just got the Q P Dahl joke

‘Q P Dahl’ + ‘Kewpie doll’ are pronounced differently in the UK but they sound the same in the states – Lt Q P Dahl from the sally forth strip by wally wood is basically a kewpie doll in US army uniform:

qpdahl
(c) wally wood 1976 ?

although kewpie dolls have never really been part of british popular culture no images of them are going to be shown here for the purposes of comparison – if anyone wants to see the difference use google images – partly because kewpie dolls (like all dolls?) are actually a little odd when seen in stills

perhaps dolls need to be seen in their normal contexts (with children, in a pile of other playthings, packaged for sale, etc) + when they’re taken out of these the viewer’s mind generates questions about their motives

what are you doing out of the box?  why are you looking over there?

in the same way that viewers’ minds cast around trying to make sense of an odd piece of artwork (what does it mean?)

this article is now at a fork in the road + will split into two directions

1    dolls put into a sinister context

because their expressions stay rigid dolls’ minds are unreadable – if they were able to move their intentions could only be guessed at.  this attribute makes them ideal for casting as characters which are supposed to be unsettling or disturbing.  also, once they’re inserted into a scary story, the contrast between the environment in which they are usually found (cosy family life) + their new role (eg possessed by a demon) affords them an extra dimension of sinisterness which renders them more sinister than a monster would be or any actual person in a mask neither of whom possesses that connotation

an obscure comic strip example follows

the living dolls b
(c) odhams 1967

the 1960s UK comics fantastic + terrific had some original british material in them amongst the marvel reprints – the back up strip in 3 -> 11 of terrific was ‘the living dolls’

note there is a certain amount of skill to be appreciated here concerning the representation in still images of the difference between a living human character, an inert child’s doll + the same doll coming to life + moving about.  these differences appear to have been established in the above example by the way the human girl is posed + where her eyeline goes compared to the face + limb positions of the doll

a slight detour: this is difficult to do in an animated film

find if you can jerry out of tom + jerry waltzing with a doll on top of a tablecloth, where he (merely consecutive images of a cartoon mouse) appears alive + the doll (merely consecutive images of a cartoon doll) appears as a dead weight pulled around the table by him.  in this case the doll’s eyes don’t focus + its body is animated to appear to move in response to jerry’s influence as opposed to under its own steam

steering back to comic strips: however, maybe there is a higher degree of skill involved in representing dolls going from one state to the next (static -> moving) in this medium with only single frames to get the impression across to the reader

the living dolls c+d
(c) odhams 1967

2    the other direction (or fork)

this entire train of thought starting with what ‘QP Dahl’ sounds like pronounced out loud in an american accent came about as the result of a conversation about an article elsewhere on this site

the use of two different styles of artwork in the same strip

during which it was pointed out that the best + most obvious example of characters in the same strip drawn in different styles was sally forth (realistic) + QP Dahl (more of a cartoon) or even the martian character snorky (a cartoon of a bug eyed monster)

this is a fair point: click the title above if you’re interested in seeing the examples cited originally

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