CSotD: Sunday Comics Section

Mr. Boffo reminds me of when I got a subscription to the New Yorker for donating to my NPR station. I enjoyed leafing through and looking at the cartoons, but, while the articles were well-written and interesting, I couldn’t plow through them before another issue arrived.

It was like some literary form of the Sorceror’s Apprentice: Half-read and unread issues piled up, and after awhile it felt more like homework than fun. When it was time to renew, I didn’t.

I don’t have any great point to make, and I still touch base with their cartoons regularly, though the selection since Bob Mankoff left is somewhat less to my taste. I saw Mankoff at Bennington shortly after he departed, together with a large selection of New Yorker cartoons from his time in the editor’s chair, and you might find that link worth clicking.

Though it will indeed add to your reading for the day.


Existential Comics takes a poke at JK Rowling, whose transphobic statements have alienated a number of Harry Potter fans.

On one level, art should remain separate from the artist, and you should, for example, be able to appreciate Byron’s poetry without being distracted by his objectionable personality, which isn’t reflected in his work.

By contrast, Woody Allen’s Manhattan is practically a confession about his sexual fascination for very young women, which turns a wonderfully photographed movie into a ghastly 90-minute cringe, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying Annie Hall.

Unless it does.

And looking back at Harry Potter, I don’t see any evidence of transphobia in it, but I know a couple of little girls who used to be little boys, and, while your mileage may vary, my question for Rowling would be why she couldn’t have simply kept her big mouth shut.

Existential Comics nails the point well by showing Dumbledore upset over a problem that exists only in his mind, similar to blowing up a very atypical situation in the form of a swimmer who only transitioned halfway through college into a major crisis. It’s equally foolish and unfair, given that my young friends realized their dysphoria well before puberty and it was neither a momentary fad nor a light decision.

Regardless of what people may think who would rather blather than listen.

My hope is that, when they’re my age, they’ll look back at the lynch mobs of this era and struggle to explain it to the young people of that one.


Speaking of being my age — and lightening the conversation up considerably — Betty (AMS) reminds me of visiting my mother at about the time of her 80th birthday. We were fixing dinner when she moved something on the counter and we heard the clink of a falling coin.

She looked down and saw it was a nickel, then shrugged and said it would have to stay there until something more valuable joined it. She just turned 98 the other day, and now I’m the one adjusting to a life of non-toe-touching and of leaving nickels on the floor.


Between Friends (KFS) takes me back a little further, as Susan had coffee with her old boss and has decided to keep it that way.

When my dad was 50, he decided he was fed up with the steel industry and became a labor negotiator for a large school board, putting his industrial experience into education, something he cared about a great deal more. And while he was assuming what could have been a “bad guy” position, he got along very well with the various unions in the district.

It’s never too late to change, and don’t fool yourself: The days of 40 years and a gold watch are over.

If you want gratitude, adopt a dog.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Pooch Cafe — AMS)


(Flying McCoys — AMS)

Pooch Cafe didn’t faze me, since I’m used to the idea that most people these days live in the city and look with horror at the prospect of sleeping on the ground in the presence of animals.

It’s a trade-off of sorts, since most of us country folk are pretty sure that going into the city will result in a mugging or worse, though I’ll say it’s a whole lot easier to find a city person who has been mugged than it is to find a country person who has been attacked by a bear.

However, while I shrug off the litany of complaints about mosquitos and dirt and rain and such, the Flying McCoys took pastorophobia to a whole other level.

I have terrific memories of fishing with my dad, and my kids have great memories of fishing with me. We didn’t always bring home dinner, or even a snack, but we had a lot of time to talk between tossing back the little ones and baiting the hook again.

If hanging out with your dad is traumatic, don’t blame the fish.

In fact, when Jan Eliot was semi-retiring and packing up her Stone Soup archives, she asked me if I’d like an original, and I knew exactly which one I wanted. This piece from 2012 is now hanging over my desk:


You never know what’s going to stick, and, while you can’t avoid an occasional clinker, it’s well worth the effort to outfit your kids with as many good memories as you can. What’s great about this strip is that Alix has more memories that her mother and aunt expect, and the guide at the aquarium doesn’t realize the depths from which they come.

Maybe Alix doesn’t know where her knowledge comes from, either, but there’s a level on which she remembers, however imperfectly, that her father loved her and did things with her.

And, by the way, if you prefer to view nature through the windshield of a car, leaf-peeping season is approaching, and here’s an interactive map from the folks in the Smoky Mountains to help plan a trip.

There’s not much yet, but it’s early.

Here’s the prediction for Columbus Day, which is usually good in the Northern Forest, after which a lot of the tourist places shut down for the winter.

Meanwhile, it’s still warm enough for a little kayaking with Dad, as this Canadian film shows:

15 thoughts on “CSotD: Sunday Comics Section

  1. I, too, have a stash of New Yorkers somewhere in the house; the feeling of The Apprentice is a very apt description. I think it was not only the frequency of the magazine, the length of the articles, but the speed at which the world – our political world – was changing, and I couldn’t keep up with the long expositions thereof.

    But I couldn’t bear to throw them away, unread . . . little did I know the speed of change would accelerate to point it now has.

  2. I think the use of the word, clinker, has passed its prime. The last use of the word I recall having meaning and context was the movie “A Christmas Story.” Even then, you had to have a little understanding of what burning coal was about.

  3. Andrea, your use of “stash” implies to me that they are all in one place. Luxury, pure luxury. Mine are all over the house, equally unread but of course I intend to catch up any day now. Maybe I can round them up into one unread pile someday. There’s also the daily paper to contend with, and since ours is the Washington Post it’s considerably more substantial than some. Next time TNY is up for renewal I’ll probably do digital only, but my wife likes the print WaPo.

  4. It seems rather unnecessary to use the characters of Harry Potter as stand-ins for JKR on this point for a few reasons, mainly that 1) As you said, there’s zero evidence of any transphobic themes in the books themselves (or basically any other objectionable material, for that matter) and 2) Existential Comics doesn’t have a habit of using characters that aren’t (parodies of) actual philosophers, of which I have to imagine there were at least a few with known comparable views.

  5. Nicholas, your second point is addressed by the rollover (title) text for this image on the EC site: “What does this have to do with philosophy? Well, it's my philosophy that J.K. Rowling fuckin’ sucks”.

  6. More to the point, my entire statement was about whether the character of an artist should impact our appreciation of their art. Manhattan was relevant, Annie Hall less so. Still, I hold her accountable because she hurts people near me. I’d say the same if someone told watermelon jokes, even if watermelon jokes weren’t central to their work. I’m not sure how I can be any more clear than I was, but please tell me where my argument failed.

  7. Same with The New Yorker…and The Atlantic…and Harper’s, even without the cartoons. I still miss Collier’s, to be honest.

  8. How about reading something JKRowling actually said?

    She opened her “big mouth” to speak about _women’s rights_. She explicitly and repeatedly has stressed she wants to trans people have all the civil rights everyone should have.

    If, when there actually is a conflict, the only solution is for women to shut up and make room, I’m sorry, but you’re only telling on yourself.

    There are plenty of transwomen who see this. So why listen to the misogynists?

  9. Mike, your statement was very clear, I was simply extending it onto the presentation of the comic that began your discussion – JKR’s questionable views have nothing to do with and are not visible in Harry Potter in particular (no comment on her more recent works). Using HP characters as stand-ins accomplishes little more than forcefully tying them to something they don’t need to be associated with, especially when the characters being used as mouthpieces are acting completely against their existing personalities. I find it rather unlikely that there aren’t 2-3 philosophers or philosophy-adjacent persons who could have filled these roles in effectively the same manner that is used in any of their other comics that have been created with the intent to say something topical.

    If the counter argument is that they believe that it is not possible to enjoy HP while being against what JKR has turned into, well… I disagree.

    (And Mark, acknowledging something is generally not the same as explaining or justifying it, though of course it is their webcomic and they are not beholden to their audience.)

  10. @Fred King: Yes, all in one place, neatly piled up inside a cupboard in my bookcase. Where I placed them when we moved to this house in 2005. And no, I couldn’t tell you WHICH cupboard in WHICH bookcase (all around the house) they are. And will probably remain until or if we move out of this house.

  11. @nicholas did you only read the comics and not the commentary? the entire point is a discussion about separating the artist from their art. that is the entire reason for using Rowling’s most popular creation to get a point across regarding her views.
    also there is an example of transfer beer in the box. read the description of the journalist character Rita Skeeter and it is is a classic transmisogynistic caricature.

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