The Riff: Where the Wilder Comics Grow...
The language of television ever changes. Radio chatter has grown more liberal in recent decades. But the dialogue standards in a family newspaper's funnies remain, for the most part, stuck in 1952.
Which stymies some comic-strippers who want to sound relevant in 2008. In recent days, Comic Riffs wrote about how syndicated cartoonists try to skirt language restrictions by employing faux-profanities, "near"-profanities or strung-punctuation dingbats.
Scott Stantis, an editorial cartoonist who also draws "Prickly City," is passionate about this issue.
Language "is a constant source of frustration," Stantis tells Comic Riffs. "Good lord, you can hear 'son-of-a-bitch' on a five-year-old [episode of] 'Frasier,' but I STILL can't use the word 'sucks' in 'Prickly City.' "
Signe Wilkinson, the Pulitzer-winning political cartoonist who also draws "Family Tree," has told 'Riffs that language restrictions, as well as PG-content limitations, frustrate her when writing her strip.
In other words, it's not just the likes of "Doonesbury" that routinely runs headlong into editor and reader sensitivities these day. Which gives rise to a modest proposal regarding hard-print comics:
Group the edgiest, "grownup" comics onto one page. Some newspapers already roughly group together the cartoons aimed at the youngest readers. On the flip side, a cluster of grownup cartoons could even be labeled ("the stunnies"?), so as to deflect criticism that "inappropriate" material got mixed in with the kids' funnies. As it is, when some comics traffic in edgier material ("Doonesbury" to "Dilbert"), they often migrate to elsewhere in the paper. Why not a mini-migration for the grownup comics?
Then again, that requires print newspapers to commit to running more than a dozen or so comics. Rarer and rarer these days, newspaper show the vision to run multiple pages of comics.
What do you think, 'Riffs Readers? We invite your comments -- be they full of "grownup content" or not.
| November 21, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories: The Riffs
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