Archive for the ‘Understanding comics’ Category

Three exercises in cartoon understanding

February 18, 2019

Two from the 2/18&25/19 New Yorker — a Seth Fleishman (wordless) and a Lars Kenseth (a captioned meta-cartoon) — plus a vintage Gary Larson (considered both without caption and with).

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Aquatic carpentry

February 5, 2019

A Wayno & Piraro Bizarro from the 4th, presenting an exercise in cartoon understanding and jogging some reflections on comics conventions:


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

To understand the cartoon, you need to appreciate that it shows a situation from everyday life (the office of a carpentry business)  juxtaposed with, or translated into, another, more remarkable, world (an undersea, aquatic, world, populated by specific fish, which you need to recognize).

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The party linguist

January 28, 2019

The 1/17 Wayno-Piraro collab on a Bizarro:

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

There’s a lot in this; I’ll start with the purely linguistic question: What does the N + N compound party linguist refer to? Then turn to the question of what’s happening in the cartoon, in particular how the notions of minority and diversity figure in it.

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Ask not for whom the reaper scythes

December 20, 2018

Two Grim Reaper memic cartoons: today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collab, and a Harry Bliss cartoon in the current (12/24&31) New Yorker, both requiring signficant background information for understanding (beyond recognizing the figure of Death with his scythe):

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Understanding Bizarro

December 10, 2018

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, requiring a crucial piece of cultural knowledge:


(#1)(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

The figure of Batman is the easy part of understanding this cartoon; asking the waiter for “the insect steward” is the part that draws heavily on background knowledge: that bats primarily eat insects, and that high-end restaurants will offer the services of a sommelier, or wine steward, to its diners. So we are asked to see Batman simultaneously as an upper-class man (Bruce Wayne) ordering food in an elegant restaurant (admittedly, in a bat costume) and as an actual bat, a predator seeking its prey.

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A fantasy exercise in cartoon understanding

November 22, 2018

In the latest (11/26/18) New Yorker, this Ali Solomon cartoon presents a test in cartoon understanding:


(#1) “Oh yes. Definitely a forgery. Hope it didn’t cost you much.”

If you recognize the loin-clothed hunkering figure with the big eyes, you’ll understand what’s happening in the cartoon and why it’s funny. Otherwise, it’s just baffling.

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Revisiting 21: registering Mr. Banner

November 19, 2018

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro for 5/29/18:


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

Well, a green man would be voting for the Green Party.

But the strip is funnier if you recognize this particular green man as The Hulk, the alter ego of Dr. (Robert) Bruce Banner — in an exeptionally tractable and reasonable mood.

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Teddy Bears’ Picnic Day

November 17, 2018

On Facebook today, Anneli Meyer Korn posted this Bizarro cartoon from 11/17/14:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

I was moved to declare November 17th Teddy Bear Picnic Day, in honor of Anneli and her husband Peter, but it turns out that (by whatever obscure mechanism these things happen) July 10th is already taken for this occasion, according to the Days of the Year site.

Well, of course, if you don’t know the song, you won’t find the cartoon particularly funny. (Suppose that the teddy bear’s message were “I’m sorry, the teddy bears are conferencing at Davos today”. That would be absurd, and so to some degree humorous, but nowhere near as funny as “I’m sorry, today is the day the teddy bears have their picnic”.)

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Cartoon understanding in parallel worlds

November 10, 2018

Two cartoons that have come by me recently that work only if you have a fair amount of cultural knowledge in two dfferent domains, which are presented in the cartoon as parallel worlds equally present there. A Brevity strip by Dan Thompson from 4/27/18 (thanks to Joe Transue for help in identifying the strip); and a Wayno & Piraro Bizarro from yesterday:

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Arousing the beast

November 7, 2018

In today’s comics feed, a One Big Happy that requires a double dose of pop-cultural moon knowledge to understand:

(#1)

A defiant gesture, a bit of lycanthropic folklore.

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