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Deeper backgroundEdit

Mort Walker wrote[1]:

In a rather pedantic presentation I made to the members of the National Cartoonists Society called "Let's Get Down to Grawlixes," I wrote:
As the world begins to recognize that cartooning is an art form, I have become increasingly aware of the world's lack of knowledge about our profession. They are exhibiting our work now in the Louvre, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan, and they are discussing cartoons in broad flowing terms such as "social significance," "illuminated narrative," and "primitive commentary," but not one of them knows the difference between such basic comicana as the "waftarom" and the "indotherm."

Walker goes on to discuss various forms of iconography: first, lines that contribute to the reading of the image; next, talk balloons. Then he continues,

Charlie Rice, of This Week magazine, is one of the few serious students of comicana around. One of his first contributions was to catalog briffits. Encouraged by the enthusiastic reception, he then tackled squeans, which he categorized as "a loose-jointed asterisk." ...
He also touched on the plewd, which is among the most useful cartoon symbols. Plewds are the little drops of sweat that shoot off people to indicate exertion, embarrassment, fear, or what-have-you.
A variety of acceptable curse words are at the cartoonist's disposal. He may throw in a new one from time to time, but the real meat of the epithet must always contain plenty of jarns, quimps, nittles, and grawlixes, as shown.

The margin contains illustrations showing scribbles, spirals (round and angled), a saturn, a crescent, an asterisk, a star, and a squean, all without labels. The way I read it, Charlie Rice should be credited with briffits, squeans, and plewds, but Mort Walker is responsible for all of the other words mentioned.

Unfortunately, the book doesn't mention the date of the NCS meeting (1964 according to the "Lexicon of Comicana" article), nor of the Charlie Rice column. It seems to me that some of this information should be incorporated in the article, and some enterprising Wikipedian could do a great service by looking up the This Week column.

Gwil (talk) 03:56, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

I think that the word is waftarom, not wafteron, the final four letters derived from "aroma."WHPratt (talk) 18:37, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
That's the way that Mort Walker spells it in his book. The cited source may disagree, and I don't know whether introducing a difference of opinion here is wise. WHPratt (talk) 17:42, 30 December 2017 (UTC)

I investigated and this is really cut and dried. The cited source (a 'blog which, despite being affiliated with a newspaper, was presumably not vetted the way a news article would be) in turn cites its source, another 'blog that had published a facsimile of the relevant page of Walker's book, which makes it clear that the word is indeed waftarom, though it might be carelessly misread as wafteron. Aside from reproducing the spelling corruption, the Wikipedia article introduced a further error by assuming that "the wavy lines suggesting scent or heat" were identical in shape, whereas Walker's illustrations make it clear that this is not the case.
Because these errors appear in an incidental remark on the entry for indotherm, rather than a standalone entry for wafteron, I think it's simplest to just delete the remark entirely, as it's based on the misconception that the two terms denote the same shape. JudahH (talk) 17:21, 25 January 2018 (UTC)



Mathglot 09:07, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

  1. ^ "Backstage at the Strips", by Mort Walker. Mason/Charter, New York, 1975, pp. 26-30

Fair use rationale for Image:LexiconofComicana.jpgEdit

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BetacommandBot (talk) 23:01, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Other conventionsEdit

I don't know if the book mentions these, but since childhood I have always been curious about the cartoonist's use of the reflection of a paned – glass window in some curved and reflective surface. Also of course, there are the stars circling someone's head after they have been knocked down. Myles325a (talk) 10:11, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

The implication is that there's a sky-lit window somewhere in the background ... —Tamfang (talk) 20:38, 18 June 2010 (UTC)
That's called a lucaflect. Mathglot (talk) 18:12, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Return to "The Lexicon of Comicana" page.