What’s The Deal With The Comic Strip Graffiti?


I don’t mean to pick on utterly harmless obscure comic strips. A lot of them are. And I have some knack for discovering comic strips so obscure that I’m not even sure the cartoonist’s family knows it’s being made. So please understand, I’m not saying that I want Gene Mora to quit writing and drawing Graffiti. But, I mean, look at yesterday’s.

Written on a wooden plank wall; 'Don Rickles was the first Dale Carnegie dropout'.
Gene Mora’s Graffiti for the 31st of July, 2018. There’s, like, no information about the comic strip anywhere. Like even Wikipedia just lists that it’s a comic strip with a name beginning ‘G’, and it doesn’t even get into the question of whether this actually is a comic strip. The comic strip’s About page doesn’t say anything about when Gene Mora was born or how he got into cartooning or how Graffiti totally runs in like three hundred newspapers worldwide. (Comic strips always say they run in about three hundred newspapers worldwide.) The strip just exists without any causal agent.

This … has to be a rerun, right? I mean, yes, comic strips usually have a weird lag in their pop-culture awareness. And that lag only gets worse as a comic strip ages. And Graffiti has been running since Apollo 9 was on the launchpad. I guess? I don’t know. Sometime 1969 anyway. It might have been running only since Apollo 12 was on the launchpad. So given that it would be remarkable if the comic strip could reference anything more current than Disney’s Dinosaur.

And please understand, it’s not like I dislike the thing. I even have a weird nostalgic feeling about it. I remember as a kid reading it in the News Tribune. It was one of those weird comic strips they didn’t allow on the comics page. It just floated around somewhere in that section, waiting for people to happen across a drawing of a wall with text on it.

I mean, the copyright is 2018, but that doesn’t mean anything anymore. Why would it be copyright Andrews McMeel when they haven’t called themselves that since 2011? Right? Unless Gene Mora just had a whole lot of page blanks with the old name put up and is still using them? Which is ridiculous, but if you’re anything like me you know how long a comic strip still in production will show last year’s copyright sticker even after the new year’s begun. And, like, comic strips that would seem to take a lot more work, like Funky Winkerbean or Andy Capp, famously got a year or more ahead of publication. Could Graffiti? I just don’t know.

Don’t read the comments, but yeah, commenter, I’m sure a lot of people get their lives ruined when they’re sued for being politically incorrect. Happens all the time.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

10 thoughts on “What’s The Deal With The Comic Strip Graffiti?”

  1. If you like obscure comic strips a good website is The Stripper’s Guide Blog. I remember Graffiti with the same odd nostalgia you do. There was apparently a similar “Laugh-In” comic strip that would have “hip” quotes like ‘Rhett Butler had Scarlett fever’ that came out around the same time.

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    1. Thanks for the tip. I do have this tendency to gravitate toward weird and somehow slightly off comics. Not sure why, but my natural contrariness and search for novelty has to be part of it.

      Never heard of the Laugh-In comic strip that I remember. Depending on the timing a Gone with the Wind joke just might pass for topical. The movie got a re-release — cropped so as to fit the now wider movie screens — in the late 60s. Which is daft, but what wasn’t back then?

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  2. I have Graffiti news for you– Found the Don Rickles Graffiti panel in the Nov8,1974 issue of The Victoria Advocate — except it is worded slightly differently— ‘is the first’ instead of ‘was the first’ and the type isn’t all caps.

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    1. Ooh, thank you and well-spotted. I’ll guess that it’s a re-used joke, for which I don’t blame the strip. Who’s going to read forty years’ worth of a comic to spot every time the same gag is used?

      I’m curious if you noticed the background wall and whether that had changed.

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  3. Joseph Nebus wrote –I’m curious if you noticed the background wall and whether that had changed.

    Now that you mention it the background was defiantly different, I think it was a tile wall if I’m not mistaken. I guess not only is this indeed a rerun, but it’s a rerun that’s been remastered more than a Star Trek rerun.

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    1. Huh! And now I’m curious about how big a stockpile of jokes Graffiti has got written, and how long we might expect them to go without taking out a rerun. (And again, I don’t fault cartoonists for doing a rerun; it’s surprisingly hard even to do one sentence of joking each day.)

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