1. I don’t know why the first panel says “A Heart Flashback” but I suspect he ran this strip a few years ago.

    As to the joke itself… surely that is self-evident as you guessed in your heading.

  2. It’s a flashback because Heart and Dean are in middle school now, and look a bit different (taller and a little skinnier). I don’t know if this ran before, or he only just thought of it but thought it better suited to elementary kids than middle schoolers…or what.

  3. “I don’t know if this ran before”

    It likely did, since it shows a 2007 copyright.

    He’s doing a bunch of “flashbacks”; I suspect it’s a vacation week (or so).

  4. “Woozy, usually (in comic strips, at least) there’s some facial giveaway. Or something.”

    True. And one would have helped (he *does* look perfectly plain in panel three). But lack of one doesn’t make something incomprehensible. Dialog makes it perfectly clear even if facial expressions doesn’t what happened.

  5. I don’t know about “perfectly clear”, woozy. I didn’t get it at all until someone mentioned the word “fart”.

  6. He’s doing a bunch of “flashbacks”; I suspect it’s a vacation week (or so).

    Yes, Lio is in reruns too. It’s been the origin story for “Mittens” the pet lobster. That has no flashback label. As noted, it’s needed on Heart because of the age leap at the start of the school year, so some readers would be confused by the reversion in appearance.

  7. My first though was a toxic belch, which I still think would have worked better: Does his family eat beans instead of turkey?

  8. The facial giveaway of a fart is no change of expression, conveying “Nothing just happened; nothing to see or hear or smell.”

  9. According to Miss Manners, that’s the correct response from all. Pretend like it didn’t happen.

  10. According to John Aubrey: “This Earle of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to Travell, 7 yeares. On his returne the Queen welcomed him home, and sayd, My Lord, I had forgott the Fart.”

  11. I know analyzing too closely ruins a joke, but if someone doesn’t do it, at some point the joke gets lost to antiquity. So the above quote, while clearly a witty anecdote, leaves me wanting in understanding exactly WHAT the joke is: is it that the Queen said “fart”? Is it that the Queen really hadn’t noticed the fart, or quickly forgot it, such that his 7 years of travel were really not necessary? Or is it that the Queen only pretends she had forgotten, when she clearly hasn’t? You’ll notice that each of my listed possibilities goes up in the mental complexity needed to understand the joke (level 1, she said a rude word!! har, har, har! Level 2, he thinks that she thinks something, but we find out that she didn’t think that thing, but he did think she thought it, so ha, ha, he does something silly! Level 3, he thinks she thinks something, and she knows he thinks that she thinks that something, and so messes with him by revealing that she knows what he thinks she thinks, but that she doesn’t think that after all, although she does it in a way so as to actually contradict that interpretation, thus further messing with what he thinks she thinks!), and I am genuinely curious as to what level it was casually expected to be understood by John Aubrey in reciting it, but because no one ever painfully analyzed it — the knowledge was just assumed — that valuable information is lost. As is the joke.

  12. I completely missed the fart element until I saw the Ewww tag. Guess I didn’t read the header carefully. My initial thought was he punched her or knocked her down for being Christmas-enthusiastic much too early.

    I think the fart was not an accident, it was deliberate gassing to silence premature enthusiasm.

  13. 17th-century anecdotes in general seem to leave a question as to what the joke actually is. Here’s a sample from Joe Miller’s Jests: “This famous Chancellor, who preserved his humour and wit to the last moment, when he came to be executed on Tower Hill, the headsman demanded his upper garment as his fee; Ah! friend, said he, taking off his cap, that, I think, is my upper garment.”

  14. The headsman expected to get the chancellor’s coat (probably luxurious) but is awarded the chancellor’s head instead; “taking off his cap” is misleading: the cap is taken off to show the head underneath (no pointing!).

  15. @Meryl A: “One paid a fee of some sort to ensure a quicker death.”

    I think that was mostly a thing with hangings — a skilled hangman could do knots that snapped one’s neck at once, or knots that failed to do that and slowly strangled instead. (There was also the option of pulling on the victim’s legs to hasten death if in fact strangling occured, either accidentally or deliberately.) I imagine both knot outcomes were considered acceptable by the authorities, and that the second one would be thought more “fun” (ugh) by the viewing crowds, so the executioner probably had options, allowing for traditional bribes.

    It would presumably be harder for an execution involving one’s head being chopped off with an axe to come in “quick vs. slow” options. (I do recall reading of some cases where the axe was misdirected enough on first try to just make for an agonizing wound, but I think an immediate second try would correct those (rare?) instances.) And I’d suspect that an axeman wouldn’t want to deliberately botch a stroke very often and get the reputation for incompetence at his profession.

    Just theory, since I’ve never excecuted anyone nor have I been hanged, strangled, or beheaded myself, so far as I can recall. (I do usually wear a cap, though, so if I’m ever on the block I will have something to offer Mr. Ketch.)

  16. Shrug – I don’t know if helped them or not, but they did pay money when they were having their heads chopped off also as they at least thought it would help get it over with quicker and easier. When Anne Boleyn was to be beheaded, Henry sent to France as the French swordsmen were suppose to be quicker and better at removing the head with less pain for the person being killed due to his love for her. A couple of centuries later, Dr. Guillotine invented the guillotine (what else could someone with that name have invented) as a way to make the removal of heads more equal between the classes as the idea was to kill the person – not torture them.

  17. Dr. Guillotin. The device was considered his “daughter”(it already existed in the XVIth century, actually), hence the name guillotine.

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