I created a cartoon for a short story / comic strip compilation that I submitted to a publisher that actually may never see the light of day; the cartoon, that is. See, the cartoon is about boners. It is titled Bonerpalooza. I created the cartoon after a quick burst of inspiration, like most of my cartoons, and thought the idea was amusing enough to put down on paper. And like most of my cartoons, if it made me and a select group of trusted friends laugh, then I thought it was golden. But I've come to a realization that no matter how funny the cartoon is, most people are offended by cartoon dongs. To quote one of my best friends, whose opinion I don't take lightly, "Cartoon dicks are unprofessional." So, I was in a quandary. Most of the time, I don't really care what people think of me or my work. I've come to a point in my creative life that I cater to my cartoon / writing muse whenever possible. But I've been troubled by the reception of this cartoon. Everyone I've shown it to thinks it's funny. But they have all told me not to publish it. So, is Squirty McGirth offensive? Are cartoon dicks unprofessional?
I first noticed the uneasiness the cartoon elicited when I was compiling a bunch of my short stories and cartoons for a compilation I was sending to a publisher. I thought the idea of short stories segued with cartoons was a good one, so I was putting together my best work. I had all the cartoons I needed except for one. I quickly created Bonerpalooza from a note in a journal of ideas I kept for future cartoons and short stories. I got a good laugh from my buddies when I showed it to them so I included it in the compilation. And as I was printing some of my stories and cartoons at my place of employment, I didn't realize that I had sent an extra copy of Bonerpalooza to the printer until my boss brought it to me the next morning. Uh oh. He was flustered and serious and he quickly told me how some of our coworkers would definitely be offended if they saw it. Did they see it? I'm still not sure. But he did. And it made him quite uneasy. I felt bad for a short while but then I got over it. I wasn't trying to be offensive. I was trying to be funny.
A few months later, I asked my buddies about the cartoon again. I wanted to publish it on my web site as a Mr. Grieves cartoon. And even though they both thought the cartoon was funny, they both told me not to publish it. One said it was offensive. The other said it was unprofessional. And then I became confused. Is a cartoon depiction of a penis offensive? I mean, the cartoon was created for humor's sake, not for titillation. It's not sexual in nature, just observational of a bodily function that sometimes happens automatically. My friends asked me if I wanted my daughters to see the cartoon, which I immediately replied, "No." But I don't create my cartoons for children or my kids. My cartoons have always been geared toward adults. Animals that cuss are not suitable for children, you know? But after seeing the reaction to my cartoon character Squirty McGirth, I finally decided not to publish Bonerpalooza on my web site, at least not for now. Maybe there will be a day when cartoon dongs are not seen as offensive. Maybe humor can help the phallic character transcend repulsion. Or maybe not. Oh well.
I'm sure to some of you this all sounds benign or ridiculous. But as some news events in the last few years have proven, cartoons can offend some people to the point that they want to kill people. Take for instance recent events where a Danish cartoonist drew a series of editorial cartoons about the religious figure Muhammad. The cartoons were an "attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship." But what they did was piss off the Muslim world to the extent that escalated into violence with "police firing on the crowds (resulting in a total of more than 100 deaths), including setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, storming European buildings, and desecrating the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, French and German flags in Gaza City." Wow, all because of some cartoons. Will Squirty McGirth cause mass violence? Probably not. But who knows?
So, for now, except for this one panel from Bonerpalooza, my cartoon will stay on my hard drive. Oh, and in the hands of the publisher I sent it to. Oopsie. If they decide to publish my little compilation book, then I guess it will be made public. Otherwise, good night Squirty. It was fun while it lasted.