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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 11/18/2009

Would you downsize 'Dilbert'? Time to Defend That 'Toon

By Michael Cavna

'DILBERT' (UFS)Enlarge Image

In recent weeks, some 'Riffs readers have questioned why it was the Scott Adams comic strip "DILBERT." and not the homegrown "CUL DE SAC," that was chosen to remain housed in The Washington Post Magazine, where it lives on Sundays, in gloriously guaranteed color.

Well, one pithy reply to that query is: If you're the Post editors involved, do you prefer your humor more whimsical or withering, more acidic or innocent? By their choice, Post editors have spoken.

There is little debate, on one hand, that "Dilbert" was THE Zeitgeist strip of the cubicle-dwelling, mission-stating, downsizing '90s. ("The Far Side" and "Calvin and Hobbes" reached superstardom in the Reagan '80s, and "The Boondocks" caught only the tail end of the '90s.) And for many readers, Adams's comic continues to strike extremely resonant chords.

For that very reason, "Dilbert" found a home in the business sections of numerous newspapers -- including The Post until more recently (speaking of downsizing). Upturned tie and all, the daily "Dilbert" relocated his snark-station to The Post's main comics pages.

So amid the newly tight real estate, even such superstar strips as "Dilbert" have to play well, year after year, to justify their roster spots. So what do you think, 'Riffs readers: Is Dilbert still one of the funnier crushed-souls still drawing a paycheck?

If you're not a fan, feel free to Impugn-That-Toon. Otherwise it's time to Defend. That. Toon.


THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams talks product-placement within the strip.

By Michael Cavna  | November 18, 2009; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  Defend That 'Toon, The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Dilbert; Scott Adams  
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Dilbert isn't always great, but it's consistently chuckle inducing. It's the last comic I read each day (thanks for placing it on top), and it would be the last thing I read in the magazine if it weren't for Gene.

Posted by: Hemisphire | November 18, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Dilbert is still a keeper. It rarely produces a LOL moment for me, but I do smile knowingly on many an occasion. The only problem I have with Dilbert is repetition of themes and storylines - not that Scott Adams repeats himself per se, but that after a while there ar just so many things that his group of characters can do in their limited domain. Changing this would change the comic and it is a problem many a long running series faces. Adams handles it better than most and Dilbert certainly earns it's place in the paper, but perhaps not in the WP Magazine.

Posted by: elyrest | November 18, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Dilbert is a keeper. I don't work in the corporate world, so I rarely experience any of the situations or characters Adams draws. But he is FUNNY. Dilbert is one of the few strips that makes me LOL with any regularity. I guess withering, downtrodden, and soul-crushing exchanges are universal.

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | November 18, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Dilbert is still well worth reading, but printing it in the Magazine is simply a waste of expensive 4-color separation technology. The jokes are consistently good, but I have never seen a Sunday Dilbert in which the strip would not be equally funny if it were printed in black and white. Dilbert belongs in the normal Sunday comic section, but would be just as funny in the classified ads.

If the Editors were smart, they would give the Magazine's comic space to a strip that does at least a little bit of color artistry. Cul de Sac and Non Sequitur would be my preferred candidates.

Posted by: kilby | November 18, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Dilbert is still quite good, though not at its original cutting edge best. Still much better than the poorly drawn and trite CDS.

Posted by: kcghost | November 18, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

It is a given that WaPo should run both "Dilbert" and "Cul de Sac" on the daily comics pages as just about the LAST strips to be dropped, when the next downsizing occurs (a situation with which Dilbert is of course totally at home). What is also a given, though, is that their placement in the Sunday Post is reversed from the way that logic dictates. Dilbert has no real need for color - in fact, the b/w images are better suited for the bleak atmosphere it strives to convey - and it is of course a nationally syndicated strip, with no real ties to DC (other than the proliferation of cube-world angst throughout the Government as well as in Dilbert's native corporate environment). CdS, on the other hand, benefits greatly from the carefully selected coloring, and the Otterloop saga is DC's own native strip, which belong where it was born, in the WaPo Sunday magazine. Burying CdS on the inside pages in b/w and displaying "Dilbert" in color in the magazine makes about as much sense as - well, as running "Frazz" in Kids' Post.

Never mind.

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 18, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Love Dilbert. It might not be a home run every day (what comic strip is?), but it consistently features some of the best writing. Scott Adams doesn't waste a word, and his descriptions are still fantastically bizarre. He's still on his game; it was only a few months ago that he rolled out that classic "pronounced hay-soos" parody series that gobbled up a fair bit of attention.

On another Dilbert note, how great was that TV show? I really wish it had gone longer than two seasons.

Posted by: goldpress | November 18, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Keep Dilbert around. It's up for debate whether it deserves the primo spot in the Magazine, but it's absolutely worth keeping in print.

For what it's worth, Dilbert is generally one of the first things I look for in the Magazine. I'd venture to say that for some people, Dilbert is the main reason they even open the Magazine.

In the daily edition, I might suggest moving Dilbert back to the business pages (even in the A section) to make room for another strip in Style. It works well as a standalone next to business news and stock info.

Posted by: leathersjames | November 18, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

80% of the time Dilbert is the only reason I even look at that dreadful "WP" magazine, but it would be even more out of place in the Sunday arts section. If you want to upgrade Cul de Sac's location, you should take some tenth rate strip like Speed Bump or the Argyle Sweater and stick it in the classified section where it belongs, amidst the typewriter ads, thus freeing space in the Comics section.

Posted by: andym108 | November 19, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Dilbert is one of my favorites, are you kidding? I guess I will have to check out cul de sac because I have never read it, but don't drop Dilbert!

Posted by: catherine3 | November 19, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

To anyone who works in an office, Dilbert is a daily reminder that many companies are dysfunctional. There are many days that a similar (or identical) event occurs. I have stopped reading Cul de Sac because it is poorly drawn and not often funny, "home growm" or not, just like Zippy.

Posted by: pjohn2 | November 19, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

pjohn2 -- no offense but anyone who says Zippy and Cul De Sac are poorly drawn must be reading the comics with their eyes closed. They're both amazing.

And Dilbert is still one of the Top among all currently running strips without a doubt.

Posted by: greasypores | November 19, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Dilbert is My favorite comic-strip. Its been unwise in hitting obvious Truths.

Posted by: orogero | November 19, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Dilbert is definitely one of the best comic strips. The corporate boondoggles of the last two years proved this is no '90s comic strip. I'm surprised the corporate newspapers would even print it.

Posted by: bflorhodes | November 19, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Dilbert is a daily reminder that many companies are dysfunctional.

I'd say ALL companies are dysfunctional. I think Nietzsche said same along the lines that insanity in individuals is rare, but in groups it's the norm.

Dilbert is as essential as breathing for us in the biz.

Posted by: johnpage1 | November 20, 2009 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Comic Rifs - you take more time off than Johnnmie Carson need a sub to write on the days you are off.

>> ZeldaJane:
Thanks for your sincere interest and readership. The blog did go "dark" one day this week in order to report out a cartoon-related story you'll see in this space next week.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | November 20, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

If Dilbert disappeared, what would my boss tack on the bulletin board to make us think he "gets" us? He might start talking to us instead, and we all know how badly that's going to end.

Posted by: keblensis | November 22, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I just brought in to the office yesterday's (Sunday) Dilbert strip - the one about making use of 'unproductive' (sleep, leisure) time and as usual my colleagues loved it.
Keep this strip!

Posted by: mdshunfenthal | November 23, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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