Three exercises in cartoon understanding

In this morning’s comics feed: a Zippy with the slogan “Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion”; a Bizarro with a Discomfort Control mechanism; and a Rhymes With Orange about the facial recognition of a Mr. Banner. The first two can be understood at some level even if you don’t get the cultural references involved (though they’re much more entertaining if you do), but the third is probably just incomprehensible if you don’t recognize Mr. Banner.

A slogan in Dingburg.


A mysterious sign appears, urging goodness of three types on Dingbugers. That’s bizarre — is an alien race responsible? Typical Dingburgers (entertainingly named Ms. Fenwich, Mr. Duplex, and Steelcap) seem well-disposed to the message (though Steelcap confounds inclusion and collusion). End of story.

(On the name Fenwich in Zippy strips, see my 5/28/18 posting “Fenwich, come here, I need you”.)

Then you notice “Unity Day” in the title of the cartoon. That will point you to the fact that today (10/24) is National Unity Day, an anti-bullying event with the slogan “Kindness, Acceptance, Inclusion”:


From Wikipedia:

Unity Day, the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month, has been recognized in the United States since 2011. To participate in Unity Day, individuals, schools, communities, and businesses wear or display orange to show support for students who have been bullied. One in five school-age children report being bullied at school.

Cheerleading from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center about today’s event:

Together against bullying. UNITED for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.

Make it ORANGE and make it end! What are your true colors when it comes to showing that you believe that all youth should be safe from bullying? Come together in one giant ORANGE message of hope and support, WEAR AND SHARE ORANGE to color our nation, and even the world, visibly showing that our society believes that no child should ever experience bullying.

(PACER — national office in Minneapolis MN, LA area office in Thousand Oaks CA — is the Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center. PACER seems to have been intended as an acronym, and it’s always in all-caps.)

The monastic slab. In a Wayno/Piraro collab:

(#3) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

To understand this, you need to recognize the setting as a monastery and the two characters as monks. And you need to know that (Roman Catholic) monks are expected to lead ascetic lives, practicing severe self-discipline and abstention. Then you can appreciate the humor in a monk possessing a device that will reguate the discomfort of the slab that he sleeps on.

Your pleasure will be increased if you know that there are actual comfort control devices for mattresses.

And more still if you see that regulating the hardness of the monk’s slab, from as soft as gypsum to as hard as granite, is a reference to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

Three ingredients for maximum enjoyment: monastic life as configured in popular culture; comort control mattresses; and the hardness scale.

On the monastic life, from Wikipedia:

Monasticism (from Greek μοναχός, monachos, derived from μόνος, monos, “alone”) or monkhood is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. Monastic life plays an important role in many Christian churches, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

Roman Catholic monks in many communities take vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity; are expected to live lives of prayer, divine reading, and manual labor; and are expected to live austerely, denying themselves pleasures of the body.

As for comfort control mattresses, there are several brands (among them, Personal Comfort and Sleep Number). The Sleep Number bed is an adjustable air mattress; the “Sleep Number setting” adjusts the firmness of the mattress by air pressure, with higher numbers (up to 100) denoting higher pressure and more firmness.

(#4) The Sleep Number logo

Finally, the hardness scale. From Wikipedia:

(#5) Mohs hardness kit, containing one specimen of each mineral on the ten-point hardness scale

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a qualitative ordinal scale characterizing scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder material to scratch softer material. Created in 1812 by German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, it is one of several definitions of hardness in materials science, some of which are more quantitative. The method of comparing hardness by seeing which minerals can visibly scratch others is, however, of great antiquity, having been mentioned by Theophrastus in his treatise On Stones, c. 300 BC, followed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, c. 77 AD. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting.

Gypsum is 2 out of 10. From the Sciencing site, in a posting on the difference between quartzite and granite, I Iearn that

Quartzite offers an approximate value of 7 on the Mohs scale while granite offers a hardness value of between 6 and 6.5 on the Mohs scale.

So our monk has a pretty big range of hardness for his bed. But gypsum is pretty hard, and even talc would be no picnic.

Recognizing Mr. Banner. In a Rhymes With Orange:


In this case, if you don’t recognize the big angry green man and connect him with the name Banner, you’re dead lost. (You also need to know about devices that are activated by recognizing faces.)

From Wikipedia:

(#7) Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk 3 1

The Hulk is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in the debut issue of The Incredible Hulk (May 1962). In his comic book appearances, the character is both the Hulk, a green-skinned, hulking and muscular humanoid possessing a vast degree of physical strength, and his alter ego Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, a physically weak, socially withdrawn, and emotionally reserved physicist, the two existing as independent personalities and resenting of the other.

Following his accidental exposure to gamma rays during the detonation of an experimental bomb, Banner is physically transformed into the Hulk when subjected to emotional stress, at or against his will, often leading to destructive rampages and conflicts that complicate Banner’s civilian life. The Hulk’s level of strength is normally conveyed as proportionate to his level of anger. Commonly portrayed as a raging savage, the Hulk has been represented with other personalities based on Banner’s fractured psyche, from a mindless, destructive force, to a brilliant warrior, or genius scientist in his own right.

… One of the most iconic characters in popular culture, the character has appeared on a variety of merchandise, such as clothing and collectable items, inspired real-world structures (such as theme park attractions), and been referenced in a number of media. Banner and the Hulk have been adapted in live-action, animated, and video game incarnations. The most notable of these were the 1970s The Incredible Hulk television series, in which the character was portrayed by Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. The character was first played in a live-action feature film by Eric Bana, with Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo portraying the character in the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe [where the character is one of the Avengers].

From the tv show, Bill Bixby (as Banner) and Lou Ferrigno  (as The Hulk):

(#8) “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

(#9) He warned you.

You can see why facial recognition programs (for logging onto devices) might have a problem here.

One Response to “Three exercises in cartoon understanding”

  1. chrishansenhome Says:

    There is a very old joke that goes like this: A young man joins a monastery that has a very strict rule: no monk can speak except to the Abbot, and even then only once a year. After his first year the monk is brought to the Abbot, who asks him how he is. The monk says, laconically, “Food’s awful”. “Anything else?” “No, Father.” So the young monk goes back to his cell. The next year the monk is brought again to the Abbot, who asks him how this year has been. “The bed’s hard.” “Anything else?” “No, Father.” Back to his cell he went. After the third year, the monk comes to the Abbot, and bursts out, “I quit.” The Abbot said, “No wonder, you’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”

    I’ll get my hat and coat.

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