NEW YORK (AP) – Cartoonists are pushing back against racist remarks made by “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, with one artist even using his own strip this week to mock the disgraceful cartoon that has been dropped by newspapers across the country now to cover.
Darrin Bell is changing his “Candorville” strip – which usually features young Black and Latino characters – to address Adams’ racism by mimicking the look and style of “Dilbert,” complete with a wayward necktie.
“The only reason anyone knows who Scott Adams is is because of the comics page. So I thought somebody on the comics page should respond to it on the comics page,” Bell, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for reporting and commentary, told the Associated Press.
In the strips that ran from Monday to Saturday, Bell paired Dilbert with one of his own characters, Lemont Brown. In one, Dilbert hopes that Lemont will work with him as he tries to add a laundry room to work.
“You could wash your hood,” says Dilbert. Lemont replies: “And you could wash your hood?”
Adams, who is white, has been a constant – and controversial – presence on social media long before he described Black people as a “hate group” on YouTube last month. Adams repeatedly referred to people who are Black as members of a “hate group” and said he would no longer help Black Americans. He later said it was hyperbolic, but continued to defend his position.
“When someone goes too far like Scott Adams did, everyone who knows better should stand up and use their First Amendment to draw a line – say this is unacceptable,” Bell said , whose new graphic novel “The Talk” explores growing up. as a biracial man in white culture.
Other cartoonists have stepped forward to denounce Adams, such as Bill Holbrook, creator of “On the Fastrack,” a strip that features an interracial family and — like “Dilbert” — focuses on the modern workplace.
“One of the things I wanted to highlight in my characters is that people get over their differences. It can work,” Holbrook said. “That’s the spotlight I wanted to focus on and still do. It’s all a matter of where you want to put your focus.”
Holbrook said the Adams case is not a case of a so-called culture of cancellation but of consequences.
“I fully support him saying whatever he wants, but then he has to own the consequences of what he says,” he said. “It’s not being cancelled. He faces the consequences of expressing his views.”
“Dilbert” has dropped individual newspapers and Adams’ distributor, Andrews McMeel Universal, said it was severing ties with the cartoonist. While several other strip outlets replaced “Dilbert,” The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Massachusetts, kept the space empty until March “as a reminder of the racism that permeates our society.”
The “Dilbert” controversy has affected a community of daily cartoonists who often create works in their homes several months before publication. While they are reliably outspoken, they say they are also focused on a better future – or at least a smile.
“We believe that comics are a powerful medium and that cartoonists should perpetuate laughter, not racism and hate,” said Tea Fougner, editor in chief of King Features Syndicate – which distributes strips like “Candorville,” “Zits,” “Mutts” and “Dennis the Menace” — in a statement to the AP.
“We are proud of our cartoonists who are using their platforms to denounce the spread of hate by Scott Adams and encourage others to join us as we stand together as a community to keep the world of cartooning a safe and welcoming space for all,” the statement. said.
Bell credited King Features Syndicate and his editors with allowing him to rip off the planned strips for the week and anticipate “Dilbert” addresses, an unusual request.
“It seems like they thought it was important to take a lot of risk and make sure it goes out on time,” Bell said.
Many comic creators said they stopped reading “Dilbert” over the past several years, which made the tone of the strip darker and its creator’s descent into misogyny, anti-immigration and racism alarming. But Adams still had hundreds of newspaper perches before last week.
“We can’t move forward and progress as a culture and as a society if there are still people in these gatekeeping roles who hold these ancient ideas,” said artist Bianca Xunise, who co-authored the strip ” Six Chix” and She is the second Black woman in the history of nationally syndicated comics.
Xunise noted that the fallout was much faster when she pulled a strip commenting on the Black Lives Matter movement and the coronavirus pandemic. More than 120 publications immediately dropped the strip.
She said that black life in the cartooning world seems to be pulling away from hateful readers and those who fear “woke” messages, but she is happy that “Crólír na Cathrah” – now authored by black cartoonist Steenz – has replaced “Dilbert” in The. Washington Post.
“We don’t want to push it so far that it’s a different form of fascism rather than censoring everyone’s thoughts just for fear of being offensive,” Xunise said. “But some things don’t need to be said, and especially if they’re pushing down directly on those on the fringes.”
“Macanudo” creator Ricardo Liniers Siri, known professionally as Liniers, said Adams was moving into unfunny territory and that’s a cartoonist’s third rail.
“Complaining is no fun. The person who complains about everything is not the funniest guy at the party. That is the pious man,” he said.
“I don’t complain. I’m just trying to focus on whatever is good around us,” he said. “Because in the context of a newspaper with so much bad news, I try to have an optimistic space.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits