First: this is not about Father’s Day.
Second: apologies for the profanity in the hed.
Though comic fans should be used to such.

Newspaper comics have been accused of being coarse and rude since their beginnings


Vulgar then did not mean sex and bodily functions, rather the low humor of the comics – the physical activity, the disrespect given to traditions, the buffoonery. The off-color jokes would be a long time in coming and would break through in bits and pieces.

Slang language for bodily functions upon would begin to make its way onto the funny pages when very popular comics would use impolite terms.

Here is Dennis the Menace in 1982:


From what I see most papers ran the original version seen above.
But a revised version was offered to newspapers embarrassed to go with the common terminology.

© North America Syndicate


Twenty years later and newspapers are still squeamish.

© Zits Partnership

Amazingly, in 2003 it was the major metropolitan dailies of Chicago and Los Angeles, The Tribune and The Times respectively, that demanded and received a revision to the Zits panel.


Creators Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman made the change for the big papers, it was a still young comic strip with a growing client list and were adverse to making waves. G. B. Trudeau, however, was an established bull. The feeling here is that Garry heard of the situation and decided to purposely tweak the newspapers’ noses. Six weeks later (about the lead time for Doonesbury from when the Zits strip was published) Garry offered up his version and The Chicago Tribune and L. A. Times published it.

© G. B. Trudeau

It made news in the media world:

The word’s appearance in “Doonesbury” comes just a bit more than a month after Geoffrey Brown, the associate managing editor/features, refused to allow its use in another comic strip, “Zits.” When he and his counterpart at the Los Angeles Times both complained about the term to King Features, which syndicates “Zits,” the strip’s creator changed the word to “stinks.”

No such luck with Garry Trudeau, the creator of “Doonesbury.” Trudeau is an 800-pound gorilla in the comics world, a fellow who can do pretty much what he wants.

So Brown had to decide whether to pull the strip for the day and break the continuity of the story, or allow the use of “sucks.” He elected to do the latter.

So once again Trudeau contributed to the breakdown of society.


Then there’s Brook McEldowney who has been pushing the sexual boundaries of the comics page. Arlo and Janis hint at their sex life, but at 9 Chickweed Lane it is on full display.

© Brooke McEldowney

Brooke goes a bit further than Al Capp’s titillating drawings in Li’l Abner.

And Greg Evans in Luann has painted a picture previously not seen:

© GEC Inc.


Well, at least someone in the comics universe is showing some modesty.

© DC Comics


All this brought to mind because of the increasing use by Stephan Pastis in Pearls Before Swine of a word that no one, these days, seems to object to:

© Stephan Pastis

It seems the mass media funnies is catching up with broadcast TV’s family hours.

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