Friday, May 25, 2007

What’s in the Funny Papers Today? Well, Sonny, How About Some Non-Consensual Jailhouse Sex Forced on a Rich White Woman by a “Female Inmate of Color"?

We’ve never thought the funny pages of the newspaper were very funny. Even as a burr-headed youngster in thrall to Marvel Comics and reruns of The Three Stooges and Amos ’n’ Andy we could never understand what is was that drew readers to waste even a few moments of the day in the company of Prince Valiant, Mary Worth, Mutt ’n’ Jeff, Lil’ Abner and whoever.

We were wholly unfamiliar with today’s funny pages---Shoe, before Jeff MacNelly’s death, was the last one we gandered at even occasionally---until today, when a prolonged visitation to the men’s room with nothing to read but the Houston Chronicle’s Star section forced us to come to grips with contemporary comics.

We were almost fully on the nod (Gasoline Alley Celebrates Third Centennial!) until we came to an aptly named entry called La Cucaracha, a crudely drawn but demographically fine-tuned effort to appeal to an up-and-coming segment of today’s segmented audience.

The introductory panel sets it up: “Latina socialite Fresno Hilton teaches her half-sister jailhouse etiquette.” The fictional cousin of America’s most renowned parole violator is shown talking into a cell: “Mira, Paris---Listen. If a large, angry female inmate of color walks up to you, what do you say?”

“You are fierce,” replies “Hilton” through the phone receiver.

“No. You say, “Hi, Hubby.”

That was the punch line. (If you were expecting more.)

Yeah, it's about as funny as Imus’s “nappy headed ’hos” remark, except Imus, if we remember correctly, made no implied threat of violence toward the targets of his “humor.”

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