Tim Lockley and Ods Bodkins

In the February Funny Times, an Ods Bodkins cartoon by Tim Lockley showing Batman at a booth with a sign offering


with a rather disconcerted guy eying the sign. (I haven’t been able to find a copy of the cartoon, although I’ve found tons of other one-panel gag cartoons by Lockley, many of them playing with language (Ods Bodkins homepage here, very useful Ods Bodkins Facebook page here). I’ll post six of these below, but for the Batman cartoon — Batman definitely is a cartoon meme these days, by the way — I’ll have to rely on describing it.

First thing to note is that bat guano (Holy Batshit, Robin!) is a precious commodity, mined as a source of really excellent fertilizer; you can buy it on-line. What’s disconcerting in the cartoon is that guano is being offered for sale not by a bat, but by Batman (a superhero, yes, but very much a man and not a bat), so presumably the guano on offer isn’t batshit but manshit, a substance that can, when properly processed, be used as fertilizer, but which is off-putting in its raw form. So the strip is scatological humor with a bit of language play folded in.

(It’s impossible for me to write about bat guano without thinking of the character Col. Bat Guano in the movie Dr. Strangelove, who presumably was given that name because he is, as we say, crazy as batshit.)

On to other Lockley cartoons, presented here in essentially random order.

First, a play on words, literally a play (specifically, Hamlet) being enacted on top of WORDS:


Ambiguity of play, ambiguity of on, use-mention ambiguity with words (used in the idiom play on words, mentioned in the cartoon).

Then a complex bit of verbal/visual play:


The formula is now “The love of money is the root of all evil”, a version of the sentiment in 1 Timothy 6:10 (which, of course, has been translated in a number of ways). Lockley has converted the root to the square root (a play on the ambiguity of root) and then reproduced this in graphic form, with the square root sign and the symbolic ♥︎﹩ (‘heart dollar’ for ‘love money’). Yes, I know, the graphic seems to be representing the square root of loving money.

On to a pun on glazed:


Glazed ham has the verb glaze ‘overlay or cover (food, fabric, etc.) with a smooth, shiny coating or finish’ (NOAD2), and the tv viewer in the cartoon is a pig, the animal that supplies the cured meat ham. And that pig’s eyes have glazed over from watching tv (presumably, very boring tv), with a different verb glaze ‘lose brightness and animation’ (NOAD2 again). A lot of stuff packed into this one.

Next, a groanworthy double pun:


The basis for the cartoon is the expression

filet mignon ‘a small tender piece of beef from the end of the tenderloin’ (NOAD2)

(which can be pronounced as in French or adapted to Englsh phonology). But in the cartoon, the cook is filleting a minion (where minion and mignon have different accent patterns and, consequently, different segmental phonology as well), with (again from NOAD2):

noun fillet or filet a fleshy boneless piece of meat from near the loins or the ribs of an animal; a boned side of a fish

noun minion a follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one

Next, a pun on penny (the coin) vs. penne (the type of pasta):


In the idiom a penny for your thoughts, used to ask someone what they’re thinking about.

And finally, a very distant pun that depends on a familiar title and the visual:


It’s crucial that you recognize Grant Wood’s famous (and much parodied) painting American Gothic — shown here in a bovine version. Otherwise, cow and Goth are very distant phonetically.

There are more.

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