Having the Last Laugh

Posted by on November 29th, 2010 at 7:43 PM

 For his October 3 Sunday release of Non Sequitur, Wiley Miller produced a gauzy fall panorama of a lazy, sunny park scene in which sundry personages are depicted whiling away their leisure time by buying ice cream, fishing, roller skating, etc., captioned “Picture book title voted least likely to ever find a publisher … ‘Where’s Muhammad?’”

Alan Gardner at DailyCartoonist.com subsequently reported that Universal Uclick confirmed that several papers (upwards of 20) asked for a replacement because the seemingly harmless cartoon mentions the word Muhammad.

None of the characters are depicted as Middle Eastern, but that, apparently, made no difference to timorous editors. Gardner continued: “Responding to the news that his strip may not appear in some papers, Wiley said, ‘The irony of editors being afraid to run even such a tame cartoon as this that satirizes the blinding fear in media regarding anything surrounding Islam sadly speaks for itself. Indeed, the terrorists have won.’”

Indeed, the reaction of timid editors affirms the accuracy of Wiley’s satire. Sad, yes—and fiercely alarming.

And Wiley wasn’t about to let the instance fade into the ether. Last Sunday, November 28, he caused his grizzled codger sea captain to commit one of his many sea stories.

“Theah we wah,” the old gaffer commences in his usual New England drawl,  “—caught in another nar-eastah. Pauley an’ me drifted to an island that looked like it was inhabited, but it was quiet—too quiet. So we set out to exploah. Then I got a sense of fahboding, like we should go back an’ take ah chances with the sea. And I was right! I soon discovahed we had landed in the most dreaded and disturbin’ place known to the free-thinkin’ wauld. We wah marooned on—THE ISLAND OF THE POLITICALLY CORRECT OSTRICH PEOPLE!”

You can see Wiley’s defining visual of that horrific isle in the accompanying exhibit, which displays both the October transgression and yesterday’s (in the vertical format that Wiley provides as an alternative to subscribing papers).

The “Warning” reads: “Today’s most forbidden word, never to be uttered or printed is: the M-word!”

And the aged mariner continues: “And just when I thought it couldn’t get wause, it did.”

To which Flo, the patience waitress at the diner the old guy frequents, says: “Ok, I’ll bite—how?”

And he says: “That was the newsroom.”

As of Monday morning, Wiley told me, he hadn’t heard a peep of protest from the cowed press. “But,” he added, “you know how it is. Editors only read a comic when it’s shoved under their nose by someone asking if it’s ‘too controversial’ for the comics page.”

And Wiley took precautions against such a derailment. He has forbidden, as a matter of policy, his syndicate to ever again send subscribing newspapers “warnings” about potentially inflammatory episodes of Non Sequitur.

We might get a laugh out of Muhmmad yet.

Next time: we return to our short and snappy review of new, freshly minted comic strips.

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “Having the Last Laugh”

  1. […] The most interesting thing I’ve learned out of Wiley’s Mohammad series is this gem from Bob Harvey’s post in today’s Comics Journal: As of Monday morning, Wiley told me, he hadn’t heard a peep of protest from the cowed press. […]