The history of comics is littered with controversy. For some reason, maybe it’s the art, maybe it’s the genre, but comics still are often associated with children’s literature (and the inclusion of “literature” in that phrase is often debatable to folks who dislike comics). But in any case, from Batman & Robin’s alleged homosexual relationship (fake) to Kevin Keller’s marriage in Archie comics (real), people tend to rally against what they consider controversy in their comics. One Million Moms recently protested Toys R Us selling the marriage issue of Archie comics because”this is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand. Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, which is becoming extremely common and unnecessary.”
Gay marriage is still pissing people off. And, as such, comics are going to keep talking about it. Because that’s what comics do. Comics talk about things. Just as frequently as comics have men get into
tights leather jumpsuits to fight bad guys, comics are going to have people talk about things that are pissing people off. You expect this sort of thing in political cartoons, where it happens all the time, but once you start getting into comic books, comic strips, and cartoons, people start to get all offended and crazy.
What makes me talk about it today is the recent response/backlash to Garry Trudeau’s “Doonebury” comic strip, which has been in papers since the 60′s, discussing the recent Texas legislation allowing some pretty invasive involvement in abortions. Abortion, like gay marriage, really annoys the piss out of conservatives. And I won’t go too crazy about how I feel about it on this blog, because that’s definitely not the point, but Trudeau’s work has often sparked controversy in its long run and, as we all knew it would, his tackling of the Texas situation is making folks angry.
The decision to end a life is not funny. There is nothing comic about this tasteless interpretation of legislation we have passed in Texas to ensure that women have all the facts when making a life-ending decision. –Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier
No, the decision to end a life isn’t funny. But Texas does this all the time in Texas, where the death penalty is a thing. The state can decide to end a person’s life if he’s committed a crime but a woman cannot go to an abortion clinic without the government getting all up in her business because she’s “ending a life.”
But, again, my opinion on politics isn’t why you’re here. It’s not why I’m writing this blog. The reason I’m writing this is because some newspapers are not putting this comic in the paper or moving it out of the comics section and placing it elsewhere. WHAT. THE. WHAT.
When things are too controversial, we hide them? Or remove them entirely? The good that comics like “Doonesbury” far outweighs the discomfort of the few who can’t abide by anything that rocks their moral boats. Because, whatever side of the debate you’re on, the only thing a comic (or a book or a movie or any piece of art that also tries to say something) can do is promote discussion.
And you know what? Trudeau has done exactly that. People are definitely talking about it. They might be talking about the comic but, in doing so, they are acknowledging the subject matter as being worth talking about.
Whether you’re for or against abortion, gay marriage, wearing fur, the color blue– I don’t care. It’s none of my business. But art is art. And, frankly, to ban or hide art because you’re afraid of it only gives it more power over you. Those of us who care will find it anyway. But when you acknowledge the strength of the message, regardless of the medium, all you do is show the world your own weakness.