December 28, 2002
Comics carping

On Monday, the Chron added two new comics, La Cucaracha, and The Boondocks. Some people don't find them funny:

As a longtime student of comic strip culture, I am appalled by the two new comics the Chronicle has decided to include. I find them highly racist and offensive.

A "longtime student of comic strip culture"? Do you mean "Someone who's read comics since I was a kid"? What a pompous bozo.

The Dec. 27 comic strip The Boondocks was nothing more than a mean-spirited and prejudicial attack on Southern Republicans. To intensify the smear, the language used was particularly offensive and inflammatory and unacceptable in contemporary discourse.

This strip is not funny and does not belong on the comic pages of a family newspaper.

Oh, cry me a river. I have to put up with Mallard Fillmore, B.C., and Marvin. Don't read what you don't like and quit whining.

I note, by the way, that the letter writers come from the suburbs (Sugar Land and Katy). Make of that what you will.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 28, 2002 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

You're wrong, Chuck. That particular comic strip was a racist political attack veiled as satire. To cry foul at having it called as such is the equivalent to putting a brick in a cream pie and smacking someone with it that you later bitch out to their bleeding, aching face for not finding the "everything but the brick" part of the pie funny.

Nope. Sorry. You can't say you're fighting racism with further racism. Hymie don't play that.

Posted by: Laurence Simon on December 28, 2002 1:06 PM

Let me put it this way: Doonesbury is left-wing, and sometimes it annoys me, but that Boondocks comic is something else again. There is a difference between a comic being ideological/provocative and being offensive/stupid. There is also a difference between biting satire and simple mean-spiritedness. You should know the difference.

And besides -- any newspaper should welcome reader input on its cartoons. If the Chronicle runs terrible cartoons and nobody complains because they hold to the mantra of "don't read what you don't like," then the paper never changes, and theres no competing comics page. So if you don't like B.C., by all means, write in about it. Maybe they'll dump it some day and replace it with a cartoon that you prefer.

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on December 28, 2002 1:23 PM

"Don't read what you don't like and quit whining."

... words more people should learn to live by.

Posted by: Greg Wythe on December 28, 2002 3:52 PM

They replaced 'Steve Roper' and 'Geech' I'm not sorry.

Today's 'boondocks' ("Ain't nobody going to Strom's birthday party next year") was funny, IMHO.

Now if we can only get them to dump 'Gasoline Alley'.

who remembers a funny joke in Mallard Fillmore. two years ago. That they recycled for two weeks. Before dropping back down to their ususal level.

Posted by: Michael Croft on December 28, 2002 4:27 PM

As is so often the case, Chuck, you said the same thing Michael and I said to each other this morning over breakfast.

I missed the particular strip that started the fuss, but I've read enough Boondocks to know it's always offensive to someone. Those of excessively right-wing PC sensibilities should stick to Mallard Fillmore et al.

Greg: right on! One of the few good things about the newspaper monopoly is that we do get a wide variety of comics. Gasoline Alley bores me senseless, and Mallard Fillmore has had exactly one funny strip since it's been in the Chronk, but if it makes someone else happy, more power to them.

Posted by: Ginger on December 28, 2002 4:31 PM

I think Boondocks in general is quite funny. I didn't read the strip in question, though. I also find Mallard Fillmore funny, but that's ideological. La Cucaracha, on the other hand, is just plain stupid. Too stupid to be offensive, really.

Posted by: R. Alex on December 28, 2002 7:13 PM

Well, I read those Boondocks strips this week, and I thought they were funny. Humor is a matter of taste. I'm a little surprised that a guy whose humor is as edgy as yours is, Larry, would bother to find offense.

I'm not crying foul at these letter writers, I'm mocking them. It's the comics, for crying out loud. Don't they have anything better to do?

(Yeah, I know - it's pretty rich for a blogger to say that.)

I've never seen the Chron (or the Post, for that matter) drop a strip as a result of letters to the editor. I know from friends who've worked at the Chron that they do periodic opinion polls on their comics page and act accordingly.

It's OK by me if the Chron prints comics that I don't like. As I said, I don't read them. I also don't read anything by Michelle Malkin or any letters to the editor that contain the word "liberal" in the headline. It's not worth my time.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 28, 2002 7:22 PM

Oh, and FWIW, I think "La Cucaracha" is dumb and not very funny (at least so far). I'd take "Geech" over it, even if it only ever had three jokes.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 28, 2002 7:30 PM

Well, let's see here... The Chronicle is the only paper in a major metro market and Boondocks is a nationally-syndicated cartoon. Audience huge, with many children (read the title of the Boondocks web site and you'll see how proud the artist is of his influence on children).

I'm just one schmuck with a web site. Audience: maybe 800-1,100 hits a day and a fraction of that in unique individuals. I figure that since I haven't gotten a fatwah on my ass, the Saudis *like* my stuff or haven't hipped to the jive yet.

(This is usually where Mike does his usual sophistry. I look forward to stuffing his mouth with the best pretzels in the planet.)

Posted by: Laurence Simon on December 28, 2002 8:14 PM

I dunno, I went back and read the offensive strip. It was pretty funny. I wouldn't give it to my 8-year-old nephew on his own to read, but I wouldn't cringe if he read it in the paper, either. It'd be an interesting discussion, that's for sure.

No sophistry here: the cry of "for the children" and "he has a big audience and I have a little one" is something I flat-out reject. The guy who writes Boondocks has his agenda and Larry's got his. If Larry gets a column in the paper, we'll see if he wants to tone down his edgy humor or not. Until then, how you feel about editorial responsibility is just speculation.

I admire The Boondocks for having the nads to say harsh things in the big leagues. I've read strips that have amused me and I've read some that annoyed me, but at least it's not bland crap like the stuff it replaced.

La Cucaracha falls firmly in the "bland crap" category, though. Bleah.

Posted by: Ginger on December 28, 2002 8:33 PM

racist political attack veiled as satire

Bullshit. Attributing racist views, even falsely, isn't racist, if the word is to mean anything specific.

One might say the strip "hit below the belt", or resorted to demagoguery. I'd disagree, and Lott made remarks ("because I'm a Xtian conservative from MS) that show just the impatience and resentment that the strip dramatized.

But supposing Boondocks "hit below the belt"--that's not the same thing as racism.

Posted by: son volt on December 29, 2002 9:47 AM

I've been reading "The Boondocks" for six months or so, and have bought both of its collections. I sometimes agree with it, sometimes disagree with it (and I miss the supporting cast it used to have), but it's always outspoken, angry, sarcastic, and open about its opinions and prejudices, and I respond strongly to that. I'm happy to see it in the Chronicle.

I've been reading "La Cucaracha" since it got plugged in somebody's site--Evanier's, maybe. It's a new strip, and it was edging its way onto my indifferent list because it wasn't showing much of a spark. For Hispanic-themed strips, Baldo is better-written and far better-drawn.

I never read "Steve Roper". I read "Geech", but won't miss it that much.

Posted by: Greg Morrow on December 30, 2002 2:19 PM

Yes, I've read "La Cucaracha" as it is published in the Los Angeles Times, and it pretty much pisses me off daily. But what can I do? Its perfectly acceptable to "slam Whitey".

I'm refering to a "La Cucaracha" cartoon where it mocks a fictional cartoon strip called "Whitesville USA" drawn by Aryan McCracker.

McCracker? What the hell is that? Am I supposed to get a chuckle out of that? I'm of Irish heritage and I take offense to the "McCracker" reference.

I could go all day long making jokes about McChinks, McSpooks and McBeaners but that would be seen as offensive to some... I think.

Posted by: M. Conger on February 3, 2003 10:05 AM

Wow, anybody wanna talk about La Cucaracha? I mean, I hope SOMEONE'S opinions here have changed since 2002.
that's all, you can also slam me and call me stupid, if that's all you can think of.

Posted by: Lalo Alcaraz on June 1, 2005 12:26 AM


I find La Cucaracha to be quite unfunny and am extremely tired of being called a racist simply because of the color of my skin. I speak fairly fluent Spanish, work with Latinos at my job on a daily basis, and date Latino women whenever the pleasure of the opportunity arises. You had a great opportunity to bring down the cultural divide that separates whites and Latinos by pointing out just how ridiculous the stereotypes racism perpetuates are. Dave Chappelle did this in Chappelle’s Show by forcing whites, blacks, and Latinos to all laugh at some of the crazy ideas they have about one another. Instead of following in his brilliant and ground breaking example, you turned La Cucaracha into a Latino Doonesbury-wannabe. Do you really expect a white person to pick up your comic, laugh, and then go out and change the way they think and act? If so, sir, then you are even more out of touch with whites than however out of touch with Latinos you believe whites are. Your strip can be overly harsh, accusatory, and abrasive, something that will not accomplish much in terms of relieving racial tension. The attitude of "its them versus us" that is so prevalent in many Latino communities is enforced through your strip. This does nothing to improve the position of any minority in America.

I do not believe you are a racist by any means. It appears to me that you are quite intelligent and genuinely want a better country for your children to live in. It also appears to me that your methods and practices are extremely misguided. Please sir, take a step back and look at the way in which you present your message in La Cucaracha. You have access to a channel of communication with white America few other Latinos do and you are throwing it away in your attempt to shock and shame whites into change.

Posted by: Marcas on July 21, 2005 2:49 PM