Sunday, March 2, 2014


Café con Leche is a daily/Sunday comic strip about an interracial married couple, their family and friends.  It’s written and drawn by Charlos Gary, who also writes and draws the daily/Sunday comics panel Working It Out. I started reading Café con Leche because I’d been enjoying Working It Out and because, for what I would imagine are obvious reasons, I have an abiding interest in comic books and comic strips starring people of color.

I loathe Café con Leche for the same reason that I loathe Seinfeld.  Every regular character in the strip is either a horrible person or an embarrassingly weak person or both. The husband is dominated by his wife, his mother and his boss, who is the lead character in the Working It Out panel.  His best friend is a deadbeat lying leech. His wife and mother hate one another.  In short, these are people who, if I knew them in real life, I would do everything I could to avoid spending even a minute in their company.

I had the same reaction to Seinfeld.  Its lead characters were just awful people. I could never get through an entire episode without wanting to either hurl or hurl rocks at those people.  Even though the final episode ended with the four of them being sent to prison, I couldn’t get through all of it.

My distaste for Seinfeld is so enormous that, with the occasional Jason Alexander exception, I can’t watch anything else any of these performers appears in. I will loathe Seinfeld for eternity.

I’ve stayed with Café con Leche as long as I have because Gary is a talented writer and artist.  His strips made me smile up to the point when the cumulative awfulness of his characters used up all my patience.  The final straw came with the strip I’ve reprinted at the top of today’s bloggy thing.

Justin Bieber is an asshole. His talent has been exaggerated, his success is insanely out of proportion to his talent.  He is a punk who acts out his fantasy of being a bad boy. Recently, his acting out reached misdemeanor and possibly felony levels.  He has spent a very little bit of time in jail and might well be facing longer jail time. I’ve never had much patience with conceited, disruptive, privileged pop stars.  Bieber has long since exhausted what little patience I had for him. That said...

I was appalled at Gary’s attempt to mine humor from the prospect of the 20-year-old Bieber being assaulted in prison.  I confess that I got a laugh out of the YouTube videos that spun Bieber’s poorly-acted CSI death scene into an outlandish tsunami of explosions and gunfire.  That was fantasy violence.  Gary’s going for laughs with what would be very real violence disturbed me enough to ask myself a question no cartoonist wants to hear from a reader...

Why am I still reading this? I couldn’t think of a good reason, so I stopped reading it.

In other comic-strip notes...

Producing a daily comic strip is hard work.  For most cartoonists, it’s a more-than-full-time job.  I understand the need to take some time off to spend some more time with their loved ones, to recharge the batteries, to work on a side project. Yet...

When Garry Trudeau announced yet another hiatus from Doonesbury, a hiatus that may keep the daily strip in reruns for a year or more, I found myself becoming inexplicably angry. I became aware of this unreasonable anger almost immediately and then tried to figure out why I was so angry.  Here’s what I’ve got...

Right-wing comic-strip and editorial cartoonists are dicks.  Lying, ridiculous, even racist dicks. Their work is usually devoid of any connection to reality, much less accuracy...and their numbers seem to have proliferated in recent decades.

Trudeau was a bastion against such asshats. He could deliver humor and reasoned satire that made his points without being childishly insulting.  We need Doonesbury to balance the discussions held on our comics and editorial pages...and now we’ll be without the strip for a year or more.  That’s a genuine loss.

A creative dynamo like Trudeau has to follow his muse, even if it takes him away from Doonesbury.  I just wish he had someone in the wings ready to fill in for him on those occasions.


Speaking of editorial cartoons, Beetle Bailey became the go-to guy when editorial cartoonists wanted to comment on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recommendation that the U.S. shrink its Army to the lowest manpower levels since World War II, close military bases and make other cuts to the defense budget. I saw at least half-a-dozen references to Beetle Bailey in the cartoon commentary with right-wingnuts naturally proclaiming the end of the world and condemning the Administration for not supporting the troops.  These would, of course, be the same troops who Republicans in Congress turned their backs on just a few days before this so-called outrage.  They are a nutty bunch, aren’t they?

In other Beetle Bailey news...

In the Beetle Bailey strip that ran yesterday, our man Beetle beat the crap out of Sarge Snorkel with a broken STOP sign.  On the one hand, good for Beetle! On the other hand, isn’t it about time Mort Walker and his associates move on from trying to get the audience to laugh at a kind of violence that hasn’t been at all acceptable in our military for decades?

Of all the many strips I’ve never written, Beetle Bailey is one of the handful I’d most love to have the opportunity to revamp.  Our men and women in our armed forces deserve something more up-to-date in its attitudes and its humor.


Two more for the road.

When I mentioned my pal Terry Beatty doing a terrific job drawing Rex Morgan, I forgot to mention that he also does a terrific job on The Phantom (Sundays only). Add a Black Lightning/Phantom team up to the long list of things I’d like to write but will likely never get the chance to write.

Speaking of Rex Morgan, kudos to writer Woody Wilson for making it clear being tased by the police isn’t without risk to the alleged perpetrator and isn’t always bloodless. The out-of-control wife of Rex’s friend bit off part of her tongue when she was tased earlier in the week.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.              

© 2014 Tony Isabella

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