Our frugal cartoonists

🐇 🐇 🐇 + 🐇 🐇 🐇 (three for the new month, three for the new year)

It’s about re-using resources. In particular, re-using cartoon artwork for fresh purposes — a regular practice in (among the strips I follow regularly) Zippy the Pinhead and Bizarro. In Zippy, it’s mostly re-texting an old strip; but in Bizarro, it’s mostly assembling a strip from a collection of standard components arranged in a standard abstract pattern — rather like a syntactic construction.

The topic for New Year’s: assembling a Bizarro Psychiatrist strip.

Two recent examples. From yesterday’s posting “Dreams of a flitter mouse”:

(#1) A portrait image of a room with two walls (and white baseboards) visible; one wall (A) has a (chaise lounge) couch (Co) against it, head against the wall, stretched diagonally; a chair (Ch) is either against the other wall (B) or is alongside Co against A; there is usually a patient (Pa) lying on their back on Co and a psychiatrist (Psy) sitting in Ch; there is a side table (T) next to Ch, with a mug on it; and  a medical-school diploma mounted on one of the walls; Pa, Psy, or both may be speaking (within speech balloons)


Linguistic note on the name of Co. From NOAD:

noun chaise lounge: [/šez/ or /čez/ + lounge /lawnǰ/] North American a chair having a lengthened seat that forms a leg rest for reclining. ORIGIN early 19th century: alteration of chaise longue [Fr. ‘long chair’] by [folk-etymological / eggcornish] association with lounge.

When I was a child, back in Stone Age Pennsylvania, language authorities derided chaise lounge as uneducated and tacky, recommending Anglicized French /šez lɔŋ/ — the BrE variant for some time now — instead. But that variant was derided by speakers around me as ridiculous and pretentious; they opted for the lounge version, which was the one used by sellers of the furniture.

MWDEU tells us that chaise-longue (so spelled) was brought into English around 1800 but didn’t appear in an English dictionary until the 1889 OED, and that it was marked as a foreign word there and in the 1909 WNI1. Then:

The American chaise lounge began to appear in print in the 1920s; undoubtedly it had been used in speech for some time earlier. As a printed term it seems to have become established first in the trade; many of our early citations are from manufacturers’ catalogs and newspaper advertisements. When the spelling began to appear in both the Montgomery Ward and the Sears and Roebuck catalogs, it could no longer be ignored — millions of people would be familiar with it.

Furniture note. From Wikipedia:

The chaise longue has traditionally been associated with psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud initiated the use of the chaise longue for this purpose, with the idea being that the patient would recline on a couch, with the analyst seated beyond the head of the couch, so that the client would not see the analyst. Reclining and not having to face the analyst was thought to be disinhibiting and to encourage free association. At the time Freud began to use the chaise longue, it was considered daring in Vienna to recline on a chaise in the presence of non-intimates. Freud’s own chaise longue, given to him by a patient, may be seen today at the Freud Museum in London.

Today, psychoanalysts continue to invite clients to recline on couches in their offices during psychotherapy, and may use chaises longues rather than more conventional styles of couch out of tradition. The chaise longue is used to suggest a generic psychotherapist’s office in cartoons and other works.

Couches of the chaise longue sort come in a considerable number of types, which you can easily survey in a web search. But there is only one type of Co in Bizarro Psychiatrist cartoons.

Much the same is true of Ch and T — though T is occasionally a two-drawer table, instead of the usual side table with one drawer over an open storage space, as here:

(#2) This one has side tables for both characters; Pa is the Big Bad Wolf (reclining on Co), while Psy is a pig (with notepad in hand, but his little legs not crossed)

Rarely, there’s no table at all:

(#3) (from 2010) Pa is a parrot — but a reclining one; meanwhile, Co and Ch are unusually colorful, while the walls are (unusually) cream-colored rather than light green; and Ch and Co are side by side on wall A, rather at right angles to one another

Characters. The therapist Psy — with variations in sex and race, occasionally in species, but not a lot in costume (mostly some kind of business dress, on a range of formality) — and Psy’s client Pa, who may be pretty much anything anthropomorphic. While Pa reclines, Psy sits with their legs crossed, notepad in hand. (Psy’s upper body is of course turned towards Pa in the session, and they’re turned that way from the hips as well: Psy’s legs are crossed so that the leg on top has its foot pointing towards Pa.)

Illustrations from my 12/25/21 posting “Bizarros of the Solstice, Festivus, and Christmas”, in the section on Festivus:

12/23: Our frugal cartoonists: Jesus and the therapist. Suitable for Festivus, since J. just wants to complain (if you’re curious about Festivus, including the practice of “Airing of Grievances”, see my 12/21/18 posting“22-festoon!”). This time I’ve already posted this Bizarro Psychiatrist cartoon, with J. on the couch: my 12/23/21 posting “How much myrrh can one man use?”:

(#4) [1/1/22 notes:] Wall A (with Jesus, hands folded on his lap, as Pa) on our right, Wall B (with a black female Psy) on our left; T on our left of Psy; diploma above her head; Psy is speaking

But wait! There’s more. This year’s Festivus cartoon is a reworking of an earlier Bizarro, from Christmas Day two years ago:

(#5) [1/1/22 notes:] A kind of mirror-image of #4, with a white male Psy; Jesus the Pa is both speaking and gesturing

This time it’s about being upstaged by Santa Claus on the day of his birth and the Easter bunny on the day of his resurrection. Meanwhile, the earlier drawing in #4 is reversed in #3; the therapists are different; Jesus’s hair has gone from light to dark brown and his hand gesture is different; and other small details have been changed. But otherwise it’s a frugal use of the comic resource.

Image orientation. Some Bizarros are landscape, but very few Bizarro Psychiatrist strips are. Here’s a side-by-side (of Ch and Co) that’s in landscape orientation, and has a pile of unusual features as well:

(#6) An outlier in a variety of ways, starting with a miniature Pa marooned on a potted-palm Desert Island, where he’s sitting on the ground and facing Psy, not reclining, much less on Co; four diplomas; T is a cube instead of a table with drawers; that’s a paper hot coffee cup instead of a mug; there’s a potted plant not part of the usual schema

Palette and lighting. The colors of the two walls, the floor, and the three pieces of furniture are all muted variants of green; purplish or rosy gray; cream; and sandy to coffee brown — deployed differently in different cartoons. So Bizarro Psychiatrist cartoons have a distinctive palette for these purposes, but not a fixed color scheme for the parts of the drawings.

Meanwhile, each cartoon is drawn as if it’s lit from a single source, usually one behind and above Psy’s head. We can see this in the way shadow lines (indicating areas in shadow) are used in the drawings. Check out #4, with shadow lines drawn on the bottom of the diploma, the near sides of Ch, T, and Psy’s pantsuit, the floor beneath Psy, the near side of Pa’s body, and underneath Co.

Four more right-angle examples. In no particular order, all from earlier postings here:

(#7) Pa is a (reclining, gesturing, and speaking) dog

(#8) Pa is a (speaking) gigantic mosquito; battery of Rohrshach blots instead of a notebook; no T; but two diplomas

(#9) Pa is overloaded with allusions to the beaches of Hawaii: beachcomber hat, lei, coconut drink, ukulele, and Hawaiian beach shorts

(#10) Pa is (a speaking and gesturing) Superman; two-drawer T, with a glass rather than a mug on it; notable shoes on Psy

And four more side-by-side examples. Again, in no particular order, from earlier postings here:

(#11) Waldo as Pa; no space for T

(#12) (from 2016, another outlier) Pa is just an ordinary guy; both Pa and Psy are speaking; all three pieces of furniture (Co, Ch, T) are non-standard for a Bizarro Psychiatrist strip; there’s a surprise floor lamp (whose light is clearly not the source of the shadow lines on Co); and no diploma

(#13) Pa is (a speaking and gesturing) Old MacDonald; no T

(#14) No T; and in fact no Pa — it ain’t called Bizarro for nothing

And then, of course, all the strips have (varying numbers of) Dan Piraro’s odd symbols scattered around in them (7 of them in #14!).

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