Whiz Comics

In the 1940’s certain things were taboo and could not be discussed in polite society; subjects like bodily functions, sexual relations, and nuclear proliferation were all forbidden topics, particularly when dealing with children. However, there was one place children could turn to in order to learn about the sometimes harsh realities of life - comic books. at that period comic books were far more daring and often exposed children to the seedy underbelly of so-called "civilized society." But it wasn't all blood and gore, there were also positive role models and educational comics that helped make the kids who read them into worldly and well-adjusted adults.

One relatively unknown example of these educational comics is Whiz Comics, best known for introducing Captain Marvel. They specialized in what was called "Commiseration Comics," which focused on powerful superheroes who nonetheless suffered from problems the kids could relate to. Thus, there were characters like Spy Smasher who killed thousands of Nazis but was afraid to talk to girls, Scoop Smith, a crime-fighting news reporter with a horrible stutter, and Ibis the Invincible, who could conquer everything except the multiplication table.

The biggest star was, of course, Captain Marvel, whose own problem served as the namesake for Whiz Comics, for the brave captain suffered from chronic urinary incontinence (A.K.A "Bedwetting," "Pissing your Pants," "Leaky Lizard," "Drippy Dong," and "The Faulty Lemonade Faucet") as you can see from the following comic book covers:

Captain Marvel often pees himself while performing incredible feats of strength

Captain Marvel Fighting Germans. Note the obvious metaphor of the twisted canon

In later issues writers introduced a young, relateable sidekick for Captain Marvel, Yan Pipi.

Unfortunately, in 1952, following a decline in the comics industry, Whiz Comics ceased publication, and their uplifting characters were lost for whole generations of awkward, insecure, and socially-inept children. When DC comics licensed and reintroduced Captain Marvel in 1972, they gradually phased out his urinary incontinence, which was resolved through extensive hypnotherapy.

The Golden Age of Cocktails

The 1920’s are widely considered to be The Golden Age of Cocktails. Due to Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933 and made the sale of alcoholic beverages illegal, most available spirits were manufactured illicitly and amateurishly, and as a result were of questionable quality. Thus, many bartenders came up with the idea of mixing these fluids with more palatable liquids in an attempt to create a drink that is both potent and potable. These beverages were served at establishments called speakeasies, and were often given original and whimsical names like The Hanky Panky, Satan’s Whiskers, and The Monkey Gland.

One particularly fashionable speakeasy in Chicago’s woodworking district, The Workbench, was noted for inventing cocktails named for woodworking tools such as the still popular Screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) and Gimlet (vodka or gin with lime juice), and the somewhat less popular C Clamp (whiskey and clam juice), Fretsaw (gin and chicken stock), Spokeshave (rum and varnish), Bark Spud (turpentine and vodka, garnished with a potato peel), and Chisel (vodka and shellac).

This establishment is also the first place known to use a jigger – a now common bartending tool used to measure liquor which is equal to 1.5 fluid ounces (about 44 ml) – whose name came from the Sharpening Jig, or "jigger," since it was said to be roughly equivalent to the amount of blood lost by someone who gets his finger caught in a such a device.


We here at Cycloped consider ourselves to be benevolent arbiters of knowledge, and though we primarily function as an encyclopedic addendum and correctum, we often find ourselves inundated with questions of a more definitional or dictionarial nature. Therefore, we have decided to address these desperate pleas and earnest appeals by occasionally presenting a list of words that have been sent to us, along with their accurate and incontrovertible definitions. The first such list is posted below; if you have also come across words whose common definitions strike you as wrongheaded, or terms that are not even broached by popular sources, please feel free to post them in the comments, and we will address them anon.

  • Ausgezeichnet – a fishing net designed to capture Ausgezeichs (a.k.a. “Austrian drowning fish”)
  • Barrister – a barbed banister
  • Benthos – the fifth musketeer
  • Cete – to give up one’s rights or position in exchange for all the tea in China
  • Distichous – a person with two moustaches
  • Exergue – a vestigial external tongue
  • Fraktur – a frankfurter for people opposed to fur
  • Gravid – covered in gravy
  • Hypocorism – a doctrine promoting the appointment of hippopotami to all senior governmental positions
  • Invidious – very insidious

  • Jacal – a French jackal
  • Kohl – half a kohlrabi
  • Legatee – a goatee grown on one’s leg, usually around the knee
  • Op/Ed – a transsexual talking horse
  • Quinate – to impregnate someone with quintuplets
  • Rebus – one of the founders of Rome
  • Suint – a suit made out of lint
  • Uxorious – ubiquitously luxurious
  • Valgus – contraction of “Vulgar Gus”, a derogatory term commonly used around Portland, Oregon
  • Witenagemot - a German thingamabob


The concept of ostracizing, or ostracism, is yet another victim of the ossifying tendencies of overzealous linguists, who have ostentatiously traced its ostensible roots to the Greek ostrakismos, derived from ostraka, or potsherds.
Ostrakismos was a procedure used in the Athenian democracy, by which any citizen of the city-state could be expelled for a period of ten years, for reasons as varied as thievery, bestiality, excessive use of the word coccyx, poor penmanship, and halitosis. The potsherds referenced in the word were used as a kind of secret ballot, on which all of the ancient Athenians could record a vote of “yay” or “nay” regarding the expulsion, though some who did not wish their opinions to remain secret had the option of throwing their potsherd directly at the person facing expulsion. This was known as a “strong yay.”

However, our current usage of the word ostracize to denote the exclusion of a person from society has a much more recent past, easily traceable to A. J. Mounteney Jephson (1859-1908) British explorer, adventurer, and plundering enthusiast. In his written accounts of his travels to Africa Jepshon describes the fascinating customs and habits of several Sahel tribes. These papers have a tremendous anthropological significance, particularly since almost all of the tribes described were wiped out shortly after the expedition’s departure, due to the sleeping sickness epidemic it had introduced into their territories.

According to Jephson’s account, one custom he had observed among several tribes involved an individual who had brought shame to his family, who was ceremoniously placed upon an ostrich and cast out into the desert. In cases where a whole family brought shame to the village, a special cart was constructed and attached to the ostrich, thus allowing the whole family to be, as Jephson put it, ostrich-ized. This custom appealed to Jephson greatly, and he wrote about it at length, even going so far as to suggest that it would be “an appropriate and befitting solution to the pressing issue of what is to be done with Gilbert and Sullivan, and others of their ilk.” When he returned to Europe he even attempted to start an ostrich-cart taxi service, but his business model soon collapsed with the advent of the horseless carriage.

Jephson’s expedition diary sold well and made the terms ostrichized and to ostrichize quite popular; in transitioning from British to American English the term was simplified into ostracize, which is how we recognize the word today.