Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coupon Clippers by Mark Doeffinger

Some time ago, Mark Doeffinger (USA) sent me his little book "Coupon Clippers". His cartoons, most with a explanatory text, are quite difficult to understand for non-Americans. Nevertheless, there are some good findings in the book and Mark was very helpful to explain some cartoons for us. Here's what Mark wrote:

Many of my cartoons from the book depend on an intimate understanding of American English and American culture from the early 80's. I had lots of puns back then. I'll try to explain a few.

The blue light special" cartoon refers to a loudspeaker announcement in a discount shopping chain called K-Mart. A blue light would come on in the store and the announcer would say: "Attention K-Mart shoppers. There is a blue light special sale on (umbrellas). 25% off regular price." And shoppers would hurry over to the umbrella counter and get their blue light special discount. It became a sort of joke. So I have drawn blue lights on sale for the Blue Light Special.

Just a pun, and not a particularly good one.A Tie-in is a way of advertising two products together. "Dynasty" was a hit TV show in the 80's, so I advertise a tie and the show "Dynasty" together to make a "tie-in." Just another pun.
Other puns or double-entendres which you may or may not get: Two bits is slang for 25 cents. A bit is also a drill. So I play on the double meaning. Haywire is an expression for "crazy"--"he drives me haywire." So the drawing is of wire which seems a little crazy. A golfer hits a ball off of a wooden peg called a Tee. If the ball he hits should go toward someone, he must yell FORE to warn the other player.

So the wordplay is on the double meaning of Tee and T-shirt. Likewise, when one has an alcohol problem, one can quit "cold turkey," that is, all at once. So the turkey leg in the wine glass. Baloney and blarney are synonyms for talking nonesense, as is "phoney baloney"( Bologna is an alternative spelling for baloney). There used to be a group of jokes called "Knock Knock" jokes. So the door knocker. "Nit wits" are crazy people; the alligator and penguin were logos for 2 lines of sportswear shirts or "knits."

A postage stamp lawn is a small lawn. The lawn was (is?) a sort of status symbol in America, perhaps worthy of a stamp. Die Hards are people who never give up; it is also the name of a long endurance battery for cars. And Firestone is a brand of tires. Dirt cheap is an expression for real inexpensive. Ho-hum means boring and a cutup is a person who is always doing nutty things.
I once knew a guy in a heavy metal band, and he said my heavy metal cartoon captured the genre's nature. So, looking back, I like that cartoon, the computer dates one and the Volklore one best (though Volkswagen has brought the beetle back in amended form). Other people prefer other cartoons in the book. Meanwhile, if you are familiar with all my puns, please excuse my digressions on meanings. But it takes a while for even my friends to "get " the cartoons from Coupon Clippers. And if you have any more questions I will be more than glad to answer them."

Thanks to Mark for his kind permission.

Learn more:
Mark Doeffinger on The Lite Stuff
Coupon Clippers (Amazon)
Cartoonbooks file 

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