Going Batty

Frequently Lay Lines does have a definite joke and a punch line, but not always. The times when it doesn’t are often when she’s in the throes of a long continuing story; but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. So: does anybody see a distinct joke – or are we just going to enjoy the account of Carol’s history with bats?


  1. I think just mild enjoyment of the personal history is what is called for.

    One could also have some wry amusement that Carol is squeamish about eating a single (formerly) living breathing creature with a face and brain, yet seemingly approves of the mass murderous carnage of hundreds of little deaths associated with her hero bat hoovering up the innocent flies and moths that she has herself enticed to their doom by deploying the Great White Light with such careless abandon.

  2. Ugh, I thought the representation of the pie, as imagined by the cartoonist, as a pie with a recognizable bat in it, rather than little pieces of meat or a broth, was the joke, and googled images for fruit bat soup. It appears to be a soup with a whole bat in it.

  3. It’s really ironic that just the other day my wife was reminiscing about the bat soup she used to enjoy growing up in the PI. Married over 40 years and she had never mentioned it before. Fruit bats are fairly meaty compared to the insect eating ones and my wife says that they are tastier than chicken.

  4. FYI: twice we had a bat in the house. You solve the problem by propping open the front door and being patient. It’ll circuit the room a few times until its echolocation processes the fact that it can leave through the open door. Really not all that traumatic.

  5. PSA: If you wake up to find a bat in your room, you need to get vaccinated for rabies. Bats are the most common carrier of rabies in the US. Rabid bats may bite, and their bites can be so small and painless that you don’t wake up and never notice the wound.

    The chance of getting rabies from a particular bat may not be very high, but the consequences are severe. Symptoms don’t show up until days or months later, but once symptoms begin it’s too late to do anything. At that point, the virus has reached the brain, and the disease is untreatable and invariably fatal.

    This doesn’t mean you should be scared of bats! They don’t want to bite you. Healthy ones will avoid you and will fly away as soon as they can. But if you do get bitten, or find yourself in a situation when you might have been bitten without realizing it, you need treatment just in case.

  6. There are plenty of comic strips, like some by Linda Barry and Alison Bechdel, that don’t really have gags with punch lines but tell stories, semi-autobiographical or not.

  7. Oh indeed! I started reading Lay Lines in the midst of a v e r y long story that reminded me of “The Lathe of Heaven”.

  8. Well, thanks a whole heap! I just spent the entire afternoon reading Lay Lines from the start, and I have 7 more years worth to catch up on. Ah well, I’m retired, it’s not like I do anything useful, anyway.

  9. I suppose Carol Lay’s work isn’t for everyone. Alas, there isn’t a lot of room in mainstream publications for the relatively dark tone that characterizes her work. Wikipedia labels her “alternative” and “underground,” but I don’t know that those terms are especially helpful in this case.

    Mitch thinks of Lay as a serial artist. My exposure to her work has been different and this piece is more in line with what I expect.

    Lay is a pretty good storyteller*, though sometimes she challenges the suspension of disbelief. 🙂 Often she sets a barbed hook at the end of her tales. That might stand in for a punch line in some cases.

    Here, I don’t see a joke, setup, or punch line, and that’s OK. I’m not reading her mind, but I think that it’s probably just supposed to be a thought-provoking graphic essay, with a little hyperbole for effect in the last panel.

    *So are Barry and Bechdel, Mark. I don’t know about you, but I still miss DTWOF mightily, even after all these years.

  10. The humor in this one is just reordered. With the middle bat named “Moe” each time, of course he didn’t mind! Then, with punch line out of the way, the rest of the story is just “I remember when”

  11. I remember a Carol Lay story where this woman selected a famous artist, traveled back in time to when the artist was young and unknown, and paid him a lot of money to buy all of his paintings. She put them into storage so that she could retrieve them when they were valuable. Well, the artist took the money and retired, enjoying the simple life. He never painted anything again. And since all the paintings were in storage, nobody in the art world ever saw them, the artist never became famous, and the paintings had no market value. So, not a gag with a normal punch line. If anything, it’s an O. Henry punch line.

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.