You know, I was genuinely enjoying Les’ hapless, morose expression in panel three (“Twenty or thirty years? Oh, I only waited about twelve. How I have shamed her, and myself”). It’s the perfect way to undercut your own joke.
But then I realized…that’s not Les in panel three. That’s the Editor Guy we saw seated behind the console in Tuesday’s strip. (The clue is the console.)
The thing is, the guy has an identical hairstyle, identical hair color, the same beard, he’s in the same position on screen and he’s facing the same way. He even has the same glasses. It would be natural, almost automatic for a reader to conclude that this is Les. Only it ain’t.
How the heck did this slip past Batiuk, Ayers, the Phantom Editors, everyone involved in this strip? I would count this as a huge gaff, akin to spelling the co-creator of Superman as “Joe Schuster.” Especially since the guy’s expression seems to be the “point” of this particular episode. If it was Les, it would be the point; as Random Guy, morose self-pity changes into bored resignation.
It’s certainly one more bit of evidence that no one cares what goes in, as long as it does go in.
Not going in: a timecode.