Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

Peanuts: Peppermint Patty and Marcie

December 8, 2011 1 comment


Charles Schultz developed and wrote the cartoon comic strip Peanuts from 1950-2000. The character “Peppermint Patty” was first introduced into the comic strip in 1966 and later in the short film, You’re in Love, Charlie Brown, in 1973. Patty’s best friend Marcie, or as she most often refers to her, “My dorky friend from camp”, was first introduced to the comic strip in 1968 and immediately calls her “Sir.” Peppermint Patty was Marcie’s tent monitor at summer camp and is believed to have come off in an intimidating way toward the other campers. This may or may not be the reason that her pal Marcie continuously calls her “Sir” instead of “Ma’am” throughout their entire Peanuts career.  

 The comic strip above illustrates the use of the rhetorical device of solecismus with the ignorant misuse of gender toward Peppermint Patty- sir instead of ma’am- by Marcie. In the beginning, Peppermint Patty is extremely annoyed by Marcie calling her “Sir” but she eventually learns to accept it as the cartoon and short films continue throughout the years.

 The reason for the Marcie’s ignorance, even after Peppermint Patty saying “Stop calling me Sir!” over and over is somewhat unclear. It is obvious that Peppermint Patty is indeed a female but Marcie still continues to call her sir. It may be due to the fact that Peppermint Patty is portrayed as a “Tomboy” or “Hippie” because she is always participating in sporting events, is always dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, and is never seen without sandals on as opposed to the other female Peanuts characters that are always wearing dresses and doing more feminine things. It may also be that Marcie looks up to Peppermint Patty and sees her as an authority figure or Marcie feeling intimidated by Peppermint Patty.

 The use of solecismus in Peanuts serves two functions; the first one being to add humor to the characters of Peppermint Patty and Marcie. The humor is more evident in the film versions of the cartoon than in the comic strip. In the following link, you can see that Marcie calls Peppermint Patty “Sir” numerous times in the short clip. This helps to add humor to the character and gives the two best friends something to fight about. The second effect of this concept is to show the world that not all women have to be feminine. Peppermint Patty was one of the very first comic strip characters of that time to be portrayed in a “Tomboyish” manner. It shows that girls can be intimidating and play sports just as boys can. This helps to bridge the gap between “Tomboys” and “Girly-Girls.”

 There are some people that believe that Peppermint Patty and Marcie have a lesbian relationship with each other and that is why she is called “Sir.” There have been several parodies of this belief in other cartoon comics such as The Simpsons. I find this accusation ludicrous and I do not believe that was Schultz’s purpose for using this concept.


Schultz, Charles. “Peanuts.” Comic strip. Go Comics. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.

Schultz, Charles. “Peppermint Patty’s Schooldays – Clip.” YouTube. Peanuts Online, 25 Jan. 2010. Web. 01 Dec. 2011.


Merismus in Dresden Codak

December 8, 2011 1 comment

An excellent sample of Merismus occurs continuously in the webcomic Dresden Codak.. The main heroine of the story, Kimiko Ross, is a scientist with robotic body parts.  As she moves through the comic and encounters individuals, side panels appear illustrating different parts of her body that are mechanical. One in particular is her eye, which shows up quite frequently, even when no one is there to notice it. This separates Kim into two distinct halves: the human half and the robotic half. For most characters, the notice of robot parts is not particularly commented on, yet the presentation of them produces a sense of otherness. The side panel zooms in on her eye, but there’s not enough of her face presented to determine any kind of expression.; the focus is brought to her arm, and she has both it and the natural one wrapped across her chest in body language suggesting defensiveness. The panels in particular are effective because they cause the reader to use merismus themselves. We see both her arms, yet automatically notice that one is covered, causing us to inspect closer and conclude that the arm is robotic. The juxtaposition of the two arms, as well as her posture, suggests a negative response to this kind of intrusive differentiation. The panels themselves are employing merismus, as the whole character is not shown, but part of her is focused on. This objectifies Kim in terms of her body composition, reducing her to an inhuman collection of body parts, flesh and metal.

To return to Kim’s eye again, there are hints of a face around it, but the eye, little black circuitry lines and a differentiation in the lens to make clear that it is not normal, is set apart from the rest of her body. By divided her up into parts the reader is forced to make judgments on each individual aspect, which carry over to the character as a whole; the individuals in the story are doing the same, though they never give voice to any negative remarks about her nature. Instead, the reader infers the negativity from the sense of otherness that the division creates. The author’s use of merismus causes the reader to look at Kim in a certain way and draw conclusions which illuminate how Kim is perceived in the world she inhabits.

Diaz, Aaron. “Dresden Codak: ‘Dark Science #03 – Strange Trainfellows'” Dresden Codak. 10 July 2010. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <;.

Categories: comics, description, merismus

Kingdom Come

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

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In the Graphic Novel Kingdom Come, the DC Comics’ universe has been projected 20 years into the future, where the violent and gritty style of superheroes then popular in the 90s has taken its logical extreme of gang fighting in the streets, and no real way of telling the heroes from the villains, and the threat of the Superhumans whipping all life from the face of the earth just from existing is a credible scenario.
In the scene we look at, Superman has come back from his self-imposed exile to get the world back on track. He walks into a superhuman bar (no, there is no joke), and asks the resident’s to shape up and join the reformed Justice League, and then leaves. Many of the individuals are impressed by the offer, but some are still not sure.

Then comes the arrow imbedding itself into the column.

It comes from another old superhero, by the name of Green Arrow, who says that it was now time “for the Democratic response.” There is no verbal Apodioxis, only one given through actions. This new generation of “heroes,” and yes the quotes are intentional, is violent and responds better to relentless, merciless justice that they revel in. By using his arrow as a way to get their attention, the Old Hero, Green Arrow, implies that he too thinks of solving problems like they do, and thus understands where they are coming from. This being something that Superman, and the old comic book-style of Superheroics he represents, is said time and again to be incapable of getting. Even though he offers a ‘Democratic response,’ assumedly in as respectful a tone as can be expected, Green Arrow is in affect saying that he doesn’t believe that there is any choice: Only his argument to hear, his team to join, and his rules to follow.

Waid, Mark, and Alex Ross. “Kingdom Come.” Graphic novel. First ed. New York: DC Comics, 2002. 86-87. Print. Elseworlds.

Al Davison’s The Spiral Cage

December 6, 2011 1 comment
In his genre-breaking 2003 autobiographical graphic memoir The Spiral Cage, Al Davison narrates sharp and poignant episodes from his life with spina bifida. In a one-page scene titled “Sunday Afternoon Yawn,” young Al stares into space, hand supporting his chin, with the “tick tock” of a clock overhead; the child is the epitome of boredom. Davison repeats this small image in five five-panel rows on this single page, with two exceptions. In the middle panel, the boy hiccups, followed by a panel depicting a man commanding silence, finger to lips.

By repeating a dozen times the same image with barely any variation, Davison establishes a visual pattern that imitates the boredom of the child and imitates the rhythm of the clock’s ticking. Readers narratively experience the child’s boredom. By disrupting this repetition with the hiccup panel and by placing this panel in the precise center of the page, Davison draws stark attention to the child’s violation of this imposed silence. The comics artist uses visual anadiplosis to establish a monotonous pattern, which serves to amplify the subsequent variation: the two panels depicting the hiccup and the adult’s immediate correction. Davison then returns to the pattern, and the remaining eleven panels depict the boy, chin in hand, clock ticking. By surrounding the hiccup/correction event with so many replicated panels depicting monotony—by skillfully employing visual anadiplosis—Davison recreates for readers both the claustrophobic boredom of the child and the shock of the disruptive hiccup. Any reader who has hiccupped during church, during study hall, during a test, in a quiet theater, or in some other public venue will immediately recognize and the gravity of the boy’s digestive offense and identify with his embarrassment.
Visual anadiplosis in Al Davison's The Spiral Cage
Visual anadiplosis in Al Davison’s The Spiral Cage

Davison, Al. “Sunday Afternoon Yawn.” The Spiral Cage. Los Angeles: Active Images, 2003. 44. Print.