Archive for the ‘Comic conventions’ Category

Three comic rabbits for December

December 1, 2019

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit on the first of the month. The Mother Goose and Grimm from 12/30, with a textbook attachment ambiguity. The Rhymes With Orange for today, with an updated version of a classic tongue twister. And the Bizarro for today, with a Mr. Potato Head  wielding a terrible slang pun.

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Reaper days

October 31, 2019

For the dead season, Grim Reaper cartoons from Will McPhail. For today, Halloween, the GR goes trick-or-treating in the city:


(#1) ReaperWeen in McPhailia

And for tomorrow, the Day of the Dead, a whole series about the GR searching for a fashion look; the title image:


(#2) The New Yorker‘s Daily Shouts column from 1/28/19, “Death finds a signature look” by Will McPhail — in which the GR tries five experiments in fashion before settling on his signature black hooded robe and scythe

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The Potato Fried

October 27, 2019

A Wayno cartoon from 4/11/16, an exercise in cartoon understanding:


(#1) “My name is Idaho Montoya. You peeled my father. Prepare to fry.”

(See the comments. It turns out that Wayno’s original was wordless, so this caption was added by some wag  — who deserves credit.)

If you don’t get a crucial reference, the cartoon is just silly, two cartoon potatoes having a duel with potato peelers. So you need to recognize that the figures are anthropomorphized potatoes, and that the things they are wielding are potato peelers. Then there are potato references in each sentence of the challenge: Idaho, famously a source of potatoes in the US; peeling, a step in preparing potatoes for many sorts of dishes; and frying, one common method of cooking potatoes (in French fries, for instance).

You will probably also catch the groaner pun in Prepare to fry, based on the stock expression from popular adventure fiction, Prepare to die.

But otherwise, it’s just a bit of fanciful silliness. In fact, it’s rich and complex, if you’re in on the jokes.

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Complimentary bread

October 17, 2019

In the 10/21 New Yorker, this sdf (Seth Fleishman) cartoon, hinging on an ambiguity in the adjective complimentary:


(#1) complimentary ‘praising, approving’ vs. ‘supplied free of charge’

It’s not just that it’s complimentary; it’s also that it’s complimentary bread.

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The existential question

October 11, 2019

In today’s Zippy strip, Zerbina and Zippy contemplate their existence — ever an issue for self-aware cartoon characters:

(#1)

How do we know we exist? And if this perilous sort of existence, created in the mind and (literally) at the hands of an artist, fails to be validated by those in the outer, non-cartoon, world, are we nothing but a dream (sweetheart)?

Perhaps a concern for all of us, but especially pointed for cartoon characters. Who will speak for them, especially now that Mad Magazine is gone?

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Present at the creation: the weaponization of sarcasm

September 25, 2019

A Mick Stevens Caveman cartoon in the 9/30/19 New Yorker (about to arrive in the mail), memorializing a signal moment in the cartoon Stone Age:


(#1) The weaponization of sarcasm in prehistoric times

The later history of weaponized sarcasm is vast, but certainly reaches one of its high points in 1970 in the career of British gangster Doug Piranha. During a period of perhaps 70 years sarcasm has spread to become, in the view of some cultural critics, absolutely pervasive in modern society, at least in the Anglophone world.

Meanwhile, the idea that elements of culture can be weaponized — used like bludgeons not just against individuals, but also to aggressively serve social or political purposes — has recently become fashionable.

(And then, of course, there’s the question of the semantic work that the derivational suffix –ize does in converting various groups of lexical items to verbs (as in N weapon > V weaponize).)

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The hurtful dog

September 18, 2019

Back on the 13th, David Horne passed on this cartoon on Facebook:


(#1) Explosm-style dog hurts man with words

This is in fact a Cyanide and Happiness meme, a 4-panel cartoon template with all the artwork taken, as is, from a particular Cyanide (Explosm.net) cartoon, and all the words too — except for the dog’s dagger to the heart in the 3rd panel. Meme sites supply the template; all you have to do is fill in your own nasty words in the 3rd panel; you get to judge what would truly wound your intended audience.

In this case, David’s FB readers included a large number of people who had failed to finish their PhD dissertations, or completed the work over long painful self-doubting years, or finished but without any enthusiasm for the dissertation they somehow squeaked though with, or gave up before embarking on the task at all (believing that they could only be defeated) — or who were close to people who went through such experiences. Waves of pain washed over quite a few of David’s FB friends, me included.

On the other hand, others found the cartoon wickedly funny, which was David’s first response, and I appreciate that reaction too.

To come: more on the Explosm Hurtful Dog meme, and on uncompleted PhD dissertations, and on another Explosm cartoon involving that same dog, whose bark turns out to be much, much worse than its bite, even though its bite is exquisitely painful.

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The amazing talking pirate

September 17, 2019

In the run-up to Talk Like a Pirate Day (TLaPD), on Thursday the 19th, this Rhymes With Orange cartoon from the 15th:


(#1) PirateTalk + ParrotTalk, with a cartoon reversal of roles

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Segregation in the soapy comics

September 15, 2019

Today’s Zippy takes us into the world of soap-opera comics, specifically those by Nick Dallis (with various collaborators):


(#1) Realistic cartoon characters from three Dallis strips: Rex Morgan, M.D.; Judge Parker; and Apartment 3-G (among other well-known soap opera strips: Mary Worth, Brenda Starr)

The characters in realistic cartoons are stylized sketches from life, while those in cartoony worlds are grossly exaggerated, some not even humanoid in form. Zippy himself is human (a Pinhead rather than a Roundhead) but cartoony — though as other Zippy strips have demonstrated, he can be made even more so (cartooniness is a recurrent theme in Bill Griffith’s world).

Then there’s the segregation theme, with realistic cartoon characters mostly taking the position that realistics and cartoonies shouldn’t mix in any way: stick / keep to your own kind! (Note the meta move of having cartoon characters espouse beliefs and attitudes about cartoon characters.) With the predictable tragedy of prejudice against mixed couples, joined by bonds of affection, sexual relationship, or matrimony.

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Him wear saurian monitor

September 10, 2019

The Scott Hilburn cartoon from 10/26/16, with a bit of caveman dialogue:

(#1)

Three things: the Caveman cartoon meme; the simplified register the two cavemen  talk in; and the juxtaposition of two parallel worlds, everyday life vs. a remarkable fictive alternative.

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