For Comic Strip Authors In The Trump Era, 'No Art Should Live In A Vacuum'
Like President Obama before him, Trump's presidency is having an effect on areas seemingly outside of politics, including the worlds of professional sports, movies, theater — and perhaps a newer addition: comics.
We're not talking political cartoons on editorial pages or the politically-charged Doonesbury, but the previously lighthearted strips that gently follow issues like teen romances. Recently, these comics have become — dare we say it — more "woke," with topical story lines and critical issues playing out on the panels.
NPR's Michel Martin spoke with two syndicated comic strip authors, Francesco Marciuliano of Judge Parker and Hector Cantu of Baldo, to discuss the shift in subject matter and how it relates to today's political climate.
On how Judge Parker has changed
Marciuliano:Judge Parker, as it keeps going, the focus keeps going more and more on the female characters because it seemed certainly the case that that was the voice that needed to be heard. And that happened as a reaction to the Trump Administration. I don't know if all this would be happening to such a great fantastic degree if it wasn't Trump in the White House.
On how Baldo has changed
Cantu: You know, I'm always asking myself, if Baldo was real and his friends were real, what would they be facing right now? So, you know, it's a comic strip — sure, we're supposed to have fun, we're supposed to make people laugh, feel an emotion, get some kind of reaction from people by the last panel — but you can't ignore reality.
On whether the comics are part of a larger movement
Cantu:You know, there has to be some kind of stand, and I don't think comic strips are necessarily immune from that. Especially a comic strip that is about a Latino family. I cannot have a Latino family — and this sounds really weird, but — living in this fantasy land. There is some reality there. And I think it helps me as a writer to deal with that reality.
Marciuliano: You can't avoid it. And, you know, it's a tired cliche now ... What it really is is we've just entered another dimension where everything is defined by one person who is certain to have his voice in everything possible, so you can't avoid him. So if you're going to write a strip where you actually care about your characters there's no way that they can live in a vacuum. No art should live in a vacuum.
NPR's Isabel Dobrin produced this story for the Web.
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