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Posted at 9:05 AM ET, 10/21/2009

'Riffs Picks: From the Washington Dreadskins cartoon to Comics Volunteerism week, today's top contenders

By Michael Cavna

Do not adjust your set, your settings or your funnypages. As you've probably noticed by now, volunteerism is running rampant in the comics this week -- and by that, we don't just mean the meddlesome Keane kids "drawing" "Family Circus" for poor pooped Pops for a coupla days.

Last Friday marked the 20th anniversary of former president George H..W. Bush's call for community service in full "thousand points of light" fashion. To commemorate the occasion (as you may well have read), Bush and President Obama on Friday renewed the call for volunteerism via a Points of Light Institute event in Texas. Now, this week brings the entertainment field's stepping-up to answer the call: The Hollywood charity Entertainment Industry Foundation, working through the iParticipate initiative, is devoting major time to "giving back" all this week.

ALSO answering the call this week: National cartoonists who are filling their strips with themes of community service. The strips that touch on such volunteerism this week include "Baby Blues," "Big Nate," "Curtis," "Mutts" and "Red and Rover." So to recognize that spirit of giving, we honor all participating cartoonists with our Special 'Riffs Pick Of Community Service today. Comic Riffs appreciates and salutes your efforts.

Now, on to several other 'Riffs Picks from today, culled from across the mighty mighty Web...

1, CARTOONS FOR TYPHOONS: In the same spirit of charity, comic artist Greg LaRocque has organized a cartoon art auction "to benefit the victims of the recent typhoons and flooding in the Philippines." Word of this event comes from the blog of Tak Toyoshima, the "Secret Asian Man" cartoonist who says he's donated original art, so you can bid on this Sunday strip of his. All proceeds from the event reportedly go to the Philippines Red Cross.

2. CARTOONS FOR PLATOONS: And ALSO in the same spirit of charity, Comic Riffs salutes MAD artist Tom Richmond's illustrated reports from the ongoing USO/NSC tour (and we note that some other artists have, or will be, blogging this tour as time and USO restrictions allow -- we'll be citing other reports in the future). Today, Richmond shares images from the cartooning group's time in Germany, as well as from combat zones in the Persian Gulf. I also recommend this link to Star and Stripes, which includes a swell slide show of the group's visit to Germany.

3. ONE FORLORN ZORN: Now, on a much, much lighter note, my fave sports cartoon of the day goes to the Washington Examiner's NATE BEELER (second time this week; fella's on a roll) for his artfuly rendered take on the Great Emasculation of Washington Redskins "coach" (newly stripped of his play-calling duties) Jim Zorn. Beeler nails the twisting-in-the-wind nature of the front office's decision-making -- or rather, INdecision-making. Well-played, Mr. Beeler.


On Monday, The Washington Post's print Style section reran an old "Doonesbury" strip (from Sept. 5) due to a production error. The correct strip is running in Wednesday's Style, beneath the new "Doonesbury." And no, by the way, your eyes don't deceive you if you read the wood edition: Amid the paper's Big Redesign, The Post is now running "Doonesbury" somewhat smaller than as recenty as last week.

By Michael Cavna  | October 21, 2009; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip, The Morning Line, The Political Cartoon  
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I *knew* Doonesbury was smaller. Now the question becomes - is it smaller than the Syndicate's contract says it can be? It's pretty tiny.

BTW, my wife's given up reading the comics in her 40s because you print them too small.

Posted by: Mrhode | October 21, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I just returned from one of the USO/NSC events. Stephan Pastic drew a picture of himself for me and signed it (I always like the strips when he's in it). It was a great event and all the cartoonists seem to be enjoying themselves and spent quite a bit of time with each person. I can't imagine how they can keep up the drawing for hours on end, but they do! Their visit was greatly appreciated.

Posted by: wintersx | October 21, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Anyone notice that for the second time in a week a word balloon in Mark Trail points to the wrong character? Today's balloon is interesting because there's a little gap at the bottom. It's like they first had it pointing to Mark, realized their mistake, erased the pointer, shifted it to the other side, and then made the same mistake again.

Posted by: cliffzim | October 21, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The Doonesbury link goes to "", and leads to a 404 file not found error.

Posted by: kilby | October 22, 2009 6:02 AM | Report abuse

I've got the same question as the first poster; I thought Trudeau included in his contracts a requirement that Doonesbury couldn't be shrunk from what he considers the optimum size for display. Has that changed? I can't imagine The Washington Post just ignoring such a well-known contractural obligation when it would be so instantly evident that they had.

Posted by: greggwiggins | October 22, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

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