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Permanent URL: https://mezzacotta.net/garfield/?comic=1290

Strip by: Manyhills

Garfield: Dogs have an amazing ability to identify smells.
Garfield: Which comes as no surprise...
Garfield: Because they're responsible for most of them.
{Beat panel}
Caption: Post-punchline dance break!
SFX: Boing boing boing boing boing boing boing boing boing {Odie dances}

The author writes:

Jokes end with a punchline. Thus, webcomic strips telling jokes should end with punchlines.

But often they don't. There is a tendency for webcartoonists to continue for a speech bubble or a panel after the punchline, to show some reaction shots or dialogue - for instance, the last panel of this Super Effective! strip*, the "yes" here. This dissipates the impact of the punchline (a bad thing) and it makes the strip longer than it needs to be (another bad thing - brevity is the soul of wit and all).

This misguided attempt to add realism is due to a heavy influence from naturalistic TV sitcoms on dialogue-driven comedic webcomics (The Couch, Two Gamers On A Couch: do you think this is a coincidence?). But sitcoms are far more continuous than webcomics are: they display more of the downtime between jokes and therefore have to fill it with characters being realistic and reacting to those jokes, whereas in webcomics the reader can happily assume all that boring business is happening off-screen during the gap between comics. Post-punchline dialogue (PPD) is a vital part of adding verisimilitude in sitcoms, but it's unnecessary and distracting in webcomics.

Of course, PPD is fine if it's setting up and delivering another punchline, since then it's not post-punchline ballast, it's having two jokes in one strip (a Good Thing)**. Post-punchline dance breaks, as introduced by webcomic theorist Sanjay Kulkarni in his Cowbirds in Love, are also entirely acceptable.

* This annotation was originally a lot longer and went into more detail about webcomic pacing; this strip and the one immediately prior are a very good example of why you need to think carefully about the breaks between individual strips rather than ignore them.

** Originally you could get away with claiming that the existence of the PPD was itself a sort of meta-joke, bordering on anti-humour, an ironic way of saying that the main joke of the comic wasn't funny: "Look! The characters are groaning and facepalming too!". However, it's been done enough by now that you cannot get away with it any more.

[[Original strip: 2011-10-04, 2011-06-23.]]

Original strips: 2011-06-23, 2011-10-04.