Unfunny Sunday Funnies
- Indian Comics Irregular #57
As I've argued before, monocultural thinking is woven into our social
fabric. Bias pervades everything from the lofty Shakespearean play
to the lowly comic strip. It's so commonplace we overlook it,
taking what we think is "normal" for granted.
Johnny Hart's "B.C." is a good example of this cultural bias. The
strip has always had a pro-Christian bent. But a recent Sunday strip
made "B.C.'s" assumptions painfully obvious.
Hart's Easter strip presented a Jewish menorah lit with seven
flames. Each panel showed one of Christ's last utterances followed
by a flame going out. As the last flame disappeared, accompanied by
the words "It is finished," the menorah became a cross. The final
panel showed a cross on a hill behind an open cave, with the epitaph,
"Do this in remembrance of me."
Jews quickly denounced this strip, calling it an example of
"replacement theology": the notion that Christianity has supplanted
Judaism because it's a "better" religion. Hart, a born-again
Christian, denied this and claimed he was honoring both religions.
Richard Newcombe, president of the syndicate that distributes "B.C.,"
said charges of anti-Semitism were "ridiculous."
To invoke another comic strip, what a crock. Hart is either a
colossal liar or in deep denial about his motivations.
How exactly does a menorah being snuffed out with the words "It is
finished" honor Judaism? If Hart wanted to acknowledge both
religions, why not put a menorah and cross side by side in the final
panel with a message both Jews and Christians could embrace? If
Hart's goal was to show Christianity's roots, how about juxtaposing a
"big brother" menorah and a "little brother" cross? Wouldn't that
represent the relationship between the two living religions better
than an extinguished menorah?
Several newspapers withheld this blatantly prejudiced Sunday strip.
Claiming it was just a coincidence, the Los Angeles Times canceled
"B.C." To which I can only add, good riddance.
Like comic books, comic strips show us ourselves in a fun-house
mirror. This Easter strip is just the latest example. Media
problems like this will persist unless we stand up and protest them.
The 4/29 "Herman" strip showed an Indian seated at a desk as
Christopher Columbus arrived. Columbus tried to say hello and the
Indian interrupted him with bureaucratic questions. The Indian
finally sent Columbus to the end of a long line of newcomers.
I guess this was meant to be a commentary on the Europeans' illegal
immigration. As humor, it would've made a good editorial cartoon.
But one detail was worth noting. The "civilized" Native had a human
skull atop a pole and another in front of his desk.
The implication is that Indians were savage headhunters. In reality,
the Taino Indians who met Columbus were friendly and guileless--so
much so that Columbus likened them to children. It was Columbus and
his son Ferdinand who began killing Natives savagely, not the other
To see the full version of this essay, go to
Going by the theory that it takes a 'toon to fight a 'toon, I've
added or linked to several online cartoons. These include Rob
Davis's election cartoons
(http://www.jackcurtin.com/cartoon/index.htm), Latuff's anti-violence
cartoons (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/latuff.htm), and new PEACE
PARTY political cartoons (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/toons01.htm).
Check 'em out.
Blue Corn Comics