Magazine article USA TODAY

Comic Strips Continue to Reflect Society

Magazine article USA TODAY

Comic Strips Continue to Reflect Society

Article excerpt

From the very beginning, comic strips were more than something to tickle the funny bone, according to Lucy S. Caswell, associate professor of journalism, Ohio State University, and curator of the Cartoon, Graphic, and Photographic Arts Research Library. The library is the word's largest academic repository of cartoon art, with more than 200,000 original works by over 1,000 artists. Their continued sucsess is evident as the nation gets ready to celebrate the centennial of the newspaper comic strip in 1995.

Comic strips consist of a sequence of published drawings that contain speech within the drawing, often in a balloon, and continuing characters. Traditionally, they were distinguished from editorial cartoons by usually having a series of panels and going for the laugh, whereas editorial cartoons tended to have only one panel with political commentary in the illustration. Editorial cartoons rarely were funny or intended to be funny, but those distinctions were blurred.

"In recent years, the use of humor in editorial cartoons is much more prevalent than it used to be," Caswell points out. "More people are using a series of little pictures in their editorial cartoons and going for laughs, which are not necessarily related. Jules Feiffer does a series of drawings quite often, but the doesn't do gag cartoons. Usually, his works is very biting.

"I'm also amused that people think having political comment in comic strips is inappropriate. Political comment is in the eye of the beholder. …

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