Archive for the ‘Understanding comics’ Category

Puns and metatheses

January 10, 2018

Two recent cartoons: a Rhymes With Orange from the 8th, with a hall / howl pun; and a One Big Happy from December 13th in which Ruthie struggles with the word permanent:

(#1)

(#2)

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Memory and the power of diner food

December 22, 2017

Yesterday’s Zippy (“The flying bucket on Sepulveda”) took us to Dinah’s Fried Chicken on Sepulveda Blvd. in LA. Today, Zippy continues the narrative with remembrances of diner foods past — rice pudding, creamed spinach, corned beef hash — and their ability to evoke specific moments from times gone by:

(#1)

The day when Zippy spilled ketchup on his styrofoam shoes at Dinah’s; the day when Dinah’s ran out of rice pudding and substituted creamed spinach; Marcel Marceau’s recollection of May 14th, 1894 in Fresno CA, a memory triggered by just a whiff of corned beef hash.

All of this is just absurd if you don’t know about Marcel Proust, the madeleines, Remembrance of Things Past, and involuntary memory; in case you’ve forgotten, the title, “Remembrance of Flings Past” is there to nudge your memory. All this Proustian stuff comes from high culture, but like other Great Books, Great Art, and Great Music, it’s worked its way into a pop-culture meme that anyone can use for jokes and that everybody’s supposed to recognize.

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Son of Snowman

December 10, 2017

Today’s Rhymes With Orange takes another swipe at Magritte’s The Son of Man:

  (#1)
This is mildly entertaining as a joke about some kid who makes weird, non-standard snowmen. But for it to fully work you need to know that Magritte was a surrealist painter, the creator of The Son of Man (crucially featuring the bowler hat and the green apple):

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Monkey see, monkey fear

December 7, 2017

Today’s Bizarro brings us a talking monkey facing the news:

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

Funny enough as it stands, but much funnier if you recognize the monkey as the character Curious George and his companion The Man With the Yellow Hat. So: a cross-comic reference, and because of that, a challenge to understanding.

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Two and a cover

December 2, 2017

From the December 4th New Yorker, two cartoons (by Jon Adams and Liana Finck) that make demands on your cultural knowledge, plus a seasonally atmospheric cover (by Kim DeMarco):

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Two memic moments

November 30, 2017

In today’s cartoon feed, a penguin Zits and a maze-rat Rhymes With Orange:

(#1) There’s cold, and then there’s penguin cold

(#2) Rats in a Japanese bento maze

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The pun within the pun

November 24, 2017

From a chain of Facebook friends, this Dan Thompson Brevity cartoon:

(#1)

The outside (perfect) pun: Gallos’ humor / gallows humor (which depends on your knowing about the Gallo brothers and also the concept of gallows humor). The inside, Ernest and Julio, (imperfect) pun: Bordeaux (wine) / border (collie) (which depends on your knowing about both the wines and the dogs).

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3 for 15

November 15, 2017

Three recent cartoons, on different themes: a One Big Happy in which Ruthie misparses an expression; a Rhymes With Orange that requires considerable cultural knowledge for understanding; and a Prickly City that takes us once more into the territory of pumpkin spice ‘high quality’, now in a political context:

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Show me the way to go home

November 4, 2017

Yesterday’s New Yorker daily cartoon, by Kaamran Hafeez:

(#1) “There is no home button. You just click your heels three times.”

Another cartoon in which two disparate worlds intersect in a surprising or absurd fashion: in this case, the worlds of The Wizard of Oz (the 1939 movie) and of technological devices (smartphones). Intersecting in the notion of home and going home, with a different sense in each world.

To understand the cartoon, you need to know a famous quotation from the movie:

Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, ‘There’s no place like home’.

And you need to know about the home button on devices, taking you to a home screen or a home page.

In fact, fully appreciating the cartoon requires that you know something crucial about the recently released Apple iPhone X, namely that it has no home button.

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Three kinds of cartoons

October 31, 2017

In an old New Yorker (from 7/6/15), two cartoons that especially struck me: a Mick Stevens meta-cartoon, and a Liana Finck with a playful word transposition. The second led me to a Finck from this spring that presents a real challenge in understanding.

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