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Ideological Slants

Some comic strips have proved effective vehicles for political messages: Little Orphan Annie (1924), by Harold Gray, extolled free enterprise and conservatism, while the satirical Pogo (1949), by Walt Kelly, aimed barbs at the enemies of liberalism. Uninhibited political and social satire has been the hallmark of Mad (1952), a monthly magazine of original strips that parodied contemporary comic strips.

Satire and intellectual humor made some strips favorites with adults and university students. Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland (1906) and George Herriman's Krazy Kat (1911) were forerunners of these, and they led in turn to Al Capp's Li'l Abner (1934), Kelly's Pogo, Charles Schulz's Peanuts (1950), Johnny Hart's B.C. (1958), Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury (1970), Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County (1980), and Gary Larson's The Far Side (1980). Trudeau's Doonesbury directly lampoons political figures and controversial current events. Some newspapers refuse to run the strip when it touches on contentious social issues; others regularly run it in the editorial pages instead of in the comics section. Another controversial strip, The Boondocks by African-American cartoonist Aaron McGruder, which began widespread syndication in 1999, features black characters and displays a cynical, confrontational attitude toward political and social issues.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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