Tuesday, March 30, 2010
NCCCC 2010 Round 3 - Doonesbury Dopplegangers
For this round of the National Crappy Comics Copy Cats Competition, we look at strips that take a stand.
Politics and comics rarely mix. At least not well. Topical humor does not age well with lead times of two weeks or more. The truly funny political strips of the past like Pogo an L'il Abner had a sensibility that transcended partisanship. The current reigning champion is long-running and Pulitzer Prize-winning Doonesbury. For several decades now, conservatives have chafed under the piercing wit of Garry Trudeau (and just how American can someone named after a Canadian prime minister be?) hoping for a right-wing equivalent. Meanwhile liberal cartoonists labor under Doonesbury's long shadow, which is its own burden.
Let's look at political cartoons of various ideologies:
Mallard Filmore or That Fuckin' Duck as I prefer to call him combines the intellectual rigor of Sean Hannity with the rational discourse of Glenn Beck. This lazy compilation of cheap shot sub-Fox News talking points would be the worst comic strip in print even without its infuriating reliance on straw men, poorly sourced quotes, and cheap Ted Kennedy gags. There is no narrative arc and each strip is nearly indistinguishable from the last. Its only redeeming value is that it is universally despised except amongst Washington Times subscribers.
You can't spell Prickly City without 'ick'. Perhaps the most obvious beneficiary of reverse affirmative action anywhere, Scott Stantis seems to be deliberately trying to win a Worst Drawn Comic award. The use of a right-wing big-lipped ethnically-ambiguous girl as his primary mouthpiece is just offensive on multiple levels. And while it tries to use oddball metaphors in incomprehensible thinly disguised allegories (terrorist desert hamsters anybody?), they mostly come off as half-cocked.
The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee
I have not quite yet deciphered the random political leanings of Edison Lee except that it seems to have a vaguely anti-big government and anti-tax stance. Way to go out on the populist limb there. The jabs and cheap shots just seem so forced and obvious. The inclusion of a lab rat pet puts in Calvin and Hobbes range (as write-in nominator john observed), but it's the college-freshman-that's-read-just-a-little-too-much-Ayn-Rand sensibility that makes this strip most annoying.
Wiley has toned down his Non Sequitur political rants considerably since the election, which can be considered a weakness. A good cartoonist would stick to his guns no matter who is in office. The ObviousMan and History of Cavemen bits at least provide a slightly different take on the usual ax-grinding. Still, being the second best knee-jerk liberal on the comics page is pretty faint praise.
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