# Reading the Comics, June 10, 2017: Some Vintage Comics Edition

It’s too many comics to call this a famine edition, after last week’s feast. But there’s not a lot of theme to last week’s mathematically-themed comic strips. There’s a couple that include vintage comic strips from before 1940, though, so let’s run with that as a title.

Glenn McCoy and Gary McCoy’s The Flying McCoys for the 4th of June is your traditional blackboard full of symbols to indicate serious and deep thought on a subject. It’s a silly subject, but that’s fine. The symbols look to me gibberish, but clown research will go along non-traditional paths, I suppose.

Bill Hinds’s Tank McNamara for the 4th is built on mathematics’ successful invasion and colonization of sports management. Analytics, sabermetrics, Moneyball, whatever you want to call it, is built on ideas not far removed from the quality control techniques that changed corporate management so. Look for patterns; look for correlations; look for the things that seem to predict other things. It seems bizarre, almost inhuman, that we might be able to think of football players as being all of a kind, that what we know about (say) one running back will tell us something about another. But if we put roughly similarly capable people through roughly similar training and set them to work in roughly similar conditions, then we start to see why they might perform similarly. Models can help us make better, more rational, choices.

Morrie Turner’s Wee Pals rerun for the 4th is another word-problem resistance joke. I suppose it’s also a reminder about the unspoken assumptions in a problem. It also points out why mathematicians end up speaking in an annoyingly precise manner. It’s an attempt to avoid being shown up like Oliver is.

Which wouldn’t help with Percy Crosby’s Skippy for the 7th of April, 1930, and rerun the 5th. Skippy’s got a smooth line of patter to get out of his mother’s tutoring. You can see where Percy Crosby has the weird trait of drawing comics in 1930 that would make sense today still; few pre-World-War-II comics do.

Niklas Eriksson’s Carpe Diem for the 7th is a joke about mathematics anxiety. I don’t know that it actually explains anything, but, eh. I’m not sure there is a rational explanation for mathematics anxiety; if there were, I suppose it wouldn’t be anxiety.

George Herriman’s Krazy Kat for the 15th of July, 1939, and rerun the 8th, extends that odd little faintly word-problem-setup of the strips I mentioned the other day. I suppose identifying when two things moving at different speeds will intersect will always sound vaguely like a story problem.

Tom Toles’s Randolph Itch, 2 am rerun for the 9th is about the sometimes-considered third possibility from a fair coin toss, and how to rig the results of that.

## Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

## 5 thoughts on “Reading the Comics, June 10, 2017: Some Vintage Comics Edition”

1. Skippy is fascinating. Had to check if it was really from the 30s http://www.gocomics.com/skippy/2017/06/06 might also be a math comic.

You might want to put your Twitter handle in the sidebar – didn’t realize I had already seen you there via the blog-bot.

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1. I didn’t realize I didn’t have my Twitter handle in the sidebar. Thanks, though, I’m glad to do stuff that makes me easier to find or understand, especially if it doesn’t require ongoing work.

Skippy, now, that’s not just a 1930s comic but one of the defining (American) comic strips. Basically every comic strip that stars kids who think is imitating it, either directly or through its influences, particularly Charles Schulz and Peanuts. It’s uncanny, especially when you compare it to its contemporaries, how nearly seamlessly it would fit into a modern comics page. It’s rather like Robert Benchley or Frank Fay in that way; now-obscure humorists or performers whose work is so modern and so influential that a wide swath of the modern genre is quietly imitating them.

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2. Oh yes, and you’re right; I could’ve fit the comic from the 6th of June into a Reading the Comics post if I’d thought a bit more about it. Good eye!

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