See All Topics

Home / Section: College cartoonists

Another College Cartoon Draws Controversy

The Recorder, the school paper of Central Connecticut State University, has managed to offend (disgust?) students and facility by running a comic strip called “Polydongs” which depicts “explicit images surrounding the humiliation and degradation of a 14-year-old Latina girl.” The paper printed a disclaimer under the comic stating that they do not, “support the kidnapping of (and subsequent urinating on) children of any age or ethnicity.”

Students and faculty are demanding the editor be fired. The editor in question has a history of running questionable cartoons. Last February he let an opinion piece run entitled, “Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It” which described rape as a “magical experience that benefits ugly women.”

His response to this cartoon:

“I’m not surprised that the faculty have a problem with it, because the humor gap is huge from generation to generation,” Rowan said. “Every generation shocks the generation after it.”

The cartoonists name has yet to be identified.

Community Comments

#1 Scott Nickel
September/14/2007
@ 3:42 pm

“Every generation shocks the generation after it”?

Has this guy ever read any R. Crumb or S. Clay Wilson?

I’m not sure anyone can top those 60â??s comix for sheer outrageousness.

#2 Louis Coppola
September/14/2007
@ 3:53 pm

If anyone wants to see the cartoon, the full recent issue of The Recorder is on their website: http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/

It’s on the last page.

The cartoon is just about as odd as it sounds in the description, and I don’t buy the argument about the comedic generation gap. The cartoon is striving for outrageousness, but doing it without any racial awareness or nuance. A smart rule of thumb is that if you need to add a disclaimer, the strip probably isn’t a good idea.

Also, if anyone does read the strip, shouldn’t it be ‘Latina’ and not ‘Latino?’

#3 Scott Nickel
September/14/2007
@ 4:24 pm

I agree about the “generation gap.” Considering what college students were writing and drawing in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, that’s hardly a valid argument.

Maybe the cartoonist in this case was trying to get a laugh through shock value. Instead the strip just comes off as crude and unnecessarily racist. Hard to defend.

Thanks for the link to the actual cartoon. Always good to see the work in question.

#4 Jeff Vella
September/15/2007
@ 10:03 am

>

I agree with this comment 100%! The editor probably put that disclaimer in there, to cover his A**, just in case someone spoke-out against the comic… He was wrong.

After reading the full article (from the link Alan provided), Although I agree that the strip probably shouldn’t have run, I understand why Mark Rowan (the Editor) let the comic run:

1. Like Scott N. stated… For shock value. Much like the “Shock-Jocks” on satellite radio, the more outrageous you are, the bigger audience you get. “Rowan was also editor in February when the newspaper was criticized for publishing another satirical opinion piece”. He probably thinks he could make a name for himself out in the “Real world” as a “Shock Editor”. Again He’s probably wrong.

2. “Rowan is scheduled to graduate in December”. With only 3 months left of school, He probably figures this close to graduation, he’s got nothing to lose, if he has a “no holds barred” attitude. Again, he’s wrong.

One thing I don’t understand, The article states that it’s a “student-run newspaper” at CCSU, and yet Rowan said the cartoon’s artist is not connected to the university. If the artist is NOT a student there, that comic had no business at all running in that paper.

In my opinion, the Editor, Mark Rowan should be held accountable, should be relieved for duty, and should also be forced to identify the cartoon’s artist.

#5 Matt Bors
September/15/2007
@ 5:35 pm

“In my opinion, the Editor, Mark Rowan should be held accountable, should be relieved for duty, and should also be forced to identify the cartoonâ??s artist.”

Forced how exactly? Should they use the threat of imprisonment?

When you find out the cartoonist’s name, then what?

#6 Andrew
September/15/2007
@ 6:35 pm

Folks need to find the courage to rage against that which makes a difference. I think it was Kurt Vonnegut that said of literary critics, that their vitriol against the written word ‘is like donning a suit of armor to attack a hot fudge sundae’. Everybody realizes the premise of the comic is wrong in the absolute. Nobody gets the notion that this is just another way of telling a joke. You live in America. Yet you let a french guy who lived a hundred years before you were born put the concept of freedom so far from your grasp. Voltaire said “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Bash the cartoonist, burn Dixie Chicks records – and try to a subtle difference between yourselves and the Taliban. We’re talking about something written in a small college student publication by an anonymous (albeit clearly talented) doofus who you’ll never meet. What should be upsetting you is that you were perhaps educated so poorly you really think everything you see and hear ought to agree with you. There’s no way to say this without offending further, but I actually liked the cartoon. But I love the weakness of sensibility it has exposed.

#7 Louis Coppola
September/15/2007
@ 7:02 pm

This really isn’t an issue of whether the cartoonist has a right to say what he wants or not–of course he does. That doesn’t mean we can’t analyze the comic; this is a site for comic enthusiasts, after all. I doubt anyone here is hosting a mass burning of The Recorder.

#8 Garey Mckee
September/15/2007
@ 8:39 pm

I’m not condoning the cartoonist’s choice in subject matter, but at least the students and faculty are placing the responsibility with the editor for a change.

And Louis, a cartoonist absolutely has the right to say, write and draw anything he or she wants. But that doesn’t mean he has the right to have it published.

#9 Louis Coppola
September/16/2007
@ 9:01 am

I was actually commenting on Andrew’s post: “Bash the cartoonist, burn Dixie Chicks records – and try to [find] a subtle difference between yourselves and the Taliban.”

#10 Garey Mckee
September/16/2007
@ 6:08 pm

Oops. Sorry Louis. You sure were.

#11 Louis Coppola
September/16/2007
@ 9:39 pm

No problem. I was a little unclear.

#12 Jeff Vella
September/17/2007
@ 3:54 am

“Forced how exactly? Should they use the threat of imprisonment?”

Maybe not “imprisonment” Matt, but how about the threat of being Expelled. I know it sounds a little extreme, but thing about it …. Rowan is 21, assume that he’s worked hard for 4 years towards a degree, and now 3 months away from graduation, the college threatens him with expulsion, because he won’t give them a name….that probably wouldn’t look good on his resume, not to mention his parents wouldn’t be too happy! Like I said before, The Recorder is a â??student-run newspaperâ? at CCSU, The Recorder represents the college on a national level, and if any student brings controversy by printing something “questionable”, the college stands to lose a lot here, Enrollment, Funding, Endorsements (of couse that’s worst case scenario). Parents might not want their kids associated with a college that would just “let it go”. Maybe.

“When you find out the cartoonistâ??s name, then what?”

I don’t know, Matt, once the cartoonistâ??s name is exposed, maybe editors or syndications wouldn’t want to deal with a cartoonist that’ll make them look bad.

And by the way… Why is the cartoonist hiding? If I draw something that others find “questionable” I want the chance to defend my comic, and tell people what I was thinking when I drew it. If a cartoonist doesn’t have the smarts to stand up and defend what they draw, then why draw it at all?

#13 Garey Mckee
September/17/2007
@ 6:13 am

“And by the wayâ?¦ Why is the cartoonist hiding? If I draw something that others find â??questionableâ? I want the chance to defend my comic, and tell people what I was thinking when I drew it. If a cartoonist doesnâ??t have the smarts to stand up and defend what they draw, then why draw it at all?”

I was wondering this myself. Also, although nobody has said it, sometimes in cartooning a little infamy is a good thing.

#14 Andrew
September/17/2007
@ 12:49 pm

I didn’t intend to accuse anyone here of being a fascist, but the P.C. crowd has to realize if you cannot tolerate that which you disagree with, you end up with the Danish paper/Mohammad cartoon thing, and the guy in Sweden who’s running for his life on an edict from Al Qaida in Iraq. Only it’s happening here, in the land of the free. These folks up in arms have never read The Onion? There’s nothing more offensive. Or funny.

#15 Barry Deutsch
September/17/2007
@ 12:53 pm

For those of you who’d like to avoid downloading the pdf file, the “Polydongs” cartoon we’re discussing can also be viewed online here, or here.

A few comments.

1) I think what’s behind this cartoon is likely the racism and misogyny of self-centered (most likely white male) egotism, not the racism and misogyny of animus towards Latinas.

In other words, the cartoonist didn’t draw this cartoon because he (or she) personally loathes Latinos, but because he wanted to make fun of “political correctness” by creating the least “politically correct” cartoon he could come up with.

That doesn’t mean it’s not racist and misogynistic — as I’ve often said (most recently here), being bigoted doesn’t require animus. In the case of this cartoon, while I believe that the cartoonist’s intention was to tweak “PC” sensibilities, choosing to do so in this way shows a callous indifference for the feelings of readers who aren’t white men that is itself so enormous that it amounts to misogyny and racism.

2) Wow, are some of the people defending this cartoon stupid.

3) I don’t want to see the cartoonist (or editor) formally punished or sanctioned. I think the outcry and widespread criticism are the appropriate response; and I hope that the activism leads to positive steps like the creation and funding of an alternative newspaper.

4) I’m made nervous by the folks asking the college administration to step in and fire the editor/defund the newspaper, because I think these practices, if generally accepted, will be used against student newspapers that take radical positions or criticize college administrations.

#16 Matt Bors
September/17/2007
@ 2:35 pm

“Maybe not â??imprisonmentâ? Matt, but how about the threat of being Expelled.”

I don’t think people should be expelled from college for publishing things that other people don’t like. If the publisher has a problem with the editorial direction of the paper, they should fire the editor and find a new one that fits with what they want.

“I donâ??t know, Matt, once the cartoonistâ??s name is exposed, maybe editors or syndications wouldnâ??t want to deal with a cartoonist thatâ??ll make them look bad.”

I doubt that artist will ever produce anything that deserves a syndication deal, but I don’t share your desire to start blacklisting people from the industry based on distasteful cartoons they published in college.

#17 Barry Deutsch
September/17/2007
@ 3:47 pm

I agree with Matt. College should be a time for making mistakes that can be recovered from.

#18 Jeff Vella
September/17/2007
@ 4:58 pm

“College should be a time for making mistakes that can be recovered from.”

I agree with Barry, But I also think they should LEARN from their mistakes, Right??

This comic is not The Recorder’s first brush with public outrage. Last February, an opinion piece was published detailing how less attractive and overweight women “may benefit” from being raped. The author of that piece resigned as the paper’s writer, The school board apologized on his behalf, and Rowan went back to work as editor. Fast forward to September and now Rowan is again facing the school board, who is “appalled by the stunning lack of sensitivity and awareness displayed by Mark Rowan” (this is a quote from a letter written by Lawrence D. McHugh, Chairman, Board of Trustees and CCSU President Jack Miller) If these guys had to get involved, you just know Rowen should just apologized already.

“I donâ??t think people should be expelled from college for publishing things that other people donâ??t like.”

I also agree with Matt. I didn’t say the editor SHOULD be expelled, I said they should “use the threat of expulsion”, if that doesn’t work maybe he should step down as editor.

#19 Derek Johnson
September/17/2007
@ 5:28 pm

Just my 2 cents but the comic reads like an R Kelly rap sheet.

#20 Angela Robinson
September/17/2007
@ 8:23 pm

Andrew said, “…I actually liked the cartoon.”

I guess you and R. Kelly both can appreciate the comedic irony of grown men peeing on little girls.

I agree with Derek Johnson.

#21 Brian Lager
September/24/2007
@ 8:14 am

The sad thing that’s being left out of this is that humor has de-evolved to the point that there’s very little creativity these days. “Shock & Awe” is not a long lasting method for producing funny. I don’t know, to me it just seems that being vulgar or shocking is just the product of the uncreative person.

I grok that, perhaps, this artist was reaching for absurdity. But bathroom humor is crass, not absurd. So is the unnecessary use of “Latina”. Does her ethnicity make it more shocking? No, it misdirects. First, you’re shocked at the idea of urinating on people… no, no… kidnapping people for the purpose of humiliation. Add in the hot topic issue of immigration and what you’ve got is a miasma of infantile rudeness that’ll shock the ‘rents and the grand’rents because what they find funny must be boring because it required thinking and attention spans.

#22 Jessica
September/25/2007
@ 10:20 am

at the very least, the cartoonist should be identified. writers are required to identify themselves to show accountibility, why should a cartoonist be exempt?

also, if he has no affiliation with the univeristy, which has been reported by the editor, why was the strip featured in a college-run paper?

clearly, by remaining anonymous and the editor not requiring him to idenitify himself, they knew exactly what they were doing.

this isn’t the first time this editor has been under fire for obscenely offensive material and it doesn’t suprise me in the slightest.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.