Fun_People Archive
6 May
Cartoonics Marches On

Date: Sat,  6 May 95 02:30:27 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Cartoonics Marches On

[Here's an old Fun_People posting (1992) on Cartoonics and the results of some
more recent research into the causes of Cartoonics... -psl] 

To: fun_people
Subject: The Ten Laws of Cartoonics

Forwarded-by: <>
Forwarded-by: Marvin Dunn <mdunn>
Forwarded-by: <>

                        Cartoon Laws of Physics

Cartoon Law I
Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its

Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland.  He loiters
in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down.  At
this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes

Cartoon Law II
Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter
intervenes suddenly.

Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters
are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an
outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely.  Sir Isaac
Newton called this sudden termination of motion the stooge's surcease.

Cartoon Law III
Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming
to its perimeter.

Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the specialty
of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who
are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a
house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole.  The threat of skunks or
matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.

Cartoon Law IV
The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or
equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral
down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.

Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to capture it
inevitably unsuccessful.

Cartoon Law V
All principles of gravity are negated by fear.

Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them
directly away from the earth's surface.  A spooky noise or an adversary's
signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a
chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole.  The feet of a
character who is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never
touch the ground, especially when in flight.

Cartoon Law VI
As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.

This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a
character's head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation
at several places simultaneously.  This effect is common as well among
bodies that are spinning or being throttled.  A `wacky' character has the
option of self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet
off walls to achieve the velocity required.

Cartoon Law VII
Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel
entrances; others cannot.

This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it
is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an
opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space.  The
painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the
painting.  This is ultimately a problem of art, not of science.

Cartoon Law VIII
Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent.

Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives
might comfortably afford.  They can be decimated, spliced, splayed,
accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be
destroyed.  After a few moments of blinking self pity, they reinflate,
elongate, snap back, or solidify.

Corollary:  A cat will assume the shape of its container.

Cartoon Law IX
Everything falls faster than an anvil.

Cartoon Law X
For every vengeance there is an equal and opposite revengeance.

This is the one law of animated cartoon motion that also applies to the
physical world at large.  For that reason, we need the relief of watching
it happen to a duck instead.

Cartoon Law Amendment A
A sharp object will always propel a character upward.

When poked (usually in the buttocks) with a sharp object (usually a pin),
a character will defy gravity by shooting straight up, with great

Cartoon Law Amendment B
The laws of object permanence are nullified for "cool" characters.

Characters who are intended to be "cool" can make previously nonexistent
objects appear from behind their backs at will.  For instance, the Road
Runner can materialize signs to express himself without speaking.

Cartoon Law Amendment C
Explosive weapons cannot cause fatal injuries.

They merely turn characters temporarily black and smoky.

Cartoon Law Amendment D
Gravity is transmitted by slow-moving waves of large wavelengths.

Their operation can be witnessed by observing the behavior of a canine
suspended over a large vertical drop.  Its feet will begin to fall first,
causing its legs to stretch.  As the wave reaches its torso, that part
will begin to fall, causing the neck to stretch.  As the head begins to
fall, tension is released and the canine will resume its regular
proportions until such time as it strikes the ground.

Cartoon Law Amendment E
Dynamite is spontaneously generated in "C-spaces" (spaces in which
cartoon laws hold).

The process is analogous to steady-state theories of the universe which
postulated that the tensions involved in maintaining a space would cause
the creation of hydrogen from nothing.  Dynamite quanta are quite large
(stick sized) and unstable (lit).  Such quanta are attracted to psychic
forces generated by feelings of distress in "cool" characters (see
Amendment B, which may be a special case of this law), who are able to
use said quanta to their advantage.  One may imagine C-spaces where all
matter and energy result from primal masses of dynamite exploding.  A big
bang indeed.

[Shortly after this posting I received the following suggestion... -psl]

From: Phil Karn <>
Subject: Laws of cartoon physics

Peter, have you considered sending them to Chuck Jones, the WB director
who invented the Road Runner and Coyote, among other things? I'm sure
he would find them quite amusing.

[Recently, this came to light.  -psl]

Forwarded-by: (Lani Herrmann)
Subject: More on Mr Coyote (fwd)
Forwarded-by: Mark Witteman <>
Forwarded-by: Don Macnaughtan <>
From: Kent Peterson <>

Jen found this gem in the Autobiography of Chuck Young, the creator of the
Road Runner cartoons.

"Rules that we obeyed in the Coyote-Road Runner Series:"

1. The Road Runner cannot harm the coyote exept by going "Beep Beep!"

2. No outside force can harm the Coyote-only his own ineptitude or the failure
of the ACME products.

3. The Coyote could stop anytime- IF he were not a fanatic.  "A fanatic is one
who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim" -George Santayana

4. No dialogue ever, except "Beep Beep!"

5. The road Runner must stay on the road-otherwise, logically, he would not be
called Road Runner.

6. All Action must be confined to the natural environment of the  two
characters-the Southwest American desert.

7. All material, tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained
from the ACME Corporation.

8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote's greatest enemy.

9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures

I really like #3. Make you think of any or all Republicans?


[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []