Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Some rocks

[Please focus your attention on the lower-left corner.]

For some time now I have been hoping to espy “some rocks,” the mystical triad that appears again and again in Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy. Scott McCloud explains:

Ernie Bushmiller didn’t draw A tree, A house, A car. Oh, no. Ernie Bushmiller drew THE tree, THE house, THE car. Much has been made of the “three rocks.” Art Spiegelman explains how a drawing of three rocks in a background scene was Ernie’s way of showing us there were some rocks in the background. It was always three. Why? Because two rocks wouldn’t be “some rocks.” Two rocks would be a pair of rocks. And four rocks was unacceptable because four rocks would indicate “some rocks” but it would be one rock more than was necessary to convey the idea of “some rocks.”
Got it?

This past Sunday, Elaine suggested that we go out in search of some rocks. More than that, really: she was determined to find me some rocks. So I drove, and she surveyed. We passed many an individual rock. We passed many groups of four or more rocks, some of those groups in remarkable disarray. We passed the School, where Children strove / At Recess — in the Ring. We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain. We drove to the outskirts of the outskirts of town, to streets and roads that we found years ago by bicycle. And we found some rocks.

[Some rocks.]

When we drove back into town, Elaine spotted another group, in a parking lot of all places. One U-turn and they were ours.

[Some more rocks.]

Bushmiller’s rocks are rounded and clumped, snow-white on a snow-white lawn. These rocks would never have passed muster in a Nancy strip. But they’re more than I ever expected to find.

Thank you, Elaine.


4:03 p.m.: And here at last is the triad that was just down the street, right under our noses all along, as neat a bunch of rocks as you’d ever want to see:

[Still more rocks.]

And here is the instigator of the quest:

[Elaine Fine, wearing a hat and surrounded by vines.]


January 31, 2018: “Some rocks” appears to have its origin in the lawn outside Ernie Bushmiller’s house in Stamford, Connecticut. From Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden’s How to Read “Nancy”: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2017):
The rambling grounds offered ample foliage and wildlife, and a “one-hole golf course” that the non-golfer routinely ignored. A small grouping of rounded white rocks cropped out from the closely trimmed lawn outside his studio window and became part of his strip’s iconography.
Other posts, other rocks
Zippy : Zippy : Zippy : Zippy : Zippy : Lassie and Zippy : Conversational rocks

[Nancy panel found via Nancy Panels. Zippy cartoonist Bill Griffith often pays homage to Bushmiller’s rocks.]

comments: 7

Elaine Fine said...

. . . and on the way home I spied "some" more just one block away from our street! You never know what treasures you might find in your neighborhood!

That outing will remain one of my favorites.

[For people who don't live in a small midwestern college town that mostly sleeps during the summer, this is an example of the way we have fun.]

Michael Leddy said...

I’ll go get the picture. Cover me.

Michael Leddy said...

Doing my best not to embarrass you. :)

Geo-B said...

What i'm most impressed about this incident is your partner's willingness to instigate/participate in this adventure. (What a pair) Cool! Awesome! Fantastic!

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, she’s all that.

Fresca said...

This is delightful!
I will be on the lookout now for "some rocks".

Michael Leddy said...

It’s funny how the possibility of “some rocks” can become a part of ordinary walking-around attention. So far I haven’t seen any more examples in real life.