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What Is This?

Monday, February 27, 1995

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Background: Before the advent of message boards and instant messaging, newsgroups were the cool meeting place on the Internet.

Okay, there's a lot more going on in this cartoon than you would realize from reading it. This cartoon is the result of easily the worst day of my cartooning at Duke.

Having hit the half-way point, I was starting to run low on ideas. One early concept that I'd sketched out was to poke fun at the "issue-oriented" group on campus. It always bothered me how disruptive they could be as a group, and how little their efforts actually turned into results. More often than not, they would blow something way out of proportion, and remain huffy until it was "fixed". And, at least while I was there, it usually never was.

Inspired by that, I drew a week of cartoons that were critical of a couple of specific situations from the previous year, as well as political-correctness in general. I turned them in to the Chronicle that Sunday.

I got a phone call that night from my editor. They couldn't run them. He needed a replacement that night. I immediately drew this one and ran it over, promising to supply the rest of the week's strips in the next couple of days.

I have to admit: I wasn't really sold on the rejected strips when I turned them in. But at that point, I figured it would get me through the week. However, after the phone call, I re-read them and realized something important: they weren't funny. There was enough of a mean-spirited tone that they simply would have provoked the group unnecessarily.

I was so upset about the situation that I actually destroyed the originals not long after the phone call. I was more upset with myself than with anything else. I knew my editor was right.

Anyway, what you see here is actually a veiled reference to getting the strips rejected. The cartoon they're describing is literally one of the rejected strips.

I was surprised by the rather positive response I got to this cartoon, granted the circumstances of its creation. It had fairly wide appeal, granted that a sizeable number of people regularly couldn't understand my jokes.

And, in all honesty, everything turned out surprisingly well. This week of strips ended up being one of the better weeks of the semester.