I don’t think I need to explain why the modern comic strip needs a different punchline now and again. But credibility helps a blog (after you’ve read this, check my specialty Nigerian Viagra Cream. Guaranteed) so without further adieu, let’s look at the etymological roots of the word, “punchline”.
The word “punchline” actually comes from two words: “pun” and “chline”. “Pun” of course is the shortened form of “punditry”. Punditry comes from the French, “Peu d’un trois” or “Less than one three”. Of course, “one three” was meant as a way of describing the numerical 13. For mathematicians of French origin, thirteen was and still is seen as bad luck. Therefore “less than thirteen” would be seen as being below the threshold of bad luck. Any number after 13 could be construed to have been a sort of child of 13 or “enfant d’un trois” or as we know it “infantry”. That is besides the point. During the great number crisis of 1939, many French mathematicians spent time studying the positive non-decimaled numbers that approached thirteen. These industrious men and women were known as peud’untroiseurs or as the English referred to them “punditrousers” and later, “punditters”. Their sole job was to find engaging and interesting ways of coming up with the number 12.99 (the closest possible number to 13, and thus, the most debated and interesting). 12.99 was the French pi; French meat pies being known as “Chatelaines”, naturally they referred to the number as such, and would later shorten the term to “Chline”. Pun Chline. Punchline.
Modern comic strip writers are always in pursuit of a more symbolic, literary form of the punchline. Many times they succeed and their findings are printed daily in the local newspapers. If there were to be an equasion of the neo-classical comic strip and it’s creation of the chline, let the chline be represented as “C” and the preceding numbers be represented by comic strip panels:
P1 + P2 + P3 = C
A tried and true formula.
Unfortunately, the modern Chlines have become entrenched in an economy of laziness, with oft repeated jokes, and formulaic sluggishness that brings an altogether unhealthy experience to the reader. This symptom does not point to a disease, it points to what is the very human relationship between the ‘chline and it’s punditrouser. In no way do I mean to malign the good names of any comic strip authors.
What my blog offers is not a new exciting way to pursue the Chline. Rather, I replace the Chline with a different figure. One that seemingly fits the general set-up for the original punchline, but provides a slightly darker implication to the preceding panels of the original comic. By making changes to the last pieces of dialogue in the strip, I flip the Chline on it’s head. Let the upside down Chline be represented as this upside down “C” :
P1 + P2 + P3 = C
And there you have it. A beautifully different gazelle of a contrasted variance within a tender pita wrap of forced conclusiveness.
Enjoy the alterations.