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July 18, 2007




  1. As he walks through the midst of the crowd of walkers, they all stare ahead, zombie-like. When you go out walking it is a GREAT faux-pas to make eye contact. You don’t want to be doing that.

    Even when they say hello they don’t break stride.

    The cartoonist hasn’t done a great job here of showing us the action. They should be looking away, or down. It should be obvious. (an over-Arlo’s-shoulder-view might have helped too)

    Comment by Steve — July 18, 2007 @ 8:32 am

  2. Where I live and walk (NJ), most people not only look away and/or down, but they don’t say hello either. It’s as if they think some great harm will come to them if they even acknowledge you are there.

    I do say hello, and smile as they approach (and I’m pretty non-threatening looking), but you’d think from their reaction I was a thug with a knife or something.

    The friendly ones are clearly from somewhere else – the warmest are the foreign-looking nannies pushing white kids in strollers during the day.

    Once I took a long walk in Vermont, and every single person smiled, looked me in the eye, and said hello. If it weren’t so cold up there, I’d move there in a heartbeat.

    Arlo cartoonist Jimmy Johnson lives in Alabama. I’m curious how it is in other parts of the country.

    Comment by Arlo Fan — July 18, 2007 @ 9:32 am

  3. Arlo Fan:

    I experienced the same frustration when I lived in New Jersey for college. Everywhere else I’ve lived, people acknowledge you with a smile and a greeting.

    Comment by Krusher — July 18, 2007 @ 10:53 am

  4. My interpretation of this was that Arlo was getting tired of the meaningless formulaic exchanges of words, and as an experiment, tried starting an actual conversation with the next person they passed. He probably got a reply of “Hello.”

    This reminds me of the (probably untrue) story I read, many years ago, of the person who went down the receiving line at a wedding reception, telling each person, “My mother died today,” and getting responses of “Thank you,” and smiles.

    Comment by Morris Keesan — July 18, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  5. I’m with Morris on this one. I first thought that it was the walkers who were the living dead, but they’re all responding. Notice that it’s Janis who is saying “Hello” in each panel, and she doesn’t use any variety. Arlo decides it’s his turn to greet people, and tries something different.

    To get this one, it also helps to know Arlo’s personality. Arlo often tries to buck the small talk cliches. He once tried to start a conversation with a stranger at a party by asking if the man had read _Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot_.

    Comment by David Skaar — July 18, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

  6. I had the same problem when I moved to Ontario for a year. Everyone was so incredibly, incredibly rude!

    We returned to the West and it was a breath of fresh air.

    Comment by Charlene — July 18, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  7. As I look at the strip again, it is Arlo who has the dead-eyed, make no eye contact look on his face. Hands in his pockets, he shuffles along beside his wife as she greets everyone they meet, and is greeted in return.

    At least he isn’t trying to eat anyone.

    Comment by That's me — July 18, 2007 @ 6:46 pm

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