Darrin Bell, the cartoonist behind the syndicated strip “Candorville,” has revealed the changes he had to make to his July 7 cartoon about the death of Michael Jackson.
“I can’t let you do this,” Bell’s editor, Amy Lago of the Washington Post Writers Group, told him after seeing the unedited strip.
“Apparently jokes about pedophilia, even mild ones like this, aren’t allowed on the comics page,” Bell posted on his blog. “But thank God for the Web!”
The strip was one of a five-part series where Jackson visits the dreams of Lemont Brown, the comic’s main character.
For newspapers, Bell re-wrote the last two panels. The third panel of the syndicated version features Lemont, the main character in the strip saying, “What the heck. You entertained me so I’m willing to overlook your stupid decisions, your possible depravity, and your embarrassing naivete. In the last panel Jackson responds, “Thanks,” with Lemont saying “It’s the least I could do.”
The unedited strip has a third panel that features Michael Jackson asking, “I sure did touch people, didn’t I?” Lemont replies, “So you admit it?” The strip ends in the fourth panel with both Jackson and Lemont asking each other, “What?”
“”There are certain detestable acts, such as rape and pedophilia, that can stop some readers from finding any humor whatsoever in a strip,” Lago told Mike Cavna on his Comic Riffs blog. “Darrin’s original strip brought back the pedophile accusation in Panel 3. And also turned it into a punchline. I found that insensitive and felt it would have been hard to defend to anyone who has been the victim of a pedophile and feels that the subject is no joking matter.”
“Some believe that’s for the best, because he was never convicted and because he’s dead and should be left alone,” Bell said.
“But I have to admit that as much as I admire him and his music, he handed people who don’t believe him plenty of reason to doubt his veracity. And I’ve never believed that we should only speak well of the dead. That’s dishonest.”
View the entire series of “Candorville” strips featuring Michael Jackson, as well as both the edited and unedited versions of the controversial comic, click here.