Archive for the ‘Understanding comics’ Category

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:

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A defiant gesture, a bit of lycanthropic folklore.

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The Tritoons gather by the river

October 21, 2018

diabolus in imaginē, at the tri-state corner (where NY, NJ, and PA are joined), in Milford PA, on Sunday 9/30, funny funny funny. Viewable on tape today. As announced today on Facebook by one of the Three Weird Brothers, Bob Eckstein, using this cartoon of his (from the 5/19/14 New Yorker) as a visual:

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The Milford Readers and Writers Festival in Milford PA (#3 — the first one was in 2016). “New Yorker Cartoonists Talk About Funny!” with Bob Eckstein, Christopher Weyant, and David Borchart, moderated by Carol McManus (tape shown on CSPAN-2 today starting at 2:18 pm ET).

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Mike Lynch

September 27, 2018

A cartoonist and cartoon enthusiast who hasn’t appeared on this blog before.

The barest of brief Wikipedia information:

Mike Lynch [born January 18, 1962, in Iowa City IA] is a cartoonist whose work can be seen in Reader’s Digest, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy and other mass media markets.

Lynch maintains a substantial blog on cartoons, with material of his own and compilations of other cartoonists.  For example, a 9/24 posting on gag cartoons, from Dick Buchanan; a 9/21 posting on women cartoonists of the New Yorker, from Liza Donnelly; a 9/20 posting on cartoonists drawing on the wall at the Overlook Lounge in NYC.

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A transatlantic exercise in cartoon understanding

September 21, 2018

To fully appreciate this cartoon (passed on to me on Facebook), you need to have two pieces of pop-cultural knowledge, one originally American, one originally British (though it is the way of such things to cross the Atlantic culturally):

(#1)

You need, of course, to recognize — American cultural knowledge — that this is a baseball diamond, with a game in progress, and that there’s an object on first base. Then — further American cultural knowledge — you need to recognize the (note: declarative, not interrogative) sentence Who’s on first as the first move in one of the greatest America comedy routines ever. Then — British cultural knowledge — you need to recognize the thing on first base and connect it to the fact that Who’s on first, both of them elements from one of the most popular British tv shows ever.

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The cartoon milkman

September 11, 2018

… and a bad grandpa pun, in the One Big Happy from 8/14:

(#1)

(The characters, left to right in the first and last panels: the neighbor boy James; the son of the OBH family, Ruthie’s older brother Joe; and Joe’s grandfather.)

Grandpa reproduces a bit of culture lore, about liaisons between housewives and milkmen. The boys are no doubt somewhat vague about what would be involved in a woman’s running off with the milkman. But, more pressingly, they don’t know what a milkman is: the N +  N compound is scarcely transparent semantically, so unless you’ve actually had milkmen in your experience, tales of women and milkmen are just baffling.

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