The blog of Richard Thompson, caricaturist, creator of "Cul de Sac," and winner of the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How to Screw Up a Perfectly Good Joke

I got an email today from an alert reader who sent a link to the Comics I Don't Understand website. This site, for those unfamiliar with it, is where you go when you've got a comic you don't understand, and you post it and a discussion follows in the comments section where other readers try to unravel the mystery of said strip.

The alert reader sent me here , where the above strip is considered. And I was shocked, shocked. Because that's not how the joke I thought I wrote went at all. I used an old rough for this, one I did about a year ago. It went like this-

Now that makes more sense, and it's subtle, and warm and funny, yet pointed and full of heartache. OK, it's not any of that stuff, but it does make a bit more sense and it doesn't sound as unsavory as the final version. There are "Kiss and Learn" signs in front of schools around here to mark where you can drop your child off, and they parody the "Kiss and Ride" signs at evey Metro station in DC. So when I redid the rough sketch last month I carefully did it wrong, and when I did the final I lettered it in wrong again, thereby blowing the joke entirely. Proving that I don't read what I write, though my wife did ask me about it, and I sat there and read it again and didn't see anything wrong with it.

But I am kinda proud to be on the Comics I Don't Understand site for the first time. And probably not the last, either


Nicole said...

I am the person who first sent this strip to the Comics I don't understand site. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your strip. I wonder how many strips that end up on CIDU have fallen prey to the same kind of mix up.

However.... I am afraid that I still don't quite get it.

nolanart said...

At the time, I didn't get it either, but like always when that happens, I thought it was just me...

Nicole said...

Well then let me invite you to the Comics I don't Understand site --

You are not alone

richardcthompson said...

Maybe I'll just keep doing it over, like once a year, till I get it right.

I'd thought that "KIss & Learn" had a note of regret in it, like "Loved & Lost", maybe his dad had some unfortunate romances in his past and the sign reminded him of them.

Ah, I'll try to be more coherent next time. But thanks for hashing all this out, and I'll keep watching CIDU with my fingers crossed that Cul de Sac doesn't appear there too often.

Nicole said...

Richard -- that is sort of what I figured, but I wasn't sure. Perhaps it was just left over confusion.

P.S. I totally love your strip.

richardcthompson said...

Despite all the confusion I've created? Thanks, NIcole!

Nicole said...

BECAUSE of all the confusion - lol

I really do love the slightly weird nature of your strip (the people eating bush is a fine example), and how your characters really do fit the dialog and situations. Great work

Robert Gidley said...

What confused me was the "Kiss and Learn" part, which seems to be a regionalism. I wasn't sure if Dad was reinterpreting the sign (that is, it really said "Drop off point").

We've gotten as far as "Park and Ride" out west, but we're not much for kissin' and learnin'.