Friday, February 17, 2017

Harry Bliss Comic Offends, Readers React; Cartoonist Responds

Harry Bliss' daily panel "Bliss" depicts a man trying to stop Dracula with a Star of David in his February 10, 2017 syndicated comic.

The Boston Globe has an article about "a few readers" writing to express their displeasure and offense.

Here's a sample:

"The cartoon seems to imply that the Shield of David is not a true symbol of God, or that Jews and their symbols are less godly than Christians and their symbols, or that Jews are too stupid to know they are supposed to use a Christian symbol to ward off pagan vampires.

"Perhaps Harry Bliss is not thinking about the wave of anti-Semitism inspired by our new president and his strategists, but printing this comic helps normalize a hateful agenda. I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that the Globe would sanction publishing such an offensive cartoon."

I remember a similar gag from LOVE AT FIRST BITE, a 1979 comedy movie with George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, and Richard Benjamin about a fish-out-of-water Count Dracula in modern day America. I don't remember any outrage. The bit occurs at about 1:13.


joecab said...

I'm sure he meant that it wouldn't work because it wasn't a cross; when do you ever see any use anything BUT a cross?

Well here's one straight from comic books: in Uncanny X-Men Annual #6 (1982) Dracula goes after Kitty Pryde, who is Jewish. He is stopped when he burns himself on the Star of David around her neck.

Sam Henderson said...

I didn't see the X-Men comic but used the same gag in 1985.

bg said...

Mike,I have been enjoying your blog for years as it provides doses of beauty, humor, wonder and wit as an antidote to the uglier, more cruel aspects and episodes of life. As a stop on my daily blogroll it is an oasis from politics.

That being said, I want to share my thoughts on the "controversy" surrounding this Harry Bliss cartoon.

As a jew, not only do I NOT find this cartoon offensive, I find it mildly humorous as jewish tradition and culture are often at odds with mainstream culture.

What I DO find offensive are those individuals or groups who pour over the detritus and minutiae of daily life looking for any aspect or element thereof that can be re-packaged, amplified and exploited to fit a particular contemporary or in-vogue political narrative, all the while IGNORING other larger, more egregious examples that contradict or could prove inconvenient in service of their cause.

I'm a 60-ish jew, whose-grand parents fled the murderous pogroms of eastern Europe that preceded Hitler. I married into a black family that fled depression-era Texas for the same reasons. In the years spanning Rodney King to Treyvon Martin I helped raise black children, male and female. So believe me, my bias, prejudice and hate radars are always active.

Bias and hatred against jews is as old as jews themselves. To claim that any and all recent instances are a direct result of some sort of "empowerment" resulting from the recent election of a supposedly "conservative" polititian and his team, is to ignore the history of this hate and bias; and to appropriate it for certain temporal political aims. All the while ignoring similar anti-jewish hate and bias coming from certain ethnic groups and political groups that make up the coalition of proportedly "progressive liberals". This is in itself biased and prejudiced.

I understand many well-intentioned people are eager to point out social injustice, bias and hate. Good. Now broaden your scope to include sources you reflexively trust. Scrutinize, balance, weigh and judge fairly, without bias or agenda. "Question authority." "Don't trust anyone over 30." They're still good rules to live by.

A successful cartoon speaks for itself without ambiguity and without need for explanation. If the purpose of Harry Bliss was to malign jews, or depricate judaism, he failed miserably.


Unknown said...

"Oy, and have you got the wrong vampire!" was a punchline in Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers

Richard Maitheson's novel I Am Legend had a protagonist who realized religious symbols only worked against vampires from that particular religion; as a result he surrounded his fortified home with crosses, stars of David, Q'rans, Buddhist prayer wheels, etc. He lived in fear of encountering an atheist vampire...