On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art or design and study the language used in them. This week’s article introduced a new cartoonist for Nancy, an American comic strip.
Here are the first three paragraphs from The New York Times, in italics.
We need to talk about Nancy, the eternally cherubic elementary schoolgirl who made her newspaper comic strip debut in 1933. In the past two weeks, Nancy has found a new voice thanks to Olivia Jaimes, the latest cartoonist — and first woman — to chronicle her exploits.
The first strip drawn by Ms. Jaimes, on April 9, featured an unnamed woman commenting on Nancy’s diet, which for that meal consisted of a slice of pie, a cupcake, cornbread, some salt and a stick of butter. Since then, Nancy has referenced earbuds, video games, Snapchat filters, apps, anonymous bots and social media anxiety. That mix is in step with Ms. Jaimes’s goals for the strip.
“Probably 99 percent of them will be about the impact of social media since that’s what’s most interesting to me,” Ms. Jaimes wrote in response to questions sent by email. “I don’t feel a major obligation to keep Nancy’s behavior like that of a real elementary schooler. Girlfriend’s like 80 years old.”
In the first paragraph, the writer introduces the comic strip character Nancy as the eternally cherubic elementary schoolgirl who made her newspaper comic strip debut in 1933. Eternally means forever, and cherubic means like a cherub, or a baby angel. In America, children go to elementary school for their first four to eight years of schooling. So an eternally cherubic elementary schoolgirl just means a cute little girl in school who never gets older. To make a debut means to do something for the first time, so the first time people saw the Nancy comic strip was in 1933. Next, we learn that this comic strip has a new artist drawing it, and we see the phrase to chronicle her exploits. To chronicle something means to describe it and exploits are exciting actions, so this new artist is going to continue describing the exciting life of this character for us.
In the second paragraph, we learn about the story in the first strip by the new artist. It shows what Nancy likes to eat, but the other strips since then have been about new topics in technology, like earbuds, video games, Snapchat filters, apps, anonymous bots and social media anxiety. That mix, or that group of topics, is in step with Ms. Jaimes’s goals for the strip. We use the phrase in step to mean one thing goes well with something else.
In the third paragraph, we learn that the impact (which means effect) of social media is what Ms. Jaimes is most interested in, so it is logical that most of her comics (99 percent / 99%) will be about this topic. She says she doesn’t feel a major obligation to keep Nancy’s behavior like that of a real elementary schooler. An obligation is something you must do, so she is saying that just because the character is an elementary schoolgirl doesn’t mean the comic strip has to be about elementary school topics. In the last sentence, she says “Girlfriend’s like 80 years old.” Girlfriend is a slang way to talk about a girl or woman that you know or are friends with. She’s making a joke that since this comic strip and the character Nancy are 85 years old, she can write about some more adult topics.
Learning useful phrases and slang that relates to your medium can really improve your reading, writing, listening, and speaking. A good language coach can help you to write and speak in a more complex and interesting way. This will let you share your work more naturally and make it easier for others to understand you.
At Artglish, we help artists and designers to describe their work with the best vocabulary and language possible. Every Thursday we study reviews and articles to share useful words and phrases to help you in this quest. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer, click here to get exclusive content, or check out our Courses page.
I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.
To read the original article, written by George Gene Gustines for the New York Times on April 23, 2018, click the link below: