This Week’s Cartoon: Comic Strip Controversy

As you might have guessed, this one is about last week’s Doonesbury strips, which over 50 newspapers refused to print. Personally, I’m surprised the number was that high. I may be an easy audience, but I thought the strips were witty and tastefully done. Thursday’s comic was intense, but it was hardly in poor taste. Have these editors not seen reality television lately? Compared to that, last week’s Doonesbury read like a Lewis Lapham essay.

Notably, this week’s cartoon marks the first time I’ve had a strip pulled in over a dozen years of drawing Slowpoke. One of my weekly papers is owned by a daily paper that decided not to run the Doonesbury strips, so the editor, who actually liked my comic, had to ask for a substitute. The layers of irony here are impressive.

For more on the Texas law, I recommend reading about this woman’s experience.


  • Tom

    I was an inkstained wretch for about 10 or 12 years. I still miss the adventure. But this reminded me of way too many editors who squash or dilute stories that are “too controversial” with such excuses as “You’re just picking on Amalgamated Polluters, Inc.” By the late 1980s the combination of milquetoast news and full-color graphics resulted in a newspaper that, as one consumer told our editor, “looks better than it reads.”

    One paper I worked for dropped “Bloom County” because the local oldsters didn’t understand it. Another paper squashed the Bllom County “Reagan Sucks” strip because of “objectionable language,” but had had no problem running the BC comic strip with a character wearing a T-shirt that read “OPEC Sucks.” Still another paper used to carry a front-page quote of the day. One day a quote by H.L. Mencken caused some lady to angrily write to the paper and say “Who is this Menckne, I never heard of him or her!” The paper stopped running a quote of the day.

    Some of the best work today is being done by the Alt-Weeklies, som of which have occasionally produced the veritable bombshell. Such as the Miami New Times report about George Rekers, the Cotton Mather of the Family Research Council, coming back from his European vacation accompanied by a “Rentboy.”

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.