So an unpleasant elderly woman demands to move in with her middle aged child? A plot line so timeless that Tom Batiuk has used it already. Did he miss Rose from Crankshaft so much that he decided to move a surrogate Rose to the flagship? How long until the elder Mrs. Budd is stabbing comic books and reminiscing on spatula spankings?
This strip is really about 50% recycled Crankshaft at this point. Elder antics abound, and the majority of the cast is aged 50-90 and drawn as an even 75. And it only highlights how much better Crankshaft is. I’m not saying Crankshaft is good but it is usually tolerable and occasionally amusing. Some of that has to do with residual ‘zany’ ideas being allowed there, like Crankshaft scaling a massive icicle with hatchets.
I think the real difference is the titular protagonist. When your main character’s explicit stock state is a grumpy, ignorant, sour old man, then it’s in character when he’s stupid or mean. But it hints at hidden depths when he’s thoughtful or kind. Like washed out, discount, diet Archie Bunker.
But when your main character is supposed to be a relatively intelligent, socially conscious, everyman, then he’s bland when he’s acting like himself, and just infuriating when he’s an asshole so dense and full of shit Miralax couldn’t clear him out.