a visit from a cartoonist

May 22nd, 2010 | Uncategorized

My pal Hilary Price, the Rhymes With Orange cartoonist, just came for a visit. Here’s a screenshot of her drawing a monster. I love the final touch—the eyebrow.

52 Responses to “a visit from a cartoonist”

  1. hairball_of_hope says:


    Fascinating to see how the monster is drawn, starting with the eyes, mouth, and teeth. Thanks to you and Hilary for sharing the creative process.

    I thought the tail wagging doohickeys were cute. Is there a name for the little curves and swiggles which indicate motion?

    Would you (AB) ever consider doing a similar video capture of one of your sketches?

    Also, inquiring minds (mine) ask: What input device are you using to draw sketches? Is this a Wacom tablet of some kind?

  2. Hey, H of H.
    As far as I know, they technical term is motion lines.

    And here’s a thing I did a while ago of myself drawing. Yeah, I’m drawing on a wacom tablet.

  3. Ellen Orleans says:

    Hey, Alison. Thanks for the post. I was going to ask how you did the video screen capture, and there it was, your answer below.

    I’m amazed at how quickly the drawing materializes. DO you or did Hilary know what you were going to draw beforehand? (Beforehand, that’s an interesting word in this context…)

    I can write a paragraph quickly, but I don’t know what it will be ahead of time. It’s like a musician being able to hear notes in her head then writing it down. Or is it?

    I’m always fascinating by the overlaps and differences among different artistic genres.

  4. --MC says:

    These terms never caught on widely, but Mort Walker invented them to define those indefinable comics gestures.

    Plewds – Flying sweat droplets that appear around a character’s head when working hard or stressed.

    Briffits – Clouds of dust that hang in the spot where a swiftly departing character or object was previously standing.

    Squeans – Little starbursts or circles that signify intoxication, dizziness, or sickness.

    Emanata – Lines drawn around the head to indicate shock or surprise.

    Grawlixes – Typographical symbols standing for profanities, which appear in dialogue balloons in the place of actual dialogue.

    Indotherm – Wavy, rising lines used to represent steam or heat on hot objects — however, the same shape found over a hot apple pie or something else strong smelling is a wafteron.

    Agitrons – Wiggly lines around an object that is shaking

    Blurgits, swalloops – Curved lines preceding or trailing after a character’s moving limbs

    Hites – Horizontal straight lines trailing after something moving with great speed, or indicating reflectivity (puddle, glass, mirror). Likewise, up-hites would be lines above an object falling.

    Lucaflect – A shiny spot on a surface of something

    Dites – Diagonal, straight lines drawn across something flat, clear, and reflective, such as windows and mirrors.

    Solrads – Radiating lines drawn from something luminous like a lightbulb or the sun.

    Vites – Vertical straight lines indicating reflectivity (compare dites, hites).

    [I’m not sure if it was the one originally intended, but I took the liberty of adding the address in the link above (which was inadvertently dropped) to point to a relevant looking page. –Mentor]

  5. hairball_of_hope says:

    #MC (#4)

    Wow, that is a great list. For some terms, the etymology seems clear (agitron, solrad, lucaflect, indotherm), but others are just baffling to me (plewd, briffit). I wonder how he came up with these terms.

    Speaking of wafterons, the recent Doonesbury series on MIT’s attempts to reduce the BO levels in the main library reading room by handing out samples of soap and deodorant during Finals Week (this is really true, Trudeau did not make this up) had LOTS of wafterons emanating from stinky armpits.

    Here’s an article about the MIT undergrad student association’s efforts to clear the air in the reading room:


    I’ll link the Doonesbury cartoons in a separate post, which will end up in spam limbo (because of excess links, not because of the stinky wafterons). Mentor will eventually free it up.

  6. hairball_of_hope says:

    Thanks for the link in MC’s post, Mentor. I found the book referred to in the post on Medusa:


    I’m wondering if these terms are taught at the Center for Cartoon Studies, but with James Sturm on his e-mail and Internet hiatus, someone else would have to answer that question.

  7. I am quite impressed with the list, both linguistically and because, as a non-graphic-artist, I had never considered the complextities of how to convey emotion with drawing alone.

    I also like how “nice” monsters must have rounded instead of sharp toothies.

  8. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    I hate to do a blogjack, but there is a big depressing article on bacon in the NYTimes! It’s truly bad for you, and so is sausage, which I know we never discuss, but the bacon is upsetting enough!
    Click here!

  9. Ian says:

    I remember once coming across the word ‘fribbling’ to describe some aspect of a painting, but I’ve still yet to find a definition. It seems like a cross between ‘stippling’ and ‘frivolous’ to me, but I’m sure that’s not right!

    It’s quite spooky that you posted this today, because yesterday I went to see a huge Picasso (over 150 paintings) exhibition at the Tate, concentrating on his work as history painter, stuff he did for peace and freedom. It was filled with sketches and quick drawings of doves of peace.

    Included in the exhibition was this drawing of Nicolasa Herranz de Arias, shepherdess mother of Eugene Arias, an exile from Franco’s Spain, done to show his ‘admiration of strong women’, and it’s amazing how her strength shows through. A friend of mine talked me through how he’d drawn her, so quickly and so simply, and yet captured the character of the woman so well. Amazing.

  10. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ian (#10)

    In 1980, there was a huge Picasso show at MoMA in NY (Museum of Modern Art) that had a wide-ranging set of his works on display, ranging from realistic drawings, his Blue Period, the evolution of his Cubist works, etc. It was really interesting to see so much of his work in chronological context.

    The sad thing (for NYers) was this was the end of Guernica at MoMA. Shortly thereafter, in accordance with Picasso’s will, Guernica was moved to Museo del Prado in Madrid, now that Spain was once again a democratic republic after the death of Franco.

    I spent a lot of time looking at Guernica, the bulls seemed to cry, and I found it amazing how he conveyed so much emotion and symbolism on such a huge canvas. There are hidden details that you have to step up to see, and others you have to step back to see.

    A few years later I saw Guernica again in Madrid. It was housed in too small a space to step back to see it properly (IMHO). It overpowered the space, which was really a shame. The Spanish people deserve to see it with full visual impact.

    I doubt Guernica will ever travel out of Spain, but it ought to be the centerpiece of any exhibit on peace and freedom, Picasso-centric or not.

  11. Ian says:

    Guernica is most unlikely to leave Spain again, I agree, and sadly it wasn’t there. However, The Charnel House was there. There was a smaller print of Guernica and various supporting sketches, however.

    My favourite overheard line from the other visitors: “He was very good, but he didn’t know much about perspective, did he?”

  12. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ian (#12)

    I’ll bet those same folks wondered why they were looking at the messy dropcloths, instead of the *ART*, at the Jackson Pollock show.

  13. Renee S. says:

    Hey everyone! hope all are well.

    #5 HOH yeah, I always wondered how Lewis Carroll decided on his word inventions for Jabberwocky.

    (….twas brillig!)

    And I do believe that Mr. Carroll invented the word, “chortle.”

  14. rinky says:

    that is cool. i’d love to see heaps of these. maybe i’ll make it my new recreation youtube-ing hobby. I met some women whose favorite recreational you-tubing is watching birth videos. i had never known such people existed or that there were that many birth videos on yt.

  15. Andrew B says:

    Apparently Sydney has developed an interest in comix. Here are a few of the papers she has been reading:

    “The Road Runner’s Briffits: On the Presence of Absence in Looney Tunes”

    “Lewd Plewds: Graphical Representations of Graphic Sex Acts”

    “Cyborgs and Agitrons: Overwrought Robots and Embodied Emotion”

    “Drag Squeans: Dizziness, Disorientation, and Gender Transgression”

    “Dites to Watch Out For: Transparency and Obscurity in the Work of Alison Bechdel”

    Does anyone know of any others?

  16. Bechadelic1 says:

    Oh wow! I really like ‘Rhymes With Orange’ and log on religiously everyday to read a new strip on Hillary Price’s website. This was such a treat to see the monster taking shape and I too thought the tail was ultra-cute!

  17. Anonymous says:

    #17 — Andrew, how about “Obscurity and Obscenity: A Grawlix Pontification”?

  18. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Andrew (#17)

    Brilliant reading list. Sydney is also a woman of a certain age, and thus has added “Indotherms and Plewds: Embracing Thermal Power Surges” to her list.

  19. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Renee (#15)

    I’ve also read that Carroll was responsible for ‘chortle’ (derived from a combination of chuckle and snort).

    I knew a guy who could recite Jabberwocky in its entirety from memory. It was the best bar trick, at least for those of us who appreciated that sort of thing. Certainly more entertaining than those who could recite Pi or physics constants to a zillion places.

    When do you get the bionic knee? Good luck, and many happy meds to you. From what I’ve been told, you’ll need them.

  20. Dr. Empirical says:

    Carrol called such terms as “Chortle” portmanteau words. Without bothering to look it up, apparently a portmanteau was a kind of suitcase with two chambers, a two-in-one, like “chortle”.

    Robert Heinlein was fond of the word “Slitch” to describe certain unpleasand women. I’ve always assumed it was a deliberate portmanteau.

    I can recite Jabberwocky, but never tried it as a bar trick. I’ve always wanted to memorize The Hunting of the Snark, but never had enough ambition to do it.

  21. Renee S. says:

    @ HOH #21

    I’d love to see your friend in action, reciting Jabberwocky in the bar.

    I found this Muppets version on Youtube:

    Thanks for the well wishes! The knee will be replaced on June 1st. I’ve never been hospitalized for anything, so I’m feeling a little afraid. Yes, good, strong, meds will be in order. I’ll be off work until September 1. Hopefully, I’ll be well enough to keep building guitars.

  22. --MC says:

    H’m. I memorized “Japperwocky” for a poetry competition in fourth grade, I should be making some serious bank if it’s a thing one can win bar bets with.
    A friend of mine tells me he won a bar bet of $5 by singing the entire album “A Passion Play” by Jethro Tull, start to finish. THAT’s a feat of memory.

  23. --MC says:

    “Japperwocky” — sorry, I typed the Bs upside down.

  24. Kat says:

    Hilary Price’s monster reminds me a little of the doodles that Mo Willems (children’s author/illustrator) puts on his blog.

    Here’s a fun one:

    When I went to the Tate Modern museum for the first time (in London), I essentially spent the whole day in tears. The Picasso pencil drawings were the first pieces to blow me away: How can so much be conveyed with so little?? And with an implement that I use only to write grocery lists and such things?

  25. hairball_of_hope says:


    Interesting read on divorce prediction statistics (includes one item on gender-neutral marriage):


    Quoting from the article:

    15. If you’re in a male same-sex marriage, it’s 50 percent more likely to end in divorce than a heterosexual marriage. If you’re in a female same-sex marriage, this figure soars to 167 percent.

    A research team led by Stockholm University demography professor Gunnar Anderson based their calculations on legal partnerships in Norway and Sweden, where five out of every 1,000 new couples are same-sex.

    (Source: Gunnar Andersson, “Divorce-Risk Patterns in Same-Sex Marriages in Norway and Sweden,” Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, 2004)

    Hmmm, the stats on female coupledom don’t seem to comport with my observations of lesbian and gay couples. I’ve observed that female couples stay together much more than male couples. Although with limited to no legal marriage in USA, depending on location, perhaps the marriage data from Sweden and Norway are not directly applicable. Or perhaps the key word here is “partnerships,” which might imply some lesser legal and social entity than “marriage,” I don’t know the specifics of gender-neutral marriage in Norway and Sweden.

  26. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    @Renee, don’t be scared about being in the hospital. I’ve had a number of operations lately (I now have tidy painfree feet without hammertoes or bunions) and when I was scared I told a nurse and she held my hand. Hmm, that doesn’t sound terribly comforting, and I meant it to be. It soothed me. Drugs do wonders, and the recovery time wasn’t painful it was BORING. Focus on the outcome, and do the physical therapy. Your new knee will be worth it, and if it is truly bionic, think of the scratch you can scare up at bars with it! 😉

  27. Kate L says:

    (A.B.) How ’bout calling them Mo-motion lines?

    (Khattgrrl #14)King Nutria will prevail!

    (hairball #27)I once asked a friend who had just broken up with her partner of 5 years if she thought they would have been less likely to break-up if they could have been legally married. She thought about it and said that, yes, she thought so.

    The last episode of Law & Order airs tonight. Say goodbye to dreamy DA Jack McCoy, except for his occassional guest appearances on Law & Order SVU and Law & Order Criminal Intent! The last Lost episode aired last night. I didn’t see it. which of the following alternate endings did they end up using?

  28. Harkening back a few posts to Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s book trailer here, the N.Y. Times blog Paper Cuts has a review of this year’s Moby Awards for book trailers. They are more of a big deal than I realized.


    Sadly, I didn’t see any familiar names on the list of those mentioned but they are still interesting literary viewing I thought I’d share here.

  29. Alex K says:

    @27 / H_o_H: I’m puzzled.

    “If you’re in a female same-sex marriage, this figure soars to 167 percent [more likely to end in divorce than is a different-gendered marriage].”

    100% = as likely. But “one and two-thirds as likely” doesn’t, for me, translate into understandable data.

    (Lesbians: Statistically baffling.)

    Should I buy my girlfriends only wedding gifts of glass? It shatters so satisfyingly…

  30. S. Irene says:

    Hi Renee,

    My 90 y.o. neighbor got her knees replaced 2 years ago. She said the recovery pain was not nearly as bad as the pain of walking during the years before she got it done. (I think her knees were pretty well out of cartilage and down to bone-on-bone by that point.)

    A pre-surgery tip that worked for me was to keep telling myself that the nurses and doctors were healers there to help me. It countered my paranoia toward the medical system, and I think the relaxing helped the surgery go better for my body.

    Wishing you a good recovery —

  31. Kat says:

    Alex, it’s like saying that lesbians are almost twice as likely to split up as……who? Straight, married women?

    I read that statistic and was pretty puzzled by it. The women I know who are in married-type long term relationships seem much more stable than many marriages I’ve witnessed….But anecdotes do not data make…..so dunno…

  32. Andrew B says:

    Alex K, 31, obviously hoh is more than capable of answering your question herself, but I happened to get here first… The study said female same-sex marriage is 167% more likely to end in divorce than het marriages. That means that e.g. for every 3 het marriages that end in divorce, there will be 8 lesbian partnerships that break up. 100% more would mean twice as many.

    If the study had found that 167% as many lesbian partnerships end is divorce as straight marriages, that would mean that for every 3 straight divorces there would be 5 lesbian partnerships ending. 167% as many equals 67% more.

    Now having given that lecture, I have to admit that people aren’t always careful about the distinction, so you have to pay attention to the context to figure out what they really meant. (But I’m sure when hoh said “more”, she meant “more”.)

    Hoh, I too am surprised. I wonder if the definition of “partner” was such that a lot of serial monogamists qualified. That is, I wonder if a lot of lesbians were in non-permanent relationships long enough to count as partners, but relatively few gay men — and those few perhaps more likely to partner up for life. Also — this is kind of awful, and I apologize if it’s inappropriate to bring it up in this context — but if the study extended back far enough to include the period before effective anti-retrovirals, then male partnerships “for life” need not actually have lasted that long.

  33. Andrew B says:

    Maggie, 30, thanks for pointing that out. Having been weirded out by the existence of book trailers, I am doubly weirded out by the existence of awards for book trailers!

  34. Renee S. says:

    Thanks to HOH, Therry and St. Jerome, S. Irene, and everyone for the cheer leading and well wishes.
    It’s very comforting to have my very own rooting section!

    #27 HOH Hmm, relationships/partnerships. I’ve had many. But I’m thinking on a particular one that lasted longer than my own parent’s marriage. Maybe we “partner up” more often, but stay together for longer durations.

  35. hairball_of_hope says:

    DTWOF fashion alert…

    It appears that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been dipping into Mo’s wardrobe:


  36. hairball_of_hope says:

    Here’s another Mo-inspired bit of fashion sense from Secretary Clinton:


    (I posted these separately to avoid spam-trap limbo)

  37. hairball_of_hope says:

    While there’s been plenty of press coverage lately about the pending Congressional compromise which will end “Don’t ask, don’t tell” discharges of openly lesbian and gay Armed Forces servicemembers, there’s been zilch coverage about the strongly-worded US State Dept protest against Malawi’s sentencing of a gay couple to 14 years hard labor.

    The title of the State Dept press release says it all: “U.S. Appalled by Sentencing of Couple in Malawi”


    Quoting from the press release:

    We remain disturbed by harassment, persecution, and exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever it occurs. The State Department will continue to stand against any efforts to marginalize, criminalize, and penalize members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gender community worldwide. We urge Malawi and all countries with similar laws to take the necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular arrests, detentions, or executions.

    Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a strongly-worded condemnation of repressive LGBT laws and practices in an official US Govt document.

  38. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Dr E (#22)

    A recent xkcd comic parodied Wikipedia by showing a supposed Wiki word entry, “Malamanteau,” which is supposedly a neologism for a portmanteau created by incorrectly combining a malapropism with a neologism (and of course, malamanteau is itself a portmanteau).


    This caused something of an uproar at Wikipedia, which created a Malamanteau page which redirected to the xkcd page.

    It’s funnier than my explanation. Really.

    Read all about it on Slashdot:


  39. hairball_of_hope says:

    Here is Randall Monroe’s personal xkcd Wiki entry for Malamanteau:


  40. My question is: Shouldn’t malamanteau be hyphenated?

  41. --MC says:

    “Malamanteau” — that’s like a dog breed. Like, if you bred a malamute and a doberman and a Bangkaew.

  42. ksbel6 says:

    I too am perplexed by statistics that say lesbian relationships end more often than gay relationships or heterosexual marriages. It really is important to not mix “married/life partner” couples with just couples when counting these things. I bet if you include all break ups for hets (even that college romance that lasted 1.5 years) things start to even out.

  43. Kat says:

    I agree, ksbel…..I’m not so sure how accurate the stats were. Weren’t they taken in Scandinavia, though? Is it possible that our cultural expectations and assumptions about Lesbian relationships are not the same as Norway/Sweden’s?

  44. ksbel6 says:

    After actually looking at the blog hoh is referring to in #27, I’ve decided it is all garbage. Stats produced by weird random groups are rarely reliable. It is an interesting read, but I seriously doubt most of their findings.

  45. Aunt Soozie says:

    Andrew… bravo… those are great!

  46. rinky says:

    Maybe the thing about the lesbian divorce statistics quoted is that it’s the result of lesbians (Scandinavian lesbians?) being keener to get married at the drop of a hat and then think, “What was I thinking”, then go any marry another,… um no can’t really make it all sound perfectly reasonable,..

  47. rinky says:

    Oh, shoulda previewed, it’s meant to say go and marry

  48. hairball_of_hope says:

    Looks like Mo’s closet is getting around… this time it’s Ellen’s turn to be among the fashionably striped:


  49. Andrew B says:

    Hey all, I decided to forgo ghoulish speculation about the study hoh mentioned (27) and do a little research. Here’s what I’ve found so far.

    First, the citation in the Daily Beast is wrong. The paper by Andersson et al was not published by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (IMAPP). It was delivered at a conference in Boston in 2004. The full paper can be found here.

    Second, IMAPP is a right-wing sex and family policy think tank. It’s not a neutral research organization. I’ve already used my one link — google them if you want to see their web site.

    Third, just looking at the abstract to Andersson et al, it appears balanced. It mentions the stats given above, but also states that “to a large extent patterns in divorce are quite similar” for hets and gays. I don’t know if I’ll find the time to read the whole paper. But based on the abstract, it looks like what the Daily Beast published was IMAPP’s spin, not the real conclusions of the research paper.

    So, the Daily Beast repeated a right wing think tank’s spin in place of the real researchers’ conclusions, and it wrongly credited the think tank as the publisher of the research. Talk about your liberal media bias.

  50. Kat says:

    My GOD, I want to kick something!!! Does my boss (well, bosses, plural) really think that we’re this stupid?????????


    Also, Andrew B, yeah, that. The “liberal media bias”….The one that pretty much handed the governorship of California to fucking Arnold Schwarzenegger…..