Archive for the ‘Understanding comics’ Category

Clash of the titular Peppers

September 1, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, a cartoon that would be totally incomprehensible without several pieces of pop-cultural knowledge:


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

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Terrible pun day

July 15, 2021

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

A pun so terrible it’s wonderful: derivative / the riveter. A distant pun phonologically, sharing the prosodic pattern WSWWW and the medial material /ǝrív…t/, plus the pairing of /d/ vs. /ð/ initially, but with the distant matching of /v/ vs. /r/ finally, and with a single word matched with a two-word sequence. As with notably imperfect puns in general, it’s probably understandable only if you recognize the model for the pun: Rosie the Riveter, the name of the figure on the left in the cartoon and of the figure in the “We Can Do It” patriotic poster from WWII.

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Omega Omega Top

June 14, 2021

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro of 6/11, a cartoon that’s totally incomprehensible if you don’t know know one piece of American popular culture:


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

I would have entitled the strip Ω Ω Top, but Wayno and Dan went for Omega Omega Top instead. (More on the title below.)

In any case, to have any hope whatsoever in understanding the cartoon, you need to know that there’s an American rock band named ZZ Top. (The name of the band is pronounced /zi zi tap/, which is written as ZZ Top. Contrast this with the statistical test whose name is written as the Z-test, a name is pronounced as /zi tɛst/ by American speakers, but /zɛd tɛst/ by British, Australian, and most Canadian speakers. The band’s name is pronounced /zɛd zɛd tap/) only as a joke, or as a mistake by someone unfamiliar with the name.)

To begin to understand why the cartoon might be funny, you need to know that Ω is the (upper-case form of the) last letter of the Greek alphabet, just as Z is the (upper-case form of the) last letter of the Latin alphabet (as we use it in writing English); that the figures in the cartoon are playing ancient Greek musical instruments (two stringed, one percussion); and that the instruments and the appearance of the players match those of ZZ Top (two guitarists, one drummer; sunglasses for everybody; stetson hats and long beards for the guitarists). So the cartoon provides a complex mapping between ZZ Top today and music-making in ancient Greece.

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The St. Patrick’s Day spriticide

March 21, 2021

The event: the leprechaun has been murdered, with a porcelain figure. How to describe the event as concisely as possible? Today’s Rhymes with Orange strip shows us a police detective who can do it in three words. (And it’s been set to music!)

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A jointed-limb portmanteau and a sugary front-clipping

March 18, 2021

Two recent Wayno/Piraro Bizarro strips, from the 15th and (for St. Patrick’s Day) the 17th, both of linguistic interest: among other things, the portmanteau arthropodcast in the first; and the front-clipping ‘shmallows (for marshmallows, of the psychedelic sort) in the second:

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Smell the roses in a field

February 26, 2021

Two cartoons in my comics feed on 2/25 (otherwise known as Yay! Pfizer1 Day! at my house) on language play: a Wayno/Piraro Bizarro playing on formulaic language (the metaphorical idiom / cliché stop and smell the roses), and a Piccolo/Price Rhymes With Orange with a play on the ambiguity of field.

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Chekov’s phaser

February 7, 2021

It came to me first through Jeff Bowles on Facebook today: this Mark Stivers cartoon, presenting a small exercise in cartoon understanding:

(#1)

Two contributions to the cartoon: a dramatic principle; and the Star Trek tv shows and movies.

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The bull validates Peter’s family

February 7, 2021

Three more Bizarro cartoons from the past, from another crop on Pinterest, with: an allusion you need to catch to understand the cartoon; a complex pun; and laugh-inducing names.

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Two remarkable cartoon books

February 5, 2021

… edited by Bob Eckstein and published by Princeton Architectural Press:

The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons (by the World’s Greatest Cartoonists), 2019. (33 contributors)


(#1) Bob and the Book Cartoons cover

Everyone’s a Critic: The Ultimate Cartoon Book (by the World’s Greatest Cartoonists), 2020. (37 contributors)


(#2) The Critic cover

The books are physically beautiful; they are also affectionate tributes to independent bookstores and to cartoonists as a group. (The very American boast world’s greatest points to the strongly American focus of the books — a very heavy concentration of New Yorker cartoonists, in fact, though others are included.)

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Cure Bear

January 19, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, which can be understood only if you know about two (hugely distant) bits of popular culture:


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

That’s The Cure + Care Bear = Cure Bear: linguistically, a portmanteau; visually, a composite of Robert Smith of the band The Cure and one of the Care Bear toys.

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