Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Things That No Longer Exist (or It's a Trap!)

As I was looking over the comic strips that were on deck for this week, it struck me that they include a couple of items that really aren’t that common today. After 35 years, technology is bound to move on and leave some things behind. 

I can remember a time when people would carry change around in their pocket just in case they needed to make a call on a pay phone. You could find one at pretty much every gas station, rest stop, restaurant, and grocery store. And that's not counting the thousands of phone booths on street corners, near bus stops, and in random places in the middle of nowhere. Like beacons of communication in potentia dotting the landscape, they were ubiquitous. 

If it weren't for the phone booth, we may never have gotten Superman. Bill and Ted would have had their Excellent Adventure grounded. Maxwell Smart would never have been able to find his way into CONTROL's secret offices without it. And while it is not exactly the same, Doctor Who certainly would have been different had it not been for the police call phone box. This spunky little, nearly extinct, bit of tech has been responsible for a significant amount of pop culture.

But, alas, a better mousetrap came along, and on a few years before these strips were originally published, the first cellular phone became commercially available. Like any new technology, there were early adopters, people who were cautiously optimistic, and people who thought the whole thing was a fad and would never catch on. As we all know, mobile phones are now as common (even more so) as the pay phones they replaced. The current generation may not even recognize a pay phone should they happen upon the dilapidated remains of one in the wilderness.

Now, while people have continued to make better actual mouse traps, you can still find the classic spring-loaded styles, though they aren't quite as common as they once were. You're more likely to find them being used in a physics experiment than waiting to ensnare an unsuspecting rodent. But, again, technology marches on.

Technology is bringing this blog to you. Technology is allowing me to rescue these 35 year-old comic strips from yellowed obscurity. It's even giving me the opportunity to fix the shortcomings of the technology used to originally print these strips. A number of them, due to the paste-up process used in the creation of the newspaper, lost some of their finer lining, effectively erasing large portions of certain panes. 

Strip 71 prior to re-inking

Fortunately the modern conveniences of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil made recreating the missing bits fairly painless, allowing me to present the comics in their (almost) original condition.

Strip 69/166 - Self-help fail

I remember when bookstores were still a thing, pre-Amazon. There were entire sections devoted to "self-help" books of every kind. FC seems to have gotten his appendages on one that could help Furble's current situation. Or, not. I just hope he didn't pay full price.

Strip 70/166 - Intergalactic calling is costly!

How nice of Furble to remember Mother's Day even as he's ensnared in the diabolical trap. What's a companion to do but find the nearest communications device and try and give ol' mom a call. When I was in Europe in the early 90s, calling the US cost around 4 quid per minute. That looks down right cheap compared to the cost that FC is quoted. Going to need some more quarters...

Strip 71/166 - And, just like that...

Why? I don't know. It's a call back to our deus ex machina situation from a few strips ago. I'm pretty sure I was trying to be ironic, as opposed to lazy. Pretty sure.

Strip 72/166 - Different celebration, same problem

Fortunately, FC has remembered that it is Furble's mother's birthday. Unfortunately, we already know the hefty cost of trying to reach out and talk with her. Do you suppose FTD delivers to Furbulia? With modern technology, anything is possible!

Don't take your tech for granted, and I'll see you all next week.

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