‘In the Sticks’ goes political to the right

Nathan Cooper’s In the Sticks is going political. As of Monday, the golf themed strip edges right politically.

From the press release:

Beginning with the April 12 strip, In the Sticks will dispatch a daily dose of humor from the Blooming Dogleg Country Club colored by a conservative political perspective.

The first politically themed strips, as one might expect at this time of year, deal with taxes.

“This is the time of year that everyone, whether they feel strongly about politics or not, is affected by Washington,” said Cooper. “So it’s the perfect time to introduce the new political direction the strip will be taking.”

Cooper says the progression to politics was a natural one.

In the Sticks will now tread a path that, while uncommon, has produced some of the most buzz-producing comics in the industry, including Bloom County, Outland, Opus, Prickly City, The Boondocks and perhaps most famously, Garry Trudeau’s oft-controversial Doonesbury.

“A lot of mainstream strips have made their name through politics,” said Cooper, “and many more get political from time to time, but it seems to me the conservative view is underrepresented. The right is getting a lot of headlines with the minutiae of the Tea Party, the comings and goings of Sarah Palin, and all of that “Party of No” stuff – but I think what the right is really all about gets lost in the noise.”

“In the Sticks is my humble attempt to offer a light-hearted and honest look at everyday conservatism, and to make people laugh in the process.”

Cooper’s syndicate is excited about the new direction the strip is taking.

“This is a bold move that adds a great new dimension to In the Sticks,” said John Glynn, Universal Uclick editor and vice president of acquisitions and development. “The artwork is already outstanding, and Nathan Cooper’s humor is top-notch. Having seen the work that’s coming, I know readers and editors alike will be pleased with the new ground he’s covering.”

According to Cooper, fans concerned about the strip’s newfound conservative point of view need not be concerned that the other side of the political aisle won’t be represented.

“Cosmo, the ‘appropriately blue’ jay, will have liberals’ backs,” said Cooper. “He’s there to make sure my own bias doesn’t completely take over the strip, and with his strong personality, he’ll always have his moments in the sun. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that yes, he will also be the butt of many jokes.”

Cooper then offers a concession that should give liberal readers hope: “Someone really does need to start spell-checking those Tea Party protest signs.”

I believe in golf they call this a block or a push. Depending on your political persuasion, Nathan is either keeping it in the green or hitting the ball into the rough. Oh, the metaphors are endless. Best of luck, Nathan.

26 thoughts on “‘In the Sticks’ goes political to the right

  1. Oh man! I should do more press releases. Well, here’s one, sort of:

    In an unprecedented move, “2 Cows and a Chicken” will delve into the world of politics as Monday’s strip will deal with the issue of Socialism. Tuesday’s strip will do this also, and by Wednesday, the obscure comic strip will look at the laws of Darwinism. Late in the week, the artist will explore the dark side of polytheistic religion. ?This is a bold move that adds a great new dimension to 2 Cows and a Chicken,? said Steve’s wife and press secretary. ?The artwork is already outstanding, and my husband’s humor is top-notch. Having seen the work that?s coming, I know readers and editors alike will be pleased with the new ground he?s covering. And furthermore, we plan more press released in the future. Lots of them.”

  2. My response? NOOOOO! I like In The Sticks, but as a pinko-commie I must protest. Conservatives still buy newspapers, though (to fold and bookmark their bibles), so perhaps it’s a smart move.

    Of course, my best friend is a conservative, and we go at it all the time, so maybe I can deal with this.

    I remember when Cathy was briefly political. Man, there was a backlash.

  3. I never watched The Half Hour News Hour, but it was supposed to be a conservative version of The Daily Show. It made it through a few episodes. It was like watching the screeching of fingernails on a chalkboard.

    I’ll go out on a limb here…

    Humor is almost inherently subversive, the exact opposite of conservative. The laugh comes by surprising the mind with an unexpected outcome. With conservative humor, the outcome is almost always telegraphed well in advance because of the singular nature of the viewpoint.

  4. Tom, I agree with you that humor is inherently subversive. But ask yourself which political standpoint is in the ascendency today?

    The universities are loaded up with liberals, the majority of major newspapers are liberal, the TV networks are liberal, and the current administration is easily the most liberal if not leftist government in decades.

    The subversives today are not the liberal cartoonists, they are the conservative cartoonists who surprise by making fun of the bloated egos of the strutting poohbahs of liberaldom, most of whom, today, are in the White House, in the anchor chairs and editors’ desks of the country.

  5. For an example of a subversive, very funny, conservative cartoonist, how about the late, great Jeff MacNelly?

  6. A conservative comic strip set at a golf course could sure take plenty of swings at Tiger Woods. Although, most shots would be below the belt!

    And speaking of puns, what do conservative foursomes book before they play golf?

    A tea party time!

  7. ::rimshot::

    Carl – I shouldn’t pre-judge the cartoon, so I’ll wait in anticipation that he’s found a way to get humor out of ridiculing progressive ideas.

  8. “I remember when Cathy was briefly political. Man, there was a backlash.”

    Cathy was political!?
    What was THAT about? Raising taxes on transfats or deregulating liposuction? Strange…

  9. I don’t know how bold the move is, but if it has a bloom county or prickly city type style and appeal it should be pretty good. Sounds interesting to me. Hope it works out.

  10. @Shane

    If memory serves (and it doesn’t a lot of the time), Cathy decided to get political when George H.W. Bush was running. I can’t remember if it was when he was against Michael Dukakis or Bill Clinton.

    It was only for a little while and our paper actually ran it next to Doonesbury on the editorial page (where Funky Winkerbean also appeared when it dealt with teen pregnancy).

    It seemed odd at the time and she didn’t go very far with it. There were some pretty angry letters printed in the paper complaining. Cathy Guisewite used to pop up a lot on talk shows, but I don’t remember her discussing politics.

    I suddenly feel like an old man in a rocking chair.

  11. The best subversive political cartoon ever was POGO.

    MacNelly started out conservative, but trended more apolitical before he dies way too early.

    Now…about the strip: Affluent golfers griping about taxes?
    Geee, how many versions will they run of THAT chestnut?
    Wanna bet it’s equivalent to the “losing the balls in the ballwasher” gag?

  12. Carl, re comment #6, many true liberals don’t even think that your assertions above are actually true [media is liberal, etc], so you will be preaching to the conservative choir in that case. But still, I’d love to see something better than that well-drawn but awful “Prickly City,” which is considered to be good. Go figure, and good luck! Yes, “Pogo” is the gold standard, so go for it!

  13. Stephen,
    I think trying to politics in a strip is like playing with snakes. It may be fascinating and thrilling for the artist at first, but often they end up getting bit.

    Right or left not withstanding, only a very few strippers have been able to balance good art, humor politics and characters intriguing enough to make the point but not come across so partisan that it repels folks.

    Walt Kelly was indeed great, as was Al Capp. But in the last 20+ years, the politics in strips have gotten too clumsy, ham handed or partisan for me – it doesn’t have to be conservative to suit me, heck I’ve liked stuff by avowed leftys but mostly both sides just seem to approach politics in mean spirited, amatuerish ways.

    That’s why I think Berke Breathed’s “Bloom County” was far more appealing to me than “Doonesbury”. Breathed always seemed to put the humor and entertainment first, the politics second. Garry Trudeau to me always seemed to light his liberal fires first before trying to actually make readers laugh.

    Cathy Guisewite was smart to drop it quick.

  14. I think both Al Capp and Walt Kelly’s work (as much as I loved them) became consumed by politics. It doesn’t help that political material dates more rapidly than milk left out in the sun.

    I agree, Bloom County was as perfect as it gets. Even the dated stuff still works. Milo making fun of the news going over Reagan’s polyps … I don’t want to see that stuff now, either.

  15. @Shane: I couldn’t disagree with you more about “Doonesbury.” True, Trudeau always has been as liberal as they come. But his strip has always been about story-telling first and foremost–more so than gags-a-days or political point-making. You can really see this when you read the book collections. He’s one of the best storytellers in comics.

  16. I have to second Ted on that. I hate Doonsbury’s politics, but Trudeau’s strips are about storytelling, and equally important they are about the characters. All his political points and gags are driven through the characters personalities, which he always develops well and writes brilliantly. One of the top strips of all time if you ask me.

  17. Ted,
    I actually have some of GT’s books, it’s not that I don’t think he’s a good story teller nor do I think he’s weak on good characterization. It’s the humor aspect I think he fails on so often.

    His resorting to over the top preaching in the forms of talking cigarettes and bullets or smug talk radio DJ ‘gotcha’ interviews make my eyes roll.

    It’s not the politics themselves, it’s the fact that the punchlines seem to be prioritized to make sure and get a political throat punch in first, then if there’s room, a laugh in second.

    I realize it’s all pretty much subjective, but when it gets down to what a comic strip is supposed to do (make me laugh) Breathed wins hands down time after time.

    I mean, his series on Steve Dallas getting his back broken by Sean Penn, the Deathtongue saga, the Michael Jackson ‘Prince & the Pauper’ switch with Opus, Bill the Cat cat sweat hair tonic episode, the 900 billion ‘Star Trek Defense Intiative’ series…man it goes on and on! Just brilliant stuff. Sure he got over political once in a while (the Mark Kay cosmetic story was more than a bit heavy handed) but overall, the man put laughs far out in front with great characters and wonderful, absurdist storylines.

    Just a matter of preference I guess, but ‘Bloom County’ belonged on the funny pages while ‘Doonesbury’ belongs on the editorial page. Just my humble $00.02.

  18. I love both Doonesbury and Bloom County, but I think it’s important to remember that Trudeau and Breathed were trying to achieve different things in their strips. When evaluating the success of a strip (not financially, but as art) one should always consider the goal of its artist and whether it was accomplished.

  19. Yeah, it’s not really about the politics to me. They’re both lefties, and frankly I’m what most posters here would call a ‘Bible Thumping Bitter Clinger’, so it has to be something else that made it jump out to me.

    What was so appealing about Bloom County was despite the politics, his characters and writing were so fresh and hilarious. And as someone said above, it still works even today.

    I was flipping through the new hardbound collection of Volume 1 that Breathed put out and saw strips I hadn’t seen since they were new, and laughed out loud.

    I guess with Doonesbury, it just seemed the politics were more pointed and the humor he used on his targets was a lot sharper. It may have acheived it’s goal, but it never made me laugh quite like Bloom Co. did.

  20. I’ve been compared to Zonker.

    I forgot about Doonesbury. I must put it in a class by itself. It really is apples and oranges when compared to Bloom County.

    Yeah, the cigarette character and other things never quite did it for me, but he’s gone 40 years with very brilliant stuff sprinkled throughout. I remember the gay couple’s spoiled honeymoon (Mark and ..?) definitely being laugh out loud funny.

    I need to catch up on the last few years of the strip.

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