Saturday, April 27, 2013

I Love Lucy Comic Books

The 'I Love Lucy' Show

I Love Lucy is an American television sitcom starring Lucille BallDesi ArnazVivian Vance, and William Frawley. The black-and-white series originally ran from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). After the series ended in 1957, however, a modified version continued for three more seasons with 13 one-hour specials, running from 1957 to 1960, known first as The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show and later in reruns as The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour.

By the end of its first season, I Love Lucy had been hailed by TV Guide as “the season’s most popular program.” 

During its six-year run, I Love Lucy set many records for television viewership. In April 1952, Episode No. 26, “The Marriage License,” became the first television broadcast seen in more than ten million American households. The show was number one in the Nielsen ratings for four of its six seasons, and it was the first television series ever to finish its run at the top of the ratings. 

I Love Lucy and its cast received twenty-three Emmy Award nominations, winning five times. Ball and Arnaz, already well known in 1951, were lauded as “TV’s First Family” on the April 6, 1953, cover of Life magazine.

Dell Comics

Dell Comics was the comic book publishing arm of Dell Publishing, which got its start in pulp magazines. It published comics from 1929 to 1973. At its peak, it was the most prominent and successful American company in the medium. In 1953 Dell claimed to be the world's largest comics publisher, selling 26 million copies each month.

Dell Comics published 35 issues of an I Love Lucy comic book between 1954 and 1962 including two try-out Four Color issues (#535 and #559). King Features syndicated a comic strip (credited to "Bob Lawrence" but actually written by Lawrence Nadel and drawn by Bob Oksner) from 1952 to 1955. 

I Love Lucy Comics, Vol. 1, no. 1, 1954. Cover. New York: Dell Publications Co., 1954. 
Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (092.00.00); [Digital ID # lucy0092]

Four Color #535 I Love Lucy (Dell, 1954) CGC FN/VF 7.0 Cream to off-white pages. Photo cover and frontispiece. Overstreet 2006 FN 6.0 value = $150; VF 8.0 value = $400. CGC census 3/06: 4 in 7.0, 8 higher.
Sold for US$325 ($73.13 Buyer's Premium + taxes, fees, etc.)
(Inside Edition #535)

Eternity Comics

Eternity Comics was a California-based comic book publisher active from 1986 to 1994, first as an independent publisher, then as an imprint of Malibu Comics. Eternity published creator-owned comics of an offbeat, independent flavor, as well as some licensed properties. Eternity was also notable for reprinting foreign titles, and introducing Cat ClawThe Jackaroo, and the Southern Squadron to the U.S. market.
Such well-known creators as Brian Pulido, Evan Dorkin, Dale Berry, Ben Dunn, Dean Haspiel, and Ron Lim got their starts with Eternity.

Eternity Comics in the early 1990s issued comic books that reprinted the I Love Lucy strip and Dell comic book series.

"I Love Lucy" (#1); Eternity Comics
(Readers might remember these comics being advertised on 'Nick At Night')

See Inside

Now that the stage is set, let's take a look inside the comics. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Exposing Comics


Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) was a Swiss professor of linguistics who changed the way language is understood. He was a peer of Freud, Durkheim, Darwin and Marx.

Saussure argued that meaning is created inside language in the relations of difference between its parts.

In the image below, our mind conjures up two images; (1) Michael Jackson's famous dance moves and (2) a Cancer awareness ribbon. 

For Saussure, the meaning exists somewhere between the two, i.e., the place where we fill in a connection with the personal meanings we associate to each concept as well as with their relationship to one another.

Particular concepts of interest here include:
  • Semiotics: The study of signs.
  • Langue (language) and Parole (speech): The system of language and utterances. (Langue refers to the system of rules and conventions which is independent of, and pre-exists, and parole refers to its use in particular instances. In semiotics, this principle could be applied to understand the distinction between code and message). 
  • Signifier and Signified: The components of a sign.
  • Synchrony and Diachrony: Meaning of signs.
  • Syntagm and Paradigm: Relationships between signs.

Saussure's approach was to study the system 'synchronically' as if it were frozen in time (like a comic) - rather than 'diachronically' - in terms of its evolution over time.

He argued that 'concepts... are defined not positively, in terms of their content, but negatively by contrast with other items in the same system. This incongruity is a feature of cartoons, which are visual representations of humorous information.

While not all humorous inventions make us laugh, in particular not the ones that convey more serious issues such as the comic below (read the article here), cartoons and comics have historically served as signifiers of "something else" being signified. 

Mohammad Saba'aneh

Saussure saw society as a system of institution and social norms that form a collective system that provides conditions for meaning-making and hence decisions and actions for individuals.

Mimi and Eunice

The cartoon below depicts a social norm that began with the exercise of power on behalf of powerful affiliations. The fact that this action is common place arouses in individuals the desire for change, which, in turn, serves as the impetus for taking action.

Saussure criticized the philology-based system that studied origins of words and hence started the field of semiotics, defining language as a system of representation (which is akin to talking about a ladder that it is not there).

Saussure's 'theory of the sign' defined a sign as being made up of the matched pair of signifier and signified.


The signifier is the pointing finger, the word, or sound-image.

US Propaganda Material (for recruiting)
James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960)

A word is simply a jumble of letters. The pointing finger is not the star. It is in the interpretation of the signifier that meaning is created, as in the cartoon below wherein the knife serves as a type of pointing finger: the guilt felt in speciesism (discrimination directed toward non-domesticated animals).  


The signified is the concept, the meaning, the thing indicated by the signifier. It does not have to be a 'real object' but is some referent to which the signifier refers.

In other words, the thing signified is created in the mind of the perceiver and is internal to them. While we share concepts, we do so via signifiers. 

While the signifier is more stable, the signified varies between people and contexts.

Notwithstanding, the signified does stabilize with habit, as the signifier cues thoughts and images from memory.


The signifier and signified, while superficially simple, form a core element of semiotics.

Saussure's ideas are contrary to Plato's notion of ideas being eternally stable. Plato saw ideas as the root concept that was implemented in individual instances. A signifier without signified has no meaning, and the signified changes with person and context. For Saussure, even the root concept is malleable.

The relationship between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary (Saussure called this 'unmotivated'). A real object need not actually exist 'out there'. While the letters 'c-a-t' spell cat, they do not embody 'catness'. 

Saussure inverts the usual reflectionist view that the signifier reflects the signified: the signifier creates the signified in terms of the meaning it triggers for us. The meaning of a sign needs both the signifier and the signified as created by an interpreter. A signifier without a signified is noise. A signified without a signifier is impossible.

In a 2008 article written by Satisfactory Comics, the 1956 (#94) edition of Lulu and Alvin is linguistically exposed. The article describes how Lulu and Alvin discover the arbitrary nature of linguistic signification. An excerpt from the article:

As you can see, the kids are delighted by the slippage between signifier and signified. 

In this very joyful panel, language is revealed to be a mere construct. Chaos ensues. 

By the time the game is a foot (pun intended), "foot" and "feet" have become so destabilized (pun intended, again) that they can only be conveyed in terms of natural (as opposed to arbitrary) signifiers: a kind of onomatopoeia. 

Language is a series of 'negative' values in that each sign marks a divergence of meaning betweens signs. Words have meaning in both their difference and in their relationships with other words.


Dear HTTF (Sophy "softly" Laughing) Readers:

After 2 years of research and experimentation with humor theories, I have refined my exploration to the fine art of cartooning, an artistic technique that has helped me convey thoughts and meanings without the use of words. 

This article was posted in the FINE ART COMICS blog under the title: The Significance of the Signified. 

If you enjoy my writing and explorations, please follow me on FINE ART COMICS (either the blog or Facebook page). 


Sophy M. Laughing, Ph.D.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Unified Theory of Hilarity

I had hoped to have a more unified theory of hilarity, of what makes people laugh, and of what exactly true humor is by my 2nd year anniversary exploring the subject. Having earned my doctorate degree in philosophy (logic), I could have easily spent (and would have personally felt  more comfortable with respect to public sharing) two years or even a lifetime devoted to exploring each humor theory, followed by theories in disciplines outside my own training that interested me and that I thought could be logically related back to humor. Essentially, I discovered that humor is as broad reaching as philosophy itself - anything goes. 

Since I claimed that I would "explore" humor, just to see just how far down the rabbit hole goes, I couldn't very well limit my exploration to the domain of philosophy. Though in my mind (and writing), you can definitely see the influence. What I mean is that I experimented with humor and comedy with people from over 150 countries since beginning this journey. In fact, I owe the good people of Facebook a Shout-Out for all their support, comments, thoughts and theories, and "likes". 

In all my sharing, in all my conversations, and in all the responses I've received (and I've kept track of in the event I ever want to publish the stats supporting my findings), I confirmed one thing: everyone has a theory of humor, even if they don't know it. 

What I mean by this is that everyone seems to know what's funny, and what's funny is as different for people as their varying theories of how the universe functions, which most explain and describe with great vigor and enthusiasm. 

Still, many people agree that Scott Adams was spot on with his assessment of the universal number being 42.

Whatever it is, this thing we call the universe, whether it is a closed or parasitic system devouring empty space like Pacman devours pac-dots, we may never have a full answer on how its underbelly is constructed, at least not in our present form or state of being. 

In this sense, any unified theory of hilarity lies not in the answer but in the question itself: 

What makes you laugh? 

[Fill in the blank]

Stick Figures in Heaven

My 1st Comic Strip!

(Click to enlarge)

Stick Figures in Heaven


Soph Laugh

One day while writing a "Christmas" article, an interesting thought hit me: Throughout history, religious mystics, leaders, and followers have always pointed away from themselves toward Heaven... but what if this is Heaven? What if Heaven and Hell occupy the same physical space *our universe is a closed physical system, which would account for the variance in experience many people on the planet have...

Not that I believe in the notions of Heaven or Hell, but rather the realization that one person can have a positive experience in life while another has a negative one has always baffled human beings - myself included.

Using simple terms like "Heaven" and "Hell" with simple characters "Stick Figures" ... this question, while not necessarily "Funny-Ha-Ha" but maybe "Funny-Interesting" is the theme of my own adventure into comics... ♥

2-Year Anniversary Post

According to Blogger Stats
(This post marks my 1000th post!)

My son asked me to write an article on his favorite video game. 

A Whopping 146,902 Pageviews later... relating Minecraft to Game Theory is clearly far more interesting to Internet users than any article I've ever written on the subject of humor. The irony of this not only makes this my most popular article, but my funniest!

"I'm very excited to announce that I have just arrived back from the North Pole in my time machine," begins my article, Occupy Christmas

Coming in at 20,028 Pageviews, it is clear that many people enjoy lighthearted, sentimental humor during the holidays.

While the first article on Raising Funny Kids received 15,210 Pageviews, the collective series - some 37 articles - has received 32,901 Pageviews.

Coming in at 12,987 Pageviews, Positive Thought Experiments clearly shows that others feel the same way as I do on this subject. Here's an excerpt: 

What matters to me is joy and happiness. What I value the most is love and sincerity. I do not get bored with positivity. I share it with friends, family, and colleagues. I share smiles with people I pass or meet on the street. I enjoy the challenge of finding that energie strand that when present, brings pleasure and goodwill. I only have one thought at a time (not counting the many commercial thinking breaks) and I want to make it a good one. 

Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday...

Coming in at 11,843 Pageviews... My interest Stick Figures began with this article. 

Coming in at 11,254 Pageviews is The Calzone, which offers these exciting benefits:

A Dietary Road Map to 

✓ Build a bigger, more impressive gut
✓ Add jiggle to your upper arms and thighs
✓ Expand your buttock volume by up to 300%
✓ Increase your clothing size
✓ Develop exciting new chins

Coming in at 10,268 Pageviews is Etch-A-Sketch Art.

With electronic devices taking over the toy market, a number of kids today have never heard of the Etch A Sketch. However, if you're a bit nostalgic for this bygone era, this article will take you back through the early history of one of the most popular toys in history. 

Coming in at 10,128 Pageviews is a classic on Charlie Brown... and, of course, his dog, Snoopy! 

An excerpt from the article: 

Imagination is a gift. It's our mind's ability to be creative and resourceful, to imagine something and then make it happen. 

Coming in at 9,531 Pageviews, is another nostalgic post for a bygone era: The 80s. 

Nostalgia is like "hypochrondria of the heart" ... from a passing ailment to an incurable modern condition. 

Who of us born in the 70s - who hit the throws of adolescence in the 80s - could not look at these images without the distinctly warm feeling that accompanies a romp through our memories?

Coming in at 9,204 Pageviews, to my delight, is an article on comics...

My good friend, Darleen, and her daughter, Danielle, first introduced me to the "Zits" comic series, and I've been a fan ever since. 

"The fools who enjoy comics see things realistically but their ironic fate is that they are not taken seriously." ~Adapted from what Arthur Asa Berger said about Shakespeare's fools - replacing "fools in Shakespeare's plays" with "fools who enjoy comics". 

Little did I realize at the time I began writing this blog that the sheer number of comics I'd include to convey my thoughts and theories on humor would lead me back to comics (Sophy Laughing Comics, Fine Art Comics and Philosophical Comics). 

Just as those living on the Subcontinent of India are equally delighted and surprised by the presence of a White Elephant, so too are those who explore the depths of humor - for humor is the most pleasant way to notice a White Elephant in the room, especially our own. 


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