Last week I reported that Grant Woolard, a student cartoonist at the University of Virginia, had erupted another firestorm by drawing a cartoon depicting “nine nearly naked black men fighting each other with sticks, stools, boots and a pillow” and ran with a caption, “Ethiopian Food Fight.” The paper has printed a near 1000 word editorial apologizing to the public for allowing the cartoon to run and the University has suspended Grant indefinitely.
Grant has issued an apology as well and a rather long explanation of the cartoon.
The message of a comic must be terse by its nature. This, unfortunately, often lends itself to multiple misinterpretations. Needless to say, this comic has been widely misinterpreted and was by no means created to suggest that certain people are “barbaric” or “inferior”, as some others claim. As a comic artist, I feel that it is sometimes necessary to address sensitive issues. However, had I anticipated the number of people hurt by this comic, I would not have deemed it worth running. I am upset that, due to previous comics, Quirksmith has gained a reputation for being merely offensive. As any one of my fellow comic artists can attest, I have always devoted much thought, time and effort into every comic I produce. I try to construct a work with substance, so it pains me when the message is obscured by misunderstandings. In the future, if tackling a sensitive issue, I will exercise much more consideration as to what could potentially be misconstrued as hurtful. For those who have been hurt by this recent comic, please understand that I have no ill intent.
You can read his full letter as well as see a small thumbnail of the comic on a local T.V. station’s web site.
UPDATED: After questions regarding whether Grant was suspended from the school or just the paper, I tried to find a more concrete source that made it less ambiguous. A NBC affiliate reported that because the paper was not school run or affiliated, they would not take any disciplinary action. According to this headline in the Washington Post, indicates that Grant quit (again, it’s a bit ambiguous as to whether he’s quit cartooning or his job as the graphics editor on the student paper). Suffice it to say, he’s not going to be cartooning for that paper again.