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Webcomics Are From Uranus: It Can't Happen Here

It Can't Happen Here

I am going to do something very shocking for someone who writes about comics for a webcomic magazine and who creates comics herself. I am going to decry political cartoons.

Yes, political cartoons, that hallmark of cartooning. Some of the first cartoons and possibly the most invasive into everyone's life. Newspapers that don't carry comics will have political cartoons, if not their own political cartoonists on staff. They are championed by proponents of free speech and refuse to tone down their messages just to appease readers. For all this – for all that I love certain ones among them, for all I admire how effective they are at getting out a message – I think they do a greater disservice than contribution to the people who read them.

Think for a moment on your favorite comic of any variety, either a single comic or the entire run of Peanuts. Why do you like it? For some part, because you identify with it and it espouses some beliefs you hold. But those are probably not the first reasons you would give. Instead, you'd probably say the reason was that it is funny, or entertaining, or bizarre. Political cartoons, on the other hand, are liked almost entirely because of how a person identifies with it and what ideas are held in common. If the comic and the reader don't hold the basic beliefs on a subject, the reader won't even think it's funny, but will feel insulted instead. When was the last time a non-political comic ever insulted you? I mean, other than your intelligence?

It is this polarizing nature of political cartoons that initially invokes my displeasure. Usually there is common ground on every subject, but so many of these cartoons will serve as litmus tests to place people in one of two camps, with no alternative except apathy. And I like apathy even less than polarization.

But all this is testament to the absolute power of political cartooning. With one single panel the cartoonist can define an issue, portray as many participants in it as he or she likes, and force the reader to either agree or disagree with this simplified portrayal. Hate mail says he's doing something right, rather than otherwise.

Now that I think about it, outlawing political cartoons just doesn't seem to go far enough. I'll keep the cartoons and outlaw the politics. Let those cartoonists whine about freedom of speech, this is for the good of everyone. If there are no dissenting opinions, no one will get their feelings hurt. The only way to discuss things is in long drawn-out treatises, preferably between people who have dedicated their entire lives to the study of the matter. It's simply counterproductive to allow input from those who don't know every detail of the matter to sway a decision.

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Scared yet? Happy Hallowe'en and have a very merry voting day, my fellow Americans!

Re: Webcomics Are From Uranus by Meaghan Quinn

tynic's picture

I assumed this article was a satire when meaghan took the argument to the logical conclusion and advocated outlawing politics altogether. If it's not ... well, then, I might buy in at a later point. At the moment I'll continue to believe she's playing devil's advocate.

Re: Webcomics Are From Uranus by Meaghan Quinn

If it weren't for political cartoons, people would be even more apathetic than they are.

People have never read in-depth analysis as much as they have political cartoons.

And anyway, I'm not sure where you would have people go for political opinion. Newspaper editorial pages, political tv shows, blogs, etc., are all easily as biased as a political comic strip.