Science has proved that Tony Millionaire is some kind of genius. But what kind of genius is he, exactly? Let's look at a cartoon from his upcoming collection, Little Maakies on the Prairie, and figure it out once and for all.
Panel 1: Clearly, the line work is part of what makes a Millionaire strip something unique. Look at the detailed draftsmanship: The bottles of booze on the bar in the background, Drinky Crow passed out on the floor, the extra supports running between the table legs, even the fact that the walrus and Uncle Gabby have to sit on different-sized seats in order to occupy the same table all show an impressive level of forethought. Millionaire spent a good amount of time visualizing a series of events that led to this moment. The life extends above and beyond and behind and in front of the panel.
Panel 2: The body language says it all. Consider the walrus's flippers, poised eagerly on the table, as though he is sharing something meaningful about himself, expecting reciprocity. But Uncle Gabby's perfect expression—a dash of indignation, a splash of confusion—is not enough for Millionaire. He has to pepper the monkey with three and a half splashes of perspiration and three word balloons full of punctuation. Clearly, this is a writer who (rightly) does not trust his audience. Millionaire knows that we probably read Maakies while drinking at a bar, at the very end of the six or so beers required to choke down an issue of The Stranger, after we've had a private moment in a filthy bathroom stall, lingering over some of the more prurient ads near the back. Um, or something like that.
Panels 3 and 4: These sorts of panel sequences—a character walking away from something in one panel and then walking toward something in another—are very common contrivances in Millionaire strips. In this case, it allows us to linger on the mystery of Uncle Gabby's offense. (He's thrown in a couple more question marks and droplets of sweat for the most wet-brained of his readers.) Usually, it simply gives Millionaire an opportunity to draw a sailboat or two in the background of a panel (he is as obsessed with the sea as Melville—last year, he designed a special edition of Moby-Dick that practically came with a panel you could lick to taste the salty sea air). This time, he drew a desert and a moon turned away from the earth. Why? Perhaps Millionaire is constipated right now. Who can say? Who cares? Why doesn't anyone run Red Meat anymore? Now that was a quality strip. I wonder if I have enough for another beer if I clean out all the spare change in all my pockets? Anyway, how does this strip end? Something hilarious, no doubt.
Panel 5: Oh, Christ. Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. That Red Meat guy would never have done this.