Sunday, December 19, 2010


I was thinking not long ago about the oddness of, well, just everything – everything in life being indisputably odd at the very least, and capable of escalating to horrific at the very most.  I was thinking this because of two 9 Chickweed Lane cartoons that appeared in the week following the massacre of 9/11.

These are the two cartoons, the first published September 15th, 2001, the second September 17th.

(click these to see larger versions.)

Both of these drew strong commentary when they appeared.  You can probably remember the mood at the time, particularly if you lived in the U.S.  The first one prompted an eruption of letters from people who either took it to be a tasteless joke at the expense of all those who died in the attacks four days earlier (which was understandable) or a tearful memorial (which I couldn't understand at all).  The ire the first one roused was ferocious.  The second was taken to be a mini-sermon with a questionable gag line.

I spent quite a while sending out letters to explain that daily cartoons for my syndicate were composed and submitted four weeks prior to publication (that's the odd part – a silly little gag, by dint of coincidence, turns into a big, tasteless jape).  A lot of readers did not want to believe me, and called me a liar.  As I say, a horror had taken place; and even my explanation of the lead time for publishing cartoons did not mollify everybody.  They just needed to be angry.

When I look at these cartoons now, I'm amazed.  I remember hastily reviewing all my other submissions, as yet to appear over the next four weeks before my lead time caught up with 9/11.  I hoped I wouldn't be stepping heavily into the tragedy anymore.  I've never asked around, but I wonder how many other cartoonists found themselves in the same boat.