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CSotD: Friday Funnies

We’ll start on a relatively high intellectual plane today and then gradually glide on down to nothing at all.

I was taken aback — only appropriate in a sea-faring tale — by this Rip Kirby, not because of the name “Minx,” though I associate it mostly with “Servant of Two Masters,” which is I think the only place I’ve seen it used.

That may be an issue of how old the translation we used was, but I think it’s because the translator wanted the audience to bear in mind that the play was written in 1746 and so used a lot of old-timey constructions and vocabulary.

But we’d met this minx, Minx, a few strips earlier. What struck me was a sense that every exotic, untrustworthy, foreign female in swashbucklers refers to herself by name rather than pronoun, and, specifically, as direct object. So she starts out with “I” but somehow nobody ever taught her the proper use of “me.”

I looked again to see if she were speaking pidgin, but she’s not, and that’s good because pidgin — at least, the kind used in the South Seas — uses a lot of long constructions that would not fit well in a cartooning balloon.

There are a lot of pidgins, since it’s a generic term for a pseudo-language used in a region where it substitutes for a common language since there isn’t one.

I had heard that Swahili was a pidgin, but, although it’s used a lot among Africans who would otherwise speak something more local, it’s a genuine Bantu language, albeit one like English which does a lot of borrowing, chiefly from Arabic.

A friend who lived briefly in Tanzania was tickled by the Swahili word for a traffic circle, kiplefti, which, had it originated in this country, would be called a kiprighti, his amusement intensified by the fact that plurals are formed by changing ki- to vi- so that, if you had more than one traffic circle, you had viplefti, which negates the British-English origin.

Another friend who is a native Kenyan told me that Swahili has enough regional variation that, if you grew up in the country as she did, your pronunciation will immediately brand you as a peasant when you speak to someone from Nairobi.

In any case, my advice is that, if you run into a beautiful woman who refers to herself by name, you should avoid her.

And if that name is “Minx,” you should run.

Rip appears to have this in hand, and if he didn’t repeatedly wander into dangerous situations, it wouldn’t be much of a strip.


Juxtaposition of the Week

(Candorville, June 10)

(Candorville, June 14)


Cartoonists reading this have already figured out the connection between the Candorville arc and Zits, because several of them have boxes of self-published books under their beds if they’re lucky and stacked up in the garage if they really overestimated.

There are two elements to this, and the simple one is that some people are great writers and some people are great sales people and not that many people are both. And even if what you want to do is as pleasant as taking doggies for a walk, you still have to get out there and drum up the business.

There are certainly creative types who also like to sell, James Patterson being an excellent example, in part because he sells so many books that he has to bring in other writers so that he can mentor them and add their work to his empire.

But that is the point at which Susan’s comment comes into play, because there are those who feel Patterson’s books are not written so much as extruded, along with most of the bodice rippers and detective books you see on drugstore spinner racks.

Well, books don’t get rejected because they’re crap. They get rejected because they aren’t going to be easy to sell. They might also be crap, but Melville’s books didn’t sell and Dickens’ did and there’s no pattern.

There is, however, this: If someone whose whole deal is selling things, someone who is a gifted sales person, doesn’t want to try to sell your work, it’s a pretty good indication that someone like you, who sucks at selling things, would find it an uphill climb.

And this hint: If you really are good at selling, sell real estate or luxury cars or something people are willing to shell out the big bucks for.

Then go up into your garrett and write the good stuff for which they aren’t.


Speaking of expert sales jobs, Pardon My Planet brings up one of the great con-jobs of the modern age: The diamond market, in which production is suppressed to create false scarcity, while demand is drummed up with the “everybody does it” notion that you should spend two months salary on a piece of glittery carbon to demonstrate your love.

You can claim “exploitation of native peoples” as a perfectly valid and noble reason for refusing to fall for this claptrap, but I’d suggest you simply find someone who also feels it’s a waste of money.

As that jeweler suggests, it ain’t like giving in will put you in the “until death do us part” category anyway.

It never came up in our case, but it was the Sixties and we never thought to ask our parents to pay for the wedding, either. Our big concession to tradition came when we realized that dragging all those grandmas up to Annie Evan’s Lookout was not gonna work, but that her brother’s college roommate’s father was rector of a church in Denver that we could use for free.

Granted, we only made it 13 years, but at least we didn’t piss away a lot of money getting there.


Not like this poor schlub in Bottomliners.

The karmic debts are hard enough to pay off.

And hard enough, for some reason, to avoid piling up.




Community Comments

#1 Denny Lien
@ 8:22 am

Actually, Herman Melville’s first two novels (TYPEE and OMOO) sold quite well, but instead of giving the readers “more of the same” he struck out in other directions and his public mostly declined to follow him there.

And where have we seen *that* pattern before (other than all over the place)?

#2 Brian Fies
@ 9:30 am

I wish I’d heard–and really understood–your thoughts on publishing about 20 years ago. They are wise and correct.

Oh, I think any publisher would be thrilled to put out books that get great reviews and tremendous prestige, but fundamentally all they really want are books that sell. How could it be otherwise? If they publish books that don’t sell, they can’t stay in business to publish more books!

The trick, as I’ve perceived it, is knowing which books are likely to sell 1000 copies and which will sell 100,000. They can make money either way, but not if they guess wrong and get stuck with crates of them in the warehouse (or in the garage or under the bed).

All that said… The Internet and self-publishing (esp. print on demand) have unleashed the power of the widely distributed niche market. A few webcartoonists have done very well selling collections of their work that Andrews-McMeel or other traditional publishers wouldn’t touch. If you’re the world’s authority on bottle caps, you could probably make a few bucks self-publishing a book for the other 10,000 people in the world who frequent your website and really love bottle caps.

But in general, yes: to paraphrase Twain, the fact that you’ve written for free for years and can’t get anyone interested in paying you for it may be a sign that chopping wood would be a better career choice.

#3 Brad Walker
@ 9:33 am

Don’t believe I’ve seen a spinner rack in a drugstore in donkey’s years. It’s unusual enough if there’s a shelf/rack with People and Us. Not too mention pocketbook collections of comic strips.

#4 Mike Peterson
@ 9:54 am

I said “drug store” because there’s one right next to the counter where I pick up my prescriptions, which is actually in a grocery store, but the rack is full of James Patterson books and the pharmacy sells anti-nausea pills.

#5 Kathleen Elizabeth Donnelly
@ 10:23 am

If you can’t pay for the wedding you want, you’re too young to marry.

#6 Kip Williams
@ 12:49 pm

My wife and I have wedding rings because I had this inspired idea of getting rings for ourselves as a mutual 7th anniversary present. Simple gold bands, and for a while I was thinking we’d one day get something inscribed inside, but 32 years later, we still haven’t done anything about it. Just as well, because having my ring resized once (because it felt too tight after a few years) and then resized again (because that made it too loose) might have wrecked whatever we’d put in there anyway.

As to the wedding we wanted, we did just fine, married by a judge (whose daughter I’d once dated briefly) right after traffic court finished up, then off to a local restaurant with two relatives and a friend for something we could plausibly call a reception.

#7 Mike Peterson
@ 2:33 pm

Kathleen, when I see someone opting for “Barbie’s Dream Wedding,” I don’t ask who’s paying. I’m just glad to not be Ken.

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