Car wash cartoon understanding

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro cartoon:

(#1)(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 7 in this strip — see this Page.)

You need to recognize that the cartoon takes place in a garage and you need to know that detailing is a kind of car care. And you need to recognize that Nick is the Devil (note horns and tail). That’s all pretty easy.

Then you need to know what detailing a car has to do with the Devil — and for that, if you don’t know the saying The devil (or Devilis in the detail(s), you’re just stuck. You’ve missed a devil of a pun (on detail).

By the way… Nice touch to have the satanic detailer named Nick. From NOAD:

noun Old Nick: an informal name for the Devil. ORIGIN mid 17th century: probably from a pet form [that is, a nickname — apologies from AZ] of the given name Nicholas.

Detailing. From NOAD:

verb detail: [with object] 1 describe item by item; give the full particulars of: the report details the environmental and health costs of the car. 2 [with object and infinitive] assign (someone) to undertake a particular task: the ships were detailed to keep watch. 3 US clean (a motor vehicle) intensively and minutely: the Buick dealer gave him a job washing and detailing cars.

‘Clean intensively and minutely’ doesn’t quite cover the job of detailing, which includes things like shining and polishing the exterior, restoring faded details ouside and inside (sanding out minor scratches and resealing the surface, reviving interior leather, restoring racing stripes, etc.). The point is that this work goes well beyond car washing, and is normally carried out by different staff, as at the Glenmont Car Wash in Glenmont NY, which offers car washing on a regular basis but detailing only by appointment. Their ad photo for their detail center:


NOAD gets its detail entry from OED2 (draft addition Sept. 2008):

transitiveNorth American. To clean (a motor vehicle) thoroughly. [1st cite 1981. Some cites have the general ‘clean’ sense: 1988  Globe & Mail (Toronto(Nexis) 17 Oct. When we get through detailing your’s cleaner than the day you bought it. But others have the more specific sense: 1995 R. Newton How to Restore & Modify Your Corvette 237/2 Detailing the Corvette [part of restoring it] is enjoyable. Driving the car is fun.]

Someone’s in the detail(s). From my 2/18/18 posting “God is in the detailing”, on this Zippy carton:


about “The devil is in the detail(s)”, referring to

a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details, meaning that something might seem simple at a first look but will take more time and effort to complete than expected and derives from the earlier phrase, “God is in the detail” expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important. (from Wikipedia)

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