Saturday, August 18, 2007

Censored Cartoons

Oh, hi! Still unpacking here at the new house, so here's a warmed over item from the ol' blog (back when in its fledgling Myspace incarnation) from Monday, April 24, 2006. The book I mention did get published earlier this year, albeit without any Mike Lynch Cartoons. Mores the pity.

This past fall I was asked by an editor to tell stories about censored cartoons. (There may or may not be a forthcoming book about censored cartoons. I don't know.) This is one of the stories I told.

I had a regular client that I did a lot of cartoons for. I'm not going to identify the client. I was doing good, regular work for them. I think I had been drawing cartoons regularly for a number of months. I was in a honeymoon period. Many of my cartoons were getting bought. the editor was happy. Mike was happy. Everyone was happy. And then there comes the inevitable moment of screw up.

Background: This was back when overweight people were suing the fast food restaurants. A few months after that, news stories reported (and this is not a joke) that pet owners were suing pet food manufacturers on behalf of their hefty pets. So I pitched a cartoon about it and it was given a green light. This is the one I drew up:

I got a call from the editor as soon as I emailed it to her. She was upset. "You can't have the guy fat and a slob. Fat people aren't necessarily sloppy housekeepers, you know?" I told her it was funny because all this irresponsible guy and his cat do all day is sit around eat, and they toss the wrappers and containers around. The clutter made this easy to see.

Well, she was really upset. He can be fat. He can be a slob. But he can't be both. Weird.
He who takes the king's money is the king's man. I drew up another, sanitized version:

And she was relieved. When it was published, there was no outcry that I heard of.

(Heck, you can sure see that I went for a broader, more cartoony, simple style in this second cartoon since I was pressed for time.)

Afterward, the editor filled me in. This publication had run a major multi-part story about obese children. The series was meant to illuminate their worlds in a thoughtful way. And it did. But the schoolmates of the kids ridiculed them. And these kids who had that thought they would be celebrities for a week, became even bigger targets of teasing. The parents of the obese children called the publication, holding them liable for the bullying their kids were enduring. The publication apologized and treated the kids and parents to a day at the publication's offices: a tour, a nice lunch, etc. That smoothed things over.

And it explained why, when this publication shows an obese person (or cat), they are overly sensitive.

And it explained why they outright rejected this one:

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