The Riff: When a Hurricane Hits the Comics
Forget the hurricane zone. We've just entered "The Twilight Zone."
Weeks and weeks ago, before Hurricane Gustav was upon us, the cartoonist Paul Gilligan wrote the current story-line for "Pooch Cafe," in which a hurricane is bearing down on Chazz, Carmen, Poncho and the gang. Last week, the whole brood made storm preparations; this week, the silliness continues. Which brings up a question:
What is a cartoonist, a syndicate or an editor to do when real life and cartoon fiction converge with a Category-5 eeriness?
Topical strips more often present this sort of issue -- especially when real people are name-checked. What seemed hilarious on the drawing board can seem in wildly bad taste should something tragic befall any of those real people before paper hits doorstep. (And having created a topical strip, I speak from hang-wringing experience: Reality, on occasion, can eerily mirror your fiction.)
So with Gustav hitting the Gulf, what would you do? It's time to play: "You Be the Editor."
As a syndicate editor, would you have asked the creator to draw "option" strips for newspapers?
And as an a newspaper editor, would you have pulled "Pooch" now because it invoked a hurricane?
What say you?
It's said the funniest material often comes from real life. Sometimes, though, a comic too close to real life leaves no one laughing.
| September 2, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories: The Riffs
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