1. “Is there a joke here other than a (circular) meta reference to the fact that the strip only has four panels?”

    I…. don’t know.

    If that was the joke that would be legitimate and enough. But it was a bit too subtle and would have been better if she said “We only have 4 panels and we need two for the setup and punchline”.

    But I imagine this was just supposed to be cute and she only had a few sheets of paper…. which isn’t very clear *why* she only has a few sheets of paper.

  2. Papi is reading a newspaper in the first panel. Maybe that is supposed to be a subtle hint. Perhaps this is a reference to the cartoonist’s perennial complaint that newspapers don’t give them enough space.

  3. Don’t overthink it. This is just a little kid being adoringly creative with the limited resources that she has. Those “space restrictions” may simply be an artificial strategy to cover up her unwillingness to draw more pages.
    P.S. When my kids try to delay bedtime by asking for a story, I sometimes resort to the world’s shortest fairy tale: “Once upon a time they lived happily ever after. The End.

  4. Sometimes the joke is a real-life reference, and it’s often lost on a majority of readers.

    There were several “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoons that made meta-references to the artist’s restrictions and disagreements with his syndicate. This is one of them:

    In case the link goes stale, it’s a Sunday cartoon dated 11/12 (I can’t make out the year). (In the last panel, Calvin’s dad says, “The problem is, you see everything in terms of black and white.”)

  5. And here’s another “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon (dated 11-11-1987 ?)

    It makes reference to “Xeroxed talking heads,” and it was years before I realized that Watterson was mocking that style by making his cartoon look just like that.

    (Surprisingly, I’m pretty sure the panels are not “xeroxed”; they seem to have been drawn (at least partly) separately.)

  6. Then there is the world’s longest fairy tale: Once upon a time there was a story that began “Once upon a time there was a story that began ‘Once upon a time there was a story that began …

  7. Her “book” is one piece of paper, folded. Of course it has only four panels. Don’t invoke a lot of metaphysical considerations. It’s what you get with a piece of paper when you are that young,

  8. @ J-L – On a previous occasion when the “talking heads” strip was discussed, I overlaid the four panels to produce an “animated” GIF. Watterson did not cheat: they are all different. The best way to prove it (without resorting to Photoshop) is to compare the stripes on Hobbes’ arm, or Calvin’s hair.
    P.S. That (mostly monochrome) Sunday strip originally appeared on February 3rd, 1991. The date in the last panel was probably added later when the syndicate (or GoComics) repeated it.

  9. Kilby;

    I think Watterson cheated by *not* copying the same panel four times. I mean if the joke is that the strip falls into the cheap pattern copying the same thing it’s criticizing, then where’s the joke in *not* doing the thing it’s criticizing?

    ” It’s what you get with a piece of paper when you are that young,”

    If so, the execution was too subtle.

    But I do remember trying to fold like that. If you do a third fold you can get 3 pages but the first page is as thick as the last two combined. It always frustrated me. You *should* get twice as many pages with each fold but half of them would be encased in each other and inaccessible. Onless you cut them. But then there’d be no binding and they’d fall into peaces.

  10. I don’t think Baldo is supposed to be funny. Cute, and heartwarming, yes, but not ‘ha-ha!’

    I like it a lot, though.

  11. I think it has double meaning. The kid only has a folded piece of paper so it’s 2 panels. But it also works as a meta-joke for comic artists.

  12. @Kilby, thanks for the date correction. I should have known the date I gave was likely wrong when its text didn’t match the rest of the comic.

    And thanks for the tip on comparing the images. I also have a tip: If you’re one of those lucky people who are able to see those 3-D Stereogram images, you can look “through” the comic and overlap adjacent panels. Once they’re lined up, you’ll see that you can’t quite reconcile Hobbes’ and Calvin’s images, as they’re not the same image. Parts of the images will “phase in and out” as you try to focus on them.

    (It’s kind of hard to explain until you see it for yourself.)

    This trick also works by crossing your eyes. But if you’ve never done it before, it won’t be easy to do at first. And please don’t strain your eyes trying. (If you can’t do it, take a break and maybe try again later.)

  13. I’ve sometimes been able to fuse those 3D paired pictures, by UNcrossing my eyes. I E. they converge at a point BEHIND the page or screen close to my face

  14. woozy:

    It could be that Bill Watterson didn’t know for sure whether the claim was accurate (the claim that the comics pages were full of Xeroxed talking heads); so instead of making the claim himself, he let a fictional character do it for him.

    So he mocked that style, without actually being guilty of doing the same.

    Hypocrisy avoided!

    (Though, to be honest, I really doubt we’d be speaking ill of Watterson today, had he really photo-copied the panels way back then.)

  15. Looking back, I think my description of viewing the 3D images without special device by “UNcrossing your eyes” is just what J-L was already suggesting in terms of “looking thru the page” .

    This technique works to the same effect as the viewer devices – it has your left eye foveate on the left image and your right eye foveate on the right image. Crossing your eyes reverses that; you can still fuse the images but the depth effects will change.

  16. You can use that technique to very quickly be done with those “find five differences in the picture” puzzles — you just overlap the images with you eyes, and mark where ever there’s a shimmer, zip, zap, boom!

  17. An example stereogram, best viewed with the “looking thru” technique.
    My remarks in terms of “left image” and “right image” don’t take into account this overlap technique which makes them “hidden”.
    Also do try the eye-crossing technique, and you will see it as a hollow mask projecting away, instead of a bulbous knickknack facing us.

  18. The first of those 3D things I saw was very uniform on first appearance. You had to use a couple of dots to align. Once you did, there was a amazing amount of detail, various levels, etc.

  19. I remember seeing an unintentional 3D effect produced by a mosaic composed of round circular tiles arranged in a hexagonal stacking pattern. Staring at it, I must have lost focus just enough to overlap two adjacent tiles. The result was that the whole wall appeared as if each of the tiles had a different elevation. It was very interesting (even though it made me a little dizzy), but I have no idea where the wall was located (perhaps a library or museum).

  20. Yeah, my first experience like that was standing in a line waiting for Phys. Ed. class at Riviera Junior High in maybe 1960 or 1961, and staring idly at a chain-link fence with its repeated diamond-lozenge pattern, and wondering why it was all of a sudden just a foot or so in front of my face.

  21. @Kilby: I did that in my high-school halls, “seeing” the white tiles higher, and the black tiles lower, than the majority grey tiles.

  22. I remember staring at the roof liner in our car when I was 4 or so, and it had a pattern of dots (holes) that could easily be overlapped so that it seemed there was a mesh of the hole pattern floating much closer overhead. I don’t know if this early experience trained my eyes to be able to do this easily, or if I just have that knack naturally and it manifested early…

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