Sunday, July 28, 2019


Here's just the tiniest bit of insight on an overlooked aspect of writing the gag - how even the simplest arrangements of words and letters, how subtlety a visually represented sound via spelling coupled with phonetic emphasis can shape the interpretation, the transmission of meaning. Usually brevity is crucial: when editing a caption the best rule of thumb is "less is more" - much the same as the drawing itself.

The first version of this was "A" - listed below with a sampling of the top picks. But, minor as it may be, "hell" is still a swear word for many a family-oriented publication, especially a small-town newspaper. So while most recent Associated Press guidelines permit it, but it's been explained to me that unless it refers to the literal place, there's just no way in, uh, Hell it'll run.

That began a brief exploration of various end-runs around the issue - I tried to find a way to not dilute the intensity of that feeling. It's a delicate balance for me: not too far into wasabi territory, but just enough bite to make for a bit of whoofing. I'm not much for eating pain, more of a poblano or Cholula kinda guy.

It eventually gets to the point where I'm "pole vaulting over a moose turd." For one thing, nobody really gives a shit okay? But I do. Indeed, these are the things that weigh a cartoonist down. Sometimes I even wake suddenly from sleep, drenched in sweat, shaking from the tension and pressure that keeps building up inside. But still, it's the little things.

So after kicking it over for a few days (always best to let stuff either incubate, or at the opposite end of things, maybe just breathe a like any good bottle of wine. Or for that matter, begin to bloom... like my custom mixes of cocktail sauce after overnighting with a hearty dose of horseradish blended in.

"Yaaas" has officially entered the dictionary, and so hopefully is within easy reach of many readers. Though it's a given that maybe half the readership isn't up on internet slang and so we're left with the only other possible interpretation: that the entire point of the strip is the emergence of the inner pinniped. That's what it all comes down to, and it ain't pretty folks. It even happened to me in Maine when I came across my first lobster roll and basket of fried clams.

Update: After consultation with my editor "hell" got a thumbs-up ("ubiquitous"), bu I still opted to run with the "YAAAS" so as to sort of bank my cuss-words, as another upcoming panel also contained the same bad language.

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