270. Bubble Trouble

I find the language of comics fascinating. In Venezuela, while everybody in the United States was reading Garfield or The Far Side, we had Condorito from Chile. It's about, a ... I'm guessing a small anthropoid condor?  Every time there was a punchline, the characters did a Face Fault (warning, that’s a TV Tropes link, so there goes your afternoon). It came with the onomatopoeian caption: PLOP. Here’s an example:

In that comic, the bird-like character asks -“what are you doing”, the dumb looking guy says “looking at a map of Italy, why do you think it’s shaped like a boot?” And the small Condor says the punchline “Because all the people wouldn’t fit in a shoe”. Solid. Faint-worthy. Just for the purists out there, that is not Condorito, it’s Cone, the nephew of Condorito. Cone is to Condorito as Scrappy-Do is to Scooby. Ok, enough Condorito lore-dumping.

I’ve seen the PLOP system here and there (like in this recent comic from the brilliant Marko Rassina, Nerd and Jock). However, I feel that in general we have moved away from beating people over the head with punchline signaling. No laugh tracks, no badum-tish. I believe Jeb Bush may have represented the death of this practice with his “Please, Clap” moment.

I enjoy subtle humor. It doesn’t work as great in a visual medium but I do like when the listener or reader doesn’t immediately know something is funny or why. It's quite often that my wife and mother (these are separate people), when shown my comic drafts will respond with a resounding "huh?" I have to re-work them often. 

To keep my desire to be cryptic satisfied, however, I frequently try to keep a hidden level in my comics, something only I or a few people will get. In this comic, the “oh no” uttered by the nascent bubble is an homage to Alex Norris, an artist that I adore. He distilled web comics into its component parts and discovered something beautiful. Check him out and enjoy his comics!


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