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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 02/ 3/2009

Three Words You Just Can't Say on the Funnypages

By Michael Cavna

Some comic-strip creators, such as "Family Tree's" Signe Wilkinson and "Prickly City's" Scott Stantis, have told Comic Riffs that the limits placed on even "PG"-equivalent language in the funnies are a frequent source of frustration. In other words: The rules "suck." (To invoke a word the two cannot readily use.)

Then again, "Dilbert's" Scott Adams told us just last week how little diverts him in his quest for funny-page subversion.

So what's a mainstream cartoonist to do when language limitations are imposed, but a sense of subversion is called for? Simple: Get creative as hel--er, "heck."

Today's "Agnes," f'rinstance, gets cute by winking in the last balloon: "I'm freezing something but it's not my brass."

(Creators) Enlarge Comic

And over the weekend -- as commenter "JubalHarshaw1" pointed out -- "9 Chickweed Lane" went to the pains of invoking a "Big Book of Dutch Humour" to arrive at the sly joke that a fella is holding his own "vas deferens." (Just a matter of sounding it out. And it plays off of the old, still-fun pun: "Between men and women, there's a vas deferens.")

And then there's political cartoonist Bill Schorr's Merrill Lynch cartoon, wittily (and silently) depicting what sad-sack taxpayers have just stepped in.

Sometimes, if you can't break the linguistc rules, it's more fun to find an amusing way to bend them.


So let me get this straight: In "Family Circus," poor little Jeffy can't figure out the concept of footwear. Meanwhile, in "Garfield," poor big Jonny Arbuckle can't figure out the concept of even in a single piece of footwear.

These two should really get together and go shopping for Velcro kicks. Which they could then promptly stuff in Garfield's kisser.

By Michael Cavna  | February 3, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Today's "9 Chickweed Lane" finds a double entendre in Mozart's "Magic Flute". Not to mention a drawing that reveals how Edda (the blonde) is wearing a dress with a side slit up to (ahem).

Posted by: greggwiggins | February 3, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"Freeze the brass off a bald monkey"??? I wonder how long the comics editors in charge of censoring the naughty words fretted over **that** bowdlerized Spoonerism!

Posted by: seismic-2 | February 3, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Yep -- a lot more creativity in the second frame than in the third.

Posted by: pltrgyst | February 3, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

To avoid the use of profanity challenges the artist(Perhaps makes him think twice about what he wants to say).To just use it "flat out",is witless and vulgar.

Posted by: orogero | February 3, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

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