May 8th 2018 08:45 am The Struggle for Meaning

I was really digging this art arc back in 2002. All four panels, I think, work particularly well, especially the fourth panel. And, yes, even in 2002, most kids would have used an online dictionary if they bothered at all, but that wouldn’t be nearly so funny as Gene desperately thumbing through the Oxford English Dictionary, would it? This is called “artistic license,” class.

Buy the new book, "Beaucoup Arlo & Janis!"Today's "Arlo & Janis!"

Posted by jimmyjohnson / Vintage A&J

27 Responses to “The Struggle for Meaning”

  1. Steve from Royal Oak, MI on 08 May 2018 at 9:06 am #

    I still had a dictionary on my desk until just a few years ago when I was asked to declutter. I even had the Yellow pages until about 12 years ago when it was pointed out that all I had to do was “google” it.

    I love google, especially when watching TV when we can look up a character and find who the actor is. I often will watch movies or shows from the 80′s when the actor was so young and see how well that they have aged. Cartoon characters age well!

  2. Steve on the Isle of Wight on 08 May 2018 at 9:23 am #

    Glad to see Gene using the definitive OED, and not the work of that old mountebank Noah Webster!
    (Although I admit that, as a Brit, I may be a little biased!)

  3. Mark in TTown on 08 May 2018 at 10:00 am #

  4. Llee on 08 May 2018 at 10:03 am #

    this is great work, Jimmy!

  5. Ruth on 08 May 2018 at 10:26 am #

    I still have my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary that I got when I was in college in the early 80′s. It sits on my shelf with my CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics and my CRC Standard Math Tables. I usually google things but sometimes it’s easier to use the books than google it.

  6. Mark in TTown on 08 May 2018 at 11:01 am #

    It’s harder to get distracted into reading unconnected things with a printed dictionary/encyclopedia. I can’t add up how much time I’ve spent chasing down something that caught my attention while doing online research.

  7. DJJG7 on 08 May 2018 at 11:13 am #

    Love the paint-flinging!!

  8. curmudgeonly ex-professor on 08 May 2018 at 11:39 am #

    Is Gene really a nude male model, such as recently appeared – pun intended – in “Luann”?

  9. Steve from Royal Oak, MI on 08 May 2018 at 11:58 am #

    Well he is a cartoon character. Some parts are left out….

  10. curmudgeonly ex-professor on 08 May 2018 at 2:57 pm #

    All my life I have enjoyed mulling over various reference books, from encyclopedias to atlases to dictionaries to (like Ruth, above) the Handbook of Chemistry & Physics and my copy of the corresponding mathematical tables volume. (It had my name in gold, too! ‘Twas the freshman math prize at college.).

    Picked up all kinds of tidbits of trivia – once in a rare while, useful.

  11. David from Austin on 08 May 2018 at 3:35 pm #

    Jimmy mentioned Wallace the Brave a while ago. If you’d like to see an amazing demonstration of the comic artist’s art, try this YouTube clip. Be sure to click for full-screen. The background music isn’t as fantastic as the art, so you may want to lower the volume.

  12. Old Bear on 08 May 2018 at 3:53 pm #

    With a book you can read the word before and after – and also a word from a previous page.
    Not so on Interweb search.

    Though Google is great.

  13. Burns Fisher on 08 May 2018 at 5:46 pm #

    Jimmy, I agree that the last panel is a masterpiece. Besides the thought and humor, the motion in the panel just leaps off!

  14. TruckerRon on 08 May 2018 at 6:04 pm #

    Agreed. JJ IS a modern master of comics. Is there a Pulitzer for comics?

  15. DJJG7 on 08 May 2018 at 6:31 pm #

    No, but there are the Reuben awards.

    Oh, and–agreed–the way each word is slightly different in horizontal straightness–good, grief, takes longer to type that than to look at it and notice it.

  16. DJJG7 on 08 May 2018 at 6:36 pm #

    I was very pleased when Pat Brady (“Rose Is Rose”) won a Reuben—he had so much deserved it for years, I thought. Now I miss his artwork. But he was inimitable.

    Sorry, I typed two hyphens in a row and got single hyphens in my post just above. Looks confusing. I forgot that one has to type three hyphens in a row here to get a dash.

  17. DJJG7 on 08 May 2018 at 6:48 pm #

    David from Austin,

    Wow! What a beautiful Wallace the Brave picture he made! Thank you!

    Curious how he holds the pen—thumb extended. But his thumb is the normal way when he has a brush. I just started reading Wallace a few weeks ago.

    And it is so funny; I never thought to search YouTube for Arlo and Janis before. But now I have.

  18. Old Bear on 08 May 2018 at 8:05 pm #

    People have not been taught how to hold a pen/pencil or penmanship in 50 years.
    How can teachers teach what they have not been taught.

    When my father signed a document (such as a Report Card), he practiced on a
    scratch paper first. Each is legible and almost exact copy.

  19. Old Bear on 08 May 2018 at 8:09 pm #

    MIL & Mom had beautiful flowing handwriting. How will people in the future
    be able to read and interpret the Written word?

  20. emb on 08 May 2018 at 8:58 pm #

    OB: Easily, if written words are printed legibly. Palmer [right?] method was attractive, but when I learned what teacher called “manuscript” in 7th grade, I switched. It was faster, more legible, and apparently legible enough for teaching. Students successfully took notes from it on the blackboard and later overhead projector for 36 yr. Still love OHPs, but they’re hard to find.


  21. DJJG7 on 09 May 2018 at 6:13 am #

    And Jimmy does all his own lettering! That’s one of the very hardest parts!

    Well—I actually don’t know, I confess. I suppose he has no assistants, just as Sparky didn’t. It has always seemed to me that way. No-assistant cartoonists, I hear, are rare.


  22. Mark in TTown on 09 May 2018 at 6:29 am #


  23. emb on 09 May 2018 at 9:49 am #


    You just win the lottery?

    Whatever, today [9 May comic] JJ seems to have access not only to our windows, but also to our memories. Though the details varied, it’s good to be reminded that often it was not I who took the initiative.


  24. Mark in TTown on 09 May 2018 at 11:43 am #

    emb, my comment on today’s strip.

  25. Old Bear on 09 May 2018 at 7:29 pm #

    Sorry – I forgot the 1 Link rule – Thanks JJ for moderating it through.

  26. Ghost on 09 May 2018 at 10:48 pm #

    I was just perusing Monday’s cartoon, which is either a startling example of “déjà vu all over again” or, more likely, a rerun. So that puts me about two days behind. Hum. Yeah, that seems about right.

    When the cartoon was originally drawn, Janis’s britches would probably have been considered to be Capri pants, à la Laura Petrie. Now they would likely be known as “leggings” (not to be confused with yoga pants), something about which I have some knowledge, due to there being a few hundred pairs of leggings hanging in Jackie’s two boutiques.

    As I mentioned before, I’ve been surprised at how widely they have been adopted for wear by all ages and sizes of females in Oklahoma. And even more surprised how good most of those females look wearing them. Although they do come in solid colors, including black, the ones with prints are much more popular and the wilder the print the better. Unlike yoga pants, which tend to leave it all hanging out, leggings are often paired with a tunic that falls to about mini-dress length, which makes them look nice and preserves the wearer’s modesty. The nearest to an exception to that I’ve seen is when our manager wore a pair with large sunflowers printed on them. She mentioned that one of the flowers ended up “where no sunflower was ever likely to grow.” Fortunately, her tunic solved that problem.

    Oh, and we learned the legs can be tucked under to make them Capri pants-length. And the tunics can be tied up around the waist if the wearer is proud of “what her mama gave her” and desires to let it all hang out.

  27. emb on 10 May 2018 at 5:53 am #

    For at least a wk, this has been the only live cam of the 4 Rift Valley cams in W. Kenya. The other “highlight” and “meditation” views are interesting, but repetitive.