Thursday, April 14, 2005


Conservative comics

One area where I think there is some bias in our local paper is in its comics selection. We now have four comics in the paper with an overtly conservative political agenda - Mallard Fillmore, Prickly City, Nacho Guarache and B.C. - while there is only one comic with an overtly liberal political agenda - Doonesbury.

I happen to be a big fan of Nacho Guarache, despite its conservative leanings, and think it is an excellent and well-done strip. I like that it is a locally-based comic strip and the fact that it has not been picked up for syndication to other papers around the nation is a real shame.

Instead, the syndicates pick up dreck like Mallard Fillmore and Prickly City. Mallard is a crudely drawn gag strip that has no character development and serves only to take cheap political shots at liberal "strawmen." The strip’s modus operandi is not unlike that of your typical junior high school bully and the intellectual level of its arguments rarely even rise to that level.
Mallard typically features grotesque caricatures of famous liberals with their noses and/or chins extending off the page, oversized buck teeth sticking out in all directions and eyes-crossed to denote stupidity. When he is not taking cheap shots at Bill or Hillary Clinton, John Kerry or Barbara Streisand, he makes up liberal strawmen to serve as the butt-end of his attacks.

What is worse, however, is that the assertions made in the strip are often times blatantly false. But for some reason newspapers around the country continue to run the strips everyday without correction. For example, last year the strip did a series lampooning comedian and liberal activist Janeanne Garafolo because she had at one time promised to apologize to President Bush if weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. The strip showed Mallard the duck waiting impatiently in front of the White House for Garafolo to show up to make her apology - the implication being that the WMDs had already been found. Of course, no WMDs have been found and there has been no retraction from the cartoonist who simply changed the subject and went back to attacking the Clintons once again.

Compare this with the smartly-drawn Doonesbury strip which has had enormous character development over the years combined with engaging and intelligent storylines that don’t strive to score political points everyday. Doonesbury even provides a bevy of sympathetic conservative characters such as B.D. who has fought in every major conflict since Vietnam and recently lost a leg during an operation in Iraq. Even Michael Doonesbury, the strip’s namesake, is a Republican, although a moderate one.

Surely, conservatives can come up with something better than the embarrassingly bad Mallard Fillmore to pair up with Doonesbury.

Then there is Prickly City, a strip which features a little girl and a young coyote who constantly make right-wing observations and take pot-shots at Democrats and liberals. While somewhat better than Mallard Fillmore, it is still rather crudely drawn and likes to play fast and loose with the facts.

Finally, there is B.C., Johnny Hart’s long-running strip about prehistoric cavemen which in recent years has been turned into a forum for his far-right evangelical Christian views. He regularly uses the strip to slam liberals, Democrats, feminists, public education and much more. His political statements can be every bit as blunt and incendiary as anything in Mallard Fillmore.

I’m not suggesting that the SAEN get rid of any of these strips. Instead, I would like to see them add a couple more liberal strips for balance. Some obvious suggestions would be The Boondocks and La Cucaracha.
it looks like the only place that the paper thinks conservatives belong in on the funny pages. Typical liberal arrogance.
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