Believe it or not, despite reading several hundred comics in any given week, I rarely "LOL" at the funnies. Why? I suppose because my job is to make sure cartoonists turn things in on time, have their ducks in a row grammatically and deliver the joke or tell the story as effectively as possible, I'm more likely to quietly applaud a well-executed gag than I am to guffaw (with plenty of exceptions, especially "Frank and Ernest" dailies). But something about today's Alley Oop set me to laughing — out loud, no less.
A mere two panels, and a mere two words. That's all it took. A simple "Swoosh!!" followed by an "Ouch!" (true fact: Kierkegaard's "Either/Or" was originally titled "Swoosh/Ouch" before his editor urged him to change it.) Yet in the arc of Oop's ill-fated swing on the vine, we see the entire arc of human ambition: Headstrong optimism takes flight, only to be followed by a sudden, unexpected fall to earth after smacking into a tree. If only a third panel showed a close-up of Alley's bruised head, complete with orbiting birdies and the word Mondays!, I'm quite confident it would sell a lot of t-shirts.
Still, Jack and Carole Bender accomplish a lot with these two panels, and even if I could, I wouldn't change a thing. It's a nice aside in the current storyline, which involves a suddenly free-spirited Ooola hitching a pterodactyl-back flight into the vaguely hostile neighborhing land of Lem. Lord only knows what kind of struggles Alley and Ooola will face in their quest to reunite and escape back safely t'Moo. But I look forward to finding out, even if there are a few minor setbacks — and serious headaches — along the way.