Lucy Mangan ponders the worlds of comics, aggresive leapfrogging and erotic-fiction induced pregnancies

D’you know what I love? I love being led to an entirely new (to me) seam of words buried deep in the morphological mines just waiting to be chipped out and carried up to the surface so that I can marvel at them in the bright light of a newly-knowledgeable day. So it was with ‘grawlix’, submitted by AlexBuchanan88. It’s the name illustrators and fans give to the cluster of typographical symbols used in comics to represent swearwords. %@&#?%$ great, no? And there are more, %$&~@ hundreds more (okay, I’ll stop now), mostly invented and/or immortalised in The Lexicon of Comicana by Mort Walker in 1980 and which seems, against the odds, to be still in print. ‘Briffits’ are the little clouds of dust drawn to show the rapid departure or sudden disappearance of a figure. ‘Lucaflects’ are the little things that look like curved, quartered windowpanes used to indicate an object’s shininess. ‘Plewds’ are the drops of sweat that spring up round a character’s head to show his industry or stress. And so on; each one is splendidly evocative and more delightful than the last. So thank you, Mr Buchanan88 for the many, many happy hours I am sure to spend playing with my new toys.


But I must put them briefly aside to deal with Dr Shyam Singh Tanwar’s two submissions. The first was ‘vetorpedo’, whose definition ran ‘the authoritative rejection of a proposal or an overture and then an attack by torpedo’. Long-submerged memories of seeing The Enemy Below and Crimson Tide rose and I was able to deduce that this was probably meant not to be derided as a rather extreme over-reaction to a friendly suggestion of going out for a pint or a game of football in the park but to be read and used in a naval context, ideally under the close supervision of a noble and stalwart Denzel Washington. Then I read the second submission. ‘Leap frogression’: ‘aggression in small measure by leap frogging’ and suddenly (or rather, as soon as I had mentally corrected the thing by deleting the spaces between the two leaps and their respective frogs) I was back in a park full of overreactions again.

Some small amount of research later and I discovered that ‘leapfrogging’ is another name for island-hopping, which is the strategy adopted by the Allies when they were trying to invade Japan. You boing round the less-heavily fortified bits in order to surprise the bigger, better-defended bits you really want. That’s how General MacArthur explained it to me anyway.

So, thank you too, Dr Tanwar, for occasioning a minor excursion into US military history and for reminding me to buy a Crimson Tide DVD next time I’m out.
As for ‘greybies’, submitted by DavedWachsman and referring to babies born nine months after reading Fifty Shades of Grey – well, this I refuse to research. Suffice to say that if it is indeed A Thing, I am crunching down on my cyanide capsule immediately. I wish those of you who choose to stay behind the very best of luck in what, it is rapidly becoming clear, must soon be the very worst of all possible worlds.

Submit your new words so Lucy can comment on them in her next column.

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