29 Comments

  1. Someone once said “in the supermarket of life, I got the trolley with the wonky wheel.”

    This is a variant in an establishment of death.

    Surely we’ve all had this experience?

  2. The gurney wheel front and just right of center is a bit sideways and has indications that the wheel is unstable or squeaky..

  3. John in Australia, thanks, I do think it’s a common experience. But I was hampered in a couple ways from enjoying the cartoon because I couldn’t understand aspects of the picture.

    For one thing, on first look I thought it was one of the attendants speaking (parallel to a grocery shopper getting stuck with the wobbly cart) — but your comment suggests it could be one of the bodies, which opens up room for jokes I was missing.

    And second, under the idea that one of the attendants was speaking, the disarray of the place and the activity led me to look for a body part – a stray arm or leg – to be the real source of the rough rolling he was attributing to a bad wheel. But this also could not be found in the artwork.

  4. (In my previous comment I had not seen Mark H’s comment yet)

    Thanks for spotting that; I think you’re right, backed up by small curved motion lines.

    And also I think that returns us to it being the attendant speaking. The “always” in the complaint line works for the attendants, who push these around day in and day out, but is less fitting for one of the bodies, as the probably have not been wheeled around on gurnrys often enough to get an “always”.

  5. I have no idea how prevalent the “bad wheel” effect is (or was) for American shopping carts, but I can say that they are exceedingly rare in Germany. I may (once upon a time) have encountered a bad wheel here, but if so, it was so long ago that I do not remember it at all. That’s not to say that German carts are perfect: I have run into carts in which the kiddie seat (which I use as a vegetable tray) was defective or even missing, and the rack for beverage cases (which folds down in the back, underneath the handle) sometimes jams, but German manufacturers definitely seem to use better bearings for their wheels.

    P.S. This panel originally appeared on 31-May-1990, but I doubt that this is the original artwork. Back then most of Larson’s panels were line drawings, and did not use shading. Nevertheless, it is impressive that he took the time to draw an obviously “wobbly” wheel.

  6. @ Powers – Thanks very much for sharing that link. It shows that the shaded and colorized versions of the old Far Side panels were not “redrawn” (as I had always thought), but were “processed” from the original material.

  7. Kilby – I hope you are sanitizing your vegetable tray before putting anything on it, particularly raw vegetables.

  8. The funniest part of this strip for me was the “Employees Only” notation on the door. If you’re not an employee, roaming around in a room with a bunch of dead bodies is fine. Just don’t go through that door!

  9. After flipping through the first volume of “The Complete Far Side“, I really don’t think that the shading or colorization was always a good idea. The original panels have a distinctive charm that no amount of reworking can improve.

    P.S. It’s a real shame that George Lucas never learned that lesson.

  10. While I knew, from first read, that it was the fellow on the left who was speaking, I have to really focus to see his open mouth while my optical processor keeps seeing it as a big black mustache.

  11. @Kilby I just compared and wow!, yes, to me the feet are really smile-inducing with personality (in that “charming” way you mention) in the original, whereas they’re just feet in the colored & shaded version.

  12. The bad wheel is the least of the problems with those gurneys. Just skinny legs, straight down, with no cross bracing? 2 months or one heavy corpse & they’re spilling.

  13. @Kevin A-

    And you comment got me re-imagining this panel done with Don Martin’s wonky feet!

  14. Cart wheels can and do wear out. 🙂

    I did chuckle out loud at the initial comic, though I do appreciate the original clear artwork more.

  15. @Blinky the Wonder Wombat-

    Ohmygod, yes! I was having a bit of an emotional flashback looking at the feet but couldn’t clearly come up with what had looked like them.

    A friend of mine up the hilly street in the ’60s had a fancy tree house with windows and doors to little patios. On the wooden desk attached to a wall was a Don Martin paperback which I would read a bit of every time I climbed up to visit. I built my own collection with 3 or 4 other books plus 2 or 3 of the “super” hero character ones, but never bought the one that was in the tree house.

  16. I think it’s just a “some guys have all the bad luck” joke while in a room full of dead people.

  17. FWIW, I too think it’s one of the attendants talking. The way the gurney-tables are stacked up, though, he’s stuck with it. It’ll be pretty hard for any employee to get out through that door.

  18. I have no idea how prevalent the “bad wheel” effect is (or was) for American shopping carts, but I can say that they are exceedingly rare in Germany.

    Do most of the stores there use that “coin-release” cart system? Here, the only ones that do are Aldi. Carts that have to be collected en mass from the parking lot tend to get more damage.

  19. Yes, shopping carts still have funky wheels. Sometimes one of the front casters wobbles (flutter or shimmy), or sometimes the bearings scream. Even store material-handling carts (often called “U-boats”) can develop cranky wheels. Modern cart wheels can have their plastic tires wear out and fall off in chunks, leaving the cart to noisily thump about.

    Here’s a recent-ish video of a bad wheel in action

    This one’s more rhythmic

    There are others.

  20. I think Folly has the joke; all the dead people are worse off than having a bad wheel on the gurney, but still he complains.

  21. I think I mentioned before but there’s a new wrinkle. The carts at the supermarket I go to have a wheel that locks if one gets too far away from the store. Or sometimes in the store. Then there will be an intercom call, “Security to Aisle 5 for wheel unlock.”

  22. @ Kilby:

    } I have no idea how prevalent the “bad wheel” effect is (or was) for
    } American shopping carts, but I can say that they are exceedingly
    } rare in Germany … German manufacturers definitely seem to use
    } better bearings for their wheels.

    Why am I not surprised.

    @ Mark M:

    Yes – I wondered why a room full of dead bodies wasn’t Employees Only.

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