Trouble with Comics, Is "Obama Nation" Racist, or Just Stupid?

Is “Obama Nation” Racist, or Just Stupid?

Commenting on Twitter, Fantagraphics publisher (and one of my personal heroes) Gary Groth called the controversial Obama Nation comic strip by James Hudnall and Batton Lash “witless,” among other things. I’m not sure I agree with Lawrence O’Donnell’s characterization of this particular example of the strip as racist, but I do think Obama Nation as a whole is a loathsome, unfunny comic strip obviously fueled by hatred, much like its closest ancestor, Mallard Fillmore. Again, this particular strip may not be overtly racist in its execution (although it certainly is easy to say it looks that way on a very facile level), but it’s very hard not to suspect the strip’s creators operate from a place of malice and loathing.

I’m far from Obama’s biggest fan. I am, in fact, one of his most disappointed former supporters. But maybe if Lash and Hudnall spent some creative energy on positive work that urged real solutions to the problems here in Los Estados Unidos, they would not get painted with the racist brush by opportunistic commentators on the opposite side of the ideological fence. I am somewhat impressed that most people commenting on the issue seem to realize what a sorry, pathetic piece of cartooning the strip overall represents.

Should Obama Nation be censored? No. Should it be ignored and reviled because it is ugly, nonsensical and epically unfunny? Hell, yes.

Alan David Doane

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