Are You @#$& Kidding Me? The Best Comics Curser Is...
THE MORNING LINE:
The a.m. roundup of today's 'toons, from the potty-mouthed to the naughty-mouthed...
Up until at least the dawn of PhotoShop and the Wacom tablet, the greatest invention in comics -- some would @$%&! argue -- was the employment of a series of punctuation symbols to represent comics profanity. On a funnypage where "sucks" and "screw you" are all but verboten, many cartoonists needed some way to spice things up with implied salty language.
MAD magazine, I believe, is the first place where I encountered punctuation symbols as a surrogate for words that I probably didn't even know yet. Soon, the device seemed ingenious. My own third-grade class comics (I drew 'em; my friend photocopied 'em and kept 50 percent of the sales -- sound familiar?) were occasionally littered with these random "profanities." What was my mom going to do for using such tawdry symbols: Wash out my Rapidograph pens with soap?
Thing is, of course, ours is culture in which humorous language grows ever coarser, in general ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" so barely bleep out their virtually audible four-letter words, the half-heartedness of the "bleep" only heightens the joke for many). In this "post-apostrophic" landscape, comics punctuation seems as quaint as "original" cartoon art on paper -- as if the urge is: Carbon-date after laughing.
That said, the Official 'Riffs Question of the Day is: What comics, do you think, are especially artful at employing punctuational profanity?
Even today, there are strips that use punctuation ("Baby Blues"); others that block out the letters ("Big Nate"). Then again, you can always go the "Mark Trail" and simply utter the rudest, crudest obscenity allowed in your environment: "Holy mackerel!"
SPEAKING OF THE PROFANE: One of the biggest obscenity-related comics blunders in recent memory still has to be DC's "All-Star Batman" gaffe last year, which prompted the comics to request that stores destroy "tens of thousands" of copies. The incident even spawned the New York Post headline: "The Caped Cuss-ader."
THE WORD ON THE "C STREET": Some weeks back, The Post ran an A-1 story (by Manuel Roig-Franzia) about the "C Street House," to which the recently scandalized politicians Mark Sanford and John Ensign both had ties. Now, "Doonesbury" creator GARRY TRUDEAU is turning his acid pen toward the "spiritual haven."
This Riffster will be on the lookout to see whether the week's worth of strips stirs any controversy or threats of cancellations. Let the "Doonesbury" Watch begin....NOW.
SPEAKING OF HOT-BUTTON POLITICAL CARTOONS: Earlier this year, Comic Riffs noted curious "irregularities" in how some political cartoonists -- even given the art of wildly interpretive caricature -- were depicting President Barack Obama. Well in recent days, Real Clear Politics's Tom Bevan believes the caricatures of Michelle Obama, as opposed to how Condolleeza Rice was drawn, reveal a discrepancy that's politically telling.
LAST CALL: As cartoon fodder, the "Beer Obama" could be tapped for near-limitless potential. One of the crisper ones in recent days, in This Riffster's humble opinion, was by the Washington Examiner's Nate Beeler.
THE RELATED READ:
STEPHEN COLBERT SPEAKS: The world's greatest fake anchor tells Comic Riffs what he and Obama have in common.
THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: Garry Trudeau on the state of political satire.
The Reliable Source
| August 3, 2009; 10:05 AM ET
Categories: The Comic Strip, The Morning Line
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