Reading the Comics, July 16, 2022: Brevity is the Soul of Wit Edition


Once more Comic Strip Master Command shows great parsimony with its mathematics-themed comic strips. The one with most substance to it is Dan Thompson’s Brevity, and even that’s not one I can talk about at length. Watch me try, anyway.

Dan Thompson’s Brevity for the 11th of July is the anthropomorphic numerals-and-symbols joke for the week. And it correctly identifies + as representing the addition operator. I talked about operators for the 2019 A-to-Z, though my focus there was on functions of functions. Here, we’ve just got a binary operator, taking two integers (or real numbers) and, if we follow its rule, matching this pair with an integer (or real number). Well, we can embed the integers (or real numbers) in the space of functions, if we want.

Anthropomorphic numerals 1 and 2 stand on either side of a + sign who stretches arms out and says, 'Hello, Ladies.' The caption: 'Smooth operator.'
Dan Thompson’s Brevity for the 11th of July, 2022. This and other essays mentioning Brevity are at this link.

It happens that “smooth” is also a term of mathematical art. It refers to a function that you can take enough derivatives of. “Enough” here depends on our use. Depending on what our work is, we might need anything from one derivative to infinitely many derivatives. I’m not sure that I would call the ordinary arithmetic-type addition operator “smooth”. But I’m not confident in saying it’s not.

Kid, showing off an action figure: 'I put the top half of a Superman on the bottom half of a Spider-Man and put on a Hulk head.' Friend: 'Yow. What do you call *that*?' First kid: 'It's a *fraction figure*.'
Greg Cravens’s The Buckets for the 12th of July, 2022. This and other essays mentioning The Buckets are at this link.

Greg Cravens’s The Buckets for the 12th of July is more wordplay than mathematics play. I’m including it because I like the playful energy of the comic strip and want more people to notice it. I like the idea of calling such an assembled doll a fraction figure, though.

Dad: 'It's like this. If Mom made 30 cupcakes, and you gave 12 friends 2 cupcakes each, how many would you have left?' Kid: 'Cupcakes or friends?' Dad: 'Good question.' Mom, overhearing: 'Hey!'
Tony Rubino and Gary Markstein’s Daddy’s Home for the 14th of July, 2022. Essays with some mention of Daddy’s Home are at this link.

Tony Rubino and Gary Markstein’s Daddy’s Home for the 14th of July is your usual story problem setup. It’s a standard enough insult joke, although it does use the mathematics content. There aren’t a lot of spelling questions that would let you set up an ambiguous “how many are left” joke. Maybe an English class.


This takes us through the middle of July, as these go. All my Reading the Comics posts should be at this link,. Will there be more comics for next week? I have my suspicions.

Author: Joseph Nebus

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

One thought on “Reading the Comics, July 16, 2022: Brevity is the Soul of Wit Edition”

Please Write Something Good

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: