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Quackcast 636 - The Cusscast

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, May 23, 2023

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We're talking about swearing! Swearing in comics, types of swearing, the use of swearing, causing offense, taking offense, swearing used as a term of endearment, and some history behind various types of swearing. We barely even scratch the surface! We don't swear in the Quackcast if we can help it so we're talking around and about the language without using it, though we DO swear in our Patreon vid, which is free to all patrons, even the $1 level.

Swearing can indicate a lack of maturity, it can indicate social class, it can express things like anger, fear, triumph, pain, surprise, joy, excitement, and even awe. We use it to cause a fight, to indicate how much we love a friend (very much in Australia), it's extreme language basically, it's a very blunt, simple tool in the language toolbox. If you REALLY want to cut a person deep and make them feel small then swearing is a pretty soft and floppy tool, unless you're 12 or an idiot you don't use it for that purpose.

There are so many different kinds of swearwords in all different languages. We have the common ones in English based on various taboos involving bodily excretions, sex, genitalia, and masturbation, that are quite popular all over the world due to the dominance of the language. There are more culturally specific ones about race, ethnicity, class, religion, sexuality, and sexual practices that are more individual. Not to mention the cultural based swears or pejoratives that go in and out of fashion, like “boomer” or ‘incell“ that carry a lot of rhetorical power.

Swear words go in and out of fashion- what could have been viscous in the past can be seen as almost a quaint joke today. Or what was once a harmless mundane term in the past can be seen as vile today; don’t say Poh Bear in China because their leader finds it a mortally offensive insult! Or the weird history of the terms ”arse“ and ”ass“ and how in the early 20th century ”ass“ completely switched its meaning with ”arse“. In American English ”ass“ was used as a safe, non-swearing punny, sneaky reference to ”arse“ because they're homonyms: one calling someone a donkey and the other a bottom, but for some weird reason the safe alternative just appropriated the entire meaning it was sneakily alluding to… Which was bad for language in general because it reduced the ways you can use the term as well causing a lot of modern people to misunderstand the use of ”ass" in historical literature.

How do you use swearing in your comic or reality? Do you have a favourite term or phrase that's your go-to? Do you avoid swearing and have a whole armoury of replacement words?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Mercury Virus - Light, retro keyboards, sounding very Moogy… jazzy and quiet. They’re offset by heavier notes from an electric bass guitar, loosely thrumbing and strumming along, promising danger, action and violence, while the keys are just doing business as usual.

Topics and shownotes


Featured comic:
Captain Gold and the Robotrons -

Featured music:
Mercury Virus - - by Mercuryviruscomic, rated E.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Ozoneocean -
Kawaiidaigakusei -
Banes -
Tantz Aerine -

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Ozoneocean at 6:35PM, May 24, 2023

@PaulEberhardt - hahaha! It's also funny that the F-word is a foreign borrowed word but comes from Germanic origins like the Danish language.

Ozoneocean at 6:06PM, May 24, 2023

@mercuryviruscomic Gunwallace will be pleased about that! He'll certainly give you one if you ask :D --->

PaulEberhardt at 6:59AM, May 24, 2023

Just stumbled upon something to grin and think: Some Danish people are so worried about dropping f-bombs too liberally (I'm told the f-word has been adopted into the Danish language and has lots of usages there) that someone set up an AI to monitor it in Danish media. No one did this for Germany as far as I know, and anyway I think it's overreacting, but it kind of illustrates a fun fact about swearing: Non-native speakers of any language (up to a certain experience level anyway) tend to swear more in it, because it takes a lot of time to develop a good instinct for how offensive they actually are. It's a well-studied phenomenon - no sh...! ;)

mercuryviruscomic at 5:47AM, May 24, 2023

Sweet Jesus! Gunwallace did an amazing job on the music themed for my comic! I can't say how honored I am at the thought that my comic would inspire someone to create this awesome music. As a bass player myself, the theme especially hit home with me and fits the mood of my story perfectly! I wish I could get my hands on a digital copy of this!

Ozoneocean at 7:54PM, May 23, 2023

@J_Scarbrough - the world of made up swearwords is hilarious and multifaceted ^_^ ANything can be a swearword if you frame it right: Smegging, frelling, Frack, Feck, frell and so much more. The Battlestar Galactica remake gets all the press for their very (in my eyes) pedestrian substitute swears, but I think Farescape leaned much, much harder into them: biznak, boll yotz, drannit, drelk, dren, fahrbot, fekkik, frell, Greebol, Gazitzka, harpooda, hazmot, Hezmana, Loomers, mivonks, numa, shliznat, shlock, tralk, yotz, yotza, zark, AND Zercombobs! This Scifo series was filmed in Australia so probaby why the taboo vocabulary is so extensive.

Ozoneocean at 7:42PM, May 23, 2023

@PaulEberhardt - yup pretty much my thinking too actually on all of that.

Ozoneocean at 7:39PM, May 23, 2023

@MOrgan - Yp, stick to and lean into your freedom! ^_^

Ozoneocean at 7:38PM, May 23, 2023

@dpat57 - no worries ^_^

Ozoneocean at 7:37PM, May 23, 2023

@EssayBee - hahaha, blanking out the whole thing makes you think it's a shouted skreel of invective LOL!

EssayBee at 2:58PM, May 23, 2023

X-Pletive from Fusion--a guy whose powers are activated/maintained by swearing. Since Fusion is an all-ages comic (and since Savunn generally frowns on swearing, unless it's comedically appropriate), I took a cue from Adam Warren and simply put black bars over the swear words (sort of a visual "beep," I guess you could say). Warren would only black out a few letters in the middle, but I went the extreme route of blacking out the entire word(s), since I found it even funnier to see whole sections of text completely blacked out.

dpat57 at 2:37PM, May 23, 2023

Also I dig that featured comic, it's really amazing! (lol thanks for the mention)

dpat57 at 2:36PM, May 23, 2023

I like to keep cuss words for special occasions so they make an impression or improve a joke. Like the PG movies are only allowed one use of "f*ck" -- where would you put it? meme. Frodo: All right then, keep your f*cking secrets.

MOrgan at 11:43AM, May 23, 2023

I used to try rewriting swearing in my comic, then it dawned on me that I'm writing and drawing an ADULT comic. The people who would get offended by "bad words" would be doubly offended by drawings of naked people having sex. So I've given myself permission to not change dirty words, or in some cases add them. ;-)

PaulEberhardt at 10:12AM, May 23, 2023

I like the old-school way of using speech bubbles with skulls and crossbones and explosions and whatnot (grawlix), just because it's so much fun to do them. Typical creative additions of mine are visual puns on swearwords and stuff linked to the situation. However I include some milder swearwords in the text to emphasise that it's about fun rather than censoring. Not swearing is unrealistic. Even if you were to write for children (speaking from my training and experience in teaching now) you should be aware that any kid who meets others at school will have a pretty nasty swear word vocabulary anyway and keeping everything clean too forcefully may put them off as much as your characters being too casually foul-mouthed. The words as such are less of a problem than many worried adults think. The way more important thing with children, if you really want to do the responsible thing, is never to leave any doubt that using bad language doesn't make you appear cooler.

J_Scarbrough at 8:37AM, May 23, 2023

I don't ever aim any of my work at any one specific target audience, because I've never been interested in limiting myself to one specific audience while alienating or excluding others; I feel my work should be enjoyed by anyone who wishes to seek it out, regardless of how old or young they are. However, because I know that some would automatically assume much of my work is aimed at kids (particularly my puppetry productions), I am mindful to keep the content family-friendly - even if I do get a little edgy at times, it's never so off-color that it would be inappropriate for kids. When it comes to cussing/cursing/swearing/whatever you want to call it, what I usually tend to instead of invoke the childlike whimsy of making up substition words instead as some kids would do (such as T.J. Dettweiler on RECESS making up the word "Whomps") . . . as a matter of fact, I believe it was lothar who recently pointed this out on VAMPIRE GIRL when Levana said "froggin" in place of "fuckin."

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