Thursday, March 27, 2008

Comics and Culture

Kerry was talking about a book he's been reading, The Ten-Cent Plague, which discusses the suppression of the comic book. The culture warriors of the McCarthy period saw comics as a threat to American society giving rise to an industry-wide clamp down on subject matter and expression.

Conversation turned to the underground comics of the 60s. R. Crumb and folks who took the medium in another direction commensurate with those times. Later in a completely different setting, comic strips of the 80s became a source of discussion. It truly was a time of great riches. Doonesbury in its prime, Bloom County ("pear pimples for hairy fishnuts" makes me giggle to this day), Calvin and Hobbes, and the incomparable Far Side. There was a snide, smart in comics.

I've fallen away, I'm ashamed to say. Are there high quality comics, either in strip or book form today?

Political cartoons, of course, are alive and well -- Judi's Truth, Justice, and Peace is my daily stop for good political cartoonage. Mark Fiore's on-line work is magnificent. The New Yorker stuff is always magnificent. What else is alive in the cartoon world these days?