In 1980 the American cartoonist Mort Walker published a book titled The Lexicon of Comicana. It was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek description of some of the artistic techniques used by cartoonists. Look at the cartoon above. The artist has drawn lines around the rider and the bike to give a sense of movement, specifically vibration and shaking rather than speed, (speed is indicated by the position of the biker). Walker called these ‘vibration’ lines agitrons. The stones being flung away from under the wheels also have lines but these are meant to show speed. Walker named these hites. The words he invented became accepted by the cartooning community and can be found in some dictionaries. It’s a good example of being able to pinpoint exactly when, how, and where a word was created.
Here’s a small selection of Walker’s words and definitions. Can you match them up?
A. Flying sweat droplets that appear around a character’s head when working hard, stressed, etc.
B. A shiny spot on a surface of something, depicted as a four-paned window shape.
C. Planets resembling Saturn to omit obscenities.
D. Lines drawn around the head to indicate shock or surprise.
E. Little starbursts or circles that signify intoxication, dizziness or sickness.
F. Clouds of dust that hang in the spot of a swiftly departing character or object.
Highlight the row of numbers below to reveal the answers.
1.F 2.E 3.A 4.C 5.D 6.B