Puzzles in Pop Culture: Comic Strips

Two weeks ago, we took a puzzly detour into the world of comic strips and explored all the puzzly references we could find in the annals of Garfield publishing history.

In the course of compiling those comics, I stumbled across many others that referenced crosswords and other puzzles. As it turns out, plenty of iconic comic strips have had something to say about puzzles. It makes sense, really, given that crosswords and comic strips are both synonymous with reading the newspaper every day.

So naturally, I couldn’t resist putting some comic strips aside for the PuzzleNation readership to enjoy.


We start off today with this Fred Basset comic strip, wherein a mischievous dog saves the most important part of the paper for his owner.

In this Beetle Bailey strip, we’re not only reminded of the true power behind the General, but of the power of crosswords to eat up your free time.

In the Peanuts comics, many of Snoopy’s best jokes are visual gags, given that most of the other characters can’t understand him. In this case, the joke is on us, as Snoopy and Woodstock crack a curious crossword entry together.

Calvin and Hobbes also had their fun with filling in crosswords, as Calvin takes his usual outside-the-box approach and applies it to our favorite puzzles. (He’d clearly be a whiz at Double Trouble and other crossword variants.)

In this strip by artist Dave Coverly, he reimagines crosswords in an earlier era. (And makes me wonder what an all-symbol crossword would be like.)

There’s a marvelous sense of accomplishment that comes with solving your first crossword. In this comic from Mother Goose and Grimm, the celebration is a bit more enthusiastic.

Many comic strips have fun with the difficulty of crosswords or the wordplay involved in the cluing. But this one by J. Gravelle presents the trouble you can get into by making assumptions while letters are still missing.

In this comic from John Deering’s Strange Brew, the human condition — and the rat condition — are summed up in one poignant quote.

And speaking of The New York Times crossword… we’ve all felt like this at one point or another.

Finally, we get a little meta with this one. But it makes sense, given that the funnies page and the daily crossword are usually in close proximity.

I hope you enjoyed this brief sojourn into comic strip — and puzzle — history. Do you have any comic strips mentioning puzzles that we missed? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you!


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Making a Profit Through Puzzly Vandalism!

[Image courtesy of Thoibao.today.]

Hey there, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers. Do you remember that post I did a month or two ago about the woman who defaced a piece of crossword-inspired art?

If you don’t recall, a 91-year-old woman was visiting the Neues Museum in Nuremberg with a senior citizens group when she found the piece, “Reading-work-piece” by artist Arthur Koepcke, and began filling in the empty grid, mistakenly thinking it was an interactive art work.

The museum was none too pleased with her efforts, and restored the piece to its original condition.

But as it turns out, that’s not the end of the story.

You see, the woman claims — in a seven-page rebuttal to the German police’s investigation of her vandalism — that she has not harmed the work, instead arguing that she has brought the work greater public attention thanks to her efforts, reinvigorating interest in the piece and increasing its value.

[Image courtesy of Bill Watterson.]

Amazingly, that is not all. According to Ars Technica UK:

Frau K.’s lawyer claimed that her additions meant that she now held the copyright of the combined artwork — and that, in theory, the private collector might sue the museum for destroying that new collaboration by restoring it to its original state.

Yes, they assert that the private collector who loaned the Koepcke work to the Neues Museum might not only approve of her defacement of the piece, but be angry with the museum for their efforts to ensure that the piece was returned to him in the same condition.

Well, that’s certainly doubling down on your hand. It takes a certain confidence and bombast to make a claim like that, but the woman believes she’s in the right artistically.

The argument is based around the spirit of Koepcke’s work, which was part of the Fluxus movement. They go on to explain that “Fluxus artists did not agree with the authority of museums to determine the value of art, nor did they believe that one must be educated to view and understand a piece of art.”

It will certainly be interesting to see where the case goes from here. Naturally, I can’t help but wonder. Heck, if Da Vinci had been a Fluxus devotee. I could’ve drawn a mustache on the Mona Lisa and made millions.


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