16 Comments

  1. Pete, thanks for that interesting item about Steak Diane. I would still guess the name Diane in the caption is just a random choice.

    I think I’m picking up on the suggestion about the chin line — but that still leaves the upper curves as a grotesque smile. I can’t get it to look right.

  2. To me the mouth is the horizontal line, and the squiggle above it is the shadow line between the mouth and the cheeks. Make him look nonplussed. (But I have to try and see it that way).

  3. If the butcher were normal looking, bored and looking at the customer, then the customer would just seem sadly unable to walk away with no meat or choose a different meat or just guess what sort of steak to get or even ask the butcher to recommend something. And it would be cruel to mock someone with whatever issue leads him to this level of shopping paralysis.

    But with the bizarre looking butcher, it feels less cruel, because maybe he’s just an ordinary guy who is reacting poorly to a unique and surreal experience.

  4. Sorry, no matter how hard I try, my eyes cannot parse the horizontal dash as a mouth. The location forces me to consider it part of the nose, meaning that the curved line near the bottom of the face is a bizarre smile. Given that Kanin certainly can draw convincing, normal faces (and not just in profile, see Pete’s links), this horribly botched rendition was either on purpose (see Downpuppy’s suggestion), or the result of deadline pressure.

  5. Kilby wrote:

    “Sorry, no matter how hard I try, my eyes cannot parse the horizontal dash as a mouth. The location forces me to consider it part of the nose, meaning that the curved line near the bottom of the face is a bizarre smile.”

    Whoa… That reminds me of when I was a kid and I read the “Duffy” cartoon for the first time. Duffy (the title character) had a distinctive nose that looked like a very happy smile. For a short while I thought Duffy was an overly happy man. Take a look and see what I mean:

    In the first panel he looks like he’s sporting a grin from ear-to-ear. (Granted, you can tell by the other panels that that’s just his nose, but I don’t think the above cartoon was the first Duffy strip I ever read.)

  6. “Sorry, no matter how hard I try, my eyes cannot parse the horizontal dash as a mouth. ”

    But if you look at my links you will see similar examples where the mouth is a small horizontal dash. At least one in each picture.

    The butcher may not be his best work, it’s a bit of an unclear drawing, but it is fairly typical of his style.

  7. analysing the drawing apart, can anyone explain the joke? Bill’s comment “not the gag itself” would seem to imply that he gets it, but I don’t. Is it something to do with Steak Diane, as I guessed earlier? Why is the butcher staring? Why is it all Diane’s fault?

  8. J-L, I also have some individual comics drawing styles or idiosyncratic practices that I have never quite perceptually reconciled to. I don’t see how Bug Martini characters hold together in a physical world, even with cartoon physics. And there’s that dog who similarly has ears made of some four or five parts that are not physically connected, but apparently hang together by a force field.

    Pete, I think the joke is in the fact that this guy normally doesn’t do the shopping, Diane does. But he’s frustrated with the whole experience, and in particular flummoxed by having to choose steaks from the many different kinds available at the butcher shop.

  9. Thanks, Pete. Your third link (which I had missed before) helped a little, but what helped most was that it gave me the idea of covering up the chin curve with my thumb: and that made it much easier to parse the “tiny face” in this drawing.

  10. Well, I too first saw the chin as a big grin, but after reading others explanations I can see the mouth as the horizontal line under the nose. And actually, the man’s expression fits the cartoon better when you see it that way, but it very quickly becomes something like that famous “old hag – young woman” optical illusion. I think it’s all Diane’s fault.

  11. When I look at the butcher’s face, I normally see the dash as the mouth. Maybe because I focus on the eyes. I have to stare at the curved line for a second or so to make it turn into a mouth. As guero said, I guess it’s a bit like the rabbit/duck or old woman/young woman illusions.

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