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Readers respond to suggested characters future death

The Rudy Park comic strip may be rubbing out another one of its characters. Last year, Rudy Park cartoonists Theron Heir and Darrin Bell wrote out the Mort Park character and now another character Sadie Cohen has been diagnosed with a tumor in her throat. Readers are writing in to “vote” whether the tumor should be malignant or not.

According to Matt Richtel (AKA Theron Heir), about 100 people wrote in after the first two days with most wanting the character’s life saved. Matt maintains that he and Darrin will make the final call as to the character’s final fate.

Community Comments

#1 dan reynolds
July/8/2008
@ 1:34 pm

Huh? I don’t get this. Deciding on whether a character has terminal cancer or not. Sorry, but I think this is stepping over the line. I, personally, take cancer as deadly serious and not something to be part of a voting game in a comic strip.

I think this is in real bad taste. Let’s turn it around and see how it feels…what if cancer patients were deciding whether or not this cartoon should survive? Oh, that’s ridiculous? Sure it is, and that’s the point.

#2 Dawn Douglass
July/8/2008
@ 1:37 pm

Amen, Dan.

Not only is this offensive, I think it screams “I want attention” which isn’t very becoming, either.

#3 Corey Pandolph
July/8/2008
@ 1:59 pm

Cartoons: not real people.

Getting your skirt in a bunch over a comic strip should be the number one definition for “crazy talk” in the dictionary.

Go. Be real people. Deal with your real problems and save your passion for things that affect others, in a real, non-cartoon manner.

Jeezus effin’ nutcakes.

#4 Dawn Douglass
July/8/2008
@ 3:06 pm

Corey, if people didn’t have strong emotional attachments to comic strip characters, there would be no point in keeping the art form alive.

The Funkey Winkerbean storyline proved that people take this stuff VERY seriously.

And if they didn’t, then there would be little point to this seemingly “me, too! me, too!” strategy. If that’s not what it is, is sure it what it looks like. Lisa just died of cancer last October. At least they could try to think of something more original than cancer. There’s a lot of other deadly stuff out there to exploit when you’re looking to manipulate the emotions of your readers.

If cartoonists can ask their audiences if a character should live or die, then why shouldn’t we be able to say WHICH character dies?

I say we take a poll to determine which of your characters you need to kill off, Corey. Obviously, it wouldn’t make any difference to you. They’re not real people. Let’s kill a mess of them. Why not? To care would be nutcakes. With fruit.

#5 Wiley Miller
July/8/2008
@ 3:38 pm

“I, personally, take cancer as deadly serious ”

Me too! As serious as a heart attack!!

#6 Larry Levine
July/8/2008
@ 3:55 pm

There was a time when reader’s polls were used for more whimsical things like naming Garfield’s teddy bear.

#7 Corey Pandolph
July/8/2008
@ 4:42 pm

“I say we take a poll to determine which of your characters you need to kill off, Corey. Obviously, it wouldnâ??t make any difference to you. Theyâ??re not real people. Letâ??s kill a mess of them. Why not? To care would be nutcakes. With fruit.”

By all means, poll away… It’s fewer fake things and fake people I have to draw.

I vote for the fake talking dog to go first, myself.

You can’t beat me, Dawn… I have a Robot Satan behind me.

#8 Garey Mckee
July/8/2008
@ 6:22 pm

As long as Corey doesn’t kill off Toby. Actually, maybe it’s Toby who can go bezerk and do the killing.

#9 Lee Mayer
July/8/2008
@ 6:30 pm

A fake rock star killing off fake comic strip characters. That would be something.

#10 Wiley Miller
July/8/2008
@ 6:38 pm

It would be a great service to cartoonists if someone would provide us with a list of topics that “aren’t suited for a comic strip”.

#11 Pab Sungenis
July/8/2008
@ 8:39 pm

Wiley:

Baby rape, perhaps? I think that might not be suitable for a comic strip.

#12 Phil Wohlrab
July/8/2008
@ 8:50 pm

You could always drop a piano on her and leave it a mystery whether or not the tumor was malignant.

#13 Eric Burke
July/8/2008
@ 9:07 pm

I vote to kill off Theron Heir. If you write as Theron Heir, but do your interviews under your real name, what’s the point of using pen name when peeps know your real name?

And it is kinda a weak attention getter…

…and Corey, kill anyone but the bacon! The bacon deserves to live and we’re all better off with bacon in this world!!

#14 Lee Mayer
July/8/2008
@ 9:10 pm

>>>It would be a great service to cartoonists if someone would provide us with a list of topics that â??arenâ??t suited for a comic stripâ?.

If memory serves me, didn’t Hellfire Moore enlighten us a few months ago with a list? The only thing I remember from his list was “beastiality”.

#15 Malc McGookin
July/8/2008
@ 9:51 pm

“The only thing I remember from his list was â??beastialityâ?.”

Didn’t women sleep with Howard The Duck?

#16 Darrin Bell
July/8/2008
@ 10:13 pm

“And it is kinda a weak attention getterâ?¦”

Apparently not.

#17 Corey Pandolph
July/8/2008
@ 10:34 pm

‘â??And it is kinda a weak attention getterâ?¦â?

Apparently not.”

HA! Goodnight everyone! Tip your bartenders!

#18 Eric Burke
July/9/2008
@ 7:15 am

Seems Stephan Pastis already had this scenario figured out:
http://members.comics.com/members/common/affiliateArchive.do;jsessionid=cZbawdtt1tZa?site=spi&comicId=&comic=pearls&stripId=357403

#19 Tom Heintjes
July/9/2008
@ 10:16 am

I remember that gimmick being used in a Batman comic back in the late ’80s, when readers phoned into vote on which Robin character died. I thought it was dumb then, and I still think stunts like this are dumb. Shouldn’t writers make these decisions based on a vision of the strip they present to readers? This isn’t like sending in fashion suggestions to Katy Keene.

#20 Wiley MIller
July/9/2008
@ 10:24 am

I killed Corey Pandolph in a cartoon. Does that count?

#21 Jason Nocera
July/9/2008
@ 11:25 am

I don’t like these gimmicks, either. Comic strips are supposed to be a personal artform and an expression of the artist. Why leave the storyline up to a committee?

#22 Lucas Turnbloom
July/9/2008
@ 2:24 pm

I think Pastis’ character kill off today, might top the old Corey axe job.

#23 Garey Mckee
July/9/2008
@ 3:17 pm

Corey Pandolph To Kill Every Comic Strip Character On The Comics Page.

Associated Press – Cartoonist Corey Pandolph announced today that his robot character Toby, from his successful Toby, Robot Satan comic strip, will be guest featured in several comic strips killing off their main characters.

Many of todays top syndicated cartoonists have agreed to participate in the mass murder story arc. Wiley Miller, Mark Tatulli, Richard Thompson and Jim Davis are just a sampling of the cartoonists allowing Toby to rampage across their panels killing everything in sight.

More notably, however, are those cartoonists who have NOT agreed to participate in Corey Pandolph’s history making comics scheme, “I had written Tom Batiuk, creator of Funky Winkerbean,” Corey stated in a telephone interview, “and asked if I could have Toby dig up Lisa’s body and kill her all over again. For some reason he never got back to me.”

When asked where his idea for this comics event came from Corey stated, “It originally started as a plan to get back at Wiley Miller for killing me in one of his strips.”

#24 Darrin Bell
July/9/2008
@ 11:38 pm

“I donâ??t like these gimmicks, either. Comic strips are supposed to be a personal artform and an expression of the artist. Why leave the storyline up to a committee?”

Yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing, even though it’s the opposite of what “Theron” said we’re doing. I’m glad at least one person caught that little bit of irony.

*This response has been approved by a committee.*

#25 R Pyle
July/10/2008
@ 7:33 am

Sadie Cohen’s throat tumor…

Sally Forth’s possible late-life pregnancy…

It’s just so much shark jumping to me.

Carry on.

#26 Darrin Bell
July/10/2008
@ 6:09 pm

I think the phrase “jumping the shark” jumped the shark years ago.

#27 Darrin Bell
July/10/2008
@ 6:22 pm

OK, I think I’ve belatedly figured out the rules of professional cartooning, thanks to the committee here:

1. Comics must be the sole, personal product of the artist’s inborn muse, and must not even appear to be influenced by any sort of committee.

2. Comics must not step over the line.

3. The Line will be arbitrarily determined by committee.

#28 Dawn Douglass
July/10/2008
@ 7:44 pm

That’s hardly fair, Darrin.

1) These reactions were individual, personal responses, not some kind of organized campaign against against you.

2) To say you were going to make the final decision despite how your readership “votes” just reinforces what people here are mostly objecting to, that this was nothing more than a gimmick to get attention.

3)To say that objections to this scheme are “arbitrary” is very insulting, IMO, as it totally discounts legitimate reaction and diminishes we commenters as capricious, erratic, illogical…

4) You claimed to be wanting to increase “inactivity” of the audience, and now you’re obviously irritated because you got just that. Talk about irony.

So, apparently, here are YOUR rules for your readers:
1) Allow us to freely manipulate your emotions with character slayings every six months or so, so we can get talked about in Editor & Publisher, etc.
2) Take your time to be heard, but we won’t really listen because we’re going to do what we want to, no matter what you want.
3) Object to what we do, and we’ll belittle you and claim group conspiracy.

Perhaps you should print these rules on each cartoon so everybody will be clear next time.

#29 Corey Pandolph
July/10/2008
@ 8:35 pm

For the love of all things holy and for the millionth time…

These are cartoon strips. Little moments of levity and head turning in an otherwise cracked up world. To give them anymore impact than that is complete insanity.

If you all who read the comics (and don’t actually produce them daily) think we, the creators give a second thought to the week of strips we just drew… if you think we wonder if they’ll make some sort of greater impact is… delusional.

We worry about what we’re doing next, and that’s it.

And any professional cartoonist who denies this is lying through their drunken teeth and probably isn’t working hard enough.

People read Waaayyy too much into what’s happening in a comic strip.

God, I can’t believe this has to be explained.

#30 Dawn Douglass
July/10/2008
@ 9:02 pm

Corey, you don’t seem to fully understand your own artform.

Btw, for the record, I defended the Funky Winkerbean cancer story when it was getting a ton of flak here on TDC. But he was treating a previously unexplored comic strip subject with sensitivity and tact. He didn’t give this literally deadly serious topic that affects many millions of Americans the tv-game-show-American-Idol-like treatment that this Rudy Park stunt pulls.

I don’t think “the line” is really that hard to figure out, and I don’t believe for one second that it’s arbitrary. If you can’t see it, then find an editor who can. Or else, don’t care and don’t create for the mainstream, i.e., newspapers.

#31 Mike Cope
July/10/2008
@ 9:16 pm

“For the love of all things holy”

… too funny!

But are comics included in that??

#32 Garey Mckee
July/10/2008
@ 9:44 pm

“Corey, you donâ??t seem to fully understand your own artform.”

Yeah Corey, let Dawn tell you how to do your job.

#33 Phil Wohlrab
July/10/2008
@ 9:45 pm

Pardon me, for actually talking about the strip(s) at hand:
http://www.comics.com/comics/rudypark/archive/rudypark-20080619.html

But I was wandering, is Heidi Pottinger of Denver, an actual person who wrote a letter demanding Mrs. Cohen live, or is this just a caricature of a type of reader that you’re mocking?

Dawn said
“3)To say that objections to this scheme are â??arbitraryâ? is very insulting, IMO, as it totally discounts legitimate reaction and diminishes we commenters as capricious, erratic, illogicalâ?¦”

Dawn you actually do have a point there; he’s actually turned a reader into a character who is all of those things. I’m not sure if you were aware…
But the reasoning behind having the characters fate decided by committee was to aviod the onslaught of angry readers who wouldn’t want Mrs. Cohen to die.
Seems no matter what you do people will be angry, so might as well do what you want.

#34 Dawn Douglass
July/10/2008
@ 10:44 pm

Thanks, Phil. No, I didn’t see this. It’s not a strip I read.

Garey, I’m not telling Corey how to do his job at all. I just said he doesn’t fully understand the art form. His comments make that pretty obvious.

#35 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
July/10/2008
@ 11:10 pm

Dawn said Corey does not fully understand the art form.
That’s funny!
( shhh…is it…intentional? )
This is one of the classic lines used by aspiring artists towards model types ( OK, maybe we just fantasize that they are model types ).

#36 Wiley Miller
July/11/2008
@ 6:01 am

“if you think we wonder if theyâ??ll make some sort of greater impact isâ?¦ delusional.”

Excuse me, Mr. Pandolph, but I’ll have you know that reading my comic strip cures eyeball hemorrhoids.

Just don’t ask me how one contracts eyeball hemorrhoids.

#37 Jason Nocera
July/11/2008
@ 6:37 am

Hey Corey, if we don’t care about comic strips, why should anyone else? Oh yeah, no one else does.. nevermind.

#38 Corey Pandolph
July/11/2008
@ 6:39 am

“Corey, you donâ??t seem to fully understand your own artform.”

Explain, please.

#39 Wiley Miller
July/11/2008
@ 7:29 am

â??Corey, you donâ??t seem to fully understand your own artform.â?

This reminds me of those guys who sit around watching ball games at a bar, screaming at the tv, absolutely certain that, despite never having played the game past little league, they know the game better than the coach. At least they have the excuse of being drunk.

#40 Mike Cope
July/11/2008
@ 7:47 am

“Your understanding of theology is appalling.” – Lucy Van Pelt

#41 Corey Pandolph
July/11/2008
@ 8:05 am

I never said I didn’t care. I just think there’s a skewed idea of what really goes into production of daily strips.

I’m slowly learning the majority of those who criticize either don’t work in cartooning, or build themselves a little “niche” comic online, participate in some forums that occasionally feature pros (to which they continually brag that they’ve spoken to the guy who draws “non sequitur”) and then they self-proclaim themselves experts.

Just like Wiley’s bar ballgame analogy, most of you have no idea what’s going on, but continue to publicly claim foul.

You think you can do better, or claim you’ve more passion and understanding of the art form? Then shut up and prove us all wrong.

Yes. “Shut up” seems like a nice way to end this.

#42 Brian Hobbes
July/11/2008
@ 8:53 am

Kindly take off your cardboard cartooning crown, Ms. Douglass. For someone who claims to know so much, you’ve turned into an inexplicably sad parody of yourself.

By the way, you haven’t name-dropped Lee Salem lately. Aren’t we about due for one of your I-talked-to-Lee-Salem stories?

#43 Pab Sungenis
July/11/2008
@ 8:53 am

Sorry, Corey, but while that might be a nice way to end this, there are a few points brought up not involving you that deserve sddressing. If you don’t like it, Toby is more than welcome to come kill my entire cast whenever you like, but they don’t really have much in the soul department for him to take.

Darrin suggested “the line will be drawn by committee.” Wrong. The line is drawn by, of all things, the mythological “free market” out there. Artists create their work, about whatever they want, and release it into the wild. If people don’t like it, they won’t read it, or will complain. If people don’t like the strip, papers will be less likely to pick it up, and the feature will disappear. You can do a week on baby rape if you want, but don’t expect to have too many customers when you’re done.

The webcomics world, as opposed to the print world, is a little more forgiving because you can survive with a smaller audience. “The New Adventures Of Queen Victoria” can scrape by with only 920 readers at gocomics.com, but there would be a lot more pressure if I were in print to get more than the equivalent of .125 papers. The market decides what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

#44 Corey Pandolph
July/11/2008
@ 9:08 am

Pab,

For the record, I wasn’t the one claiming my characters kill others, that was Garey…

And I do think some good points were mentioned, I just think the critiques by folks you have no idea what’s going on are out of control. I love my characters, I love my strips and I feel strongly about the quality and the funny. That said, I’m a big picture person and I’m aware of the silliness that is making an income from comic strips. Taking it too seriously seems counter productive. That’s my beef.

Anyway, I’m going now.

I agree with you post and wish many years of a Healthy and alive Queen Victoria.

And I meant I was the one shutting up… Which is what I’m doing now.

#45 Jason Nocera
July/11/2008
@ 9:08 am

On the flip side, Corey, if you and Wiley don’t want to hear people discussing comic strips, why do you participate in comic strip forums? Your stance is the age-old defense mechanism when creators don’t want to hear people criticising their actions.

This is artwork created for the public (much like movies, tv, music, etc.) and the public forms an opinion. Do I really need to explain that to you?

#46 Corey Pandolph
July/11/2008
@ 9:11 am

“On the flip side, Corey, if you and Wiley donâ??t want to hear people discussing comic strips, why do you participate in comic strip forums? Your stance is the age-old defense mechanism when creators donâ??t want to hear people criticising their actions.”

I get bored.

#47 John Read
July/11/2008
@ 9:14 am

Wiley,
I think reading some of the above comments has given me eyeball hemorrhoids. I’m going to take your advice and go re-read WHY WE’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER.

#48 Pab Sungenis
July/11/2008
@ 9:19 am

Corey: I know. I read “Toby: Robot Satan” every day. All he could ever do is take my characters’ souls, brick their iPhones, and thrust his crotch in their faces.

I concur with your other statements. Most of us do this because it’s fun. That some people make a living off of it is secondary. It’s not a big deal.

Considering that what you usually seem to do when you get bored is create another strip, I have to wonder if maybe your taking the time to participate in the discussions here is actually counterproductive.

#49 Corey Pandolph
July/11/2008
@ 9:22 am

“Considering that what you usually seem to do when you get bored is create another strip, I have to wonder if maybe your taking the time to participate in the discussions here is actually counterproductive.”

HA! So true. I never feel good after participating here. Maybe its an addiction… Maybe I am just a jerk.

Time will tell and I’m sure I’ll get mine, eventually.

“Brick their iPhones”… Awesome.

#50 John Read
July/11/2008
@ 9:24 am

Pab,
Corey’s participation here probably IS counterproductive, but wouldn’t this thread have been a lot less fun without his, and Wiley’s, joining in?

#51 Pab Sungenis
July/11/2008
@ 9:29 am

Oh, yes, John, I fully agree. Corey and Wiley are always fun to read.

#52 Wiley Miller
July/11/2008
@ 9:49 am

“On the flip side, Corey, if you and Wiley donâ??t want to hear people discussing comic strips, why do you participate in comic strip forums?”

Ok… where did I ever say, or even allude to, that I “don’t want to hear people discussing comic strips”?

#53 Dave Krainacker
July/11/2008
@ 10:59 am

“but Iâ??ll have you know that reading my comic strip cures eyeball hemorrhoids”
It’s true! I use your comics to cure those things in my medical practice all the time.

#54 Darrin Bell
July/11/2008
@ 11:03 am

An abbreviated version of this entire thread:

SOME PEOPLE: I’m OFFENDED!
SOME OTHER PEOPLE: Me too.
STILL OTHER PEOPLE: Get a life.

SOME PEOPLE: I’m OFFENDED you told me to get a life!
SOME OTHER PEOPLE: Me too.
STILL OTHER PEOPLE: So?

SOME PEOPLE: But if I’m OFFENDED, that means the free market has spoken! If you don’t take this seriously, you’re screwed. You’ll lose papers! People like me who clearly don’t read your strip anyway unless Alan Gardner mentions it will stop reading it!
SOME OTHER PEOPLE: That’s a good point.
STILL OTHER PEOPLE: Whatever.

SOME PEOPLE: You know, your entire attitude OFFENDS me.

rinse, repeat…

#55 Dawn Douglass
July/11/2008
@ 11:10 am

“Brian Hobbes”: Personal attacks don’t change reality, even when you get off on them.

Wiley: “This reminds me of those guys who sit around watching ball games at a bar, screaming at the tv, absolutely certain that, despite never having played the game past little league, they know the game better than the coach. At least they have the excuse of being drunk.”

I’ve never said that I know comic strips better than anybody else. Certainly, I don’t, because I’m not a cartoonist. But it doesn’t take being a master artist to see when somebody doesn’t have a FULL understanding, as I said, of what art even is.

Corey: You said please explain, so I will.

Everybody has heard “If a tree falls in the middle of a forest…” So does it make a sound? No. It makes waves, but it takes an ear and a brain to convert those frequencies into sound.

In the same way, “art” isn’t fully realized until it’s been processed and absorbed by somebody other than the artist. A cartoonist, a sculptor, a painter, whomever, only has half the job when it comes to producing art.

Those people you call insane are absolutely essential to the art form. Deriding them, deriding me, may make all your guys feel superior, but it’s an arrogance based on immature understanding of what art really is and what your role is vis-a-vis comic strips, which are especially a consumer-dependent art form.

The reason cartoons are so special is because they are more accessible to consumers than other forms of visual art. When a cartoonist shows his hatred and resentment when consumers do their own half of this equation, it’s a bit like shooting your own art in the foot.

Wiley, I may not know the game as well as you players on the field, but I have a good overall perspective of it from where I sit. So go ahead and feel superior to all us us in the bleachers, believe we don’t know anything about this game because we can’t draw, pretend that only you are important to the game.

Have fun.

#56 Corey Pandolph
July/11/2008
@ 11:45 am

“In the same way, â??artâ? isnâ??t fully realized until itâ??s been processed and absorbed by somebody other than the artist. A cartoonist, a sculptor, a painter, whomever, only has half the job when it comes to producing art.”

I fully and completely disagree. A true artist produces art because he feels like he needs to… Almost as if it’s akin to breathing… And the best art is produced without an audience, or their feelings, in mind.

To say that you, the audience matters to the merit of the art, is just plain wrong. It’s merely a person who lacks the ability to produce art crying out that they matter to the art.

Sorry. You don’t.

That said, I agree that in order to make a living, or to market one’s art, an audience is needed for exchange of funds.

I am not an artist saying he is better than those who do not produce art. I am someone with an ability, expressing he doesn’t take much stock in outside criticism.

You can read my stuff or not, you can buy my books or not. But don’t think for a minute that you matter to the production or quality of my work.

#57 Dawn Douglass
July/11/2008
@ 11:50 am

“But donâ??t think for a minute that you matter to the production or quality of my work.”

That’s not what I’m saying, Corey.

That’s fine, you don’t have to get it.

#58 Mike Witmer
July/11/2008
@ 11:53 am

Ya know, this is a perfect example of why Berkeley Breathed warned us all to avoid internet interaction at all costs. I know some people are gonna have beef with this but I truly believe fan interaction can very easily kill creative momentum…or redirect it in a negative way at the very least. A few over-zealous, big-mouthed fans can completely ruin your day.

These “hot-button” issues that get taken so seriously in an utterly UN-SERIOUS art form are ludicrous if you ask me. Nobody is saying cancer should be taken lightly. Matter of fact, I feel like if we can get a chuckle out of a comic related to the subject, aren’t we leveling the playing field a little?

Sure, it’s great that readers are so passionate about our characters. And as much as I love Rudy Park (regardless of who they kill or don’t kill) I think this is more of a way for Bell and Richtel to get an idea of who is really paying attention. I seriously doubt that they would actually let the web poll influence their decisions.

#59 Brian Hobbes
July/11/2008
@ 12:02 pm

>>>>Personal attacks donâ??t change reality, even when you get off on them.

Don’t flatter yourself, Ms. Douglass. Your comments tend to be mildly amusing at best. My response was out of (yawn*) sheer boredom.

>>>>itâ??s a bit like shooting your own art in the foot.

Corey Pandolph is an amputee? Now, THAT’S funny!

*how appropriate that “yawn” rhymes with Dawn.

#60 Brian Powers
July/11/2008
@ 12:07 pm

Would somebody close this thread.

#61 Wiley Miller
July/11/2008
@ 12:19 pm

“So go ahead and feel superior to all us us in the bleachers, believe we donâ??t know anything about this game because we canâ??t draw, pretend that only you are important to the game.”

Wow… talk about passive-aggressive and putting yourself in the victim role.

Come on, Dawn. You’re better than this. Go back to what you posted. You presumed Corey, who is a professional cartoonist, doesn’t fully understand his own artform, which infers that you do know it better than him.

Pointing how ludicrous that statement was isn’t a matter of us “feeling superior to all of [you] in the bleachers”. It’s simply directed at you alone and your statement. Please stick to what was actually said (you too, Jason) and direct your responses, whether you agree or disagree, to those statements instead of veering off into ad hominem personal attacks.

Keep in mind that those of us who are on the playing field now were in the bleachers, too. But when I was in the bleachers, it never once occurred to me that I knew better than the ones playing. On the contrary. I set out to learn what they knew in order to get into the game instead of sitting in the stands heckling.

#62 Alan Gardner
July/11/2008
@ 12:23 pm

I’m closing this thread, at least temporarily. The tone has gone negative and I know at least one individual that is using an anonymous name/email to make derogatory remarks about others.

He (and any others doing the same) will no longer be allowed to post comments on the blog without being moderated.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.