Well, there goes the last funny comic strip

The last time I screenshot a Dilbert strip was on Nov. 23. This one spoke to me. Now, the cartoonist has spoken to us…

Y’all probably don’t remember, but about three years ago — having seen that The State was about to revamp its comics page — I posted something about the best and worst comics in the paper.

I did so in the sad context of lamenting that the heyday of actually funny, clever comics being long over. There’s been nothing on the page to get excited about since the very best went away in the mid-90s. But I said there were still two that were amusing — “Dilbert,” and “Overboard.”

Not that either was great, mind you. “Overboard” had been great, but had lost a lot of ground. Still, it was enjoyable. I had never been particularly a fan of “Dilbert,” but I recognized its strengths — and it had maintained those strengths over the years. I also put in a caveat about the creator’s problem of mixing in politics in ways that made you doubt his sanity.

That has now come to the fore, big time. But to finish my anecdote… I had intended to follow up that post with an assessment of the new strips once The State unveiled them, but I found it too depressing. They were uniformly awful. Not only that, but they killed “Overboard.” I’ve still looked at the comics page in the paper regularly, but only at “Zits,” “Peanuts” (which just posts strips created many decades ago by a long-deceased cartoonist, which shows you how desperate I am, and how sad the situation is), and “Dilbert.” Yeah, I make myself glance over the rest frequently, hoping something will surprise me with cleverness or originality, but that doesn’t happen. Ever.

And now this. I suppose Scott Adams’ self-destructive streak just wasn’t satisfied, and he felt the need to take it to a new level. I can’t begin to guess what prompted him to do that. No, I don’t think this is a case in which a closet racist has inadvertently exposed himself. This is a guy who has a history of saying and doing things in the political sphere that cause a WTF? response in other people. And I guess he hadn’t gotten enough attention lately to suit him. Or maybe he was sick of drawing strips and wanted to go out in a spectacularly awful way. In any case, it seems clear he knew what he was doing.

So, you know, goodbye, Scott Adams. And if you doubt that he has completed lost it, this might convince you: Elon Musk is defending him.

Oh, did you think I was going to defend Adams, going by that headline? No.

But as someone who used to go to the comics page with some enthusiasm, back when there was “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side,” I’m sorry there isn’t anything with a funny edge to it left. Bill Watterson and Gary Larson chose to go out with great dignity. Adams chose the opposite route…

20 thoughts on “Well, there goes the last funny comic strip

  1. Ralph Hightower

    I remember when The State revamped the comics. My conclusion was “This isn’t worth reading anymore.”
    One of those new comics is Something the Brave; I don’t remember the exact title, well, because it’s not worth remembering.

    One my favorite cartoons from Walt Kelly, is from the great philosopher, Pogo, when he said “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The cartoon where it appeared was about the environment; although it can be used multiple ways, especially in politics.

  2. Doug Ross

    Adams statement was based on a Gallup poll that said only 53% of black people agreed with the statement “it’s okay to be white”.

    Think about that statement and the poll results. How would you interpret it? What would the response be if the results showed the same number for white people in regards to black people? What would we call the 47% then?

    Before someone attacks the poll, Gallup is a top polling organization and this poll had a 95% confidence level with a 3 point margin of error.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah, I occasionally hear that Rasmussen’s results tend to lean conservative, possibly resulting from the fact that they stick to likely voters rather than sometimes going with adult population.

        But here’s something I feel compelled to emphasize:

        conservative≠”right wing”

        Y’all may think I’m being pedantic, and I AM a word guy, but we have so many things in our society driving us farther and farther apart — we need to avoid words that make the problem even worse.

        By the way, amid the criticism — mostly mild — I ran across this on Wikipedia:

        Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen wrote in 2010 that Rasmussen has an “unchallenged record for both integrity and accuracy”

        That might be going a bit overboard in the positive direction, but I quote it because I don’t think any of us would regard Pat Caddell as some sort of fascist…

        1. Ken

          conservative≠”right wing”

          How much right-wing thought / how many right-wing positions must one be embrace before a “conservative” becomes right-wing?

            1. Ken

              That too quickly dismisses the seriousness of the question. The problem with this neat segregation is that it can be self-serving by defining a person or group out of the club you want to belong to, fencing it off from “those people” – like MT Greene or Trump or the folks who took part in the Jan. 6th attack on Congress – in a facile and illegitimate way. For “conservative” to become “right wing” doesn’t necessarily require embracing an entire package of far-right views. One or two may suffice. That’s how the extreme gets mainstreamed.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Give me an example of how YOU would distinguish the two words, so that I, too, may be wise and no longer facile and illegitimate.

                I’m assuming that you DO make a distinction. If you don’t, there’s little point in our continuing to discuss the matter. Because, you see, words have meaning, and we use different ones to convey different things…

                1. Ken

                  It’s not that difficult, really. Proposals that previously were considered too fringe to gain real traction in the conservative mainstream — like, say, Constitution Carry — but that now enjoy support in that quarter transform those conservatives who embrace it into right-wingers, at least on that issue if not more generally.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Good! Thank you…

                    I was pondering terms from the other end of the spectrum this morning, while reading a George Will column.

                    He used “progressive” six times in the first three grafs.

                    The term has such an interesting history. You have Teddy Roosevelt and those guys in bygone days. But of course, George isn’t complaining about them.

                    Then, in the ’80s, when Reaganism was having success tarnishing “liberal” in the public mind, a lot of folks on the center-left starting calling themselves “progressive,” which — the way I heard it used — seemed to be their way of saying they were somehow not to be associated with the more extreme “liberals,” that they were something that would sound friendlier than “liberal.” Which was ridiculous, but folks on the right had been so successful in making “liberal” sound like a bad thing.

                    That period passed.

                    Then, more recently, some folks on the left started distinguishing themselves from conventional Democrats by calling themselves “progressives,” but they meant it the opposite way, suggesting they were more to the left than mere “liberals.” That has led to a period in which we seem to hear the word as much as in the 1890s.

                    Will is using it more broadly than that, using it to refer to pretty much everybody in the Democratic Party, including more conventional liberals such as my man Joe. Of course, that’s not original to him, but his use of it so many times in such quick succession drew my attention.

                    It’s interesting…

                2. Barry

                  I make no distinction – as is obvious.

                  I don’t call anyone Conservative. NO one. The absolute hypocrisy of the last 6 years is overwhelming evidence that there are no actual Conservatives.

                  Rep Jamie Raskin did a good job this past week in the House of Reps pointing out the exact times Republicans willingly and supportively voted for increases to the debt ceiling under the Trump administration. He was naming names and repeating their quotes as they supported Trump’s increased spending. The hypocrisy was interesting.

                  Right wingers – or far right is more appropriate now.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Well, there aren’t many conservatives around any more. A lot of people misuse the term and call themselves that, though.

                    Starting with the Reagan years. Even when they are conservatives, their love of the word has driven me nuts. As I’ve indicated

                  2. Ken

                    If they self-identify as “conservative,” that’s ok by me. If they taint the “spotless vest” of the conservative brand by doing so, that’s ok by me. Because conservatism isn’t a brand I purchase.

                    But, again, it’s problematic to try to define this or that person or group out of political conservatism. It may make some conservatives feel better, but it won’t work. Right-wingers will remain part of the conservative spectrum. After all, that’s what “right wing” refers to: the outer edge of conservatism.

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Of course, I’ve always found the whole “left-wing, right-wing” thing to be offensive to everyone’s intelligence.

                      Think about it. It’s based in the same root as the “ones and zeroes” thinking I’m always criticizing.

                      It’s based in this assumption that human political thought — all forms of human thought — is entirely binary. There are only two directions to go in, and everything has to be positioned somewhere on that line, that spectrum.

                      In recent decades, our options have been further reduced. In so many people’s minds — including, unfortunately, many journalists — you have to one clearly defined thing or the other. You’re certainly not allowed to be in the center of the spectrum. In fact, to a great extent, there is no spectrum. There’s no continuous line; there are only two points, and you have to be on one or the other.

                      If you doubt this, try being someone who isn’t comfortable sitting on either of those restrictive positions, and writing for a living for several decades. You’ll find that as soon as a reader sees that you’re clearly saying you’re not on THIS side, then you HAVE TO be on the other. There are no other options.

                      It’s pretty frustrating, and insulting — not to mention amazingly idiotic. Humans have these complex brains, and their thoughts and experiences over a lifetime imbue their minds with an infinity of possibilities, and variations and nuances.

                      But still, other people, who can’t be bothered with complexity, constantly try to cram them into one box or the other.

                      For me, insisting that conservative≠”right wing” doesn’t go nearly far enough. For me, it’s more a matter of this person≠that person. We’re all individuals, and our minds take us to billions of interesting places, if we’re fully human — if we see ourselves as being more than this thing or that other, opposite thing…

                    2. Barry

                      I have requested that my name be removed from the voting rolls in South Carolina.

                      I registered at 18 when I was in my high school history class. I still remember when the local folks came by our school to register Seniors.

                      Due to the many accusations against people like me of fraud in voting, I have decided to just remove myself from the process entirely. (I didn’t vote in the 2022 elections).

                      Folks I talked to said some other people have done the same thing so I am not the only one.

                      My middle child registered to vote when he turned 18 but he hasn’t voted and isn’t interested. He’s also requested his name be removed.

      2. Doug Ross

        Do you understand how polling works, sampling size, margin of error, etc.?

        It’s really a simple question: if a black person responded to that question with a No, is that an acceptable opinion to hold it you want to improve race relations?

        1. Barry

          Repeating from my post above

          “This was a Rasmussen poll – a right wing outfit that doesn’t always disclose their methods and sometimes isn’t totally honest about them either.

          sample sizes from dishonest organizations is not persuasive.

          Rasmussen Reports is the same organization that called for Mike Pence to illegally toss out electoral votes to make sure Trump received more electoral college votes.


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