The Shortcut Express
May 17, 2006 10:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm failing to see the joke or point in this week's Perry Bible Fellowship. Is there one?
posted by juniper to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by rxrfrx at 10:57 AM on May 17, 2006

I thought it was a joke about how little kids play with toys, translated into reality. Definitely not one of his strongest ones.
posted by saladin at 10:58 AM on May 17, 2006

Looking for meaning in PBF might not be the most rewarding venture.
posted by selfnoise at 11:01 AM on May 17, 2006

For some reason it brought to mind a Disney cartoon with goofy that I don't really remember or know why the connection was even made. Not that this helps any.
posted by chrisroberts at 11:04 AM on May 17, 2006

As a young boy playing with cars, two of my most common utterances were, "watch out for that cliff!" and "let's take a shortcut!" Both scenarios ended with me launching my cars from the top of the stairs... followed by a rescue squad made up of G.I. Joes and Star Wars figurines.
posted by bjork24 at 11:09 AM on May 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I was really looking for some evidence that the driver was on the sauce or maybe something in the design of the van but I think he's just drivin' off a cliff.
posted by furiousthought at 11:09 AM on May 17, 2006

Well, he's decorated the van up to look like a train engine. (cab on the roof, smokestack on the hood). But that didn't make it any clearer for me. "Trains don't take shortcuts" is pretty weak.
posted by mendel at 11:12 AM on May 17, 2006

I had the same problem, so I went and found the official PBF messageboard. There's a thread on this strip, but the author has yet to chime in (though he does post to the board frequently). The posters there haven't been able to make much sense out of it...

selfnoise writes "Looking for meaning in PBF might not be the most rewarding venture."

Well, this just isn't true. PBF is a gag strip, and it's always based on some pun or ironic twist; it usually makes perfect comic sense.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:25 AM on May 17, 2006

Well, this just isn't true. PBF is a gag strip, and it's always based on some pun or ironic twist; it usually makes perfect comic sense.

Yep. Sometimes you have to look for some little detail in the drawing that gives it away, but there is always some kind of gag, even if it is really obscure.

Thanks for posting this question, I was tempted to do the same when I saw the cartoon this morning.

Maybe it's kind of like the infamous cow tools Far Side.
posted by starman at 11:32 AM on May 17, 2006

Hey! What does that cow use those tools for?!

I want my money back.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:34 AM on May 17, 2006

You must be looking at it wrong. It can't be funny like you've posted it.

But seriously, I do not get it.
posted by MarkAnd at 11:38 AM on May 17, 2006

It just seems to me to be a mild three-way gag.

1. The guy is clearly crazy/childish; he's playing engineer in a van, with stuffed animals in the back.
2. Trains of the non-van variety don't take shortcuts.
3. The "shortcut" he's taking apparently goes off the edge of a cliff.
posted by neckro23 at 11:47 AM on May 17, 2006

That thread that mr_roboto linked to seems to theorize that this PBF is about a failed train conductor. This makes as much sense as anything. Fake train (a van with fake train parts glued on), fake passengers, and in the end, he drives the "train" off the rails and off the cliff in despair or sheer incompetence, whichever.
posted by furiousthought at 11:49 AM on May 17, 2006

I didn't get it right away either, but it kind of sank in. He's crazy, he's also a toy... I don't know.

On ther other hand, I remember getting Cow Tools right away. I don't know what that means.
posted by o2b at 11:58 AM on May 17, 2006

chrisroberts, I think you're thinking of Mickey's Trailer--an old favorite of mine. thanks for taking me back to my childhood.
posted by killjoy at 12:03 PM on May 17, 2006

I'm reading it as a really, really elaborate escapist suicide. It doesn't really make it funnier, but it does make it consistent to me. Pull the layers back panel by panel:

1. Train Engineer in a panic
2. Train Engineer announcing panickedly to dolls at tea
3. Man in van gussied up to look like train and occupied by dolls at tea, driving van off cliff with a Slim Pickens-esque salute to his own death, which by all appearances he may largely pretending is not even the act of suicide that, to an outside observer, it clearly is.
posted by cortex at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2006

I think that's a collapsed bridge in the foreground, no?
posted by DandyRandy at 12:30 PM on May 17, 2006

that's a guardrail.
posted by puke & cry at 12:36 PM on May 17, 2006

Most PBF strips have a cute premise then a violent ending.

Personal favorite: Zuthulu's Resurrection
posted by StarForce5 at 12:36 PM on May 17, 2006

Whoa. To be honest, I expected to get slammed or ignored for posting the question. Glad I'm not the only one who was puzzled. I like Cortex's elaborate suicide theory best, but still have no idea what the artist's actual intent was. Thanks everyone!
posted by juniper at 12:42 PM on May 17, 2006

I love PBF, by the way, though I tend to read it in infrequent spurts. And this strip would probably have struck me as hilarious if I had come to my conclusion in five seconds instead of puzzling it out.

To see this sort of weird comprehension-failure in even such a fantastically good strip is a good reminder that I probably shouldn't ever try to do a webcomic.
posted by cortex at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2006

PBF was hilarious when it first started but it's really gotten weak in the last handful of strips, like he's running out of ideas.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 2:23 PM on May 17, 2006

To be honest, I expected to get slammed or ignored for posting the question.

No way. My wife and I had a 5 minute chat (which GTalk refuses to find) about the meaning of this one. Best I could do was compare it to the clip in Mr. Show's "Creepy Peeping Videos" where a man in a business suit is berating stuffed animals at a backyard tea party.
posted by yerfatma at 2:51 PM on May 17, 2006

Hahahah, what's wrong with you people?

It's funny because he's driving off a cliff Now I've never seen PBF before, but just look at those three panels made me laugh

Now maybe the humor is usually a lot more erudite or something but this is just funny on the surface, for no reason at all.
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on May 17, 2006

Oh, PBF's awesome, the best comic around, inconsistencies and all. Read through the rest of 'em, delmoi, and you'll know from funny.
posted by furiousthought at 3:56 PM on May 17, 2006

In some naive way, I always thought that I was one of the few people who liked/knew of PBF. I'm glad to have been proven wrong.

And it's a child-like suicide by an old man pretending to be child-like.

That's my best guess, at least.
posted by myodometer at 4:46 PM on May 17, 2006

Also, the comic is framed by train tracks - I don't know if this is some sort of clue since the vehicle is obviously a van.
posted by myodometer at 4:47 PM on May 17, 2006

I agree with delmoi, I laughed when I hit the last panel. What's not funny about driving off a cliff?
posted by exhilaration at 2:00 PM on May 18, 2006

So, was this week's a reply at all??
posted by starman at 10:06 AM on May 24, 2006

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