1. At the end of a record, the needle could get stuck in the last groove, with a “skrritch, skrrritch, skrrritch” that just might sound like an Indian Love (Bug) Call

  2. I was thinking approximately along those lines. With older recording technologies, the sound could be scratchy and crackly anywhere on the surface, which might lead this bug to think it is in communication with one of its own.

    A secondary idea is that the bug is in danger of getting swept up in the mechanism. I don’t see it very clearly that way, but can’t shake the thought. Could there have been a *different* cartoon in the last couple days with that idea carried out more explicitly?

  3. I think the intent was simply to replace the “cute and cuddly” dog with a “creepy and weird” mantis. The halftone shading(*) suggests that panel is from the latter part of the Far Side’s original run, when “weirdness” had become an established part of Larson’s work.
    P.S. (*) – Earlier panels did not have that sort of sophistication, and the remaining pixels of the copyright line seem to confirm that this one was drawn in 1989.

  4. According to ‘elsewhere on the internet,’ Larson’s editor says, in the forward of “The complete Far Side,” that the mantis is the only insect that can cock its head at the same angle as the dog in the RCA ad.

  5. Folly, is that it? That the mantis can cock its head like the dog? Mosquitos live in houses and wear clothes, cows go on vacation at the Grand Canyon, and the joke is that the mantis does something a mantis does?

    Maybe he got tired of those “actually it’s the female mosquito that bites” letters and said “Let’s see them write in about THIS.”

  6. Larson’s ability to draw a mantis cocking its head at a precise angle doesn’t quite compensate for the fact that he has the record running in the wrong direction.

  7. At first I thought that, since crickets make noise by scraping their wings together (or some body parts together), the cricket in cartoon was in awe of the record player, which makes noise by scraping a needle against a record.

    But then my theory was shot down when I realized that the depicted animal was not a cricket, but more likely a praying mantis.

    Maybe Gary Larson meant to draw a cricket, but absent-mindedly drew a mantis instead?

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