Here’s the one Westview teacher who makes Les look like Mr. Chips, getting his first spoken lines in a year. Burchett’s Jim Kablichnick still resembles Mark Twain, though he’s lost his suspenders (and he used to favor colorful dress shirts). Today’s gag, of course, is lifted from Sunday’s “Name the Canadian Provinces” strip (and from every comic strip that’s featured a kid sitting at a school desk), right down to name-checking another Golden Age Disney character. Smirk it up, Bernie: there can be no incorrect answer (“Write down what you think…”). On the other hand, Kablichnick’s enough of a douchebag to find a rationale to mark every student’s answer incorrect anyway.
Given Rick Burchett’s animation background, it’s weird how statically he’s rendered Jim here: propped up in front of the classroom, pointing his finger at the ceiling. Like Batiuk, Burchett uses some unusual “camera angles.” But unlike TB, RB (let’s just start using that abbreviation) puts his characters in actual, defined space, and not silhouetted in a crosshatched, encroaching black void. Three of his four strips so far have been set in a classroom, the angular walls and neatly tiled ceilings of which loom claustrophobically on all sides. I recognize the books atop the cabinet in the corner of Jim’s class, but am still trying to figure out what those diagonal planes in the left foreground of yesterday’s panel one. All the crazy angles lend some sort of tension to the settings. Kind of like how in the old Batman TV series, the camera shots inside the villians’ hideouts were all tilted askew.