This Modern World

From Academic Kids

This Modern World is a weekly satirical comic strip by cartoonist and political commentator Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins) that covers current events from a liberal point of view. Tomorrow also runs a weblog that informs readers about stories of interest, often presented as a follow up to his cartoons.



This Modern World is drawn in a distinctive retro style, with brightly colored illustrations that often look as if they would be at home in an 1950s advertisement. The '50s theme extends to the dialogue of his human characters which is often bubbly, over-enthusiastic, and na´ve. The stupidity of the humans is countered by Sparky, a fast-talking penguin with a red visor, who provides much of the strip's political commentary.

A constantly underlying theme in the comic books (and later, the strips) was that of 'reality engineering', wherin "the very fabric of space and time" is mined for "the good of mankind". This periodically generates "reality discontinuities", where reality breaks down. These are (generally) resolved by reality engineers.


The series has been through several reincarnations through the years, the first of which was actually a comic book published in the late 1980s. Characters include:

Tom Tomorrow

In an 'intermidiate' version of the strip, a character named Tom Tomorrow was in the strip. He was a private eye who was dressed in a radiation suit so his face was never seen. He was eventually phased out.

Dippy the Wonder-Penguin

Tom Tomorrow's sidekick. His vocabulary was limited to 'wank'.

Bob Friendly

Mr. Friendly is in charge of the advertising section of This Modern World (thus breaking the fourth wall). It was he who introduced Sparky the Penguin. He appears only occasionally.

Dr. Wilbur von Philbert

One of the longest-running characters in the strip, Dr. von Philbert is the person who discovered how to mine reality for energy. He is something of a left-wing nut, even by the strip's standards.

Biff and Betty

Biff and Betty are two archetypes of 1950s people, who sometimes share their thoughts on the modern world. Biff occasionally appears alone.

Sparky the Penguin

A sort of upgraded version of Dippy (who had been phased out by the time of Sparky's introduction), Sparky can actually talk. His first words in the strip are "George [H. W.] Bush is a wanker"; note the similarity to the way Dippy talks. A strong liberal advocate, he briefly became a Republican after being hit on the head with a falling toilet.

Tom Tomorrow (again)

Tom occasionally appears in his own strips, this time as himself (again, breaking the fourth wall).

Any relevant public figures

All the presidents since (and including) Ronald Reagan have appeared, as well as other media figures (Rush Limbaugh being a favorite, although he almost always only talks through a radio and is not personally shown). In a few episodes, George W. Bush gets hold of what appears to be the DeLorean from Back to the Future and goes back to meet the founding fathers.

See also

External link


  • The Great Big Book of Tomorrow (a collection of the cartoons from 1992 - 2002)

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