There won’t be, this week, any mathematically-themed comic strips featuring the long-running, Carl Anderson-created character **Henry**. You’ll come to see why I find this worth mentioning soon enough. Not today.

Hart, Mastroianni, and Parker’s **Wizard of Id** for the 2nd features the blackboard full of symbols to represent the difficult and unsolved problem. And sometimes it *does* seem like it takes magic to solve an equation. That magic usually takes the form of a transformation. That is, we find a way to rewrite the problem as something different, and find that this different problem is solvable. And then that the solution to this altered problem can be transformed into a solution of the original. This is normal magic, the kind any trained mathematician can do, if haltingly. But sometimes it’ll be just a stroke of imaginative genius, solving a problem that seems at first to have nothing to do with the original. This is genius work, and we all hope we can find a problem on which we can do that.

I can also take the strip to represent one of those things I’m curmudgeonly about. That is that I tend to look at big special-effects-laden attempts to make mathematics look beautiful as … well, they’re nice. But I don’t think they help anyone learn how to do anything. So that the Wizard’s work doesn’t actually solve the problem feels true to me.

Bud Blake’s **Tiger** rerun for the 3rd is an exclusive peek into my experience every time I decide to finally learn non-Euclidean geometry properly.

Mort Walker and Dik Browne’s vintage **Hi and Lois** for the 3rd sees Chip struggling with mathematics. His father has a noble idea, that it’ll be easier if he tries to see the problems as fun puzzles. Maybe so, but I agree with Chip: there’s not a punch line to 246 ÷ 3. Also, points to Chip for doing that division right away. Clearly he isn’t *bad* at arithmetic; he just doesn’t *like* it. We’ve all got things like that.

Hector D Cantu and Carlos Castellanos’s **Baldo** for the 4th is a joke about being helpless with numbers. … Actually, from the phrasing, I’m not positive that Cruz doesn’t mean he got question number 9, or maybe 19, or maybe number 10 wrong. It’s a bit sloppy to not remember which question was, but I certainly know the pain of remembering having done a problem wrong.

My other Reading the Comics posts should appear at this link. Other essays with **The Wizard of Id** are at this link. More essays with **Tiger** are at this link. Both current-run and vintage-run **Hi and Lois** strips are in essays on this link. And **Baldo** comics should be at this link.