Copyright 2011 by Gary L. Pullman
October 25, 2009
Halloween is a quintessential children’s holiday, and, since “Luann” appeals primarily to teenagers and young adults, its creator focuses most of an entire week’s worth of his comic strip on this festive occasion. The exception is the Sunday, October 25, 2009, edition. All of Evans’ Sunday strips are stand-alone works. They are not part of the daily sequence. Therefore, they must make sense by themselves. The strip for Sunday, October 25, 2009, shows Luann and her friends standing shoulder to shoulder at the front of their classroom. Behind them, the theme of the day’s lesson is written on the chalkboard: “Day of Service--How will you help others?” As their teacher, Mr. Fogarty, looks on, the students tell their peers what each of them intends to do during the Day of Service. Luann is the next to the last in line; Tiffany stands to her left. Each of the students except Tiffany plans to perform a more-or-less significant act of kindness and assistance. Bernice announces that she intends to “visit” a “disabled neighbor.” Crystal plans to “give manicures at the senior center.” Knute will “mentor at the skateboard park.” Delta hopes to “start a citywide volunteer corps.” Gunther intends to “donate extra time at the library.” Luann is going to “clean up litter.” Since all the other students have a relatively important and meaningful task in mind for the Day of Service, the reader anticipates that Tiffany, the last in line, will also have a noble and helpful task in mind. However, her announcement surprises both Luann and the reader. When Tiffany declares that she will do all that she “can to look incredibly gorgeous,” Luann turns to her, in the next panel, and asks, “How does that help others, Tiffany?” Although her explanation (“Uh. You all have to look at me, right? Duh.”) is obviously ludicrous, it reflects her shallow and narcissistic character, and, juxtaposed to her peers’ more important plans to help others, is amusing.
Octiber 26, 2009
The rest of the week focuses upon Halloween. In the October 26, 2009, strip, Frank and Nancy, seated across from one another in their living room, discuss what to hand out to visiting trick or treaters. Nancy confides to her husband, “I didn’t buy Halloween candy. I hate it that kids gorge on sweets, but I don’t know what to give. Carrots? Toys? Dimes?” Her practical husband suggests “garage stuff.” His response seems to surprise Nancy. “What?” she asks him. “We have junk in the garage we plan to sell,” Frank tells her. “Give it to the kids. Win-win.” Unimpressed, Nancy illustrates the absurdity of Frank’s suggestion. Pretending to give the garage items to visiting trick or treaters, she says, as if she were speaking to them, “A bent golf club for you, an ugly tie for you, a half roll of wallpaper for you, a broken lamp for you.” Her humorous protest prompts Frank to response, “See? It’s even kinda scary.” This strip uses a problem--children’s stuffing themselves with “sweets”--to set up a humorous attempt by the characters to find a solution. Nancy’s suggestions for alternative treats (“carrots. . . toys. . . dimes”) are serious, but Frank’s (“junk in the garage”) is both playfully self-serving and humorous. The strip combines a serious health issue with an everyday situation (cleaning out the family’s garage) and a holiday (Halloween) to appeal to a wide audience, which includes both children, adults, parents, and homeowners.
October 27, 2009
October 28, 2009
October 29, 2009
October 30, 2009
October 31, 2009
Just as she earlier solved her parents’ dilemma concerning what to give trick or treaters instead of candy, Luann now resolves the crisis of reclaiming the book she originally gives a child in a diplomatic, and even witty, manner. Although her parents are obviously mature adults--Frank provides for the financial necessities of a family of four, just as Nancy keeps house for them, and both parents show an understanding of and a concern for both their own children and children in general--both Nancy and Frank can also act childishly on occasion, as is indicated by Frank’s panic at the possibility of losing a book signed by a famous author and his grabbing it out of Luann’s hands the moment she retrieves it from the trick or treater and Nancy’s earlier insistence that her bran muffins are superior to Frank’s suggestion for a Halloween treat because her muffins would be “all about fiber.” The comedy of “Luann” springs from Evans’ display of his characters’ personalities through their responses to the problems and conflicts which arise from specific situations related to everyday life. Such humor appeals to children, teenagers, parents, and other adults alike.
Evans, Greg. “Luann.” Comic Strip. The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
25 Oct. 2009-31 Oct. 2009: C8. Print.
Markstein, Don. (2009). Luann. Don Markstein’s Toonopedia. Retrieved November 4, 2009, from