Xs for eyes

. . . to show unconscious or dead, that is.

So, I’m watching Christmas Story for the billionth time and when Ralphie shoots the bad guys, they’re lying in a heap with Xs over their eyelids. The sudden thought popped into my head, “Where did that meme originate, anyway?”

I’m guessing comic strips since with the simple drawing style, a character with closed eyes would look more asleep rather than comatose or worse.

I’m not sure but I think it was a common newspaper cartoon (comical) method of drawing a dead person, so the movie’s writers would likely draw on a period joke to indicate “dead people as Ralphie the child would have thought of them.”

I recall from somewhere that cartoonistPeter Arnooriginated the Xs for eyes to represent drunk people.

It’d be interesting to have a whole list of conventions that kids had to figure out slowly when reading comics. I remember there were plenty that took me a while, like when charlie brown would say “sigh”, which I figured was pronounced like siggg. Or “tsk-tsk”.

I believe Japanese manga are chock full of these kinds of visual codes, such as people’s heads suddenly being tiny or everyone drawn as children or in a much cruder cartoon style just for one frame or various kinds of icons circling in the air. I don’t know what any of them mean though.

Oh, I know at least a couple of those.

A big blue drop, often on the back of the head: They’re nervous or embarrassed about something.

Crosshatch (sort of # but disconnected) on the forehead: They’re angry about something (pulsing veins).

Nosebleed: They’re having a sexual thoughts.

A lot of these have been carried over to anime.