The fourth wall

Passed on by Emily Menon Bender, the Non Sequitur strip of 7/21/13:

The apologies are to Mark Tatulli, the creator of Liō (that’s Liō on the left, on the other side of the wall) and Stephan Pastis, the creator of Pearls Before Swine (that’s cartoon Pastis and the Pearls characters Rat and Pig on the right). Meanwhile, inside the wall we have Danae and her pet Clydesdale Lucy.

More on the Fourth Wall, from Wikipedia:

The fourth wall is the imaginary “wall” at the front of the stage in a traditional three-walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play. The idea of the fourth wall was made explicit by philosopher and critic Denis Diderot and spread in 19th-century theatre with the advent of theatrical realism, which extended the idea to the imaginary boundary between any fictional work and its audience.

Speaking directly to or otherwise acknowledging the audience through the camera in a film or television program, or through this imaginary wall in a play, is referred to as “breaking the fourth wall” and is considered a technique of metafiction, as it penetrates the boundaries normally set up by works of fiction.

Pastis has been producing quite a few metacomics in recent months, chronicled on this blog.

On Liō:

Liō is a daily comic strip created by American artist Mark Tatulli [who also draws Heart of the City] and distributed by the Universal Press Syndicate since May 15, 2006. As a pantomime strip, it has an international appeal.

The strip focuses on the adventures of a creative little boy, Liō, who lives with his father (unnamed in the strip) and his pets… The setting of the story varies from Liō’s house to his school and the general outside world. The time period appears to be contemporary, except for an episode set in the year 2101, when Liō is in his nineties but still very much capable of mischief.

The story is told visually, with little or no dialogue. Gags frequently involve the supernatural, alien invasion or mass destruction of many sorts, creating a surreal, disturbing atmosphere. Some of the strip’s recurring themes involve Liō getting even with grade-school bullies, helping animals (most of which are non-anthropomorphic but display obvious intelligence) defend themselves against humans or their predators, and performing mad scientist style experiments. He is often seen using robots that he constructs himself for causing mischief. Another recurring gag in the strip is parody of other famous comic strips, including Cathy, For Better or For Worse, Garfield, Zits, Calvin and Hobbes, Blondie, Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine, The Family Circus and Berkeley Breathed’s strips. (link)

The notable meta-feature of the comic is its parody strips.

(Zippy the Pinhead has long indulged in all forms of metacartooning, including parody strips.)

Finally, on Non Sequitur:

Non Sequitur is a comic strip created by Wiley Miller (usually credited as just Wiley) in 1992 and syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate to over 700 newspapers. The strip can be found online at, and it is also available via email and on mobile phones.

Translated from Latin as “it does not follow”, Non Sequitur is often political and satirical, though other times, purely comedic.

The strip has undergone many changes through its history. Originally, the comic was a single panel gag cartoon, similar to Gary Larson’s The Far Side. It grew more political (from a moderately liberal perspective) in tone during the 1990s, to the point where it often became a borderline editorial cartoon. Today, the comic has become more traditional, with a multi-panel format and recurring characters. The horizontal daily strip sometimes displays only a single panel.

… Danae Pyle is a pre-adolescent girl with a pessimistic view of the world (but not of herself), often employed in the strip for satirical purposes. First appearing in the strip in 1998 with her sister Kate and parents (it can be assumed that this was set before their divorce), she is the most famous character of the strip and frequently its leading character.

… Lucy is a talking pygmy Clydesdale who, like Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes, plays the silent observer most of the time. Lucy was introduced in the July 11, 2003 strip, in a storyline that had Danae and Kate going to a summer horse riding camp. At the end of the summer, Danae became good friends with Lucy and took her home. Danae, and occasionally [Danae’s sister] Kate, are the only ones who can talk to Lucy, and all three of them are fully aware that the conversations only take place in their imaginations. (link)

The strip above definitively breaks the fourth wall in its final panel, when the other cartoon characters join the cast and Danae and Lucy comment (indirectly) on the cartoonness of these other characters.

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