political comic strips

I have been duped. Well, not really. But I allowed myself to be misled.

When we first moved here to Hemet and started PricklyCityreading the Los Angeles Times I wrote that my new favorite comic strip was Prickly City. I enjoyed the way the strip skewered some of Hillary Clinton’s less desirable qualities, even though I fully support her run for the White House.

What I realized eventually was that the creator of the comic strip, Scott Stantis, very much comes from the political right. The good news, though, is that he comes from a thoughtful William F. Buckley version of the right, not from the wacko tea party version of the right. So much so that he skewers Donald Trump as much as Hillary.

This all made me think about the political comic strip in general. If not the first, the first political comic strip to hit it big was DoonesburyDoonesbury. After appearing in the Yale campus newspaper, Doonesbury hit national syndication in, I believe, 1970. It quickly became a favorite of many of us left-wing bleeding-heart liberals. Sadly, Gary Trudeau stopped drawing Doonesbury last year (except for Sunday), and the weekday strips went into reruns. It is interesting, though, seeing the strips from several decades ago. The strip is currently working its way through the 1980’s.

BloomCountyDoonesbury was quickly followed by Bloom County, which at the outset in the 1970’s looked very much like a Doonesbury knockoff. Nonetheless we left-wing bleeding-heart liberals enjoyed it almost as much as Doonesbury. Creator Berk Breathed gave up the strip twenty-five years ago, but recently brought it back online, where he doesn’t have to worry about syndicate and newspaper censors.

In the past several years, Mallard Fillmore has taken on the cause of the right. While the strip MallardFillmoresometimes hits the mark, it also frequently hits it subjects with a much more blunt instrument than Prickly City. Mallard’s creator, Bruce Tinsley, however is a decent guy. When he once mentioned Madeleine L’Engle in his strip in a very favorable light I sent him an email and got back a very gracious reply. Turns out his wife is a liberal-left civil rights attorney. He said they have some very interesting discussions at home.

So there you have my not-so-authoritative survey of political comic strips. And as much as Mallard Fillmore annoys me sometimes, it really is good to have a diversity of viewpoints.