Archive for the ‘Comic conventions’ Category

Who’s a good boy?

November 26, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, combining two cartoon memes: the familiar Psychiatrist, plus Good Doggie, a meme that is extraordinarily popular but, I believe, has appeared on this blog only once before:


(#1) Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good doggie? (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

Conventional ways of rewarding dogs by praising them, and so training them in whatever behavior they are being rewarded for. Just the tone of voice can be very satisfying to a dog, even more satisfying than a food reward.

But there’s still a puzzle here. Who’s a good boy? and Who’s a good doggie? are WH-questions, which in English have final falling intonation, the same as strong assertions, like You’re a good boy! and You’re a good doggie!; and the same as exclamations, like WhatSuch a good boy! and WhatSuch a good doggie!. All can be delivered with higher than normal pitch overall,  even higher pitch maxima than normal, and “warm” vocal qualities — in the “talking to dogs” voice.

So why use the who-question form, with its self-supplied answer You are! Yes, you are!? Where does this convention of language use come from? The assertions and exclamations are available anytime, off the shelf, as it were, but the who-questions are indirect in their effect and presumably have to be learned as conventional schemes for rewarding dogs with praise. Somewhere, sometime, there had to be first users of the schemes. However, as far as I know, no one has investigated the rise and propagation of these notable ways of talking to dogs.

(more…)

Line 1, doctor, that crazy coconut again

November 17, 2021

And the doctor said to her — everybody join in! — “Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up”.

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro Desert Island cartoon, with Wayno’s title “Coco Loco”:


(#1) The terrible toll of isolation (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

The extraordinarily versatile coconut — the fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) — pressed into service as a telephone receiver for a desperate and deranged castaway.

(more…)

Memic dummies at home

November 14, 2021

Today’s Bizarro shows a domestic scene with car crash dummies:


(#1) Yes! An instance of the Car Crash Dummy meme, one of many instances (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are, wow, 10 in this strip — see this Page.)

Yet another meme turning on a specific pop culture character: Potato Head, King Kong, Waldo, Godzilla, Batman (to mention some that have already appeared on this blog). Well, the crash test dummies are pop culture characters, but they’re also significant technological figures.

(more…)

A double desert cartoon

November 13, 2021

It arrived this week, just published: Send Help! A Collection of Marooned Cartoons, edited by Jon Adams and Ellis Rosen: a compendium of Desert Island (DI) cartoons that has given me much pleasure. More on the book and its contents to come below, but here I note cartoons that combine the DI cartoon meme with another cartoon meme: in the book, DI + Psychiatrist and DI + Grim Reaper. And then, stunningly, Desert Island + Desert Crawl.

A Desert Crawl cartoon has a man (or, more generally, people) crawling, parched and hallucinatory, across a seemingly endless desert — without escape, something the DC meme shares with DI. (The most recent DC cartoon on this blog is by David Sipress in my 11/10/21 posting “Four cartoons on familiar themes”.) The wonderful DC + DI combo in Send Help! is by Mort Gerberg. A terrible scan of it, but the best I could do:


(#1) The original is a bit bigger than this, and even wispier, almost ethereal, like an indistinct vision; as a result, it takes a bit of time for you to realize the deep absurdity of the scene

(more…)

Four cartoons on familiar themes

November 10, 2021

… in recent days, covering a wide territory: in chronological order,

—  from 10/31, a Mother Goose and Grimm Psychiatrist cartoon with a Halloween theme and some puns

— from the 11/1 New Yorker, a Desert Crawl cartoon by David Sipress

— from 11/3, a Zippy strip with Zippylicious repetition (onomatomania)

— from 11/9, a Rhymes With Orange with a notable POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau)

(more…)

His fathers’ powers

October 28, 2021

It ends in a distressing moment at the therapist’s, in a Psychiatrist-meme Rhymes With Orange cartoon from 10/24. Here I show only the troubled patient, the engaging young superhero OP Man; the missing therapist’s response supplies what amounts to the punchline of the joke, which I’ll delay for a while, until I can say a bit more about the lives of the superheroes (among them, the patient’s two fathers):


(#1) Same-sex relationships, up to and including marriage and mating, have come to the world of superheroes; as for same-sex mating, superheroes, not being subject to the limitations of human anatomy (in sexual matters as well as others), have abilities way beyond those of ordinary mortals — so OP Man inherits his powers equally from his two fathers

But what does it mean to say that Aquaman and Plastic Man were drawn to one another romantically and sexually, and then married and mated (in some order), to produce OP Man? Superheroes often exist in other worlds, on timelines quite different from ours, and (like the gods of classical mythology) routinely manifest themselves in a variety of ways — differing in form and character and inclinations and abilities. Jupiter, as lord of the sky, manifests himself not only in something like human form, but also in thunder, lightning, or in rain (I am fond of his manifestation as Jupiter Pluvius, probably because the name is a nice double dactyl, in both Latin and English) or as an eagle (also a favorite of mine, because I’m etymologically a sea eagle, though I’m not otherwise Jovian), and that’s just the beginning.

So: some manifestation of Aquaman and some manifestation of Plastic Man — there are many of each — had their worlds and timelines intersect in such a way that they could join together and raise a superhero son someplace, sometime, an OP Man who has now manifested himself in a fictive cartoon world that in many ways resembles our own and that seems to be roughly contemporaneous with our current time. Whoa.

(more…)

DI Halloween

October 27, 2021

In the 10/26 daily cartoon by Ellis Rosen on the New Yorker site, Halloween comes to two guys on a Desert Island:


(#1) In real life, trick-or-treaters sometimes appear at a house unexpectedly, causing the residents to scramble to find some candy, or something, to give them — now, relocate this mundane scene to a cartoon-memic Desert Island

Pretty much anything that a cartoonist transports from real life to the DI situation is going to be deeply absurd: Where, on a tiny bit of beach in the middle of a tropical ocean, would some candy be stashed, especially without the castaways knowing about it? And how did a boat of trick-or-treaters find their way to the island? (Why, in fact, would they go to such trouble for such a slight chance of reward?)

But then every Desert Island is a theatre of the absurd.

So much for the basics. Now to branch off in several directions.

(more…)

Bug on the couch

October 24, 2021

The 10/23 Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, a Psychiatrist cartoon, with a bug — specifically, a mosquito — on the couch (Wayno’s title: “Interspecies therapy”):


(#1) Consider the mosquito, how it grieves (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 8 (an unusually large number) in this strip — see this Page.)

Not just the Psychiatrist meme (with all of its conventions), but also:

— the intersection of the human world (in which people go to therapists) and the insect world (in which mosquitoes have six legs, antennae, compound eyes, and proboscises)

— the bug-on-windshield trope

— Rorschach ink blots, as used by clinical psychologists

— autopsy photos

— fatal polytrauma, such as sometimes occurs in car crashes

Fully appreciating the cartoon then calls on a wide range of knowledge, both factual and cultural. I’ll take for granted here the (extensive) conventions of the Psychiatrist meme and go on to the rest.

(more…)

Formicavore home cooking

October 19, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro strip (Wayno’s title: “Dietary Restrictions”), with a culinary misstep:


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

There’s a lot to talk about here: the gendering of the two characters in #1; the Bizarro theme of anteaters and food; fire ants; hot and spicy food; the art of anteaters (it’s not just Bizarro).

(more…)

The scent of a pumpkin

October 17, 2021

It’s that time of the year again, you can smell it in the air: Pumpkin Spice Season. For some, a keenly arousing moment, as in this e-card (#1 in my 10/26/17 posting “Three more pumpkin-spicy bits”):


(#1) A POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau): verb pumpkin spice up = noun pumpkin spice + verb spice up  ‘make more interesting or exciting’

(more…)