non sequitur

Today’s Zippy:


The strip starts with the opposed figures Kool-Aid Man and Speedy Alka-Seltzer and then rambles incoherently through a giant pile of cultural references.

Kool-Aid Man, from Wikipedia:

Kool-Aid Man is the mascot for Kool-Aid, a brand of flavored drink mix. The character has appeared on television and print advertising as a fun-loving gigantic pitcher, filled with red Kool-Aid and marked with a smiley face. He is typically featured answering the call of children by smashing through walls and furnishings, holding a pitcher filled with Kool-Aid.

The precursor to Kool-Aid Man, the Pitcher Man, was created in 1954 by Marvin Potts, an art director for a New York advertising agency hired by General Foods to create an image that would accompany the slogan “A 5-cent package makes two quarts.” Inspired by watching his young son draw smiley faces on a frosted window, Potts created the Pitcher Man, a glass pitcher with a wide smile emblazoned on its side and filled with Kool-Aid. It was one of several designs Potts created but the only one that stuck, and General Foods began to use the Pitcher Man in all of its advertisements.


And Speedy Alka-Seltzer, also from Wikipedia:

Alka-Seltzer is an effervescent antacid and pain reliever first marketed by the Dr. Miles Medicine Company. It was developed by Maurice Treener, head chemist at Miles, in Elkhart, Indiana. Alka-Seltzer is marketed for relief of minor aches, pains, inflammation, fever, headache, heartburn, sour stomach, indigestion, and hangovers, while neutralizing excess stomach acid. It was launched in 1931.

… In 1951, the “Speedy” character was introduced. The character was originally conceived by Creative Director George Pal of the Wade Ad Agency and designed by illustrator Wally Wood. Originally named Sparky, the name was changed to Speedy by Sales Manager Perry L. Shupert to align with that year’s promotional theme, “Speedy Relief.” He appeared in over 200 TV commercials between 1954 and 1964. Speedy’s body was one Alka-Seltzer tablet, while he wore another as a hat; he proclaimed Alka-Seltzer’s virtues and sang the “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” song in his high, squeaky voice (provided by veteran juvenile voice actor Dick Beals). In December 2010, Alka-Seltzer began a series of new commercials featuring Speedy, using CGI effects to recreate the stop-motion puppetry of the 1950s and 1960s, with Speedy voiced by Debi Derryberry.


The train of cultural references (mostly pop-cultural or from ads):

Newt Gingrich, Miley Cyrus, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Franz Kafka, parasailing, the Guggenheim Museum, Little Debbie [snack cakes], ventriloquism, Korean boy bands, global warming, zombie movies, battery acid, Orange Julius [chain of fruit drink beverage stores], the Pep Boys [automotive supply chain], Naugahyde [brand of artificial leather], Reddy Kilowatt [mascot for electricity generation], Joan Rivers, Mr. Softee [soft ice cream franchise], Sizzler Steakhouses [restaurant chain], pork rinds, Fluffer-Nutters [marshmallow and peanut butter sandwiches], Basil Rathbone movies, Day-Glo t-shirts

Viewing all this, Griffy labels it non sequitur, not in the sense of formal logic —

Non sequitur (Latin for “it does not follow”), in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises. In a non sequitur, the conclusion could be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion. All invalid arguments are special cases of non sequitur. (Wikipedia link)

but in a looser sense; again from the Wikipedia article:

In everyday speech, a non sequitur is a statement in which the final part is totally unrelated to the first part, for example:

Life is life and fun is fun, but it’s all so quiet when the goldfish die. — West with the Night, Beryl Markham

It can also refer to a response that is totally unrelated to the original statement or question:

Mary: I wonder how Mrs. Knowles’ next-door neighbor is doing.
Jim: Did you hear that the convenience store two blocks over got robbed last night? Thieves got away with a small fortune.

Wikipedia relates this sense to nonsense as a form of language play (certainly relevant in Zippy’s case) and also to thought derailment:

In psychiatry, derailment (also loosening of association, asyndesis, asyndetic thinking, knight’s move thinking, or entgleisen) is a thought disorder characterized by discourse consisting of a sequence of unrelated or only remotely related ideas. The frame of reference often changes from one sentence to the next.

In a mild manifestation, this thought disorder is characterized by slippage of ideas further and further from the point of a discussion. (link)

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