Original "magic happens here" cartoon
May 9, 2014 1:16 PM   Subscribe

What is the original cartoon with "magic happens here" in the middle of a complex diagram?

Years ago I saw a cartoon in which two scientists (I think) stand at a chalkboard that's covered in lines and shapes and symbols. In the center is a cloud, in which is written "Magic happens here."

It may be a "Far Side" cartoon, but Gary Larson has labored mightily to get those removed from the Internet. (WTH, Gary?) I am slightly less inclined to think that it may have been a New Yorker cartoon.

It's not this one, where the punchline is "…a miracle happens."

Thanks for any hints -- or even confirmation that you remember it, too!
posted by wenestvedt to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Any chance you're thinking of the underpants gnomes from South Park?
posted by jbickers at 1:26 PM on May 9, 2014

This does sound familiar, but the two places my brain places that phrase are either in a Larsen cartoon with cats/dogs in lab coats (and that may be the power of suggestion) or in a Life in Hell book from the early 90s. #2 Sounds hopeful because Browning did a lot of big full page charts like you're talking about. Good news is those are all over the internet. Try and look for stuff that's in "Childhood is Hell"...

Good luck!
posted by theweasel at 2:34 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it's "Then a miracle occurs", which should help with your search. Here's the first Google hit for that phrase.
posted by rivenwanderer at 2:35 PM on May 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, all the instances I've seen are derived from that Harris cartoon rivenwanderer linked to.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:49 PM on May 9, 2014

Response by poster: I am aware of the "miracles" cartoon (see the "this one" link in my question), but it's definitely not that. In fact that cartoon was new to me when I went looking this week, but I have been saying "magic happens here" in bad whiteboard sessions for years.

theweasel, there's a chance it is Life in Hell: I have a lot of those books. Thanks for the reminder! And if it really is from The Far Side -- well, I have those books, too.

Thanks, all -- keep the answers coming!
posted by wenestvedt at 3:13 PM on May 9, 2014

Response by poster: (Oh, God, no, not the Underpants Gnomes -- but that is in the same spirit!)
posted by wenestvedt at 3:13 PM on May 9, 2014

Oh god, Groening not Browning. Autocorrect is messing with me...
posted by theweasel at 3:18 PM on May 9, 2014

The S. Harris "then a miracle occurs" cartoon appeared in the November-December 1977 issue of American Scientist so it's reasonably likely that the "magic happens" source is a derivative.

...which is not super-helpful, but at least it can provide a lower bound on the date range for your search, assuming that you can recall when you started using the "magic happens" line and use it as an upper bound?
posted by aramaic at 6:01 PM on May 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I seem to recall it in maybe the mid- to late 1990s, about when the first Internet Bubble was starting to swell. (Imagine why it made such an impression on me…)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:52 PM on May 9, 2014

I don't know where you first saw it, but I owned a book in the late 70s that contained the S. Harris cartoon, and saw it posted on office doors at my tech college throughout the 80s. I'd bet money that it's the source for all the others.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:19 PM on May 10, 2014

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