Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cartoonists and Ideology

A great cartoonist or the greatEST cartoonist? In a long, fawning profile in the generally avoidable Washington Post Magazine, humorist Gene Weingarten dubs him “America's greatest living satirist, mentioned in the same breath as Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.” He also describes Trudeau as missing his stride in the Clinton years, only to regain it once fellow Yalie GWB took over. Trudeau is undeniably one of the best reads in the comic pages--page 3 of the Style section of the Post—with Candorville coming close as a thoughtful and funny strip that is developing quite well. Why is it that liberal cartoonists are funnier than the conservative ones?

For one, it may just be my biases (but then again, there are plenty of “liberal” comic strips I find insufferable, Non Sequitur’s occasional rambling detours into liberal musings being a prominent example). But then again, I have found it hard to find a single conservative comic strip that even merits a regular read.

Let’s take two of the most prominent ones:

One of the early ones was Mallard Fillmore, a strip about a conservative journalist who happens to be a duck. During the Clinton years, the cartoonist Bruce Tinsley, picked up every canard he could find and put it in his strip. As the Wikipedia entry for the strip notes, even in the post-2001 period, the strip has mocked Clinton more than Bush. A recent hilarious strip (September 2, 2006) in its entirety: “Liberal… n. someone who is certain that Mel Gibson is Anti-Semitic… and the United Nations isn’t.”

A more recent strip, Prickly City, consisting of a libertarian girl and a coyote, treads the same path. In early February 2005, the Chicago Tribune pulled the strip one day for an ad hominem attack on Teddy Kennedy (see this for another, tamer attack…). And its sterling respect for democratic rights right before the 2004 elections here. Blog Shrubville tracks Scott Stantis’ comic adventures.

No need to devote any space to Johnny Hart’s insane “conservative” and fundamentalist viewpoints in his comic B.C.. Just check out his strips the week of October 9, 2006, and see what you think.

I am willing to be educated—are there any good right-wing comic strips around? [And I don’t mean editorial cartoons, as there are plenty of good ones around; Daryl Cagle does a pretty good job of compiling them.] And if not, why not?

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