Archive for the ‘Understanding comics’ Category

The missing

February 3, 2020

The Rhymes With Orange on the 1st takes us into two worlds, the somewhat fantastical Laundry World and, in the parallel everyday world, with the missing persons bureau in a city police department:

(#1)

You need to recogize the interior of a modern clothes dryer, containing three socks — socks that are also three people, two cops and someone searching for a person who has disappeared. And then to fully appreciate the cartoon, you need recognize the legendary figure of the Lost Sock, which links the two worlds.

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Revisiting 42: stalked by a giant anthropomorphic squirrel

February 1, 2020

When we last saw Mr. Peanut (in my 1/13/20 posting “Just one peanut”), he was tortured by nightmares of being buried alive by an anthropomorphic squirrel:

(#1)

That squirrel has now come alive in a giant toothy form and is stalking the Mr. Peanut of the Apocalypse on the city streets, in this David Sipress cartoon (from the February 3rd New Yorker):

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Entertaining. But much funnier when you know that the cartoon is exquisitely topical: Mr. Peanut has in fact just met his death (though not as the prey of a giant squirrel), and will be mourned at the Super Bowl tomorrow.

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Identify that potato

January 31, 2020

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo, posing a puzzle in cartoon understanding:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 8 in this strip — see this Page.)

Ok, you need to recognize the Potato Heads; the cartoon takes place in a world of Potato Heads, with their removable and interchangeable features. But it takes place simultaneously in the everyday world, or at least this world as represented in American popular culture — so we’re expected to recognize this as a police station, with a Wanted poster on the wall and a uniformed (male) cop at a desk, holding the detached head of a PH (Potato Head). He’s engaged with a (female) citizen, who looks at the head and, mustache in her hand, says “That’s close, but can we try it again with the mustache?”

Ok, so she wants to see the PH head with the mustache added to it. Why? And why would that be funny?

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Three little digits

January 22, 2020

Today’s Wayno/Piraro collabo, another little exercise in cartoon understanding:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.) Wayno’s title: “Number, Please”

No doubt you recognize the speaker as Satan / the Devil / Beelzebub, but the cartoon will still be incomprehensible unless you know that there’s a particular three-digit number that’s sometimes said to belong to Satan.

Pursuing this topic on my man Jacques’s birthday, today, will lead us, through a favorite verse of his, on a circuitous route passing through a mysterious British village, Chicago, and Santa Monica, on its way to the Big Gay Village, where men hug, spoon, and screw. (There will eventually be a content warning. I’ll warn you when the screwing is imminent.)

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Just one peanut

January 13, 2020

(Lots of off-color jokes, some of them gay-inflected, along with a number of peanut cartoons. So: crude, and perhaps not to everyone’s taste.)

Today’s Rhymes With Orange — entertaining if you get the crucial pop culture allusion, incomprehensible if you don’t:


(#1) An elephant at the doctor’s office, with an x-ray showing the contents of his stomach to be a top hat, a monocle, and a cane; in the face of this evidence, the doctor asks the patient if he’s sure that all he ate was one peanut (presupposing that the patient has claimed just that)

How does this even make sense, much less be funny? Even granting the poploric association between elephants and peanuts — which is actually pretty baffling (see below) — why do peanuts come up in #1 at all? We have a trio of men’s accessories and no visible peanuts.

There’s a hint in the bonus commentary on the left: elephant to elephant, “It’s a medical Mister-y”, where the clue is Mister. But the clue is useless if you don’t know your way around the symbolic figures of American commerce.

You have to be a friend of Mister Peanut.

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There was a singer had a dog

January 8, 2020

The Epiphany Rhymes With Orange is an exercise in cartoon understanding:

(#1)

Without the title and the comment balloon (on the left), the cartoon is still compensible, and funny — this material adds some extra humorous depth — but none of it works at all unless you know the song.

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Two actor POP days

December 13, 2019

It’s Eva Marie Saint Lucy’s Day and, in today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro combo, a Kurt Russell terrier bounds in:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbol in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there’s just one in this strip — see this Page.)

First, Kurt Russell and the Russell terrier. Then Eva Marie Saint and St. Lucy’s Day. In both cases, a member of what I’ve called the Acting Corps (see the Page on this blog), with a name in a POP (a phrasal overlap portmanteau; see the Page on this blog).

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Thanksgiving sacks of cement

November 28, 2019

A Thanksgiving cartoon by graphic designer Matt Reedy, requiring crucial background knowledge for understanding:


(#1) From Reedy’s pages of Den of Apathy prints (riffs on popular culture) on Etsy: WKRP “As God As My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly” (an 11×17 print is on sale there for $15)

A completely wordless cartoon (just the helicopter, the plummeting turkeys, the cityscape in the background) might not have worked, but “Cincinnati” is enough to make it the composition into a funny cartoon — if you know the background. “Thanksgiving” would work instead (with the same proviso). Or both: “Thanksgiving in Cincinnati”.

If you know Reedy’s title, you have even more of the story, but you still need to know how all these parts fit together, though you might reasonably infer that someone has dropped turkeys from a helicopter in the belief that they could fly, and that’s funny in itself. For the whole story, WKRP is crucial.

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The Russian sardines are coming!

November 6, 2019

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo goes (sort of) bilingual:


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

The Cyrillic label hints at сардинкы (transliteration in Latin letters: sardinky/i) ‘little sardines’, with a hard sign Ъ added to allow an allusion to one of those odd symbols. Meanwhile, the title tsardines is a portmanteau, of tsar and sardines, referring to the five tsars of Russia packed like sardines into the tin.

(Yes, full appreciation of the cartoon requires assembling a fair amount of knowledge of several kinds, starting with sardines and their customary packaging.)

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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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