I’ll readily admit that the kinds of cartoons I read are not of the WaPo paper variety, or the syndicated kind, but this really caught my attention. Coming fresh from talks with lit agents who are too afraid to sell writing like my O article — yet told me they clipped and saved the O article, shocked and excited that it was printed — the personal resonance here is more profound than the content of the cartoons. Basically, in Opus, Lola Granola goes through a stint as a radical Islamist, but many newspapers declined to publish the comic’s episodes out of fear that they would anger the Muslim community, even though we you look at the cartoons (up over in their entirety only at Salon right now, and even in a slightly different version), there is little to excite. Just replace Muslim with Christian, etc. to get the full effect on how sad the conservative, frightened state of our newspapers (online and off), lit, print and the floaty dead media pool has become. They are indeed afraid of the wrong things. (via) Yay for Joan Walsh, who writes,
In the strip distributed to newspapers, the final panel substitutes “world” for the term “Middle East.” (The Washington Post declined to publish even the edited cartoon in the newspaper.) We liked it better the way Breathed originally drew it, and decided to run that version.
As I noted last week, Editor & Publisher and others reported that some newspapers had concerns about running a cartoon that might somehow be construed as insensitive to Muslims. I’d like to insert a line here about Salon’s courage in running these two strips, but I didn’t see anything that made me think twice about them — except the news that others wouldn’t publish them. We’re proud to have Breathed as a contributor, and sad about what this episode says about newspaper publishing today.