and Greg Walker can depict a scene of staggering violence and excuse themselves because they’ll just “make things right” tomorrow?
We’re not sure that holds up. If this episode of “Beetle Bailey” were a movie, it would likely be rated “R,” a position we’re not sure any daily comics cartoonist would desire.
Perhaps Mort and cronies are simply trying to keep pace with modern times. In a world where dead bodies are the stars of the first ten minutes of any procedural drama on CBS, where Quentin Tarantino accompanies a gang rape scene with 60s surf music and where zombies are de-nogginized with routine efficiency, maybe Beetle beatings need a little more blood and gore to get attention.
At the same time, we expect to see guts and brutality when we tune into those properties. We’ve been trained, on the other hand, to expect gentle humor on the order of the “Life In These Here United States” column from Readers’ Digest when we turn to the funnies page.
If the people who sketch out “Beetle Bailey” want to up the ante, we suggest they take it to direct-to-DVD. The comics page, for good or ill, is still thought of as a place where readers won’t have to vomit up their breakfast when they come upon their favorite cartoon.
Whatever happened to characters seeing tweeting birds, stars and little planets when they suffered a massive clobbering?
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