Scandalous cartoons were carefully monitored in the comic strip world
Provocative cartoons are those you won’t see in your local newspaper’s comics pages. At least not if syndicate editors can help it. I was recently scanning old copies of Editor & Publisher’s ‘Syndicates / News Services’ section from January 1990 and saw this write up that might interest some of the ToonBlog readers.
The strip in question was one of two comic strips Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker had offered King Features to choose from regarding a misprint in the Sarge’s notes for all Camp Swampy members to show General Halftrack their buns (instead of their guns).
Cartoonists re-drawing cartoon features
Check out the one where all the guys are mooning the general. And even back in 1990, some editors said they would have run the “mooning” version! Back in 1990, provocative cartoons were very easy to find, in such magazines as National Lampoon and so many other men’s magazines but not in the newspaper. Like Mort Walker himself had emphasized at the time, there was a lot of other outrageous syndicated content in the form of advice columns like Ann Landers and even Dr. Ruth Westheimer who had a syndicated feature that was gaining readership back then.
Syndicate editors are better off being safe than sorry
It all seems somewhat laughable in this new day and age where prime time animated cartoons that are popular such as The Family Guy or South Park talk about subject matter that would have never made it, back when this comic strip was being edited by the cartoon syndicate’s distributor. Personally, the mooning cartoon wouldn’t have been an offense, even back then, although a large number of subscribers was to be considered, and I think the more popular a strip really is, the greater the consideration should be given to potentially offending a readership. Beetle Bailey has always been one of my favorite comics, whether or not they are mooning General Halftrack!