45 Comments

  1. I haven’t really been following the narrative about the new artist for Nancy, with a secret identity. But I know some people are excited about her changes, one way or another. So I wonder what she would do to reprocess some of these.

  2. Well, first of all, she wouldn’t be sneezing IRL, she’d be texting; and then she’d not be Nancy, she’d be Sluggo; and he’d ostracized and shamed for his cultural inappropriateness. And it’d be about as funny as the original…

  3. When I was growing up outside Chicago, one of the news stations had a weather guy named P. J. Hoff who incorporated chalk talks with his weather reports. And yes, the seasonal pollen counts were the province of a small Chinese character named Ah Choo.

  4. “Is it inappropriate really? It’s not a stereotype, just a valid sounding Chinese name.”

    Ha… ha… Chinese have weird sounding names that sound like sneezing.

    You don’t see why that is inappropriate?

    ======

    Then again, do they run “Nancy Classic” in papers. Is there a reason we would expect an classics editor at all. I’d assume the roll of classics is simply to see the past warts and all.

  5. Well, Mark, perhaps this can be a learning experience for you: jokes that rely on “Ha ha, those weird Asians with their funny names!” are, in fact, pretty racist.

  6. “Well, Mark, perhaps this can be a learning experience for you: jokes that rely on “
    ‘Ha ha, those weird Asians with their funny names!’ are, in fact, pretty racist.”

    How about ones that rely on white guys with funny names? Still racist?

    How about this?

  7. “No I don’t. But feel free to be offended if you’d like.”

    Because the only two options are obtuseness or offense. And the only difference is a matter of opinion. And those who allow others to have differing opinions are surely the more magnanimous.

    Well, if those premises are all true, then, yes, Mark M. you are the prince of men among this post. The logic impeccably reaches that conclusion.

  8. If I buy a book of classic comics (and I do), I want to see those comics warts and all, of-its-time racism and all, misogyny and all, incomprehensible-to-modern-readers…that’s the appeal. I also collect old magazines and oh my God, the things it was okay to print in Life and Saturday evening Post in the 40s and 50s…

    But if you’re republishing material on a daily basis, without that context, either on newspapers or on the web site of a major syndicate — in other words, for a general 2018 audience — then I believe both language and content should be appropriate for that audience.

    In the 1940s, Ebony White was perfectly acceptable. Will Eisner was actually being progressive by making him as important character as he was, and he took a lot of undeserved heat decades later for Ebony’s appearance and speech patterns. I can either buy a volume of old Spirit stories or I can not; but if I do, I expect to see Classic Ebony inside. But if GoComics were re-introducing the strip today? No.

  9. Thank for the link James: my older cousin used to tell us a version of this story when I was 3 or 4, and I never knew where it came from — and she has no recollection of it at all.

    This solves a mystery that goes back to Eisenhower’s second term.

  10. “But if you’re republishing material on a daily basis, without that context, either on newspapers or on the web site of a major syndicate — in other words, for a general 2018 audience — then I believe both language and content should be appropriate for that audience.”

    I guess that depends on what your definition of “publishing” is. If you hold the view that “classics” is simply providing access to a link to a something that existed, i.e. a means to collecting then I *don’t* expect the content to be appropriate any more than I’d expect a library to edit and cull its collection.

    ……

    “How about ones that rely on white guys with funny names? Still racist?” Um… yes?

    “How about this?” (Tikki Tikki Tembo) Um.. no? In what way is a folk tale about a child with a long nonsensical name similar to a joke about the belief that chinese people have weird names that sound like sneezes or other accidental sounds?

    This isn’t a subtle or nuanced issue. The Nancy cartoon is a straight forward racial insensitivity that is strikingly obviously inappropriate today.

    There may be nuance to whether joking about white people with funny sounding names and there may be nuance as to whether Tikki Tikki Tembo or the duckling Ping is cultural approapriation or insensitive or condescending in their depiction of Asian culture. And there may be disagreement about the role of the editor (if any) in the republishing/distribution of previous works no longer appropriate. There may even be issue about the acceptability of this Nancy cartoon at the time of its original publication.

    But the appropriateness of this Nancy cartoon today? No, there is no nuance or subtlety to the issue at all.

  11. “I can either buy a volume of old Spirit stories or I can not; but if I do, I expect to see Classic Ebony inside. But if GoComics were re-introducing the strip today? No.”

    I guess I don’t understand you you think “GoComics re-introducing the strip today” means. I’d see that as being entirely exactly the same as “buying a volume of old Spirit stories” and I’m not at all sure I see the difference.

    Which is part of why I asked if Nancy Classic was published in a newspaper. Reading a newspaper comics page is to read comics today and entirely different than collecting an old collection of comics. But a website providing a link to “classics” is to my mind entirely different than reading comics in the newspaper and entirely like collecting old comics.

  12. wozzy, the distinction I was making was that by releasing these comics on a daily basis alongside current comics, they’re presenting them in a different context than if the comics were in a volume of Nancy in the 1950s.

  13. “wozzy, the distinction I was making was that by releasing these comics on a daily basis alongside current comics, they’re presenting them in a different context than if the comics were in a volume of Nancy in the 1950s.”……

    okay. And if so I agree with you.

    But I’m not sure that is how GoComics is thinking of it in those terms nor that those are the only way to see it. I’d see it more as a link to a historical archive (although the inability to have the full archive at all time is annoying).

    Hmmm….. I guess you are probably right. But then again I think we’d both be very naive if we thought GoComics had *ANY* classics editor at all. I imaging they just have a archive of images and …. nothing else.

  14. I think this comic is interesting because it still works, but the joke has to change for it to still be relevant and good-humoured today.

    If you’re the type that is looking to find offence with everything, you will here. And when it was written and the joke was “Those Chinese are so damn weird that their names are different from ours,” I’d say that was the kind of casual racism of the day.

    Now, today, the joke is just “She sneezed and the sound of her sneezing called forth someone whose name kind of sounds like sneezing.” There’s nothing racist about that unless you think the existence of Chinese people is racist or featuring them in comics is racist.

    I spent 11 years living in Asia and this is exactly the kind of comic or comedy sketch you would see there. A play on words like this is broad and easily understood.

    As for the clothing, a Chinese wearing Western clothing is guilty of cultural appropriation, so this is a hip and modern and culturally sensitive comic.

  15. “If you’re the type that is looking to find offence with everything, you will here.”

    And if you’re the type to casually denigrate other people’s reactions, you’d write something pretty much like this.

  16. I see nothing in the strip that makes me think it’s making fun of “weird Asians” or their “weird names”. Choo sounds like an Asian name and also happens to sound like a sneeze. My name is probably typical mostly of white males, so if you saw a comic where one character said something about “hitting the mark” and then slugged a guy named Mark, would you say “Oh that’s racially insensitive toward white people”.

    And to Maryellenc, calling the strip racist is a huge stretch and detracts from real racism.

  17. Mark M, isn’t it valid to recognize both “petty racism” and “grand racism”? They’re both “real”, even if the latter is a lot more serious.

  18. A strange thing I recently discovered is that the word “racism” did not appear in dictionaries until the 1930’s. There are only a couple of citations of its use, or the variant “racialism”, before 1920. It is not in the early printings of “Webster’s Second New International Dictionary” (published in the 1920’s) but shows up in the “new words” section of later printings. It is not in the first edition (1928) of the Oxford English Dictionary.
    Racism was everywhere, and just about everyone was racist in one way or another, but apparently it never occurred to anyone that it was a concept, and those who talked about racism managed to do it without having a word for it — Shylock’s “If you prick me, do I not bleed?”, Huck Finn’s musings on Jim, and so on.
    I am not joking about this. I’m not telling you that “gullible” isn’t in the dictionary or that your picture appears as an illustration of some word or other. If you happen to have the OED 1st or Webster’s 2nd or Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary of 1755 — I have all three — go look it up.

  19. Mark in Boston.

    But, not rhetorical, what was the meaning of “racialist”? And was it a different concept?

    And prior to “racist” does the construct “<word>ist” actually it mean anything other than “someone who does or likes >word<” as in “cyclist”?

    I suspect racism is a corruption of “racialism”. But … I dunno.

  20. woozy: Yes, GoComics.com is part of Andrews McMeel Universal, so it’s under the same ownership as the syndicates that used to be Universal Feature Syndicate and United Feature Syndicate.

  21. Make that “Universal Press Syndicate,” not “Universal Feature Syndicate.” There have been a lot of corporate name changes along the way. But to put it another way, GoComics is controlled by the same people who syndicate Garfield, Pearls Before Swine, Dilbert, Luann, Doonesbury, and many other strips.

  22. Okay, Bill’s convinced me. They really should either have someone editing or they should take an archivist point of view and hype it as “See what the comics were on such and such a date”.

  23. As it happens, my nephew married a woman named Ah Choo. She was from Thailand, not China, a member of one of the hill tribes (I.e., Thai nationality but not an ethnic Thai). His sister, who did not care for her new sister-in-law, called her “Sneeze” behind her back. Ultimately the marriage did not work out.

  24. ” “If you’re the type that is looking to find offence with everything, you will here.”

    And if you’re the type to casually denigrate other people’s reactions, you’d write something pretty much like this. ”

    You make a good point. Maybe I should be more patient with simple-minded opinions. Do go on.

  25. “You make a good point. Maybe I should be more patient with simple-minded opinions. Do go on.”

    i think you are being fairly disingenuous. The strips humor relies entirely upon that the reader’s viewpoint that chinese people are exotic and weird and their names are funny. It is not similar to “hitting the mark” where the idea is that a common name we are familiar with can take a meaning we didn’t think of. This is the exact opposite that a common sound can be an unusual name we are not familiar with and find weird that it would exist.

    But you then foresee that and counter with the gambit: “There’s nothing racist about that unless you think the existence of Chinese people is racist or featuring them in comics is racist.”

    See, it’s all he liberal snowflakes fault for being offended! They are the *real* racists.

    Well, actually. If the *only* purpose of Chinese people and the only depiction of them in comics is to point out how different and strange and weird they are then, *yes*, that is more racist and is more racist then never depicting them at all.

    Ah, but it’s *our* fault for assuming they are depicted as alien and our fault for assuming they are uncommon.

    Well, no, it isn’t. They are not considered common to the audience of the fifties and if they were common then the joke wouldn’t be apparent. Were the as common as “White” this would be the equivalent of a person pointing out a white house and Mr. White answering yes, which would result in a giant “huh? So?”.

    “As for the clothing, a Chinese wearing Western clothing is guilty of cultural appropriation, so this is a hip and modern and culturally sensitive comic.”

    Oh, that is so very clever. Because of course all liberal snowflakes must be uniform in beliefs in all things and simple phrases such as “cultural appropriation” must always have one uniform meaning and must always be evaluated by everyone in all circumstances with the same blanket condemnation.

    Hence, a comic strip depicting an outdated cultural stereotype is now the one being hip and modern, and anyone expecting any cultural assimilation after three generations or any signs of societal integration or that actually cultural depictions show an occasional modicum of compassion and respect and not consistently exist merely to be a butt of a joke, are the hypocrites for wanting and expecting that evil evil cultural appropriation.

    No, your argument is dishonest and disingenuous. And fairly straw-filled.

    “Maybe I should be more patient with simple-minded opinions. ” Um…. as opposed to your opinion so full of nuance?

  26. ” The strips humor relies entirely upon that the reader’s viewpoint that chinese people are exotic and weird and their names are funny.”

    No, actually, it doesn’t. It just relies on the fact that Chinese names are different from “Western” names. If you think “different” means “weird”, whose fault is that?

    There was a prank a while back.

  27. @ Usual John – Thanks for the link. I wonder whether GoComics will learn anything from this.
    P.S. Since that article was posted, GoComics has deleted most of the the comments referring to the original strip.

  28. “But if you’re republishing material on a daily basis, without that context, either on newspapers or on the web site of a major syndicate — in other words, for a general 2018 audience — then I believe both language and content should be appropriate for that audience.”y

    I dislike the concept of censorship, but agree that this particular strip would not be acceptable if submitted today. What if instead of pulling the strip completely, they put a disclaimer with problematical strips, much as Warner did when they released the war-time Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons? Something like, “This strip reflects the era in which it was published, and is considered offensive today.”?

    Part of the problem is that GoComics makes their “classic”* strips available to everyone. On the ComicsKingdom (King Features) site, you have to be a paying member to access the “vintage” strips, which is a good thing. They are currently running Barney Google & Snuffy Smith strips from 1944. The casual racism towards blacks, the Japanese, and natives of the Pacific islands make this strip seem like nothing.

    *They publish “Little Orphan Annie” strips published after the death of Harold Gray as “classic”.

  29. Kilby, I doubt GoComics will ‘learn anything,” because this isn’t the first time this has happened. And they’ve even been known to rerun the same problematic classic strip more than once (despite reader comments).

  30. There are two questions here:

    1) should the syndicate be censoring strips that have already been published?

    2) if so, does this strip rise to the level of insensitivity that it should be censored?

    I’m at “no” to both questions.

  31. James Pollack – There is a book with that name????!!!! At one of my birthday parties my mom had a magician (he was the hot kids’ party thing at the time – and rare for my parents to get someone to entertain at a one of our parties). He also was a ventriloquist. He had a puppet and he told us that we would never remember the puppet’s name – Tiki Tiki Tembo, no to the endo, arabara bushki, long nose tiembo. (Yeah, he was wrong, I remembered it. Robert says it is because he said that we would never would remember it.) – Oh, much of the spelling is from how it sounded to me.

  32. “There is a book with that name????!!!!”

    And has been for some time. I’m in my 50’s, and that’s a book from before I was reading books to myself, so at least 45 years ago.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s