Know your eels

From Facebook friends, this cute cartoon by Wayno:


The composites electric eel and electric guitar, both with the pseudo-adjective electric, but in two different senses. Then there’s electric guitar vs. the retronym acoustic guitar (for what, until the introduction of electric guitars, was known simply as a guitar). Then

electric guitar : acoustic guitar  ::  electric eel : X

and X is acoustic eel.

electric guitar From NOAD2:

a guitar with a built-in pickup or pickups that convert string vibrations into electrical signals for amplification

but electric eel:

an eellike freshwater fish of South America, using pulses of electricity to kill prey, to assist in navigation, and for defense [Electrophorus electricus, the only member of the family Electrophoridae.]

In both composites, the adjective electric evokes the noun electricity, but in different ways: the electric guitar uses electricity from an external source to amplify signals, the electric eel generates electricity internally, which it then uses for several purposes.

Once electric X had been created as a name for instruments with electrical amplification, the name acoustic X was created to name an X without electrical amplification. From NOAD2 on electric:

(of music or musical instruments) not having electrical amplification: acoustic guitar

About the cartoonist Wayno, we don’t know a lot. Here’s a self-portrait:


On his own website, we learn only that he’s an illustrator, cartoonist and writer who works in Pittsburgh PA. The GoComics site is entertaining but still not very informative:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, WaynoVision gives its readers a view of the world through the wise-guy eyes the cartoonist known as Wayno (one name only, please.) The artist uses his panel to comment on (and celebrate) the surrealism and absurdity of everyday life, in ways that are sometimes silly, sometimes smart, but always funny.

You never know what sort of characters will pop up in a WaynoVision panel. Clowns, gangsters, monsters, insects, historical figures, dogs, cats, chickens, and advertising & pop-culture icons can appear on any given day.

Reading WaynoVision is like wearing 3D glasses, welder’s goggles, and X-Ray specs, while peeking through a damaged kaleidoscope. The world looks vaguely familiar, but unexpectedly distorted at the same time. The feature appeals to educated readers who appreciate high culture as well as lowbrow laffs.

Now a recap of the cartoon image, so that it will appear in Facebook:


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