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Rina Piccolo: Comics are stuck in a ultra-PG rating humor


A Tina’s Groove comic (above) that was slated to run May 5 didn’t make it past King Feature editors because it was deemed potentially offensive to some readers. Tina’s Groove creator Rina Piccolo writes how insane it is that the US newspaper comics are stuck in the 1950s as far as humor.

This tastes like crap Newspaper comic artists are not permitted to make references to sex, race, or religion? even if the reference is not deemed offensive in other areas of the publishing and entertainment world. We?re not permitted to write lines like ?go to hell,? or ?this tastes like crap.? There are even constraints on ?gross? gags?for instance, a scene where somebody farts would be seriously questioned. (I once had to change a sound effect from ?fart!? to ?Brapp!? The sound effect was not from a character, but from a garbage incinerator. Wow. You?d have to be truly uptight to be offended by a garbage incinerator that makes a farting noise.)

Community Comments

#1 Randy Glasbergen
@ 1:18 pm

For more on this topic, check out a recent Dan Collins’ “Looks Good On Paper” cartoon on GoComics @

#2 Alan Gardner
@ 1:48 pm

I would have loved to see that gag run in a newspaper.

#3 Keith Brown
@ 10:13 pm

Since I do a strip about hell I am very aware of these realities.

#4 Don N. Hagist
@ 6:01 am

And yet Lio can do this:

#5 Terry LaBan
@ 8:14 am

More seatless pants!

#6 Mark Tatulli
@ 10:49 am

@Don…Pissing cherubs abound in public places. It would be tough to argue against that. Plus, please note the carefully placed vegetation around the little guy’s mid-section. The comics might allow faux-urinating statues, but bare asses are always a no-no.
I would suggest to Rina that there are ways of saying what she wants to say, you just have to come in through the side door.

#7 Tom Stemmle
@ 12:53 pm

@ Mark: Thank you for saying SIDE door…

#8 JLG
@ 5:31 pm


Huh? But…that’s just not true. There have been a million of those. Heck, in your own strip, even.

And frankly I’m confused. There have been plenty of jokes about race issues, sex and religion. It’s just that some syndicates are more uptight than others. Garry Trudeau has joked about all of those things, and Berke Breathed used to get away with just about anything. Just for starters, there was that sequence about “flesh”-colored crayons, and Binkley musing “This is obviously a Crayola/Republican conspiracy.”

#9 Darrin Bell
@ 10:08 am

About those Breathed strips, race and politics aren’t taboo on the comics page. Sex (especially bondage) is always a huge hurdle. As Mark said, there are ways to get away with it. It’s usually got to be a double entendre though, to give everyone (including squeamish parents answering their kids’ questions) plausible deniability.

#10 George Miller
@ 8:32 pm

I agree with the KING editors for pulling the strip. KEEP IT CLEAN! Don’t you know there are little kids reading the comics?!
I guess many cartoonists these days don’t care if their child has to ask their parents about bondage or S & M? Let the kids remain innocent for at least their childhood for God’s sake! They’ll have to face all of the garbage & perversions that we adults have to face on a daily basis soon enough! If you want adult comics then go to other sources…but keep them OUT of the FAMILY newspaper!!!

#11 JLG
@ 2:20 pm

Meh. People who worry about their children “asking questions” can rarely articulate, really, what’s so dread-inspiring about that scenario. They’re only going to be “corrupted” by something if the adults in their lives send them the message that it’s a corrupting influence. Frankly, you take a lot of power away from something by taking away its mystique.

Freaking out this much about sex is, in many ways, an American thing. In many other western/westernized societies, people aren’t anywhere near as uptight about “children asking questions” as we are.

#12 Mike Peterson
@ 4:26 pm

Oh, JLG, if only every American could be as worldly as you!

#13 Mark Juhl
@ 9:26 pm

So it’d be just fine if sexual fetish guy was Mohammad?

#14 JLG
@ 3:29 am

Since sarcasm vs. sincerity over the internet machine is not always the easiest thing to discern, you’re either chiding Americans for narrowmindedness or chiding me for being a pretentious blowhard elitist or something like that.

#15 Mike Peterson
@ 2:47 am


You’re making fun of a guy who has a sincere point of view, and you’re assuming that newspapers can survive as a medium for nice audiences. If you’re going to be mean, you need to back it up with some practical knowledge of what you’re talking about. Newspapers are a mass medium and have to serve a much wider demographic than, say, magazines or web sites.

The part about being mean-spirited in a way that drives others away from the conversation is opinion, though sincere. The part about how newspapers work is based on a couple of decades in the medium. Also sincere.

I think Rina raises a good question, but would note that she then proceeded to drop in — for newspaper work — some pretty edgy bomblets in this week’s cartoons. Also that Paul Gilligan had a pair of assless chaps in Pooch Cafe. So the topic requires more than dismissive off-the-cuff commentary if you sincerely offer more than sarcasm.

#16 Mike Peterson
@ 2:48 am

“niche” audiences, not “nice” audiences. Wish the comments here were editable.

#17 JLG
@ 7:20 am

Wait….what? Where did I make fun of anyone? I simply said that I find that people who express the kind of fears George expressed above usually don’t articulate what’s actually TO fear about those things. What’s this about being mean-spirited??

And I don’t understand what you’re referring to when you talk about newspapers not being able to afford catering to niche audiences and needing to appeal a wide demographic. I can’t figure out what comment you’re responding to. It doesn’t match with anything. Nowhere did I even mention that, much less disagree with the point. The only other thing I’ve said here was about how the careers of certain people show that Piccolo paints a black-and-white picture than the situation merits.

#18 JLG
@ 7:21 am

** a MORE black-and-white picture

#19 Mike Peterson
@ 3:05 am


(Feel it? If do, I made my point. If not, you’ll never get it. Either way)

#20 JLG
@ 6:37 am

What? “Meh”? That’s my alleged mean-spirited insult? Let’s just say that you and I have very different ideas about the connotation of that word. My friends and I used that on each other all the time as an expression of disagreement. I can’t believe how much malevolence you read into that word that simply was not there.

And I still don’t know what the rest of your words are in response to. I didn’t say ANY of the things you seem to think I said.

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