So cool! ¡Muy chevere!

Thanks to Philip, who sent this in and suggested a better wording for the punch line. … Which we’ll print below the cartoon image, so you have a moment to comment with your own suggestion first, if you like.

As Philip asks, Wouldn’t this be better as “Making a cool car is hot work.”?

I think we have established pretty confidently that Baldo is done in English first then translated for the Spanish edition; so missing the pun-portunity in the English is not likely explained as translation problem from the Spanish original . Nonetheless, for whatever light it may shed, here is the Spanish version:


  1. I agree with Carl, but that evaluation works in both directions, and therefore cannot serve as proof about the direction of the translation. While do I agree that there have been “Baldo” strips that seemed to indicate priority of the English version, I think I’ve seen a few cases in which the opposite direction seemed more likely. Perhaps it could be possible that the (bilingual?) authors work in both languages simultaneously.

    Either way, the most important conclusion is that Philip nailed it: the authors missed a golden opportunity when they did not call it “…hot work” (or rather “…trabajo caliente“.

  2. I don’t know Spanish, but the car he is working on is a Chevy and it seems the Spanish word is “chévere.” Is that the pun they were focused on?

  3. Confirmation from Google Translate on a couple of those words. (When I first saw the Spanish comic, I thought from my limited classroom Spanish that duro only meant hard in the physical sense used for a material or substance, the opposite of soft. But there is confirmation that it can be used for difficult, as here.)

  4. I think the joke is that he did one little bit of work – drilled a hole, for whatever reason – and decided it was already time to take a break. Very, very hard, that 2 minutes of work he just did.

  5. “LO N CHILL” — Ah, I thought an earlier or following strip illustrated “And the lower it gets, the cooler it is” with a very low-slung car and the drivers practically reclining. But can’t find it — maybe it was just a comment??

    However – the one just before is probably meant to fit as a short continuity sequence —

    Also, though indeed all he does is affix the plate, it’s not minimizing the work – he does the whole prep routine, donning coveralls and jacking up the rear, when he could in theory just sit down in the driveway and work on it without as much pageantry.

  6. There was a similar translation issue for today’s.

    This was working off the two meanings of “mad”, as crazy or angry. In comments it’s reported:

    In the Spanish version she says “sensible” and “crazy.”

    So it’s a more straightforward joke.

  7. “Why does he have to jack up the car to put on a license plate?”
    Good question, of course. One sort of answer is that it makes the job easier (once the car is jacked up, that is) — the rear plate attachment area is now raised to a comfortable working height, so he doesn’t need to crouch or squat or sit on the pavement in order to reach that work point.

    Now that would be ridiculous for someone like me, say, as I don’t remember how to get at my car’s jack in the storage area under the spare tire, nor how to use it safely. But Baldo is at the garage where the coverall and tools are ready-to-hand, and where he rather enjoys tge rituals and feelings surrounding working on his car.

  8. After comparing the Sunday strips with the dailies, I’ve noticed that Baldo’s illustrator(s) have been making frequent use of an overlay technique in combination with a “fuzzy” filter, to generate a remarkably effective “3D” appearance. In the “cool car” strip, this is most visible in the first two panels: Baldo seems to be standing a good ways in “front” of the garage shown in the background artwork.†
    I had thought that they might be using “stored” material, but I have not (yet) been able to find any examples of replication, so it would seem that they draw each background, fuzz it up, and then apply the characters onto the image. I am not aware of another comic strip that does this.

    P.S. † – This has some similarity to the “green screen” technology used in TV and movies, but that has both advantages and disadvantages. I’m not all that sure whether I like it.

  9. P.P.S. Even the daily strips sometimes employ a shading halo, or interrupt the lines in the background to enhance the 3D appearance of the drawing, but this is not as unusual as the “fuzzy filter” technique in the Sunday strips.

  10. We seldom see the back of the car. A high percentage of the time it’s the front left. Example:

    There are frequently continuity issues with the car. Pertinent to this thread, usually the right rear wheel is missing and it’s on cement blocks.

    Now it’s possible that he put a wheel on, but that isn’t how it usually goes with the car, and I suspect that it’ll be back to usual next time. People in comments often want Baldo to fix it up, but he really doesn’t have the money, but more importantly it’s now a staple of the comic so that it will generate the occasional strip. No real progress will be made.

  11. A couple of decades ago I took a German on a driving tour into the countryside west of Washington, D.C., and after driving through highways, byways, and multiple towns, I was very amused to be asked: “Don’t they have junkyards in America, where people can dispose of broken-down cars?

  12. The teenager-fixes-up-a-derilict-car trope was previously mined in Zits; after a couple years getting all the mileage they could out of the broken down car on blocks, they finally let Jeremy get it running (then they broke it down again), but then they let them have it as a running (but piece of crap) vehicle. So maybe in 5 years, this Impala, too will be a smoke belching, rod-throwing, piece of running crap.

  13. It would take a big leap to get that thing running. The basic sequence was:

    Sergio (the father) surprised Baldo with this, which they would work on together and get it fixed up.
    Some time later, Baldo announced that he would pay for the repairs and they’d work on it together.
    In the ensuing years, you only see Baldo occasionally do something like attach that plate or a new steering wheel cover.
    He at one point consulted a car expert who he knows from the parts store, and it looked like might go somewhere, then no.

    The car needs, at a minimum, two or three wheels and tires and a complete front suspension assembly to get it roadworthy. That’s assuming the engine works, which we don’t know. So there’s just no way whatever pay he’s getting part-time at the shop could make a dent. In the mean time, the car sits in the weather, no doubt deteriorating. But there’s the usual comic strip passage of time where Baldo will probably be in high school forever.

    And yes, for whatever reason I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this issue over the years. Unfortunately, GoComics comments seem to be essentially impossible to search, at least that I can figure. So it’s hard to find some of these older strips.

  14. @ Brian – You may not be able to search the comments, but unlike many other strips at GoComics, the dialogue in “Baldo” has been indexed. For example, hunting for “Baldo car wheel” produces an eclectic documentation of his ongoing search for adequate transportation, including this ancient example:

  15. P.P.S. The Spanish version of that inflammatory strip reads significantly better (in “complete sentences”, even); I think it was probably the original version as written by the authors:

  16. I hadn’t tried the GC search. It worked pretty well, include turning up the first couple of Impala strips:

    As was noted in comments at the time, the artist used different models for the views. The first one is a 59, the second a 62 or something. The first looked to be in much better shape, but it could just be Baldo’s imagination on seeing it.

  17. “All he did was mount the license plate.” All he did?

    It would take Robert at least an hour to do so – and that does not include searching both in his garage wood shop and our basement – maybe even our studio for the tools to do so.

    If he could lift the car it would help Robert as he gets ill when he bends over. So either he would be sitting on a low bench or – he would have me doing it while he complains that he can’t!

  18. @ Brian – I think the shifts in model years show that the authors have been using external sources as templates for their artwork. If you compare the two strips for April 22nd and July 6th (both 2019), it is clear that the car has been copied, even down to the dirt spots:

    The strip dated 20-Jun-2020 shows a third model (the grill doesn’t match the model shown above, nor the 1959 model shown in the 20-Apr-2019 strip):

  19. I think the shifts in model years show that the authors have been using external sources as templates for their artwork.

    Oh, I don’t think there’s much doubt about that. The car looks more realistic than the Bermudez family vehicle:

  20. @ Brian – I suppose many English-speaking readers would make a connection to “phantasm”, although I think “A ghost!” would be a better translation. Nevertheless, it’s more in character for Tia Carmen to stick to Spanish, especially when under such stress.

    P.S. For the Sunday strip the day before, the artists did not bother to translate the (English) title of Gracie’s book in the Spanish version. Perhaps they assumed that Spanish readers would recognize it anyway, or maybe it would have been too much work to squeeze “El Señor de las Moscas” into the artwork:

  21. P.P.S. Or perhaps they were implying that not only can Gracie read, she can even read challenging books way above her grade level, and in English as well.

  22. P.P.P.S. … in which case the English version of the strip should have had her reading the original (Spanish) edition of “Don Quijote de la Mancha“.

  23. the artists did not bother to translate the (English) title of Gracie's book in the Spanish version. Perhaps they assumed that Spanish readers would recognize it anyway, or maybe it would have been too much work to squeeze "El Señor de las Moscas" into the artwork:

    I don’t think it even reaches the question of fitting translated text in to the artwork. They seem to almost never alter the artwork for the two language versions, thus almost always leaving text-embedded-in-artwork to be the same in both editions, even if the text would differ from one language to the other. The preponderance of English for signage and things like that (or here, a book title) was part of the argument that the English edition is original and the Spanish edition comes from translation.

    On a different question, yes, this book does seem quite advanced for Gracie’s age!

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