Cartoons sometimes present themselves and you don’t really know why or how or if they’re even funny. This was one of those.
It popped into my head pretty much fully formed, but it was so odd that I ran it past my wife at dinner. I performed it with heavy accenting on the “chine” part of “machine” and she laughed and liked it a lot.
But, like the good cartoon editor she is, she asked, “How are you going to get that inflection across?”
She was right. That little oomph at the end of “machine” helped the cartoon a lot. I tried writing “ma-CHINE,” “ma-chine” and even “ma-sheeeen” before I landed on the simpler overall italics.
It’s hard to know if people will read it the way I heard it, but I think it still works.