No Take, Only Throw: Irony and Webcomics’ Political Relevance
On July 18th, 2015 cupcakelogic on Tumblr posted a simple, three-paneled webcomic on her blog. The comic depicted her new dog and the ironic conundrum she faced. The penciled dog, holding a ball in her mouth, wants her person to throw it.
“Pls throw??” the dog asks in the first panel, eyebrows lifted up to indicate her hopefulness. This panel is exposition–both introducing the dog and the yet-to-be seen person–and establishment of tension. Will the person choose to throw the ball? Will they not? The panel ends on a cliffhanger, leading the reader to eagerly continue the strip.
The second panel then shows the change that occurs. The panel now shows the same drawing of the dog closer up, but with a few tweaks. Most noticeably, a hand–presumably cupcakelogic’s–has entered the sequence in a direction toward the ball. Most subtly, the eyebrows change position. Now, instead of lifting, the brows are down-turned, indicating the dog’s offense. “NO TAKE!!” says the panel in all caps, adding to the sense alarm the dog feels and creating the irony of the strip.
Finally, the last panel only shows a close-up of the dog as she’s seen in the last panel. “ONLY THROW” says the panel, still in all caps and in the largest font of the whole comic. This concludes the joke, because the dog has two desires that negate one another–for the ball to be thrown and to keep the ball–and therefore cannot have both.
“She is still learning,” cupcakelogic had captioned the blog post, seemingly amused.
The post, in all its simple and lighthearted humor, went viral. Now, it has grown so much in popularity that parodies have been made. Some are politically and culturally relevant.
On Twitter, @biggustiggus posted one such parody. The modifications perhaps done in paint or Photoshop, the dog is named “Baby Boomers” in red letters and the ball “$$” in green letters in the first panel. The text has been altered as well, from “Pls throw??” to “Pls SPEND??” with the “spend” in all caps and bold.
The second panel continues with establishing the exact same kind of irony as present in the original strip by cupcakelogic. The hand reaching for the ball-now-$$ is named in red letters “Millennials.” The dog-now-Baby Boomers keeps the same angry expression while the text is now in the same style as the original text, “NO WAGE!!”
The third panel wraps up the same exact kind of contradiction present in the original. “ONLY SPEND!” says the Baby Boomer dog in large font.
@biggustiggus tweeted in tandem with this parody, “Pretty much every article I see on millennials.” This is a clear comment on such articles that woefully declare that Millennials are “killing” once-regular parts of the economy, such as department stores, family restaurant chains, and diamonds. Many of these accusations ignore the fact that these things not only cost a lot of money, something Millennials often don’t have much of due to an overly competitive job market and heavy student loan debt (if not also debt from medical expenses), but are naturally on their way out due to their inability to adapt to a digital-reliant world.
Cupcakelogic’s comic is brilliant in its simple art and observational take on a still-growing dog figuring out her way in the world. It’s relatable in a domestic sort of way–many dog people can laugh at the irony of our favorite furry friends wrenching their toy out of the way of an intruding hand. @biggustiggus’s addition to this core point brings to it a new relevance by connecting it with the Millennial lens of Baby Boomer’s refusal to acknowledge the new generation’s struggle in this economy. It’s a perfect example of how comics can both give joy to the world as well as help the discourse we are compelled to have about the larger world.