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July 20, 2007


Filed under: Bill Bickel, CIDU, comic strips, comics, courtrooms, crime, humor, justice, Wizard of Id — Cidu Bill @ 12:02 am


I’m working on the assumption that the opening two-panel gag defies explanation; but what’s actually going on in the rest of the comic?


Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like all of Wizard of Id’s Sunday “lawyer” strips consist of random comments that don’t parse into anything resembling a coherent discussion.


  1. “Grilled” could mean “interrogated”, or it could mean something far less pleasant…

    Comment by furrykef — July 20, 2007 @ 2:09 am

  2. This might be too complex, but the first two panels could be trying to make a gag out of this line of reasoning:

    “You say “It will all depend on the judge”. But if you can see the future, you can see which judge it’ll be. If the answer was “yes”, you’d tell me that, to please me. So the answer must be “no”, and you’re making a true-but-very-useless statement because you don’t want to tell me that answer bluntly”.

    A better gag there would be something along the lines of the peasant replying, “If I could deal with lawyerly evasions, I wouldn’t be in court in the first place”.

    Simpler possibility: The King is the judge. Anything which “depends on the [King]” is thus a sure loser.

    Comment by Seth Finkelstein — July 20, 2007 @ 3:16 am

  3. I thought when I read this strip originally that Seth’s “simpler possibility” was correct.

    As for the rest of it, all the text is just expository to indicate that the defendant has not yet been interrogated (although why his own lawyer would be doing the interrogating I can’t guess). The final punchline is a simple play on words with the word “grilled” meaning either “interrogated” or “tortured”.

    Comment by Powers — July 20, 2007 @ 6:52 am

  4. it depends on what you mean by “is”

    Comment by Nicole — July 20, 2007 @ 10:19 am

  5. Given the king’s expression in the last panel, I think the joke is just that no matter what the king does or asks, the lawyer refuses to admit knowing anything at all.

    Comment by Autumn Harvest — July 20, 2007 @ 11:02 am

  6. Given past strips that have identified the king’s lust for torture and executions (<a href=””today’s strip and <a href=””one from June are good examples), I think it’s fair for the lawyer in this kangaroo court to wonder if the king wants the defendent cooked alive.

    Comment by Krusher — July 20, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

  7. The defendant must be from Gitmo. No one knows for sure if he was involved in a crime. No one knows for sure if he had knowledge of a crime. But best to torture him just in case.

    Comment by Molly — July 20, 2007 @ 8:17 pm

  8. Molly makes an excellent point. “The Wizard of Id” is an odd cultural artifact, to say the least. It is essentially about facism, and there is an unbelievably dark subtext to nearly every strip. (People are being tortured and probably killed for no good reason. People are locked away in dungeons for years. The very concept of “human rights” is a joke. The very concept of “justice” is a joke.) I don’t say this as a criticism, necessarily. It’s actually kind of amazing that “Id” exists on the comics page alongside such tame fare as “Blondie” and “Garfield.”

    Given the Christian nature of Hart’s “B.C.” and the ghoulish nature of “Id,” I wonder which of the cartoonist’s creations truly reflected his innermost being. I have a theory that Hart secretly *was* a facist sympathizer and that, in some ways, Id was his dreamworld. Deep down, he *wanted* criminals to be tortured and locked up without all this namby-pamby legal stuff getting in the way. Obviously, he couldn’t seriously express that notion, so he created “Wizard of Id” and make a joke of it instead — hiding in plain sight, as it were.

    Comment by Joe Blevins — July 22, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

  9. “Depends on the judge”: well, ya see, depending on which judge takes the case, the perp’s prospects range from ‘bad’ to ‘really horribly awful’ … all outcomes some variation on ‘not well’.

    “Was he a witness”: well (not like the previous sentence, I mean the other definition), if the word ‘grilled’ means ‘cross examined’, then the answer will be “no”, but if ‘grilled’ means ‘torture room version of a grilled cheese sandwich’, then the answer will be “yes” … so, your highness, which definition should “grilled” be taken as?

    Do note that much of humor focuses on the suffering of others, to our amusement. Various forms of suffering fall in and out of current humor style, but nonetheless most of it involves laughing at (not with) the plight of others. Today’s Garfield: Opie is an idiot yes-dog. Today’s Blondie: Dagwood projects his childishness on Herb. Awright, not as bad as suggesting human torture, but akin to the “…we know what you are, we’re just bickering over the price” concept (which needs the Arlo page if I have to explain _that_ one).

    Comment by ctdonath — July 23, 2007 @ 12:01 am

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