Register Tuesday | December 7 | 2021

Comic Book Clichés

The Cloud of Altercation: How do you depict prolonged, intense brawling in a single cartoon panel?

It doesn’t take much to annoy Andy, the hero of Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp, and if you have the nerve to do so within the confi nes of his world, the last panel will feature a punch-up instead of a punch line. 

February 14, 1961, Valentine’s Day, marks the appearance of Smythe’s first cloud, when Andy attacks a stranger to secure a bouquet of fl owers for Flo. It is a thing of beauty, wonderfully plump and billowy, suspended in midair (it even casts a little shadow on the ground below). In the decades of strips that follow, as often as not it’s Flo that Andy brawls with, in a cloud of marital strife. Not since Bringing Up Father with its rolling pins has any comic strip made domestic violence so fun to look at.

But Smythe was far from the fi rst to adopt ...

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