Comics That Wouldn’t Get Published (or Even Re-Published) in 2020

This seemed like the best place to park these: not because they’re all sexual in nature, but because this is a page where nobody’s allowed to complain that they’re outraged or offended.

In their time, of course, they were all considered perfectly acceptable.

Believe it or not.

inappropriate arno

“That’s Q37, in her day one of the most effective secret agents this country ever had.”

inappropriate addams
1939

inappropriate arno artistinappropriate steig 1952

The Steig is from 1952. Not sure about the Arno. Both artists would probably be arrested for drawing these today.

38 thoughts on “Comics That Wouldn’t Get Published (or Even Re-Published) in 2020

  1. I think the alumnus one and probably the shoe one would be acceptable now.

    People are sensitive to jokes about school shootings, but blowing up the White House is probably OK subject matter for a joke (so long as it’s not associated with assassinating a specific President).

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  2. It looks like the shoe salesman is picking up a gun, probably out of frustration at what was, in those days, seen as a typical woman shoe-shopper. I don’t see it as funny, but I also don’t think many editors would pull it.

    I’m afraid I don’t see why the Q37 one is here. She retired as a spy and started popping out kids left and right. Meh. Perhaps it has to do with all the different ethnicities. If they are the direct outcome(s) of her spy travels, she probably wouldn’t have had all that many assignments.

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  3. The multiethnic kids are the direct outcomes of her (pre-Pill) espionage assignments, not just travels.

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  4. The spycraft term for Q37 is “honey trap.” Female agents sent to seduce people to entice secrets from them. Notice how her children look very different from each other, because she was assigned to seduce men of different backgrounds?

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  5. Did anybody else follow “Homeland”? I thought they did a pretty good job of crafting a finale that did not cut corners too much, nor on the other hand indulge in large bloodshed as a supposedly fitting path for the story.[Though not up to the standard of “The Americans” which was really great!]
    But I’ve saved it for rewatch, and now I want to check it out for the question: Does Carrie get her daughter back? Or is she still left with her sister?
    Not that Carrie was a Q37. She did have liaisons with a couple of her targets / enemies, but they were written as genuine romances to a large extent.
    But the cartoon does raise the question, what happened to the older kids back home, during her subsequent overseas assignments? BoiseEd puts it as ” If they are the direct outcome(s) of her spy travels, she probably wouldn’t have had all that many assignments.” but that assumes the agency would care.

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  6. We inadvertently discovered the best way to watch Homeland when we very reluctantly decided to watch the final series: whoever had it before us from the library put the disks back in wrong order, and we didn’t notice, so we put the last disk in first (or possibly the penultimate one). We were a little confused with the “previously on”, but figured we just didn’t remember all the stupid details from the previous series, and quickly got into the last season, which we found gripping, tense, fast moving, and well written(!) We were surprised by how effectively the story was told, and how quickly it wrapped up and concluded, and in a satisfying way. We were commenting aloud how this was the best season yet, how they must have been able to hold out for good story-telling now that they knew this was the last series, and didn’t have to pander to ambiguous possible continuations, and could just do the best story they could.

    Then we discovered the three extra disks… (“How many special features are there?” we thought…)

    (We wisely did not then watch the six or nine episodes we had missed…)

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  7. larK: Almost the same thing happened to me when I started watching 24. I accidentally picked up season 2, thinking it was season 1. I watched the entire first disk, still thinking it was season 1, and was really impressed. Clearly the writers had developed a rich backstory for all the characters and their interactions, but hadn’t felt the need to spell it all out for the viewer. Some of the characters had important interactions in the past, which they would allude to, naturally, in the course of other conversations, without clunky exposition. The little hints they dropped left me wanting to find out more about the backstory, which was actually more intriguing than the “forwardstory.” I was very disappointed when I realized it was just the wrong season.

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  8. Mitch, I put this up as a Page, not a Post. A subtle difference, but it means neither the post nor the comments show up on the front page.

    Less chance of me getting arrested along with Arno and Steig that way.

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  9. You think so? They seem fairly neutral to me, while still making it clear they’re of different ethnicities.

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  10. Winter Wallaby: We have been bingeing on Lost, and are now amid the Season 3. Fortunately, the discs are well-labeled. Here, too, the backstories really make it intriguing — especially how they sometimes intermingle.

    Olivier and Carl Fink: Yeah, I got that, and Mitch4 is probably right that the agency wouldn’t care, but I would think that she would either have lots of abortions or give up the biz after the first kid or two. What happens to this growing menagerie as the broad goes abroad over and over again? Perhaps she was using Robert Heinlein’s bunghole theory of child-raising.

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  11. Ugh. Never mind. My memory of the panel (even just from this morning) was very different than the reality. I took another look and B.A. is right.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. @Boise Ed: “Fortunately, the discs are well-labeled.”
    Fortunately? Weren’t you listening? The mislabeling made the shows more watchable 🙂

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  13. BoiseEd: I probably liked the backstories in Lost more than the forwardstories. But there, the writers can take pride since the backstories were by design, not by picking up the wrong discs from the library.

    Carl Fink: I thought the claim that it was clearly somewhere in Eastern Europe was some sort of bizarre joke, but I couldn’t figure out what your joke was.

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  14. I think Q37 could work today if you had less offensive depictions of the children. The joke, that she’s fallen victim to the occupational hazards of honeytrapping are kind of funny. Like James Bond gets shot, she get’s pregnant. Imagine the challenge of finding a sitter for her expanding brood so she can go off on another job. And there are other elements that could be funny.

    Alumni association letter is funny still. Everyone in the alumni magazine is a big success. They never talk about the ones who have fallen on hard times or become criminals. He’s doing a ridiculously outrageous crime, so it’s funny.

    If adult male artists paint adult nudes, then child artists paint child nudes. It’s nothing more than that and it’s funny. That said, I doubt you could get it published today. If it were new, could you get Romeo and Juliet staged today? Sixteen-year-olds engaging in gang warfare and having sex?

    Finally, the shoe one is really just about the frustration of dealing with the unreasonable demands of a customer. Anyone who has been in a customer-service role will laugh at it. His frustration is with the unreasonable demands to sample every product, not that she’s a woman. I imagine the young lady at Baskin-Robbins may have wanted to do this to me when I decided to sample every flavour they had one day. I don’t think so. It was a very quiet day. She was reading a book when we went in and there were no other customers and she sort of seemed to be getting into making it all the flavours (initially I was only intending on testing a handful)_. And we did buy stuff at the end.

    I keep meaning to watch “Homeland”. I’ve avoided your comments, but I take it that it is good?

    I think I got 18 episodes into the first season of “24”. I bailed out at the amnesia episode. Amnesia is pretty much always a “f%^& this” moment for me. So is “zoom and enhance”.

    “Lost” is just worthless in my opinion, especially knowing they were just making it up as they went along.

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  15. Bill, that’s good to know. I noticed only that it wasn’t getting listed the same way.

    larK and others commenting on watching series out of order — there have been a few I’ve started watching on one or another streaming service so it wasn’t about a mixup, but a matter of liking something at first, and getting disappointed with subsequent series. So more a matter of letting it lapse rather than deciding I’m not watching the rest.

    I don’t know if it is more or less likely with the “release a whole season at once” model or “release one or two episodes weekly” model. It can maybe be more daunting to watch a couple episodes and be disappointed and feel like the eight more already in the queue are a task to be gotten thru.

    Also with some very long running series, if you’ve given up on one season (or finished it, but with disappointment) , and a new one comes out and seems to be getting positive fan or critical attention. In that situation, I’ve skipped ahead to watch the last episode of (say) Season 4, skipping a few from that season, to be ready for the new season. And then the new season is disappointing and you drop out from it too. I’ve even had that happen twice or more with one show — Orange is the New Black. The whole revolt-and-occupation series was so distasteful I couldn’t stomach it. But the next year, critics were saying really “Yes, OITNB kinda stunk last season, but the new one is good again!”. But it wasn’t, for me.
    Eventually the whole thing was over. I then watched the first and last episodes of the last two seasons, and was happy to see who got rewarded and who got stuck — even though some people central to that story were brand new to me.

    I enjoyed the first season of “The Deuce” , but struggled with the second and eventually finished it though each episode felt like “I was reluctant to spend more time, but it was okay, mostly.” Then when it got to the third one, even though this is announced as the last, that wasn’t enough incentive for me to jump back in. (I don’t think I could access it now anyway, having dropped the HBO-within-Amazon-Prime deal.)

    I started watching “House” while it was still being broadcast, I think, and saw the episodes of the last two or three seasons as they came out. Somewhere during that period I started watching the back years I had missed, with sort of a strategy of watching the first two or three, the last two or three, and a segment from the middle of a season, to see what the plot developments are. I still do go and watch one from those years every once in a while, new to me, and find situations or relationships I had not understood or suspected before. The best of these (or most important for future story) was the time he fired his original crew of three or four residents and, upon being forced to choose new ones, organized an ongoing seminar with elimination rounds. This was the introduction of Olivia Wilde and Peter Jacobsen (who did make the new team) and Anne Dudek (who was not on the new team but was still at the hospital and on the show, in a couple central plot developments — somehow she got married(!) to House’s Buddy-Boy The Oncologist [can’t remember character or actor name]).

    Oh this is getting too long .. so I will just say BoJack Horseman, and not detail that I do still think I will fill in the middle ..

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  16. Oh, Mitch, never let the length of your post stop you. 🙂

    As for BH, it’s interesting but so terribly bleak, which makes some of it hard to watch. It’s drawn as gaily coloured funny animals to trick you into not noticing it is dark AF. Not bad, but I think there’s no way you could do something that dark if it were live action.

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  17. Yes, but retroactively the whole series was garbage, because it was (supposedly) written to lead up to conclusion, and it turned out they were just throwing $!@# against the wall the whole time.

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  18. SingaporeBill: How are the Q37 children depictions offensive? … And after tasting all 31 flavors, even with those little spoonlets, I’m amazed that you had room to eat more.

    Mitch4: We just finished Lost season 3. At least it minimized the ubiquitous baby crap that infested Season 2. I got a schadenfreudistic kick out of the additions to Hurley’s backstory. The smoke monster bodes ill for my interest, however; I had to go check if Stephen King had written it. Speaking of whom, I was mildly surprised to discover that NOS4A2 was written by King’s son. I’ll go away now.

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  19. I’m reminded of the “Community” episode, “Abed’s Unstoppable Christmas”. Animated Abed and Pierce are at Santa’s Workshop looking for The Meaning of Christmas. Abed opens a box labeled that.

    “It’s the first season of Lost on DVD.”
    “That’s the meaning of Christmas?”
    “No. It’s a metaphor. It represents lack of pay-off.”

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  20. I enjoyed Lost, but I stopped watching at the end of season 2, precisely because it was clear that the writers were just throwing stuff at the wall, and there was no way that it was all going to make sense or be satisfying in the end.

    It’s unfortunate that I missed out on what was apparently the best season, but it still seems like it was the right decision overall.

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  21. I guess twice I have seen a movie shown accidentally with parts in the wrong order — roughly halves reversed in both these cases — and not caught on for quite a while.

    One was Das Boot, rented on VHS tape; in fact on two cassettes, rubberbanded together by Hollywood or Blockbuster or whoever it was. We somehow loaded tape 2 first, and really did think it was a sign of European sophistication that there was apparently going to be a very long pre-credits opening sequence, and also that the storytelling was so boldly starting off in medias res. I think that might have been the aftermath of some combat, with “enemy” sailors flailing around in the water and eventually getting picked up (or not?) by the U-boat.

    Eventually the mistake became undeniable, from the content, and so it was not entirely a surprise when that tape ended with end-credits of the film, and the other tape began with the opening main-title material.

    The other such case was an Andy Warhol film (or Warhol / Paul Morrissey collaboration), seen at a campus film society screening — which tells me it had to be pre-1971, though I have not been able to identify the movie, from IMDb or other filmography sources.

    And I think it did not have conventional opening nor closing titles / credits — which is part of both why the name of the movie didn’t get fixed in my memory, and also why I still don’t know absolutely for sure that the film society projectionist showed the reels in the wrong order accidentally, rather than it being a weird artistic plan of Warhol’s to instruct it be shown that way.

    There was a certain amount of internal content clues that suggested the shown order was not the order filmed. It was a real-time record of people sitting around at The Factory having a disjointed conversation. But crucially, people were largely stationary, but every once in a while somebody would change seats, or even leave the room, sometimes returning with food or just returning after a random time. The conversation was mostly nonlinear, but had some recurrences, which if taken as “callbacks” (to use a modern term) could be signposts of the actual order.

    The first reel (in our viewing order) started with people in one seating configuration — not significant in itself, but distinct enough. Call that Arrangement A Bit by bit it changed considerably as people moved around or left and came back. Then suddenly, as a jump cut effect if we hadn’t had to wait out a manual reel change, the seating was totally different, Arrangement B. Then during the second half, as people moved, the individual positions started to seem less random and more directed at an end. People were moving to where they were “supposed” to be in Arrangement A.

    Since the content of their conversation was kind of addled and insignificant, this calculated-seeming transformation of the configuration of seating from the sudden Arrangement B back towards the original Arrangement A was like something giving us a sense of progress, almost a plot! I assumed this was intentional and rather brilliant. But it could have been a local slipup and nothing more.

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  22. It happens I detest Pulp Fiction along with most of the rest of Quarantino, but indeed there is a part of Pulp Fiction that works much like the Warhol I was recalling. And that’s the big outbreak of violence in the seemingly calm cafeteria. In terms of the movie’s playing order, we’ve already seen the battle, and later when that place is shown and we see people getting into the places we know they were for the shootout (or whatever it was), we know what’s coming up.

    A sort-of related m.o. that I do rather like is what Iñárritu and some others do with separate story lines that turn out later in the development to have some kind of connection but initially were shown as separate threads we were keeping track of independently. In “Amores perros” he had not yet developed that simultaneous-development technique as far, and the stories were told as three parts of the movie like chapters. “Babel” is one of the top films of this type, for me. “21 Grams”: works well too, though the multi-thread technique is not as foregrounded. “Y tu mamá también” directed by “Alfonso Cuarón” is also good.

    “Crash” (2004) is sort of this technique, but is hard to discuss,since (1) Cronenberg’s “Crash” (1996) is a much more interesting movie,so you always feel “Why are we bothering to talk about the 2004 Oscar winner when there is a better movie with the same title” (2) Because it won an Oscar there is a lot of ressentiment and noone can discuss it rationally (3) and on top of that it cannot be discussed this year because the only thing anyone will judge it on is portrayal of racial attitudes.

    Another related one, that I am having some trouble looking up, is very good, and combines that multi-thread storytelling with placing some of the stories at different times. A plane has landed or crash-landed and people living around the clearing or spot on the beach try to ignore it, but at some point people are living in it. The person from the more modern era turns out to be the child of the person from the earlier era.

    Aha!! It’s “The Burning Plain” (2008) directed by Guillermo Arriaga (who was writer on a couple of those directed by Iñárritu) and starring Charlize Theron. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1068641/reference

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  23. I agree about Pulp Fiction. As I recall, I didn’t even stay to the end of it. But that was 26 years ago.

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  24. OK. There’s also “Smashup on Interstate 5” which starts with the chain-reaction pile-up wreck and then goes through the different story lines of different people of how they came to be in the place and time.

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