Thursday, December 16, 2004

Swinging from bell towers

This latest Alley Oop series seems almost promising despite the bumpy send off. We began with Oop and Oola about to use the time machine to transport to modern Paris for a romantic vacation when suddenly a mysterious floating shelf appears above the time machine controls and drops a Coke can that somehow manages to reset the time coordinates to 1482 just as the characters are shipping off.
At first I couldn’t figure out why the writers were shipping them off to that time period when nothing particularly historical or noteworthy was taking place. But as it turns out the point was not historical, but literary and we are soon introduced to Quasimodo, i.e. The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Meanwhile, back at the time lab Doc Wonmug gets jumped by two hoods who were sneaking around outside and watching everything from a window. They tie him up and announce that they are going to use the time machine to travel back to ancient Moo with plans to lure a bunch of dinosaurs into a pit so that it will turn into a rich oil field by modern times. It is an odd get-rich scheme for someone with a time machine at their disposal, but it is workable.
Back in Paris we see that the shapely Oola has attracted the jealous ire of the local women who accuse her of being a sorceress after she stops them from throwing tomatoes at Quasi as part of their annual Festival of Fools. So she is carted off to prison while Oop stands around with his hands in his pockets. Oop does note that he could easily take out the two guards who are carting her away but chooses to do nothing because Doc told him that he can’t change history. Of course, this has never stopped him before, but for now we are supposed to accept this sudden adherence to some kind of time travel prime directive.
But then Oop changes his mind when he learns a little bit later that they are planning to burn Oola at the stake.
Up until this point, at least, the storty has seemed somewhat plausible. But now Oop has decided that the best way to rescue Oola is to disguise himself as Quasimodo, climb up to the top of the bell tower and swing down on a rope at the last moment. I can’t even see Spider Man pulling this one off.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The mysterious floating shelf

Alleyoop floating shelf
Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
OK, what is with this floating shelf that comes out of nowhere? Look at the time machine in this comic strip. In the first frame we are looking over Doc Wonmugâ??s right shoulder as he hovers over the time machine keyboard preparing to send Alley Oop and Oola to current day France for a vacation. Then Oop suddenly wants his all-important flute that he claims to carry with him at all times even though we have never seen it up until now. So now Doc walks in front of the monitor to a table that wasnâ??t there before while Oop and Oola have mysteriously vanished. And behind him we see this floating shelf come out of nowhere suspended over the time machine.

Where did the shelf come from and what is holding it up? Is there now a wall there that wasnâ??t there before? Tomorrow we will get another view looking over the monitor and there wonâ??t be a wall or a shelf. I guess after the soda can defies gravity and leaps off the shelf on cue the shelf is no longer needed and is thus forgotten.
Obviously, the authors are setting us up for the next adventure and they needed someway to have things go wrong. But is this the best they could do? Weâ??ve seen already that they have no sense of space or proportion and no consistency in placing characters from one frame to the next. But having walls and shelves appear out of nowhere for convenience sake?? That must be a new low even for this crew!

Of course, the soda can has knocked things out of whack and the idiot Doc and the idiot Dave Wowee donâ??t notice or even bother to check that the time on the machine has now been reset to 1482. Earlier, Doc made a point of giving Oop and Oola a wad of cash which of course will be worthless in 1482. But how much do you want to bet that they wonâ??t have any problem with the language barrier? Iâ??m sure everyone in medieval France will speak perfect English.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Where does he keep the flute?

Oop flute
Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
Where did this flute come from? I've been reading the Alley Oop strip now since 1995 and I've never heard of Oop having the slightest interest in music. Suddenly today Oop pulls this flute out of nowhere and starts playing it. Doc Wonmug obviously has never seen it before either when he makes his "Nice flute" comment. But Oop insists that he always carries the flute around with him along with his ever present stone axe.
So I have just one question. Since Oop normally goes around wearing nothing by a loincloth, where does he keep the flute? I can think of only one place and I'd rather not mention it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Forced perspective

Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
One thing the current authors of the Alley Oop strip do with great regularity is have the characters talk to one another with their backs turned to each other. Presumably, this is so they can always show their faces to the comic-viewing audience. But they also have a bad habit of not keeping the characters in their proper places as they constantly shift perspective.

In today's strip you can see Doc Wonmug and Dave Wowee having a conversation with their backs to one another (Wowee is in the foreground). Now notice that in the first frame if the Doc wanted to see Wowee he would look over his left shoulder while Ava is standing over his right shoulder. But in the final frame of the strip they are reversed. Wowee is now over the Doc's right shoulder and Ava is over his left shoulder. Why can't they keep it straight? Am I the only one that sees this??

Oh, and what's with the French joke? Are they trying to make a political statement? Pretty lame.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Time keeps on slipping...

alleyoop Sept. 9, 2004
Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
I just don't get this time business in the Alley Oop strip. How is it that these guys have a time machine and still seem to have no control over time whatsoever?
In this latest series, it begins several weeks ago with Doc Wonmug suggesting that Oop travel back in time to visit with some famous wrestlers in preparation for entering the 2004 Olympics. He does so and ends up visiting with three historical figures (one guy he sees twice). Each encounter couldn't have lasted more than 20 minutes before he was whisked away to the next destination. So today Oop is back from his travels and we find out that he has actually been gone for several weeks and the Olypics are now over back in the time with the time lab. (Note that Doc Wonmug has recorded the highlights of the games on a VCR tape. Talk about being behind the times!)
My goodness! Oop must be famished since he never ate anything. And he must be exhausted due to lack of sleep! And what has poor Oola been left to do all this time? Has she spent the whole month on a never-ending shopping spree with Ava and Dave Wowee? (Apparently so)
I was wondering how they were going to handle having Alley join the Olypics after the games were already over in our time, but this is just ridiculous. Even if travelling in time for 20 minutes equates to two months in present time, you would at least think that Doc Wonmug would know this and wouldn't have sent Oop in the first place. But you can never give these characters enough credit for being dimwitted.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Time travel ethics

Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
It seems like there should be certain rules in place for time travelers so they are not constantly manipulating the time line intentionally or otherwise. Maybe a book of ethics or at least good manners are needed. One of the first rules should be to not continuously shock people from the past by zapping yourself away right under their noses.
The Alley Oop cartoonists seem to delight in doing this as they have had Oop zapped away to the amazement of two historical figures in recent days - famed wrestling coach Dan Gable (pictured here) and turn-of-the-century wrestler Frank Gotch earlier.
Oop took pains earlier to hide the fact that he is a time traveler by telling Gable he had read about something Gotch once said after slipping and making it sound as if he had talked to him recently (which he had). So why, if he is trying to shield Gable from the knowledge that he is talking to a time traveler, would he zap away in plain sight rather than waiting until Gable wasnâ??t looking? You know that Doc Wonmug is watching everything on a big view screen and can choose the moment when he wants to zap Alley away. So what gives?
Of course saying that Oop tries to hide his time travel status isnâ??t always true. Most recently he has zapped back to ancient Athens to visit the demoralized wrestler Milo while still wearing an Iowa University sweat shirt. Of course, Milo doesnâ??t seem to notice this oddity. He is too busy carrying a huge bull on his shoulders -something he had done for years to prepare for the Olympics. Now Oop is going to â??adiviseâ?? him that to win at wrestling he needs to get in shape and be in top physical condition. Yep.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Dumbed Down

Originally uploaded by mwthomas87.
Whenever the Alley Oop cartoonists introduce a historical figure into the cartoon strip they usually manage to dumb them down in their effort to have them interact with the imbeciles who make up the regular cast.
In this strip we have Dan Gable, the former Olympic wrestler and coach at Iowa University, trying to give wrestling advice to Oop.
Here is his advice:

"If your friend is in top codition, he'll have the stamina to run his opponent all over the mat... until he runs him out of gas. You know.... wears him out."

"Runs him out of gas???" I certainly hope that Coach Gables didn't really talk like that. Or that he had the bad speech habit of always saying "You know..."

Oop is typically clueless, but then a light comes on in his tiny little pea-sized brain. We can only imagine what that means...

Monday, August 16, 2004

Breaking the Ice

Alley Oop has supposedly been sent back in time to ancient Athens to find the great Greek wrestler Milo so that he could learn from him in his own bid to become a wrestler in the 2004 Olympics. But Dr. Wonmug sent Oop to a time before Milo had a chance to compete in his own Olympics so I’m not sure what Oop was supposed to learn from the guy. Anyway, once there Oop challenges Milo to a match and promptly throws him 20 feet in the air so that he comes crashing down on his face. Now Milo’s spirit has been broken and he is contemplating giving up his dream of being an Olympian. So Oop promises to go find other historic figures and ask their advice for Milo.
Next Oop gets shipped to 1900 Iowa to meet Frank Gotch, another famous wrestler from history. Once there Oop inexplicably grabs the guy and throws him 20 feet in the air so that he too comes crashing down on his face. Afterwards, Oop says “Oops, Sorry. Guess it was a conditioned response.”
A conditioned response!?! To grab some guy who is walking past you and throw them violently to the ground??
When Gotch gets up his head is spinning with little stars floating around. You might think he would be a bit preturbed with Oop at this point, but you would be wrong. Instead he says “Now that you have my attention, what is it that you want?”
Wow, some icebreaker. Good think it didn’t break Gotch’s back too.
So Oop asks this guy who he has just slammed to the ground for wrestling advice, as if he needs it. Gotch has two things to contribute. First, he makes the brilliant observation that a wrestler needs to be in excellent physical condition. Great. When we first met Milo, he was walking around with a fully grown bull on his shoulders. He explained that he had been carrying the bull around since it was a calf to help condition himself for wrestling. So Oop is going to go back now and tell Milo that he needs to get in shape??
Gotch’s second bit of advice is to smile at your opponent to take them off their guard. I’m sure that will be a big help for Milo too. And that is all the advice he has. Then Dr. Wonmug zaps Oop away while he is still talking with Gotch, no doubt traumatizing him for the rest of his life.
Next Wonmug turns around and ships Oop to 1972 Iowa to meet wrestling coach Dan Gable, supposedly the greatest Olympic wrestler of all time. Once again Oop wrestles the guy but this time the match ends in a draw. So what kind of advice does Alley need anyway? If he can beat or best the greatest wrestlers in history, what could they possibly tell him that he would need to know?
Of course Gable’s first pearl of wisdom is that a wrestler needs to be in top phsical condition. Well, Duh. I think we have heard that somewhere before and once again the information will be of no use to Milo.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Honeymoon in Athens

So now we are off on an Olympic-themed adventure. Just a short time ago, Alley Oop had finally proposed marriage to his long, long, long, long-time girlfriend Oola. Suddenly Dr. Wonmug pops in uninvited and invites the pair to come back to the future for a “vacation.” Oola is immediatly shipped off on a shopping spree with Ava. Despite the fact that she comes from a prehistoric culture with no money, Oola is surprisingly well versed in our modern day consumer culture. I suppose that Ava is going to spring for all the things that Oola might want to buy.

Meanwhile, Oop’s “vacation” seems to consist of mainly sitting on a couch with a beer and watching sports on TV. One thing this comic strip does well is fortifying sexist stereotypes. But then out of the blue we have Wonmug suggesting that Alley Oop drop everything and start training for the Olympics. This should make most readers suspicious of Wonmug’s intentions in bringing Oop back to the future at this point. Maybe he is planning on making some bets on the side.
Oop, of course, has now forgotten all about asking Oola to marry him and is ready to transport back to the past to meet an ancient Athenian wrestler to help him train for the modern games. He doesn’t even bother to change back into his caveman outfit, which would probably be more appropriate for the time period than the slacks and polo shirt he is now wearing.
In a most remarkable turn of fortune, the first person Oop meets after his transport is Milo, the wrestler he is supposed to train with (Imagine that!). Milo takes no notice of Oop’s strange clothing and all his curiosity as to the identity of this strange person is completely satisfied upon learning his name.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Next position please

One of the things that drives me crazy about the Alley Oop strip today is the way the artists can't seem to keep the character's positions straight from one frame to the next. Take today's strip (July 2, 2004) as an example.
Notice in the first frame we see Dave Wowee facing forward with Ava just to his right and Oola is across the room in front of him. Alley Oop is to Dave's left across from Ava.
Then in frame 2 Oola is suddenly behind Dave and to his right. Then in the final frame, Oola is back across the room and Ava has switched sides and is on Dave's left with Alley Oop nowhere to be found.

A modest proposal

So Alley Oop finally gets around to asking Oola to marry him after 71 years (the Alley Oop strip began in 1933) and Oola says she needs time to think about it!?!?! Aaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!
But before we have to deal with that any further the incredibly annoying Dr. Wonmug suddenly pops in from the future. He has obviously been snooping on them with his time machine and decides to barge into the middle of their intimate encounter to invite them on a “vacation” to the future. Golly! It’s not as if they had ever been there before.
So what is Oop’s reaction when Wonmug suddenly barges in just moments after he has popped the big question? He asks if the time machine has broken down again. That’s like having someone drive up to your house and your first reaction is to ask if their car is broken down. No, you idiot. That’s how I got here.
Now remember that it wasn’t too long back that Oop was trapped in a Scottish dungeon when Dr. Wonmug couldn’t figure out how to fix his broken time machine and during his extended absense from Moo he nearly lost Oola to another suitor. So one might think that he wouldn’t be real hot on the idea of jumping back into the time machine for another trip so soon. But of course you would be wrong. They are ready to go without even a thought of going back to the cave to do any packing or to get a change of clothes. So, off we go again. Whoopee!

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Pit

I sometimes wonder how far in advance some cartoonists craft their stories, especially when world events begin to converge on the action taking place in the comic strip.
Surely, I wasn’t the only person who cringed when the storyline about Dolf wrapped up with King Guz sending him to “the pit” at the same time that the Abu Gharib prisoner abuse scandal was making big news around the globe.
Dolf, of course, was the mysterious interloper who started wooing Alley Oop’s girlfriend Oola while our caveman adventurer was out on one of his pointless time traveling jaunts. When Oop came back he went after Dolf like Ken Starr went after Bill Clinton - digging for dirt, spreading rumors and innuendo and generally trashing his character to everyone who would listen.
But unfortunately for Dolf, the strip’s authors had it out for him in the end. As Oop’s obsession with Dolf grows, we see the cheerful, good-natured Dolf suddenly transformed into a dastardly villian right before our eyes. Now, instead of smiling pleasantly at everyone, he has a nasty scowl on his face whenever he is not dealing directly with one of the main characters. We also find that in addition to being a vile evil-doer, Dolf is also an idiot (which explains how he was able to fit in so well with the rest of the Moovians).
It turns out that Dolf has been drugging King Guz to get him to say where his troops are stationed on the border between Moo and Lem. You see, Dolf is a Lemmian who is secretly planning to lead an invasion force into Moo to take over the country. But this begs the question, if he already has King Guz under his thumb why does he need to invade? What would that accomplish?
And if he can’t defeat the Moovian forces at the border and only plans to sneak by them, what is he going to do when they come in from the border to confront him once he is inside Moo with his invasion force?
These questions are never addressed, however, since Alley Oop has already devined what Dolf’s plan is and is there to foil him when he leads his ragtag group of invaders across the border. During the melee that ensues, Dolf has a chance to escape, but stupidly decides to stop and see if Oola is still enamored with him. She of course slugs him and he is carted back to King Guz in handcuffs. When Guz learns of Dolf’s treachery he immediately sentences him to be thrown into “the pit” which I guess is Moo’s version of Abu Gharib prison. No trial, no appeal, no legal counsel, not even a chance to contact family members.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The spy who made me jealous

I know I haven’t posted here in a while, but the latest Alley Oop story line has just been too awful for words.
Let’s see if I can summarize the past eight months in a few paragraphs...
The idiots at the time lab have finally returned Alley Oop to Moo where he finds that during his lengthy absense a new character named Dolf has moved in on his territory by charming the citizens of Moo, befriending King Guz and, to top it off, is courting Oop’s longtime girlfriend Oola.
One might wonder at this point why the time mavens can’t return Oop to Moo closer to the time that he left so that his absense wouldn’t be noticed. I mean, it’s a time machine for crying out loud! But nevermind.
And so naturally Oop’s first reaction is one of intense jealousy and anger. He is so distraught by the notion of a competitor for Oola’s affections that he gives up on asking Oola to marry him (She has been his steady girlfriend since the strip was started in 1933 and he is just now getting around to thinking about matrimony??) and he doesn’t even bother to let her know that he is back from his recent spate of time travelling. Instead he decides to take off on a pointless trip to nowhere with his one remaining true friend - Dinny the dinosaur. But before he can take off for good he spies Dolf wandering about and decides to stalk him. Based on no evidence whatsoever, Oop is suddenly convinced that Dolf is some kind of villian who is up to something. Oop soon runs into his friend Foozy and in no time at all has convinced him - still based on no evidence - that Dolf is bad news and they start plotting ways to foil Dolf’s nefarious plans.
Things are getting a little creepy at this point with Oop conspiring against this poor guy for daring to court his girlfriend while he’s been gone when the authors decide to give the readers a broad hint that (gasp!) Dolf really is a bad guy and so all of Oop’s worst suspicions are dead on. (Note to future spies who want to help overthrow the Moovians: Don’t get Alley Oop jealous and you will never be found out.)
As it turns out, the nefarious Dolf has been drugging King Guz - using a truth serum made by the wizer - in order to learn the position of his troops guarding the border between Moo and Lem.
So now catching up to present day we find that Oop has singlehandedly ordered all the troops to be repositioned without even telling King Guz what he is doing or why and is preparing to set a trap for Dolf.