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The Lexicon of Comicana is a book that was written in 1980 by American cartoonist w:Mort Walker. It was intended as a tongue-in-cheek look at the devices cartoonists utilize in their craft. In it, Walker invented an international set of symbols called Symbolia after researching cartoons around the world. In 1964, Walker had written an article called "Let's Get Down to Grawlixes," a satirical piece for the w:National Cartoonists Society. Walker used terms such as grawlixes for his own amusement, but they soon began to catch on and acquired an unexpected validity. The Lexicon was written in response to this fact.

The names he invented for them sometimes appear in dictionaries and serve as convenient terminology occasionally used by cartoonists. A 2001 gallery showing of comic- and street-influenced art in San Francisco, for example, was called "Plewds! Squeans! and Spurls!" [1]

Some definitions[edit]

plewds Google plewd (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Flying sweat droplets that appear around a character's head when working hard or stressed.
    • 2007, Anita Y. Wonder, Bloodstain pattern evidence: objective approaches and case applications‎, page 326:
      The first thing usually taught in bloodstain pattern workshops is that the plewd is not an accurate depiction of blood behavior
    • 2003 September 11, <>, “where did &*#$ come from?”, in rec.arts.comics.strips| - 19 posts - 14 authors - Last post:, Usenet[url]:
      Now add just *one* little plewd coming off the head and, poof, that's one nervous little guy

briffits Google briffit (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Clouds of dust that hang in the spot where a swiftly departing character or object was previously standing.

squeans Google squean (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Little starbursts or circles that signify intoxication, dizziness, or sickness.

emanata Google emanata (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Lines drawn around the head to indicate shock or surprise.

grawlixes Google grawlix (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Typographical symbols standing for profanities, which appear in dialogue balloons in the place of actual dialogue.

indotherm Google indotherm (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Wavy, rising lines used to represent steam or heat on hot objects

wafteron Google wafteron (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Wavy, rising lines found over a hot apple pie or something else strong smelling

agitrons Google agitron (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Wiggly lines around an object that is shaking

blurgits Google blurgit (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Curved lines preceding or trailing after a character's moving limbs

swalloops Google swallop (BooksGroupsScholar)\

  1. Curved lines preceding or trailing after a character's moving limbs

hites Google hite (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Horizontal straight lines trailing after something moving with great speed, or indicating reflectivity (puddle, glass, mirror). Likewise, up-hites would be lines above an object falling.

lucaflect Google lucaflect (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. A shiny spot on a surface of something

dites Google dite (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Diagonal, straight lines drawn across something flat, clear, and reflective, such as windows and mirrors.

solrads Google solrad (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Radiating lines drawn from something luminous like a lightbulb or the sun.

vites Google vite (BooksGroupsScholar)

  1. Vertical straight lines indicating reflectivity (compare dites, hites).

Other Terms[edit]

Additional Symbolia terms include

A Gallery of Symbolia[edit]



  • Wordwizard Clubhouse
  • Steve Edgell, Brad! Brooks, Tim Pilcher, The Complete Cartooning Course (London: Barron’s, 2001), 50-1.


  • 1992, The Ohio review, number 48-50‎, page 74:
    What would this world be like without a dog named Spike with his thorny collar, behind him a cloud of briffit, and staggeration across the lucaflects and cross-hatching of its vicious paws