The question was raised in another article about how comics artists feel about being topical with their comics. The “why” of being topical is obvious enough; to bring in fresh viewers that aren’t acclimated to your pre-existing story. But the “how” and “when” aspects of this conversation raise some pretty interesting points.
Artist Jorge Cham of PhD Comics tends to break continuity of his story-lines to bring topical issues to light. His strip about the CERN Hadron Collider was actually what hooked me as a regular viewer at his site, but it has absolutely no connection with the strip’s continuity.
Strips like Penny-Arcade and, more true to the topic, PvP use pop-culture references seamlessly in their regular story-lines. To be fair, Penny-Arcade rarely uses story arcs, but they’re still a good example of real life influences being used as satire regularly.
It would be interesting to hear these same kinds of examples being used in print. Whether the satire is used in a story’s continuity or used to break the monotony of a story-line or used in some completely different way, how do you as artists use pop-culture references in your strips?