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Hi and Lois, 2/10/06

Sally Forth, 2/10/06

B.C., 2/10/06

A recent study has shown that many online arguments start because it’s difficult to convey one’s tone through text alone. Thus, we must pity the poor cartoon character, trapped in a world where all conversation is conducted via written letters floating just above hair level in word balloons. How are they to detect that most important arrow in any post-modern humorist’s quiver, sarcasm? Maybe Chip isn’t being fresh; maybe he has some sort of horrible disease that’s throwing his body temperature out of whack. When Hi is weeping bitterly over his son’s early grave, he’ll no doubt be begging a cruel God to let him go back in time and never spout this little quip.

The Forths over in Sally Forth at least have been given a vital clue for text based communications — the quotation mark, which as we know often indicates sarcasm (especially when it takes the form of “air quotes”). Still, Ted doesn’t pick up on it, proving his dorktacular cluelessosity (as if his peach-colored golf shirt weren’t clue enough).

Finally, if you need someone to take things too far into total incomprehensible insanity, well, you can always count on B.C. How many Nurenberg-level Crimes Against Punctuation are perpetrated in this strip? Panel two at least deploys the correct method of nesting punctuation marks (double on the outside, single on the inside), while panel one uses British-style single quotes for no good reason. Putting that aside, though: are the quotes around “gag rule” meant to “clue us in” that they’re going to be “key” to the upcoming “punchline?” Do we need quotes around “hurling” because otherwise we won’t get that it’s a synonym for “vomiting”? Does “voted-in” need quote marks at all, or for that matter a “hyphen”? These questions will never be answered, but it’s “important” that they be asked.