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Vulgar Language and Non Sequitur

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Feb. 18, 2019

As of Sunday afternoon, at least forty newspapers across the United States have dropped the long running comic, Non Sequitur, from its comic pages. The reason behind the loss in popularity is that the comic “betrayed (its reader base’s) trust with profanity.” The comic in question ran sometime last week and had a small scribbled message directed toward the US President to “go (expletive) yourself”.

The decision to drop the comic has a political reason behind it, but how about comic strips such as Doonesbury or political cartoons in the Editorial page that blatantly ridicule politicians? It appears that the message was not in context with the comic’s punchline on the page and was really a message breaking the fourth wall between Wiley Miller and his readers. There are also more stringent rules relating to profanity on syndicated newspaper comics due to the exposure to a much younger audience. The same rules on profanity are a lot less strict for webcomics.

It is just hard to imagine that a comic that has been running in American newspapers since 1992 can be pulled overnight because of the f-word.

Be careful when using vulgar language!

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irrevenant at 10:47PM, Feb. 25, 2019

Hmm, I get the argument that it's the artist's fault and they should have known better. But on the flipside, it's the artist's job to create (within established parameters) and it's the editor's job to establish those parameters, and to guide and refine what the artist produces to make it suitable for the target market. Neither of them is blameless, but seems to me that it was primarily the editor's job that wasn't done in this case.

JaymonRising at 3:04PM, Feb. 19, 2019

...I wonder if Bill Watterson ever went on rule 34/has opinions on TV cartoonists nowadays. Cos trust me: if he knew what I knew, they'd be roughly the same -_-.

BarryCorbett at 10:09AM, Feb. 19, 2019

The artist knew exactly what he was doing and after appearing for almost thirty years in said newspapers I have to assume he expected the consequences. He must have planned to go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

MOrgan at 3:07AM, Feb. 19, 2019

I find the idea that it's not the fault of the cartoonist, but the editor to be crazy. Yes, the editor should have caught it, but should the editor have needed to catch it? No. Wiley has been doing this comic since, at least, the '90s. He should be a professional about this and he wasn't. At the very least he should have used a safer term like 'Darn you'. Sure some people would get upset, but he wouldn't have been dropped from all those papers.

rmccool at 2:30PM, Feb. 18, 2019

Dj Hello kitty used the f word..and opened with I'm not sure we need this much coddling small children read non sequitur..the comic dosent seem to be aimed at children.. if heavenly nostrils cussed I would be wow that was inappropriate for a unicorn in a comic with younger I get intended audience.. if you look at habibah song today.. you will find the f word.. because some works aren't aimed at children..and some character need cuss words.. suger and flip dont cut it.. I worry a lot about text..but some times one needs the power and anger of cuss words as a writer and as a human

EssayBee at 11:29AM, Feb. 18, 2019

Be careful or be sure to censor (case in point, in my case, X-Pletive, although the censoring is sort of the running gag with him and not a fourth-wall-breaking punchline).

Hapoppo at 7:20AM, Feb. 18, 2019

Looking at it from the perspective of my own job, if I were to pick the wrong item and the packer were to send it out we'd both be held accountable. That being said, it just seems smart to assume if you're going to hide secret messages you know aren't going to fly in your industry into the work you submit, they WILL slip through and you'll be held accountable.

ozoneocean at 6:01AM, Feb. 18, 2019

I have a similar situation at work in that I can get logos wrong or even leave a rude word on a piece of graphic art... The clients are often multimillion dollar companies so the stakes can be high- Which is WHY there are procedures in place: other staff check my work and the client has to sign off on it first.

ozoneocean at 5:59AM, Feb. 18, 2019

It's completely up to the editors to check that. As Genejoke says. It is literally their JOB. It's irrelevant if the artist has never made a mistake in all the years he's done the comic: he's only human which is WHY you have editors and there is not just one but several.

entropy0013 at 5:34AM, Feb. 18, 2019

So, he did a a breach of contract if it's part of the syndication contract?

Genejoke at 4:23AM, Feb. 18, 2019

Stupid thing is, it's not really the fault of the cartoonist but of the editor who let it be published.

MOrgan at 3:12AM, Feb. 18, 2019

On a related note, Mort Walker would occasionally draw more adult Beetle Bailey comics for private amusement (himself, his editor, etc.), but they have been printed in European magazines and, at least, one collection.

MOrgan at 3:08AM, Feb. 18, 2019

Yeah, big difference in acceptable language between a comic that appears in a family newspaper and one that appears in an adult-aimed publication Playboy or National Lampoon. The cartoonist had to know that would have negative consequences. I used to like his comic back when I used to read the newspaper, but he really should have found an adult-oriented magazine and did a special 'vent his spleen' comic for them.

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