Thursday, November 7, 2013

To Quibcag or not to Quibcag?

Anonymous commented on my last post:

The coded language (Greme/Quibcag) might be cute but it's uninteresting. You also ought to lay off the teenage anime a bit.

Fair enough. Actually, this is just the opposite of the usual criticism, which is that I'm interesting but definitely not cute :)  Seriously, there are oodles of what are usually called "memes" on the net, which are statements of one sort or another in the form of an illustrated graphic. As far as quotes are concerned, the most common aren't really illustrated, but are just done in graphic form with some sort of background and some sort of striking font. 
And the most common illustrated ones are simply the quote with a picture of the quotee, like this one of Mencken. Serviceable, but not terribly eye-catching. And in many cases, nobody knows what the quoted person looks like anyway, so it adds even less to have a picture of them.

As you may know, the Ex-Army blog is a joint effort by the eponymous/pseudonymous Ex-Army himself, and the cartoonist Baloo. The former came up with the concept of the quibcag, while the latter actually executes, and sometimes originates them. 

H. Allen Smith told the story of the farmer who couldn't get his mule to follow orders, so he asked an older, more experienced farmer for help.  The second farmer walked up to the mule and yelled in its ear, and then struck the animal between the eyes with a hammer, making it fall momentarily to its knees, at which point it looked at the second farmer with great respect.

     "What are you doing to my mule?" wailed the first farmer.

     The second farmer patter the first one on the shoulder and said, "Mules are just like everybody else, son — first you have to get their attention."

And he was right. To get people to read these nice quotes, first you have to get their attention, i. e,. get them to look at the quotes in the first place. Now, it's a matter of taste. A lot of people would use kittens, or Miley Cyrus. But to me, the most generally eye-catching stuff is artwork, not photos, and some of the best artwork out there is Japanese anime/manga. And of all that stuff, to me, and I don't think I'm alone in this, the most likely to get me to look twice is the "cag" part, or the Cute Anime Girl. Here are two versions of the same quote. Which do you think is most likely to get looked at and passed around?

I rest my case.


  1. I still say that anime is not the best out there; it's just easier to reproduce the symbols and visual tropes to make something visually appealing. Most professional artists dissuade beginning artists from drawing anime if they're serious about learning since it's an easy way to get trapped in mediocrity by skipping over most of the fundamentals. It's a trap I fell into myself. This isn't to say there isn't some amazing anime shows or art out there (I just got done watching Little Witch Academia, and it never stopped scratching my elitist animation itch), but on average, it's the Japanese version of a soap opera.

    That said, I still enjoy the gremes.

    1. Luckily, I learned to draw before anime got popular :) I agree that it's not the best, but it might be the subgenre of art that produces the most good stuff, if not the best of stuff. You know what I mean. Anyhow, anime makes for great gremes and quibcags, I think, because of its attractiveness and because it's so unexpected, so to speak. My theory is, that there's such a huge amount of it produced that even if most is poor, a good chunk of it is going to be good or great. Me, too, I love that LWA, and want to see more. Heck, I even like Strike Witches :)

    2. It's kinda like sex, pizza, and Nicolas Cage films: even when it's bad, it's still good.

  2. I support your anime choices, Ex-Army! They are eye-catching and original, and I think incorporating the "kawai" aesthetic with "far-right" commentary may shake liberals up a bit. Progressives usually assume their right-wing opponents are unthinking, angry brutes, which is why demonstrating intelligence or sophistication, or wit and good humor, can be effective at undermining their narratives. I think you have stumbled upon an as-yet-unused tactic: cuteness! Liberals may sneer at right wing art or symbols that are macho or martial, but they are surprised and helpless against the power of moe.