Julie Rado Design

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Visual Vocabulary: Quimp

Quimp: A graphic element, used within maledicta balloons in comics to represent obscenities, curses and swearing, resembling the planet Saturn. As in, "The cartoonist showed the pain of his character's stubbed toe with a pound sign, an at sign, a quimp, a skull and an exclamation point, because he couldn't use real obscenities."

Visual Vocabulary: quimp, Julie Rado Design

I ran into the word quimp by stubbing my toe on it. No, that's not true. I did discover it by accident, though: when we were vacationing in the Isle of Man, there was a particularly cutthroat game of Upwords going on in our cottage one evening. (Actually, they were all pretty cutthroat.) I forget what word it was, but I was asked to look up a "q-u-i-something something" word to confirm that it was, in fact, a word, and that's when I accidentally found quimp. I thought it was such a strange and wonderful thing that the random curse icons had specific names that I filed it away for future illustration. I googled around unsuccessfully for an example of a quimp, so I just drew this—and then today, I ran across a Fast Company article about Quimps, Plewds, and Grawlixes. There is a whole lexicon to comic strips that we never knew about!

Visual Vocabulary is a project I created for myself in which I attempt to sear new words into my memory by illustrating them. You can see all of them here, and read more about the process behind them here.