What’s old is new

After a gap of not quite a year, the GoComics feed for Randolph Itch restarted. This one for 2022 March 7 seems to be the first cartoon in the cycle.

Which doesn’t make its meaning clear!

Just for interest, here are the next two cartoons in the cycle. Not as puzzling, maybe.

Looks like somebody’s been hitting that Welsh rarebit too close to bedtime!


  1. In the first panel, he has managed to blow a cubical bubble, but will never be able to prove it, because there are no witnesses, and his video recorder has run out of power. Just another “little tragedy of adulthood”.

    P.S. Toles drew “Randolph Itch” from his own personal experience with (severe) insomnia. When he became the editorial cartoonist for The Washington Post, one of the conditions of his contract was that he discontinue producing Randolph Itch.

  2. But what’s with the 2nd thought bubble, apparently coming from his hand? And what DOES it mean?

  3. I’m sure we’ve discussed this one before, but I can’t find it under the “Randolph Itch 2AM” tag. Dream-Randolph gets out a camcorder to record his cubical bubble, but the battery light on the camcorder is flashing at him, indicating low battery, meaning he won’t get to record the image to prove to others what he did.

  4. I had to laff at the snow globe one; I know a flat-earther who is one of those convinced that there is no ‘outer space’, and that the [flat] earth is covered by a dome. IF i still communicated with him, I’d’ve sent him this comic, but I’ve found that flat-earthers, et al, have no sense of humor whatsoever.

  5. @Mark M That’s exactly right; it’s a communication from the camcorder that a person only understands through previous experience; A made-up example for myself could have been “TAPE” if it had run to the end of the reel OR had no cassette loaded.. (The first tapeless camcorder came out in 2003, 4 years after this cartoon.) “TAPE?”, “TAPE?”, “TAPE”, what does that mean?

  6. @ Powers – I think you may be right, but if so, it must have been before the server meltdown that torched all the old archives of CIDU comments.

    P.S. @ Mark M – Toles frequently used most of the panel for the “dream” illustration, leaving insufficient room for a well-placed bubble in the “bedroom” portion of the drawing.

  7. camcorders flash “battery” when the battery is low. This is a variation on the VCR that blinks 12:00 instead of displaying the time.

  8. A few weeks back, I was getting ready in the morning and it seemed a tad cool in the house. I checked to thermostat temperature, and it was BATTERY LO. Sometimes I miss the old Honeywell bimetallic strip thermostat.

  9. @ Mike P – That doesn’t sound strange at all. One of Clumsy Carp’s talents was making water balls, and I’m pretty sure there was at least one strip in which he made a water cube by mistake. Unfortunately, the GoComics archive only contains a small fraction of Hart’s old strips, and none of them are indexed with dialog, so even if the strip is available, it is not findable.

  10. I know, having tried a few months ago to find a particular strip, which at the time would have been very apposite. I can’t remember why, now, but it was the Peter’s-seafood-stall-what’s-the-difference-between-your-clams-and-mine one.

    I sometimes think that providing fully searchable archives of cartoons should be a mandatory condition of maintaining copyright.

  11. [This young-looking old man writes] Yesterday, I looked at the typewriter-terminal panel for a long time and could not quite figure it all out. Today, I looked and, understanding the jam at first glance, I experienced a warm, almost weepy, woosh of nostalgia of my years of typing, especially my first resume and cover letters, where a college friend let me stay in her apartment in Eastern Massachusetts as I looked for my first job out of grad school in the greater Boston area.

  12. I’m thinking of the printer in the movie “Office Space.” “PC LOAD LETTER? What does that even mean?”

  13. @ Mike P – For that to work, someone has to invest the effort to retype all of the captions and dialog into a text database. I am still awed that someone did this for Calvin & Hobbes and even more so for Peanuts (the latter encompassing 50 years of strips), but B.C. is encumbered by its history of (various) syndicates, including King Features, which has never shown any love for free public access.

  14. Hart’s strips are archived at gocomics as “Back to B.C.”. Probably not searchable, except for the old way (read the strip, decide it’s not the one you wanted to find, click to load the next one…)

  15. Back to B.C.” is an incompetent abuse of good material. GoComics started this feature in 2015, so they would seem to have covered 6.5 years of Hart’s 49-year career. Unfortunately, the strips are unsearchable, incomplete (skipping random days), and are presented out of sequence (Sundays are offset from dailies by two years), out of season (currently showing September strips in March), and worst of all, some unspeakably stupid idiot decided that he could “improve” on Hart’s artwork by coloring random daily strips (and strangely enough, not Sundays). The effort wasted on coloration would have been better spent on entering the dialog and character names into the text database.

  16. We bought mid-pandemic a new scanner/printer as the old one had a problem.

    Last year I had a problem while printing out tax returns toward the end of tax season and thought we would be taking the unit in for warranty service – suddenly only a vertical part of the page printed using the copy function.

    In the interim of course this has not happened and the problem was forgotten about. I did the business return for the one business client I still have. No problems until I got to the NYC return. Same problem as last year – half the page printed vertically. I showed this to Robert.

    This return has bar code lines on it. Apparently the printer somehow reads it as needing to print half the page down the middle of the page and not to print the part with the bar codes! I got around this by scanning into and printing the page from the computer for each copy instead of photocopying the page (there were handwritten items on the page that had to be in the printout). Never had it when copying and printing on any page before.

    Oddly – while writing this post – a black square has appeared over the bottom of the comments box and blocks vision of the left corner and reads “This picture will show whenever you leave a comment. Click to customize it.”

  17. @Kilby – I’m pretty sure that nowadays it would be easy (from a technology POV) to automate the dialogue indexing in B.C. (and Wizard of Id) cartoons.

    @Meryl A – I’m getting a black box with “Log in to use details from one of these accounts.” ’tis jolly annoying.

  18. Mike P and Meryl A — that’s odd, and I’m sure it’s annoying. I don’t know what it is in any specifics, but seems to be a conspiracy of the browser you’re using and the WP comments page, to fill in their form based on how you sign in to Facebook or Twitter etc (which is what they appear to mean by “these accounts”).

  19. @ Mike P – GoComics has no interest in improving the quality or searchability of their comic archives, all they want is cheap additional content to launch extra “features”, so they can increase their page views and thus their advertising revenue. Besides the zombies and other strips in perpetual re-run mode (including Calvin & Hobbes and Peanuts), GoComics has “re-engineered” at least 15 superfluous “classic” strips, which are effectively the same as going to the normal strip and clicking on the arrow to jump back to the beginning.

  20. While not everything GC does is great, at least they provide full archives. Comics Kingdom wants you to pay to get more than like ten days.

  21. @ Brian in StL – You are absolutely right, and I shouldn’t complain. To their credit, GoComics even went to the trouble to find and fill in the gaps (and other errors) in the Peanuts archive they inherited from the old “comics.com” website. Nevertheless, I still get frustrated by the inconsistencies and half-hearted attempts. For instance, they invested a lot of work (and money) to display five and a half years of “Little Nemo” Sunday pages, but then didn’t ensure that the scanning resolution was good enough to actually let people read McCay’s often microscopic dialogs (and as recently mentioned, the insufficient resolution is a constant problem in the “Origins” feature).
    Numerous re-runs are shown by GoComics irritatingly offset from the original calendar, producing permanent seasonal (or even weekly) anachronisms. This is not rocket science: simply restart the rerun series on the first Sunday in January, using the original strip from the first Sunday in January of the comic’s first year, and thereafter the weekdays will match, and the dates will be close enough (c.f. Peanuts & Calvin and Hobbes). I’m more than willing to accept that this cannot be done for some strips, like Cul de Sac, which occasionally had a very irregular publishing schedule, but the for majority it should not be so hard.
    That’s enough harping for one day – time to take a break.

  22. Mitch – I do not, nor ever will, have anything to do with Facebook or Twitter, and were I Emporer of The World for a day the execs of those companies would be behind bars.

  23. Mike P, I’m not at all urging you to participate in those sites / platforms; but I was giving my guess on what that intrusive message meant by “those accounts”.

  24. The problem with reruns is that the set of strips doesn’t necessarily end conveniently for starting the next cycle. That only applies to ones that have been through a few times, like Lucky Cow or Big Top. Normally they wouldn’t want a significant gap between the end of a run and the start of the next, and some fans would be unhappy skipping a bunch of strips.

    Of course, people can go find the start and go through the strips at the pace and synchronization they like. The rebooted Heart of the City ran some old Tatulli daily strips while Steenz was out with injury (I don’t know why they didn’t rerun ones from the previous year). This lead to some chronic complainers wanting this to be the new policy, to which some of us pointed out that nothing was stopping them from doing that using the archive. People just want a “new” strip per day delivered without effort.

  25. @Mitch4 – true, but it does no harm to highlight how unacceptable the existence of those societal cancers is.

  26. Printer did it again – this time when photocopying a bank check before it was mailed out (for our reenactment unit). Only 3/4 of the check printed in the copy. Robert thinks he found a setting to fix the problem.

  27. One of our local kindergartens currently has an illuminated street sign out front that measures and displays the speed of each car driving past. If you are under the legal limit, you get a green “smiley”, those going too fast get a glaring red “frowny”. However, when I drove by there earlier this week, I was amused to see that my speed was shown (in yellow) as “LOW BAT” (followed by some illegible fine print).

  28. So “LOW BAT” is like “LOW BAR” except that the sign’s a girl, and it’s telling you it’s not impressed?

  29. Dave, check back to the comic in the the original post, with the BATTERY message. I figure the LOW BAT message in Kilby’s anecdote is much the same thing – a device complaining that it’s power is going to diminish.

  30. @ Mitch – I think Dave knew that, but was making a pun on “Bat mitzvah” vs. “Bar mitzvah”.

  31. Mitch – I think Dave knew that, but was making a pun on “Bat mitzvah” vs. “Bar mitzvah”.

    Ha, I totally missed that!

  32. I thought about also mentioning that not speeding past the kindergarten is a mitzvah, to improve the context, but decided that was ham-handed.

    Oh well, they can’t all be winners.

  33. Mike P – that is what I have to do – scan it and print which works for some reason. But sometimes need to make a copy quickly and none of the computers are on. (Particularly when we are walking out the door to run errands and Robert decides he needs a copy of something to take with us.)

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