Archive for the ‘Understanding comics’ Category

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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An old hand, and two young hands

December 17, 2020

In the latest (12/21) New Yorker, two cartoons that especially caught my eye: one by a very old hand in the business, George Booth (now 94); the other by two young women (roughly 30), Sophie Lucido Johnson and Sammi Skolmoski (both of whom are writers as well as artists). The Booth is an absurd literalization of the idiom (put the) cart before the horse. The SLJ/SS is wryly funny as it stands, but gains immeasurably if you know about a particular children’s book.

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The multipurpose elephant

September 24, 2020

In the 9/28 New Yorker, this Danny Shanahan cartoon:


(#1) “And this is Dyson.”

The cartoon is incomprehensible if you don’t know that Dyson is the name of a brand of vacuum cleaners (which come with a variety of attachments, as does the elephant above).

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Crossed folk stories

September 9, 2020

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro cartoon:


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

The strip explicitly refers to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but also alludes to the Piper’s son as having stolen a pig. This is baffling unless you know a particular English nursery rhyme, so we have another exercise in cartoon understanding.

Ok, let’s assume you get that. Then the cartoon is a kind of conceptual portmanteau, a cross between the Piper legend and the Piper’s son nursery rhyme. Then set in a modern law-enforcement context, juxtaposing some (stereotyped) version of the real world with the world of these two folk stories. Cool.

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