23 Comments

  1. Interesting. This makes me want to see more of this comic, but Google isn’t helping me to find it.

  2. The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle whose existence proves the existence of the Higgs field, which is responsible for the existence of mass. The attempted humor is based on the idea that without any Higgs bosons, she won’t gain any weight because the food won’t have any mass. The joke doesn’t work if you understand physics. First, it’s the Higgs field, not the Higgs boson, that’s responsible for mass. Second, the Higgs field makes mass possible, but it isn’t the mass itself. Third, ordering food without mass is like ordering food without food – it doesn’t make any sense.

  3. @ swazoo – This is just another one of those strips that requires less thought than this audience is capable of applying.

  4. OK, I went and looked at the link, but I wish I hadn’t. As mediocre as the “Higgs boson” strip is, it is an order of magnitude better than anything that has appeared there for at least a week. The one halfway promising premise (“Darthfield”, on Nov. 4th) was torpedoed by unconvincing artwork and a deficient understanding of “Yoda-speak”.

  5. Super-Fun-Pak isn’t supposed to be good. It’s a parody of old school newspaper comics.It’s by Ruben Bolling, who also does Tom the Dancing Bug. In fact TtDB will often do a satirical comics page made up of several of these. Look at the Nov. 7 strip which is a series of unfunny mother-in-law jokes which were once a staple of the comics and still persist in strips like Hagar the Horrible. Read this as satire, not an attempt to be funny.

  6. Wow, tough crowd.

    Bolling is funny, even to this physics teacher and owner of nitpicking.com. The whole neurological mechanism for humor is incongruity, folks. Faithful recreations of physics aren’t humor, they’re my old job.

  7. So far to my mind no one has quite fully gotten the point of this one: yes, we’ve managed to establish it is satire, but then got stuck on taking the physics as the point of the satire, which it is not, it is gender relations satire — the title is “Women in Physics”, and yet all they are able to talk about in stereotypical woman fashion is food and weight and dieting, all extensions of physical appearance. Oh, but I’m not being sexist! These women are physicists, as proved by the techno-babble (though almost plausible) nonsense of the last panel! Ha HA!

    (Sorry, the title is “Physics for the Ladies”, showing that the purported author is so sexist he can’t even get the title to be non-offensive when his syndicate mandates he must do something to address his misogyny.)

    Cf: talking Barbie who says, “Math is hard!”

    (Extra credit: would this conversation pass the Bechdel Test? They are not directly talking about a man, though you could posit that the reason they care about the weight they will gain is because of their appearance, and they care about their appearance because the only thing they have to do in life is attract a man; Discuss.)

  8. swazoo (and Kilby): “The joke doesn’t work if you understand physics.”

    I was a physics professor, and I thought this was pretty funny. It’s a joke, not a peer-reviewed physics paper. (And the Higgs boson is inextricable linked with the Higgs field, so some of this nitpicking doesn’t even strike me as reasonable.)

    At any rate, as larK points out, the point is not “here’s a funny joke about this Higgs boson.” The joke is that this is some imaginary cartoonist’s poor attempt at “Physics for the Ladies.”

    Incidentally, I like Super-Fun-Pak when it comes as an actual “Pak,” but somehow it doesn’t usually work for me as an individual strip.

  9. @ DemetriosX – “Super-Fun-Pak isn’t supposed to be good….” — Well, then Bolling certainly has achieved what he set out to do. I thought this strip was OK, but the rest seems (to me) to be garbage.
    Read this as satire.” — I think “satire” is supposed to be enjoyable, or at least it should make a point. This strip does make a minor point, but it is very subtle. However, after looking at another dozen or so of random strips, I simply don’t see the point of copying some other strip’s genre, while decanting all of the humor and replacing it with senseless brutality and/or stupidity. As misogynistic as “Andy Capp” was, or as mean as “The Lockhorns” often were to each other, both of those strips were usually still able to elicit a chuckle. Nothing I’ve seen in the rest of this feature has even come close to doing that.

  10. As long as we are nitpicking… the Higgs field only produces about 1% of an atom’s weight, the other 99% is from the binding energy holding quarks into protons/neutrons and protons/neutrons into the nucleus.

    (Bonus: In Star Trek they kept running into creatures of “pure energy”, but the people on the starship were also 99% pure energy!)

  11. I do accept this strip as satire — or whatever it precisely is. I just didn’t understand where he was going with H-B at all.

    I can definitely identify with “Physics for the Ladies,” by the way, because in college I took “Physics For Poets” (though not the accompanying geology class “Rocks For Jocks.”

  12. One of the Heinlein shorts–possibly “Magic, Incorporated”–had restaurant menus with real food on one side and magic, zero-calorie food on the other. I guess the zero-calorie side was Higgs-free. I’m all for that!

  13. It’s not satire so much as wincing irony.

    “— I think “satire” is supposed to be enjoyable, or at least it should make a point. ”

    I think this does make a point. It points out irritating and patronizing themes and “tropes” in mass entertainment and how invalid they are.

    It’s fairly cynical and smug and it’d be legitimate to find it unpleasant. But if you’re a cynical and smug person (and in this world who *wouldn’t* be?) it can resonate. For me, Super-Fun-Pax can’t hold the weight of being central focus but as a background texture gag it’s bloody brilliant.

  14. Looking at how GoComics features it, I can’t help thinking “Ruben Bolling” is having a nice meta laugh at their expense — I know, let’s cut apart and take the individual elements of a Super Fun Pax comic and present them unironically as their own feature! I’d say if he could see Kilby’s reaction he’d be tickled pink.

  15. @ woozy – I specifically said that this strip does make a (minor) point. I was complaining that everthing else that I weeded through in this feature seemed like a gawdoffal waste of time.

  16. This discussion reminds me of the “anti-humor” shows that make up the Cartoon Network’s late-night line up on Adult Swim. They’re purported to be satire, but I often found them unpleasant to watch.

  17. I think “The Lockhorns” by Bunny Hoest is still running in newspapers. It is obviously the reference for Super Fun Pak Comics’ “Marital Mirth.” And it’s about as funny as “Marital Mirth” which is to say not funny at all. I suppose “Physics For The Ladies” could be “The Pajama Diaries”. I can certainly imagine the “Pajama Diaries” characters taking these parts.

  18. Guilty confession but the “Marital Mirth” where she shoots the husband in the head caused me to laugh out loud. Bur irony and anti-humor are a comment about the state of things. They can’t be the state of things themselves. Super Fun Pax only works as a back-ground texture gag. If it’s put up front as the focus… well, yes there’s no there there and the view is … harsh. But as back-ground texture gag its letter perfect.

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