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Eric: Insert obligatory hair metal joke here.


(From Winger. Click on the thumbnail for full sized ooze!)

As we all by now know, I'm one of those godless pinkos. My conservative friends (yes, I have conservative friends. Yeesh.) enjoy teasing (and debating) me. And at least once or twice I've hurt feelings unintentionally.

But yeah. I'm a liberal. And I'm known as a liberal. And so, I've gotten a reasonable amount of mail about Winger.

Winger, for those who don't know, is Carson "Elf Life" Fire's new comic strip. One that more or less passed under my radar, as I wasn't an Elf Life reader. (No rant here -- it just wasn't my thing.) But it got a certain amount of traction with a certain number of webcomics readers.

The mail, it's worth noting, wasn't polarized at all. But, people figured I'd have an opinion since Carson Fire is a dedicated conservative and Winger in many ways seems a response to dedicated Liberal Chris Crosby's Sore Thumbs.

The other thing I noticed about the mail was the flinch reaction. There's something about conservative comics that inspires... well, flinching. And some people who wrote in were writing from that standpoint. All... you know. Flinchy.

Well, I don't think the flinch reaction comes from a comic strip having a conservative bent to it. I really don't. I think the flinch reaction comes because so many conservative comic strips are bad.

Seriously. Mallard Fillmore? Sucks. B.C.? Somewhere along the line, Johnny Hart took a sharp blow to the head, I figure. It's not the politics, it's the crappiness.

But, Carson Fire clearly knows how to write a comic. He's got too many dedicated fans to say otherwise. So, I went in and had a look.

And... you know, it's just fine.

The comparisons to Sore Thumbs are apropos. In both cases, the strip paints both the left and the right with broad, satirical strokes. In Sore Thumbs's case, the left comes off somewhat better. In Winger's case, the right does. Certainly, as a card carrying Left-guy, I didn't find anything in Winger that offended me. And the fact that Minion -- the obligatory Liberal whackjob -- has pink hair a la Cecania isn't lost on... well, anyone, I figure.

(Which isn't to say some folks won't be offended. It's a sad reality of political discourse and especially political satire that someone will be mind numbingly offended by any suggestion they're being poked fun at.)

Will I be a regular Winger reader? I'm unsure. But it'll go on the "sporadically checked" list, and we'll see. I do find it significant that it was originally off of Keenspot, but now it's on. And if you look closely, you'll notice that Sore Thumbs is under "Minion's Links" on the front page.

One thing is certain. Winger beats the Hell out of Mallard Fillmore.

And Non Sequitor too, now that I think about it.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at December 15, 2005 10:43 AM


Comment from: Doublemint posted at December 15, 2005 11:49 AM

I think the real question we all want to know, Eric, is... Poe or Dickens?

Comment from: Doublemint posted at December 15, 2005 11:51 AM

"Question we all want to ask". Blargh. Essay finals have melted my brain's language center.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 15, 2005 11:52 AM



Poe's all right, but Dickens is Dickens.

Comment from: Abby L. posted at December 15, 2005 12:13 PM

One of them was certainly cheerier than the other... Which I guess really doesn't say much, does it?

Comment from: Jamie posted at December 15, 2005 12:30 PM

Carson and I have spared on many issues, but I have always admired his talent. Im very sad to see Elf Life go, for now. The line work and colors were beautiful to behold. Im glad to see Carson doing Winger. I consider myself mostly liberal and I love Winger, so I wish Carson all the best!

For me, Poe. The darker the better. Dickens was dark from all that London soot. Poe was dark from the inside out.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 15, 2005 12:34 PM

Poe was dark from the inside out.

Well, Brandy will do that to you.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 15, 2005 12:45 PM

I think you could say, with good reason, that Garfield is better than Mallard Fillmore. And my opinion on Garfield is about the same as Eric's.

Not that I have time for a trawl at the moment... but I'm wondering, if anyone else is familiar with the comic, how Winger compares to the syndie Prickly City. The latter is also a conservative-bias strip. I think it's scattershot in its quality, which by default makes it the best syndicated right-leaning cartoon.

Comment from: jpcardier posted at December 15, 2005 1:00 PM

"I think the real question we all want to know, Eric, is... Poe or Dickens?"

For me, always Poe. Dickens is all right, but Poe is... Poe!

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at December 15, 2005 1:41 PM

Quoth the raven, "Dickens can bite me!"

Dickens has a lot of quality stuff under his belt, but I'm a Poe man. There's a reason 'poetry' starts with 'poe'.

I'd take Edward Gorey over either of them, though.

Comment from: DarkStar posted at December 15, 2005 1:42 PM

Wow... Already quoted on the front page. Gotta love the internet. :-)

Comment from: siwangmu posted at December 15, 2005 2:16 PM

I now desperately want to find dumb arguments just so I can walk away from them with a sigh and a weary expression on my face, saying, "Oh, Edgar Rice Burroughs." That is seriously the best "Oh, jeez" expression ever.

Also, some part of my brain initially processed it as Poe vs. Dickinson, and I was like "Uh, Dickinson, DUH." Poe vs. Dickens is a fairer fight, though... hmmm...

I can't! I love all my children equally!

Comment from: Kludge posted at December 15, 2005 2:18 PM

Oh, Winger's serious, is it? I wasn't quite sure at first whether or not it was an elaborate troll.

(Although, hehe - I like the way that some commentators have already put less humorous and more right-wing words into Carson's speech-bubbles. Naming no names).

Comment from: theliel posted at December 15, 2005 2:18 PM

poe. it's more readable and macabre.
dickens is like tolkeen, great ideas, really, really , *really* dry execution.

and Old edward gorey was just silly in a happy-go-goth way.
so yes. dickens: british protogoth, poe - first mopey goth and gorey was the first perkey goth.

i'm soo going to hell now.

Comment from: quiller posted at December 15, 2005 2:36 PM

Can we agree that Poe is the better poet, anyways?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at December 15, 2005 2:40 PM

Oh, Hell yes.

Comment from: Tice with a J posted at December 15, 2005 2:44 PM

Happy-go-goth. Hee hee hee.

Reminds me of a shirt I saw once: "Perky Goth: Putting the romance in necromancy". I was amused.

Comment from: Tangent posted at December 15, 2005 2:48 PM

L'Engle! (What? Okay, so L'Engle isn't "classic" literature, but she's still better than Poe and Dickens in my view. But then again, "A Wrinkle in Time" is one of my all-time favorite novels...)

Actually, I'd have to go with Jane Austin. Sorry. Pride and Prejudice absolutely rocks. ;)

As does Carson Fire. :) I'm glad he's been able to focus on this new strip, and regain his old fire. And let's be honest about it... conservatives aren't all bad. It's nice to see something that pokes fun at both while showing us a halfway decent conservative. :)

Robert A. Howard

Comment from: chalcara posted at December 15, 2005 2:51 PM

I have to admit that I CANNOT stand political comics independent from side at all.

They usually end up demonizing one side and that makes me cry. XD

Comment from: Joshua posted at December 15, 2005 2:55 PM

The Perky Goth is one of John Kovalic's Dork Tower characters.

Comment from: theliel posted at December 15, 2005 3:14 PM

technically Gille: The Perky Goth.

and yes, I know quite a few women gamers that wear that shirt with pride (and perk of thier own)

Comment from: kirabug posted at December 15, 2005 3:17 PM

I'm.... intrigued. If one were to read my daily comic list they might think I leaned left just by the contents. I enjoy but don't necessarily agree with most of them. It'll be interesting to read something that I might agree with.

(Might. If I were to start a political comic it'd be entitled "On The Fence.")

Comment from: cthulhu-maccabi posted at December 15, 2005 3:28 PM

Does anyone else think Carson Fire sounds like the name of a 50's greaser. You know: shades, leather jacket, motorcycle, slicked back hair...

Yeah, so, totally off-topic, but the comment stands.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 15, 2005 3:32 PM

Not that I really care about Poe vs. Dickens (I, um, really haven't read much from either). But if we're going to just trot out anyone, I'm going to side with Baudelaire. Among other things, naiming a poetry collection "The Flowers of Evil" presaged how many jokes?

Comment from: Connor Moran posted at December 15, 2005 4:27 PM

32: Prickly City is, politics aside, a terrible terrible comic. It's confusing and has some of the worst character design I've ever seen.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 15, 2005 4:35 PM

No arguments on the art style for PC. But the writing has some good moments amidst the terrible half hours. But Mallard Fillmore... I think I become more liberal just as an allergic reaction to that comic.

Comment from: larksilver posted at December 15, 2005 4:59 PM

cthulu-macabre: ooh, too right!

kirabug: I want to see that comic. I'd finally have one that fit me!

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at December 15, 2005 5:04 PM

I, for one, have to say that Edward Bulwer-Lytton may be one of my favorite clasical authors. Anyone who can with one sentence cause a legion of "dark, stormy night" jokes has to get at least some credit.

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer posted at December 15, 2005 6:22 PM

Poe vs. Dickens: Elliot. Always Elliot.

Conservative comics: I don't have time to trawl this one today, but I'm glad to here that someone with a track record is trying to put up a decent conservative comic. I'm sure tired of the right wing of any discussion bemoaning the absence of good conservative strips (then make one! Don't complain to me. I sure can't make a good conservative comic, I'm a liberal). It'd be good to have something to point to and say, "There. There's one. Feel free to urge your local paper or syndicate to replace Garfield or B. C. or whatever with it."

As for Mallard Fillmore, it isn't really even a comic. It's just a venue for Bruce Tinsley to make some comment on something or other. The characters have no personality, and the visuals rarely if ever add to the effect of the commentary (in fact much of his comics are almost exclusively text). I don't know what Tinsley personal charisma is like, but if it is at all good, his type of humor would be better suited to a career as a Lenny Bruce style political stand up comedian. There's absolutely no reason he should be wasting his time (and the syndicate's money) trying to put his thoughts into a medium where they don't work.

Oh, and happy/perky goth:

"Well, her clothes are blacker than the blackest cloth,
And her face is whiter than the snows of Hoth,
She wears Dr Martens and a heavy cross,
But on the inside she's a Happy Goth."

Thank you Divine Comedy.

Comment from: quiller posted at December 15, 2005 6:52 PM

You know, I sometimes have to marvel at the long, strange linguistic journey that brought us from barbarian people who sometimes threatened the Roman empire to people who like to dress in black and write angstful poetry.

Comment from: Aufero posted at December 15, 2005 6:58 PM

Eh. It's a good match for Sore Thumbs, but neither Winger nor Sore Thumbs is really my kind of thing. Still, Eric's right - it's a good fifty times better than Mallard Fillmore, which I always suspected of being syndicated only due to a desperate attempt to find something to balance Doonesbury on the editorial page.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 15, 2005 7:27 PM

Angstful poetry? What, nihilism is pass now?

Comment from: Jamie posted at December 15, 2005 8:01 PM

Well, Brandy will do that to you.

Ahhh, a good solid vice! The sign of a true artist! ;)

Anyway, back to Winger.

I remember reading Mad magazine back in the 1960s and 70s, back when it was actually great. Mad gave it good to both sides, but the left usually faired much better. Still, no matter what the subject, they never took themselves or their targets too seriously. Mad is but an shadow of its former self and times have changed drastically. There is a self importance that has been reeking from most if not all political commentary on both sides for quite some time. Its almost suffocating. I know that Carson takes his politics seriously, but in Winger at least, he knows what really matters, making us laugh.

Comment from: kirabug posted at December 15, 2005 9:01 PM

You know, I sometimes have to marvel at the long, strange linguistic journey that brought us from barbarian people who sometimes threatened the Roman empire to people who like to dress in black and write angstful poetry.

Thus the existence of the If you're really a Goth, where were you when we sacked Rome?" tee.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at December 15, 2005 9:03 PM

Mad gave it good to both sides, but the left usually faired much better.

The political piece I recall from mid-70s Mad is one when they looked at the Republicans who kept winning the presidency and they looked at the Democrats who ran for the nomination to oppose them, and concluded that the Democrats' problem was that their noses were too small. So Drucker or someone spect half a dozen pages drawing funny noses (named things like "The Nixon-Hope Ski Slope") on Democrats.

Comment from: sqbr posted at December 15, 2005 9:16 PM

Hmm..I'm rather nervous about any conversation on the internet about politics, but this one has been almost supernaturally reasonable :)

Anyway, I'm always in search of intelligent, non-skin-crawly conserative commentary, not because I'm conservative but because I'm not, and I think seeing the other side's point of view is absolutely vital in the pursuit of truth and good governance.
The closest I've come across is Filibuster, I have absolutely no idea how well known it is since I found it on the links page of this guy I know! Apologies to anyone who finds it Horribly Offensive, like all political commentary it's still skin-crawley now and then.

Also, kudos to Eric for like a gazillion well written comics snarks written in the space of like ten seconds.

Comment from: Pseudowolf posted at December 15, 2005 9:30 PM

As to the Poe v. Dickens thing, I'd say that Dickens is okay. But Poe has the 50+ year tradition of the Poe Toaster. Is there a Dickens Toaster? I think not!

Comment from: Brendan posted at December 15, 2005 11:50 PM

I actually like Day by Day. Is that so wrong?

Seriously, though, Winger just doesn't have the same kind of self-criticism as Sore Thumbs, at least as of yet. Sore Thumbs you could tell right from the beginning was going to be ludicrously overblown. Winger...it seems like it's meant to be overblown, but it just isn't ridiculous enough.

Comment from: Tangent posted at December 16, 2005 12:41 AM

Give it time. Give it time.

Carson is a master of his craft. He knows what he's doing.

Rob H.

Comment from: Tyck posted at December 16, 2005 7:51 PM

In today's comic (December 16, for reference), does anybody else think Dab looks pretty pleased about the opportunity to troll a couple of illiterate liberals? The Winger doth protest too much, methinks.

Also, Poe.

Comment from: gwalla posted at December 17, 2005 12:51 AM

I actually kinda like Non Sequitur...

Comment from: Zeke posted at December 17, 2005 6:01 PM

The thing about political comics -- or shows or blogs or whatever -- is that consciously or not, we always give more slack to the ones we agree with. I'm a conservative, so when I read a Mallard Fillmore strip that I don't find very funny, I'll usually at least agree with the sentiment. But when I read an unfunny joke in The Boondocks or I Drew This, the politics will probably just tick me off, making the whole experience unpleasant.

So I can appreciate why Eric would dismiss Mallard Fillmore with "Sucks," and I hope he can appreciate why I wouldn't. The real problem with the comic isn't its politics, though. It's that there's nothing there but the politics. Fillmore reeks of being a comic that only exists so that a conservative comic will exist. That's not the kind of motive that good humour comes from. (See also Air America.)

I recommend checking out Filibuster, the comic linked in sqbr's comment above. Where Fillmore is the wrong kind of political comic, Filibuster is the right kind -- funny first and partisan second. It perfectly demonstrates that a conservative comic can be good when conservatism isn't its mission statement. (Everything I'm saying goes for liberal comics too, btw. It's why I can never stand Sore Thumbs for very long, but enjoy the hell out of Men in Hats and such.)

Being a poet suited Poe to a T. Think about it.

- Z

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at December 17, 2005 6:45 PM

Actually, I've come to a grand conclusion for conservative humor. The more a given conservative tries to make money off of humor, the less competent they are at humor.

for me, the classic case is Bob Dole, because he manages to represent both ends of the spectrum. Back when he was in office, he was funny only because it was what came natural to him (and I mean that he was great with jokes, comic timing, all that - not "Dan Quayle" funny). And like his politics or not, but he was a laugh riot. I suppose he might have just hired good speech writers, but some of that stuff seemed too "off-the-cuff." And he was consistently funny throughout his political career, suggesting heavily to me that it was his own innate sense of humor.

But now that he's retired from politics? It's brutal to watch him. I feel bad for the guy. I wince when he makes a public appearance nowadays, partly remembering the Bob Dole of old, and how that old Bob Dole would dress down today's Bob Dole in a matter of minutes.

Geez, this is making me want to support a "Free Dole's Funny!" campaign.

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