Cartoonists are cracking down on racist comments from “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, with one artist this week even using his own strip to mock the disgraced cartoon that has now been dropped by newspapers nationwide.
Darrin Bell transforms his ‘Candorville’ comic – which mostly features young black and Latino characters – into a way to address Adams’ racism by mimicking the look and style of ‘Dilbert’, complete with quirky tie.
“The only reason anyone knows who Scott Adams is is because of the comics page. So I thought someone in the comics page should comment on him in the comics page,” Bell, the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner for Illustrated Reporting and Commentary, told the Associated Press.
In the strips that ran Monday through Saturday, Bell paired Dilbert with one of his own characters, Lemont Brown. In one, Dilbert hopes that Lemont will support him in his search for a laundry room at work.
“You could wash your hoodie,” says Dilbert. Lemont responds, “And you could wash your hood?”
Adams, who is white, was an outspoken — and controversial — social media presence long before describing black people as a “hate group” on YouTube last month. Adams repeatedly referred to people who are black as members of a “hate group” and said he would no longer “help black Americans”. He later said he was hyperbolic, but continued to defend his position.
“If someone goes too far like Scott Adams did, anyone who knows better should stand up and use their First Amendment to draw a line — to say this is unacceptable,” said Bell, whose new graphic novel “The Talk” explores growing up. as a biracial man in white culture.
Other cartoonists have come forward to denounce Adams, such as Bill Holbrook, the creator of “On the Fastrack”, a strip featuring an interracial family and – like “Dilbert” – aimed at a modern workplace.
“One of the things I wanted to emphasize with my characters is that people rise above their differences. It can work,” Holbrook said. “That’s the spotlight I wanted to focus on and still do. It’s all a matter of what you want to focus on.”
Holbrook said the Adams case is not one of so-called cancellation culture, but one of consequences.
“I fully agree that he should say whatever he wants, but then he has to bear the consequences,” he said. “It’s not being canceled. He experiences the consequences of expressing his opinion.”
Individual newspapers dropped “Dilbert” and Adams’ distributor Andrews McMeel Universal said it cut ties with the cartoonist. While some outlets replaced “Dilbert” with another strip, the Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Massachusetts, decided to keep the space empty through March “as a reminder of the racism that permeates our society.”
The ‘Dilbert’ controversy has rocked a community of everyday cartoonists, who often work from home months before publication. While reliably pro-free speech, they say they’re also aiming for a brighter future — or at least a chuckle.
“We believe comics are a powerful medium and cartoonists should keep smiling, not racism and hate,” said Tea Fougner, editor-in-chief of King Features Syndicate, which distributes comics like “Candorville,” “Zits,” “Mutts,” and “Dennis.” the Menace” — in a statement to the AP.
“We are proud of our cartoonists using their platforms to denounce the hate spread by Scott Adams and encourage others to join us as we stand together as a community to make the world of cartooning a safe place. and welcoming space for all,” the statement said. said.
Bell credited King Features Syndicate and its editors with allowing him to tear up the strips intended for this week and run them to the “Dilbert” shipments, an unusual request.
“They apparently thought it was important enough to take a risk and make sure it comes out on time,” Bell said.
Many comic creators said they had stopped reading “Dilbert” in recent years, finding the strip’s tone darker and the creator’s slide into misogyny, anti-immigration, and racism alarming. But Adams still had hundreds of newspaper sticks before last week.
“We can’t move forward and progress as a culture and as a society if there are still people in these gatekeeper roles who cling to these archaic ideas,” says artist Bianca Xunise, co-author of the “Six Chix” comic. and the second black woman in comics history to be syndicated nationally.
Xunise noted that the fallout was much faster when she drew a strip commenting on both the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 120 publications immediately dropped the comic.
She said being black in the cartoon world always seems to provoke hateful readers and people who fear “waking” messages, but she’s encouraged that “Heart of the City” — now drawn by black cartoonist Steenz — “Dilbert” replaced in the Washington Post.
“We don’t want to go so far as to make it another form of fascism other than censoring everyone’s ideas just for fear of being offensive,” Xunise said. “But some things don’t need to be said, and especially when they are a direct blow to those who are marginalized.”
“Macanudo” creator Ricardo Liniers Siri, known professionally as Liniers, said Adams was treading unfunny territory and that’s the third lead of a cartoonist.
“Complaints are generally not fun. The funniest guy at a party isn’t the one who complains about everything. That’s the nasty man,’ he said.
“I don’t complain. I just try to focus on what’s good we have around,” he added. “Because in the context of a newspaper with so much bad news, I try to have an optimistic space.”