Scatological Humor in the Newspaper Funnies

Twenty years ago at The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

After the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette cancelled the comic strip “Lola” over a fart joke in July, the paper was hit with a flood with letters from angry readers, the Arkansas Times reported in August. No scandal, including the impeachment of native son President Clinton, has rivaled the response to the cancellation of the comic strip.

“In terms of immediacy, it blows everything else out of the water,” said Meredith Oakley, the editor of the Democrat-Gazette’s “Voices” page, where letters are published.

© Steve Dickinson & Todd Clark/Tribune Media Services

The comic, written and drawn by Steve Dickenson and Todd Clark, used the word “farts” in its July 11 [2000] strip. The newspaper on July 12 inserted a note into the spot where “Lola” usually ran that said: “The comic strip Lola has been canceled. Tuesday’s strip, with a scatalogical [sic] joke, exceeded the boundaries of good taste for the comics pages.”

Frank Fellone, the newspaper’s deputy managing editor, … said the paper canceled “Lola” because “the level of mass media is constantly coarsening. Fellone said the strip will not be reinstated despite reader support. 

That incident was revived when The Democrat-Gazette published today’s Pearls Before Swine:

© Stephan Pastis

As The Arkansas Times tells it:

A reader of the comics pages in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette calls my attention to this strip in the Saturday morning newspaper.

He recalled an episode in 2000 when the newspaper canceled the “Lola” comic strip because of its use of the word “fart.”

[Then] Executive Editor Griffin Smith jr. deplored defenders of “gratuitous language on the comics page of a family newspaper” and told one of his reporters: “I was surprised by the aggressively belligerent attitudes of the forces of vulgarity. .. This nation may be the first in history where some people feel superior precisely because they’re coarser and more vulgar than other people.”

This, of course, was before Donald Trump and the MAGA movement came along.

Not mentioned by The Times is that in the intervening two decades the daily Democrat-Gazette has gone from print to online only (they only print the Sunday paper these days).

Of course if that past Democrat-Gazette Features Editor had been paying attention they could have done what the more alert staff at The Daily News did back then with their Lola:


Now I’m wondering about the papers that ran Bliss this week.

© Harry Bliss



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