27 Comments

  1. Wikipedia says that “Loose Parts is syndicated. Does anyone here rememeber seeing the first panel in a dead tree edition? I don’t think the illustration or the caption would work that well in black and white. To begin with, the shading should have been called “crosshatching” (instead of “hatchmark[ing]”), but more importantly, “unhatchmarked” would then have been better rendered as “halftone” (both for monochrome and color editions), even if the latter word would have been even less understandable (for most readers).

  2. What’s that Dr. Seuss story with the two different tribes perpetually at odds over some prominently visible but actually meaningless difference of marking? Is the top one here trying to use that reference?

  3. Mitch. The Sneetches.

    ….

    I think it’d work better in black and white as the role of crosshatching would be clearer. Although the should have use “crosshatching”, whether it’s accurate for color or not, as “unhatchmarked” is contender for the awkwardnessfullest word.

  4. The “Sneetches” was always one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books: I can probably recite almost all of it from memory.
    P.S. Seuss has a similar message in “The Butter Battle Book” (two groups fight a war over which side of the bread should be buttered), but the end result is much more heavy-handed than the humorous effect in “The Sneetches”.

  5. It would have been better if the half-tone people had instead been non-tone with no shading.

    I like this example of fighting over small differences:

  6. Ah, the caption did not come over. “There can be no peace until they renounce their Rabbit God and accept our Duck God”

  7. mitch4: I don’t think it’s a Sneetches reference. Fighting over something small and meaningless is too common for this to be a reference to a particular case.

    Kilby: For heavy-handed, it’s hard to beat TOS Star Trek episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” with the fighting between the half-white/half-black people and the half-black/half-white people.

  8. Or we could take it back to Swift.

    Though the war is bitter and violent, the conflict between the nations of Lilliput
    and Blefuscu started because of an absurd disagreement: Lilliput believes
    an egg should be broken from the small end, while Belfuscu believes it
    should be broken from the big end.

    I sort of remember a difference of practice in how to represent double-byte numbers that was characterized as “big endian” vs “small endian”. .

  9. @ narmitaj – Thanks! I was just about to give up on that illustration and declare it a CIDU, but then the caption reminded me of a wonderful book: “Duck! Rabbit!“, of which we own two copies (one in English and one in German).

  10. Since it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned, they all seem to be Far Side characters. Was there a point when Larson made a controversial switch in his art style? I know he re-did a lot of his old work in color for reprints, merchandise, etc., which was no improvement for many of them in my opinion.

  11. narmitaj: I’m glad you added the caption because I was completely baffled. I couldn’t see any difference in the flags, scrolled down a bit and read mitch4’s comment. For a moment I thought it was about one group displaying the flag by attaching by the side and other group at the top and bottom. When I finally scrolled far enough to see the caption it became clear.

    I agree with Mitch4. While Swift might not be the seminal work on this, I would guess it was at least an influence on the others mentioned.

  12. Ted, the Duck/Rabbit drawing is a classic example for perceptual ambiguity; but has not penetrated to all circles equally. Particularly popular in Philosophy, maybe because Wittgenstein brought it up once.

    I hope it didn’t look like I was trying to quote GuOliver’s Travels. That passage was just a Wikipedia excerpt!

  13. The cow and the bug certainly say “Far Side” to me. I don’t recognise any of the other characters.

  14. And let’s not forget the classic Star Trek episode with the mortal enemies, each half black/half white, divided vertically–but on different sides.

  15. @ Dysfunctional – There are similarities, but I think they are systemic, and not just intended for this particular strip (see the link @1). After Larson retired in 1995, the syndicates were scrambling for replacements. A number of comics were launched in the late 90s to fulfill the unsatisfied demand for a “strange” single panel comic.
    Larson’s original artwork did improve over the years (at some point he adopted halftone processing for gray areas), but remained monochrome all the way to the end. The vast majority of his comics were redone in color by an assistant, so that they could be reprinted on calendars, mugs, t-shirts, and all of the other licensed paraphernalia that earns extra cash for the syndicate and the artist. I’ve said this before, but I really do wish that “The Complete Far Side” had used more of the B&W versions, especially since most of the panels were printed even smaller than when they originally appeared in newspapers.

  16. Au contraire. The hatchmarked characters do have hatchmarks. Those areas on panel right of their bodies, indicating that the light is coming from panel left and that one side of them is in partial shadow are called hatchmarks. Those parallel black lines? Hatchmarks. Not the same thing as zip-a-tone.

  17. Is “hashmark” a variant entirely equivalent to “hatchmark”, or something a bit different? (I’m familiar with “crosshatching” but not so much “hatchmark”.)

  18. One group looking at the exact same thing as another group and perceiving something different would seem to be a comment about religion in addition to the silliness of going to war over who has the better imaginary friend. This is different than arguing which side of an egg to crack because eggs do have different ends. One is a perception difference only while the other, while equally inane, actually has a measurable distinction. Same with whether left white or star bellies are better.

  19. One Far Side cartoon shows a whole bunch of identical penguins, plus one penguin who looks exactly like the others but standing taller, raising up his wing (flippers?) and singing “I GOTTA BE MEEEE!” When it appeared in color, all the other penguins were black and white and the singing one was yellow. Which Larsen said kind of destroyed the whole point of the cartoon.

  20. MiB: I’d say it did! That one got reprinted as a (blank inside) greeting card, and they got it right that time. I probably still have one somewhere.

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