Thursday, February 03, 2005

Comic Dictionary - Cousin Larry trick

If you ever watched the show "Perfect Strangers," it involved two cousins, one a urban man named Larry, and the other, a foreigner named Balki.

Larry was the kind of guy who was always trying to take the easy way out, to say stuff like "but EVERYbody does it, so it's okay!" and always trying to take short cuts and never wanting to own up to his mistakes.

Balki, though, was the innocent and he always had to be Cousin Larry's conscience.

Therefore, when used in reference to discussing comics, a "Cousin Larry trick" is when a creator does something that you think was underhanded.

The term comes from Mike Nelson's review of "Wild Things," and his example of a Cousin Larry trick is the specific example that I personally use most of the time, and that is that the producers of Wild Things set out to make a thriller, and when people mocked it for being a poor thriller, they attempted to claim that it wasn't a bad thriller, but a good comedy.

That's a Cousin Larry trick.

And you'll see it used in comics a lot.

Chuck Austen is currently using a Cousin Larry trick with his independent series, Worldwatch. It is terrible exploitative comics with awful dialogue and characterization, but if you point that out, you're told "it's SUPPOSED to be like that!"

Total Cousin Larry trick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like what I refer to as "The Postmodern Nuremberg Defense" (PND), which is, "well, you just didn't get the joke." This is used anytime anything is received less than enthusiastically, at which point the item in question is reinvented as a delicious parody, skewering whatever it originally was, and those who didn't realize that all along are intended to feel shame at their lack of awareness. Even if the original item was supposed to be funny and wasn't, the PND can be used to turn it into witti "anti-humor" which is deftly examining and wittily deconstructing our traditional ideas of humor blah blah blah.

The PND usually reinvents itself as satire, but that's not its only trick. The point is, the reason you didn't like whatever it was is because you didn't get it. Not because it was bad at what it set out to do.

Dave Lartigue

2/03/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I call it "The Showgirls Doctrine," for obvious reasons.

2/03/2005 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Anyone know of any other good Cousin Larry tricks that you have seen?

2/03/2005 04:56:00 PM  

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