USA Today ran an article not too long ago about Berkeley Breathed’s new collection, Opus: 25 years of His Sunday Best in which the cartoonist complains to reporter Kathy Balog that “it’s hard to push the envelope anymore. If Bloom County were starting now, I could never get away with what I did then. I’m getting my hand slapped more than I ever was in the ’80s. It’s a genre that doesn’t want to get shook up.”
Is he right? Are newspapers and syndicates too worried about (gasp!) offending someone that they’ve effectively stifled the funny pages?
I’ve been thinking lately about breaking out of the normal comic strip niceties and trying to really create something more Adult Swim in tone and irreverence. Possibly even some casual swearing!
Is there room for something new and, dare I say it, adult in the comics? Whatcha think?
3 thoughts on “Do Comics Strips Need Shaking Up?”
At the November 9th Molloy College Art Gallery cartoon panel, I told a story about a cartoon of mine that I drew for the NY Daily News. The no smoking rules had just passed in NYC, so I drew the blind-folded guy in front of the firing squad. (There is a rough here: http://www.heykidscomics.com/908web.jpg) It was approved and scheduled to run in the paper. And then I got a call. Someone, another editor at the paper, had seen the drawing. Those soldiers, it was decided, looked a little too much like Iraqi soldiers. They killed the cartoon. Granted, the paper paid for it. That was the right thing to do. When I drew it I was thinking of old movies and the firing squad cartoons they used to do in Mad magazine. A similar story: there were news stories about how fat Americans tend to own fat pets. Again, I submitted some ideas and this one was approved: http://www.heykidscomics.com/1016web.jpg But I was told that they couldn't show an overweight person who is also a slob. Fat people can be clean, nice people. Let's be nice to the fat people. So they ran a redrawn version: http://www.heykidscomics.com/1016aweb.jpg These are little stories, about some minor hand-wringing at a big paper. Today, the NY Daily News does not run local cartoons by NYC cartoonists. If there was a daily strip with real meat on it, a real point of view — that would be something. All we cartoonists can do is the best work we know how to do. But newspapers may not be the forum for it.
Too bad, Mike. I like the first fat kid and cat better. Much more effective, I think.
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