The Abecedary

The Abecedary is an ongoing comic that explores the tension between word and image, and the gaps between definition and usage. Each comic features a word, it's definition, and a sample quotation from the Oxford English Dictionary. The illustration gives context to the quote and the connotation of the word, by collapsing multiple definitions, subverting denotation, and eliding historical and modern meanings.

The Abecedary can be seen at


B. n. 1. An adherent of the Situationist International or of situationism.

"For the situationists, the bureaucratic system of industrial society has considerably increased the sum total of the exploitation and repression of man… The tremendous development of science and technology has led to the individual being completely taken over by the system; the individual is no more than a commodity‥manipulated by the specialists in cultural repression: artists, psychiatrists,.. sociologists and ‘experts’ of all kinds. To fight against a ‘spectacular’ society, in which everything is treated as a commodity and in which creative energy spends itself in the fabrication of pseudo-needs, one must attack on all fronts simultaneously."
R. Gombin in Apter & Joll, Anarchism Today 1971


myomancy - Divination by the movements of mice.

"Some authors hold myomancy to be one of the most ancient kinds of divination; and think it is on this account that Isaiah lxvi 17 reckons mice among the abominable things of the idolater."

As the quotation source goes on to say, Isaiah 66:17 is about eating vermin, rather than mouse magic. Isaiah also says the Lord will arrive in a chariot of whirlwinds and rebuke his enemies with fire. With The Abecedary, I am trying to collapse definitions, elide historical and modern meanings, and play with the context of the quotations. The practice of myomancy/myophagy and the wrath of God is depicted as a Byzantine fresco. This artifact is removed from its original location to an exhibit, the quotation is the museum plaque. 


I.1. Astr. a. The more condensed portion of the head of a comet.

"The brighter part of the comet is called the head, or coma, and sometimes the head contains a brighter portion still, called the nucleus."
Norman Lockyer, Elementary Lessons in Astronomy, 1868

In November of 2014, the European Space Agency robotic lander, Philae, attempted a soft landing on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The craft bounced off the comet, the landing gear malfunctioned, and the lander ended up in the shade, unable to receive power from its solar panels. However, Philae was able to record and transmit data for about a day before shutting down. This comic is based on photos taken of the comet by the lander. In mid-June of this year, as comet 67P continued to approach the sun, Philae began to intermittently receive and transmit signals.