Strip Search #16: Jerry Ate My Comic

StripSearch16_bIn this episode of Strip Search, Mike has his first Golden Oreo in two months and it’s practically a religious experience, while Jerry makes a smoothie out of the losing artist’s comic and downs it in one go, toxic inks and all. And to think there are people on earth who aren’t watching this show.

StripSearch16_aFor Elimination #5, the themes were “mermaids” and “ukulele,” and Amy delivered a comic that featured neither of those things. I can forgive not drawing the ukulele, because the hell with that, but why would you give up the opportunity to draw a mermaid, one of the easiest and funnest (totally a real word) things to draw? I draw mermaids all the time, even when I’m not going to get anything for it, let alone a pass to the next round of a competition. Hell, sometimes I take characters who aren’t mermaids and draw them as mermaids, giving them fish-surgery. I just don’t understand her thinking here.

Meanwhile, Maki delivered what I thought was the best elimination comic so far: not only does it use both themes, both critical to the joke, but his art was great, and there’s actually a couple of different ways of interpreting the joke that are all funny. In fact, when I first saw the themes picked from the Wastebasket of Broken Dreams I was doing a little dance in my chair because I would have an excuse to draw mermaids. Then I saw Maki’s comic, and it was like all the wind was knocked out of me.

Think about it: It’s hard to sit down and draw a mermaids-and-ukuleles comic when you’ve just seen someone not only deliver what is, unquestionably, the Citizen Kane of mermaids-and-ukuleles comics, but done so while coping with extreme time pressure, while also under duress in the form of two professional assholes. NO PRESSURE or anything.

That said, I promised I would try to do elimination comics, so I gave it a go:

StripSearch_Elim5Blend THIS into a strawberry smoothie and drink it! No seriously, do it. I want you to.

Okay, confession time: I was going to stop the episode once the two themes were revealed and make my elimination comic the purist way, but I really felt like watching the episode so I watched first- which was good for me, because otherwise I would have had no idea what a ukuele looked like. Then I took a leeeetle bit longer than 90 minutes because I’m still learning how to do some incredibly simple tasks with a tablet, like draw any proper lines at all. So yeah, I cheated a bit. But next elimination, the training wheels come off! Maybe!

Back to the episode itself, I think Mike and Jerry might have made it sound during judging like it was closer than it really was because they liked Amy so much. Not only did her joke have almost nothing to do with the themes, it didn’t strike me as funny, and I say that having seen her comics, so I know she can produce the funny.

I also understood the criticism that Maki’s comic had unnecessary dialogue, but I’m not sure I agree. Sure, it was immediately obvious to Mike and Jerry what the joke was, since they breathe comics and spend a fair amount of time immersed in mythology as well; THEY didn’t need that explanatory text. However, a lot of readers wouldn’t immediately make the connection “Mermaids +musical instruments=SIRENS=Potential danger to the ship.” That’s actually a fair bit of conceptual arithmetic, right there. They would just see mermaids playing instruments and think “hmm, that’s cute,” and kind of miss the joke– that the captain pulling out the guitar was doing so as a form of combat.

Without the text, many readers would think it was just meant to be absurd– mermaids play instruments, so Captain starts playing his instrument back. Still cute, still a functional strip, but not as funny, at least not to me.

I think this highlights a kind of “expert paradox”: the more adept someone is at something, the more you may sometimes have to take their advice with a grain of salt because they’ve become different from the average viewer/reader, thus things are immediately obvious to them that might not be to others. You see this a lot with movie reviewers; someone who has to sit through virtually every movie that comes out is going to end up with a very different perspective than someone who only sees a movie once every couple of months, yet the former has to give advice to the latter as though they share the same concerns. Movies that critics pan as painfully derivative often seem a  lot less so to an audience that has only seen 3% of the films that have come out in the past year. Without going off topic much more, I think a lot of the appeal of the late, great Roger Ebert was that he managed to constantly watch movies without getting terribly jaded.

Anyway, it was a well-deserved win for Maki, but don’t forget: Jerry drank Amy’s losing comic, meaning that part of Amy is now INSIDE him. On the DVD there should be an after-the-credits bonus scene where Jerry wakes up, giggles, puts on a pair of fingerless gloves and goes to the Strip Search house to skulk at the foot of Erika’s bed, like a predatory jungle cat.

When they get back to the house, Graham lines them all up (in their pajamas, no less) for the daily debriefing. He then says “and who will be the next to…ABANDON STRIP?”, and says it with this utter conviction, like he’s making the most clever pun man has ever made since the beginning of time. Anyone who doesn’t think Graham is a good host for this show must have drank too many ink smoothies, because any man who can make a pun that terrible seem cute has incredible rhetorical gifts.

The episode ends with Amy’s tears of joy, which is surprising and moving. Granted, she could be crying because she just lost, but I don’t get that vibe from her at all. It’s more like she’s so genuinely happy to have made it this far, to have met awesome people and won some stuff, and she’s happy that she did it as herself. It’s sad to lose her right when she was really letting the wall down and being herself, but Mike and Jerry are right: she has made fans, and she will be missed. Ya did good, TeamScheme.

Next Time: Will Erika be able to persevere in the competition without her best gal pal? Can love bloom on a battlefield? Will we see the triumphant return of pineapples to Strip Search and if so, will Abby go on a killing spree? All that and more on Strip Search, the reality show with all the feels!

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