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Comic Strip / Pondus

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Pondus is a comic strip created by the Norwegian cartoonist Frode Øverli. Since its start in 1995, it has become one of the most successful comic strips in Scandinavia. The strip has its own monthly comic book both in Sweden and its native Norway, and has been translated to several other languages, including English, French, German and Latin.

The comic is centered around family man Patrick a.k.a. Pondus and his best friend, former layabout Joachim "Jokke" Jacobsen. They both obsess about the English football league, classic rock (especially the hard kind) and beer. In the early years, the strip usually centered around Pondus' and Jokke's bar discussions as well as Jokke's adventures in womanizing (which, half the time, got him smashed to a pulp by grotesquely ugly women, and the other half, got him in bed with them). But ever since Jokke got into a steady job and a steady relationship, the strip is becoming more and more ensemble-oriented.

Includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurd Phobia: Pondus is homophobic. He doesn't hate gay people, he's utterly terrified of them.
  • An Arm and a Leg: During a football game, Pondus tries to intercept the ball from a tall, thin player with very skinny legs, and is just about to kick the ball when the other player moves his leg in front of it. The final panel shows him and Jocke at the bar.
    Jocke: *calmly snapping matches in half* Ah don't worry, he only screamed until he passed out.
    Pondus: SHUT UP!! It should be against the rules to play football with legs that skinny!!
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Happens a lot to Jokke.
  • Baby's First Words: Due to spending so much time watching football with her father, Frida's first words ended up being "F***ING REFEREE!!". His wife was not amused in the least.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: The ultimate Butt-Monkey moment (in a long series of Butt-Monkey moments) for Ivar came when he developed a unibrow overnight. And there is no cure.
  • The Cameo: Nemi, a character from the series with the same name has appeared in a few strips. Mads Eriksen, Another Norwegian comic book artist was given semi-Take Thats in the strips as a result of a minor war between the two. The famous comic character Gaston Lagaffe has made a cameo as the only customer who didn't get ripped off by the strip's recurring car repairman.
  • Catapult Nightmare: In one strip, it's revealed that Pondus has a recurring catapult nightmare about Champions League matches being cancelled due to rain and being replaced with public programming about literature discussion.
  • The Casanova: Eddie, a recently introduced character, who gets all the chicks he could ask for - and the pretty ones to boot.Subverted when Pondus challenged him in the case of one of the most hideously violent females in the bar. Eddie rejected the offer, stating that although he was fond of challenges, he was not a moron (cue the busdriver cap of Hugo flying through the room, followed by a pint of his blood).
  • Casanova Wannabe: Ivar, through and through. All women rejects him, including the ugly girls that Jocke used to get some action from.
  • Casual Kink: This comic has a lot of this. Often used as a tool to create awkward situations (Jocke and Camilla walking in on Jocke's mother and stepfather doing a scene), but sometimes just for cuteness (Pondus. wife bringing home her nurse uniform from the hospital in return for him taping her favorite Soap Opera).
    Nurse: You're bringing the uniform home with you? Is your husband sick?
    Beate: *smiling fondly* You could say that.
  • Categorism as a Phobia: The titular character Pondus excels at this. He doesn't seem to have much real bigotry or even prejudice, it's just that he has this crippling fear of homosexuals and homosexual sex acts. He has nightmares about making out with guys, he starts shivering with fear at the sight of real life gays, and so on. He is aware of it, and actually makes an effort to deal with it when a gay couple moves in next door with him. And we mean phobia, one strip shows him having nightmares about a judge sentencing him to life as a player for a Camp Gay volleyball team, and the final panel shows him screaming in his sleep.
    • At one point, his friend Jocke felt like messing a bit with him. So Jocke asked him if he had ever masturbated, and of course Pondus said yes. Jocke then proceded to inform Pondus that Pondus had actually had sex with a man: himself. In the next panel, Pondus is screaming psychotically while washing his right hand, and Jocke is laughing at him. In another strip, Jocke points out that, since about one in ten people are gay, and with how much time Pondus has spent in locker rooms over the decades, odds are that he's been checked out covertly by gay guys and never knew about it. This breaks Pondus mind so badly that he has to join Jocke for his regular therapy session.
    • Played for laughs when a weird combination of fat north Norwegian fisherman, black man and Sami entered the bus, making a gesture with his white stick while swearing in a Muslim way. At home, Pondus stated that while he was a quite tolerant guy, "blind, overweight fishermen-muslim-sami-negroes" might be more than he could handle (by the way, North Norwegian fishermen are a cathegory all by themselves, and this particular strip is therefore quite untranslatable).
  • Character Development: Jokke famously went from a lazy, work-shy Casanova Wannabe who could only hook up with women so hideously ugly that they barely qualified as human, to being Happily Married with a child, and owning a music store.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Some of the women Jocke dates in the early strips were certifiably crazy, but one character who really stands out is Roger, a comic book artist and friend of Pondus. His comics certainly attest to this (see Stylistic Suck below).
  • Crooked Contractor: The car mechanic, who constantly tries to scam his customers by claiming their cars have nonexistant, and usually fictional problems. Pondus is one of the few who doesn't fall for his schtick, and once pretended to have a friend at the tax department who could go over the mechanics books while they talked about the car. Another time he threatened to drop a heavy wrench on the mechanics balls while he was stuck under the car if he didn't cut the crap.
  • Crossover: Pondus' wife Beate is a nurse at a hospital. One of the doctors there is a character from a previous hospital-themed comic Øverli did, called Riskhospitalet.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pondus. Beate. Camilla. Turid-Laila. Even Jocke has his moments.
  • De Fictionalization: In-universe. The names Tito and Balthazar first appeared when Kevin pulled a prank on his father during a telephone call. Pondus was absent, and his son claimed that he was in the bath with "Tito and Balthazar". Later on, the two homosexuals actually moved in next door.
  • Dismotivation: In the early days of the comic, Jokke was so chronically work-shy that even Andy Capp would've thought he ought to be ashamed of himself. One of the strip's running jokes was that Jokke would repeatedly be required by the welfare administration to accept some of the temp jobs given to him, or he'd lose his welfare money. Jokke would then proceed to get fired as soon as possible, usually by showing up for work in an outrageous costume, or, failing that, by insulting the customers. It went so far that when the welfare administration began calling his bluff, he came prepared; when he was assigned to a job where the work foreman was wise to his tricks, Jokke had already spent his last welfare money hiring a private investigator to dig up some dirt on the foreman, forcing him to let him go.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: In a Mailman vs. Dog strip sequence, the neighbourhood mailman is seen wearing a uniform that looks decidedly more like it belongs to an American mail carrier than a Norwegian one. Also, he's walking from house to house, while in Norwegian suburban neighbourhoods, the mailboxes of every local household are usually situated on the same spot.
    • An early 2022 strip uses a more common example of this trope, when Jokke gets out of jury duty by claiming to have extremely radical views on the legal system. The jury system was discontinued in Norway in 2018 (which, to be fair, wasn't that long ago).
  • Exact Words: When the boys are having a Poker night, Hugo says:
    Hugo: "Ah, this is the life! A hand of Poker, some booze and us guys! No women, only us guys!
    Ivar: "Isn't it like that all the time for us Hugo?"
    Hugo: "That's what i said Ivar. This is the life!"
  • Fan Disservice: The strip excels in the drawings of ugly women, all of Jokke`s early dates included. And then there is Else, his mother - when she loosens her bathing robe.
  • Flamboyant Gay: Most gays in this strip are very easily detectable by the way they dress and behave. They don't want you to guess what their sexual orientation is - They want you to see it from a mile away!
  • Funetik Aksent: Günther'z zibilantz are alwayz voized.
  • Freudian Couch: Dr. Zimmerknaben is a big fan of having his patients lying on couches.
  • Girls with Moustaches: In one strip, Jokke shows up at the bar with a new goatee, bragging to Pondus what a babe magnet it will be. Cue an enormous woman with the exact same beard walking up to him, having decided that they're clearly meant to be. For added humor/horror, she also has a second goatee in her armpit.
  • Gratuitous English: Quite a few of the strips rely on English phrases and puns for the punchline to work.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Pondus sleeps like you'd expect from a near-middle aged man who hates his day job. Beate has had to resort to drastic actions to get him out of bed for work several times; one time, she used a large band-aid to tear a strip of body hair off Pondus thigh, and another, she had to literally haul him out of bed with a rope tied to a car bumper.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Pondus and Jokke (Pondus would probably add: Emphasis on heterosexual).
  • Informed Deformity: Ivar is sometimes described as being particularly ugly, but he really doesn't look much different from the other males in the comic (except that he's a little fatter).
  • Kayfabe Music: Pondus believes that a certain rock band truly lives the creed of "Drugs, Sex & Rock'n'Roll". In one strip, the band is shown working out and eating healthy food. Suddenly their manager come in and yell at them that the journalists will be there any minute. And thus, they quickly trash themselves down to look as if they have been partying and boozing up all night. Then the scene switches to Pondus and his wife watching the television. A journalist is (or probably rather is pretending to be) surprised that the band members manage to stay healthy with this lifestyle. The singer explains this with "It's rock'n'roll", baby. It becomes a lifestyle." and Pondus tries to get his wife to accept this message as gospel.
  • Lame Comeback: In one strip, Jocke gets into a fight with a wealthy businessman Laila/Tammy Sue is dating, who gives him a rather scathing "The Reason You Suck" Speech. The best Jocke can come up with is "Yeah, well...what about you?!" paired with an angry look. The guys mock-stunned look really sells it.
    Pondus: Great job buddy, that one must've stung.
    Jocke: SHUT UP!
  • Limited Wardrobe: Hugo and Ivar are almost never ever seen wearing anything besides their work uniforms - not even when they're off the clock.
    • Jokke's yellow shirt. This is justified in-universe by him having bought several crates of the same shirt at a factory outlet years ago.
    • Jokke bought a bath robe for his mom when he was a kid. She told him she loved it, and would wear it always. Turns out she actually meant it!
  • Little Miss Badass: Pondus' toddler daughter Frida deserves a mention in this category for the no-nonsense way she's handling the colony of monster living inside her closet.
  • Meaningful Name: Pondus is Norwegian for beer belly, and Pondus definitively sports one. Jokke is a slang term for humping, hinting at Jokke's love for picking up women.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Turid Laila (a.k.a. Tammy Sue) is by far one of the most attractive characters in the comic and usually wears revealing tank tops. Jocke was an Abhorrent Admirer for her for a very long time.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Played with. Both of Pondus' kids, Frida and Påsan, age, but Påsan has aged more rapidly than Frida.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Now, let's see: Jokke got a steady job, then he got a steady girlfriend, Camilla, then they had a kid. Meanwhile, Pondus quit his job as a bus driver and became a bartender. Then Jokke and Camilla broke up, before they got back together again. Oh, and the kids are getting older.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: Jocke likes comic book character Moonbeam, claiming she is very well drawn.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Completely averted, at least from Pondus' own POV. He has a set of strict rules for proper male behaviour, and if you break any of them, you don't deserve to be called a real man. Do you like music with synths? You're gay. Do you wear necklaces of any kind? You're gay. You don't like football? You're gay. Do you - ARRGH!! - WEAR YOUR SWEATER AROUND YOUR NECK!!?? Then it doesn't matter what your sexual orientation is, because you're a freakin' eunuch anyway!!
  • Self-Deprecation: After yet another one of his comics is rejected, comic book artist Roger mentions that the publisher told him they gave up toilet humor when they shut down the magazine Python and "would rather bring back Gengis Khan and Hitler" than bring back that magazine. Pondus says he remembers "that rag" and wonders what happened to the guys who made it. In case you haven't guessed it, Øverli worked on Python.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After Jokke got together with Camilla and quit picking up ugly women in bars, the comic faced a problem in that the sequences with ugly women were highly popular among the comic's fans. The solution? The supporting characters Ivar and (to a lesser extent) Hugo, who had previously only been noted for their bottle cap collection hobby, were suddenly shown taking great interest in women of Jokke's standards, using the same horrible pick-up lines with the same luck. With even less luck, actually.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Pondus and Jokke are having a lot of these. And sure enough, they are both Seinfeld fans.
  • Serious Business: If you want to be taken seriously as a man in Pondus' world, you need to have an opinion on hard rock and football.
  • Skewed Priorities: In one strip, Pondus is reading a newspaper with all manner of horrible headlines, ranging from world-ending to just tragic - but the only part he and Jocke care about is a football player being traded, which they treated as the worst thing that could possibly happen.
  • Stripping Snag: One strip during the period where Jokke was living together with Tammy-Sue, sees him sitting and watching TV, bemoaning that there is nothing interesting while Tammy-Sue passes behind him, wearing only a Modesty Towel, which gets stuck halfway through the scene and falls off, all without Jokke noticing.
  • Stylistic Suck: In the later comics, Overli sometimes showcases comics done by comic book artist Roger, all of them invariably crappy. At first they were just short, crudely drawn strips (including an obvious Calvin and Hobbes ripoff), but later Overli made whole, multi-page stories about "Tanga-Tore", a thong-wearing male vigilante. All of them feature lame wordplay for jokes, painfully generic mad scientists with destroy-the-world machines for villains, bizarre plot developments and are usually resolved with a Deus ex Machina (including a surprise appearance by MacGyver).
    • In other strips, the art is actually quite nice, but the concepts are so incredibly poorly thought out you have to wonder what Roger is thinking.
  • Super Gullible: Jokke was considerably more stupid in the early days of the comic strip (except about anything that could get him out of work). In one strip, he has apparently run naked through town because Tammy-Sue said she'd go on a date with him and "be open to some hanky panky" if he did. When he (still naked) shows up at the bar where Tammy-Sue works, she points out that today's date is April the 1st.
  • Take That!: Øverli is a Liverpool FC supporter, so naturally he takes shots at Manchester United supporters whenever he can.
  • There Are No Therapists: Double Subverted and maybe played straight! Dr. Zimmerknaben is a therapist, but he is usually the one needing therapy after listening to the problems of his patients, often taking happy pills. This was lampshaded in two strips, both involving Jokke (who used to see him on a frequent basis) taking the role as the "therapist" and Zimmerknaben taking the role as the "patient", with Jokke doing the job somewhat better than him both times.
  • Those Two Guys: Hugo and Ivar, Pondus' bus-driving colleagues. Especially after they fill Jokke's shoes as Casanova Wannabe.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Jokke's mother Else, and her husband (Jokke's stepfather) Gunther, who is an actual dwarf. Rather than being Exiled to the Couch when the couple fights, Gunther is routinely left to sleep in the bathroom sink!
  • Felony Misdemeanor: As a little league coach, Pondus won't let the boys stretch after exercise - It's "very feminine".
    • Early-Installment Weirdness: By contrast, Pondus takes stretching out so seriously that he stretches out after just watching a football game in an early Sunday strip.
  • The Unsmile: In one strip, an enormous biker at the bar angrily shows that a tattoo artist for some reason decided to write "Born To be Gay" on his chest tattoo, and that the man is currently in a coma from what the biker did in return. Cue both Pondus and Jokke making hilariously frozen unsmiles to avoid further enraging the biker by laughing at him.
    Biker: What's wrong with your faces?!
    Jokke: Uh, we're brothers with the same genetic defect!
    Pondus: That's right bro, better go buy some medicine!
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Pondus used to have an above-average fear of homosexual men. Hilarity usually ensued.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: One strip had Pondus talk to a man trying to set things right with his wife after he accidentally cried out the wrong name when they were in bed. The fact that he cried out a man's name didn't help.