30 Comments

  1. I think it’s a deliberate rim shot. It’s a common motif. In this Doonesbury a pie in three panels changes into cake in the fouth. https://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/1981/10/24 This Luann one has a bit of sexual innuendo which, I wouldn’t go so far as to say was unintentional, but such gazinga jokes are considered to be pretty mild and acceptable (even though they are undeniably always about … er…you know… it’s always assumed it’s under enough covers).

    I think one one level Bet’s “get into” means to start selling them and get into the lingerie business. Or Bet’s is telling Gunther to start wearing the lingerie.

  2. Just ten days ago he offered his “thing” to her, and now she’s offering him something in which to put it. This is clearly intentional innuendo, but it’s presented with such a wink and a smile (and lack of exposed skin) that editors are unlikely to object.

  3. Um, guys, when a man says he wants to get into a certain woman’s pants he doesn’t mean he wants to wear them. I haven’t heard “I’d like to get into her lingerie” but I suppose it’s the same.

  4. P.S. Neither one of the items pictured will come anywhere close to fitting her. If she tries to put one of them on, she’s likely to end up looking like a brown version of Bruce Banner in mid-transformation.

  5. The inversion thing is a pretty common sight gag for Evans. He’s been doing it going almost all the way back to the beginning. It was usually something in Miss Phelps’ office, like her nameplate or one of her certificates. Either flipped upside down or with different words in different panels.

    It occurred to me recently that, except for Brad and Toni, Gunther may well be the only member of the core cast who is actually… um… experienced. He ran off to South America with Rosa for several months. You can’t tell me that was entirely chaste.

  6. It’s a “rimshot”, as woozy put it so aptly.

    The Dilbert’s-tie thing has been misconstrued as well. Adams wanted to let his most devoted fans know when Dilbert “got lucky” with Liz, but he couldn’t get an explicit reference past the syndicate. So he came up with the “tie” code. It was only intended to be used once AFAIK. It had nothing to do with arousal.

  7. Gunther “ran off to South America with Rosa for several months. You can’t tell me that was entirely chaste.”

    I can certainly tell you that; you are welcome to believe it or not believe it. As a long, long-time reader of and snarker at LUANN, I’m personally virtually certain is was entirely chaste, though I suspect Rosa would have preferred it not have been.

    (Insert usual disclaimer about how yes, I know these are only fictional characters and we can’t ‘know’ what goes on outside of the panels we see, and in fact they don’t actually have any life outside of those panels, and don’t have any ‘real’ life even within those panels, and thus all such assertions are ultimately meaningless and content-free — though perhaps fun to argue about.”)

  8. I was an fairly frequent reader of Luann when she was still portrayed as a 13-year-old, and that dropped to only occasional when they time jumped and she was suddenly 16, and pretty much not at all now. But given the famously prudish nature of comics page editors, yeah, I’d guess on the chaste side, too. Such a fuss there was when Edda and Amos got caught getting busy in 9 Chickweed Lane.

  9. “But given the famously prudish nature of comics page editors,”

    Everyone says this but I have *never* seen any evidence for it. When was the last time anyone saw an editor prudishly refuse to print something. So far as my experience has been, I don’t have any evidence that comic editors even exist.

  10. “So far as my experience has been, I don’t have any evidence that comic editors even exist”

    What kind of evidence are you looking for? A disclaimer from the artist that the original strip was altered?

  11. I know in the past, admittedly 20 years ago, Frank Cho had many battles with the syndicate over various strips in Liberty Meadows. Now, editors didn’t alter them, either he had to or the strip just didn’t run.

  12. @ woozy – Direct evidence is hard to come by, because comic strip authors rarely publish the rejection notes they receive, nor transcripts of their telephone conversations with editors. There are some exceptions: Gary Larson described a number of “Far Side” rejection issues, and mentioned that in the early years, he “wasn’t allowed to show a toilet, no matter how it was handled”.
    Walt Kelly even went so far as to draw an alternate comic whenever he felt that newspaper editors might object to the material in the original “Pogo” strip for that date. Decades later, complaints about the political content in “Doonesbury” led some editors to remove it from the comics and place it on the op-ed page.
    Then there was the “Thermos full of phlegm” strip, which caused one editor to cancel “Calvin and Hobbes” from a newspaper that had been printing the strip for just a week.
    I think editors are willing to let everyone have a good laugh, they are simply unwilling to offend even a minority of their readers in the process. Nobody applauds the editor when a comic strip is funny, but many narrow-minded people send in complaints whenever a comic steps over their own perceived standard of “moral” behavior.

  13. P.S. Brian adds a very good point: standards are changing rapidly, and comics that were unpublishable just a decade or two ago may not raise even an eyebrow today. Larson’s comment about the “toilet” issue appeared under a (much later) panel that showed an outhouse with a (narrowly) open door.

  14. Woozy: Perhaps you missed it, but I mentioned just such a case in my earlier post: to wit, Scott Adams was unable to devise any acceptable way to make clear that Dilbert slept with Liz except via a code only some of his readers would be familiar with.

  15. @ Given what was censored and the curved on what was not, I’d say that the blue character is not a “guy”, but a “girl” (although knowing the strip, it might be a female robot).

  16. The blue character is May, a female AI. Just last week, we saw that the upper bar was rather superfluous, since she doesn’t have nipples. And given that her current chassis is a piece of junk and there is an effort to get her a new one, I wonder if there’s anything under the lower bar.

    I suppose Alice Grove could be in the same universe as QC, a few hundred or thousand years down the line, but she’s not a crossover.

  17. It’s the “famously prudish” that got to me. Everyone loves to joke about how the censors are just killjoy prudes and “Pearls before Swine” has a Silent movie handle bar mustached censor who stops the strip from saying “nutsack” or “menstrual cycle” (and yet… there, there he is saying “nutsack” and “menstral cycle” in his strip and… the actual editors let him.) And there was Sherman’s Lagoon talking about the “Heckmouth” because “You can’t say h—- in a family newspaper”. Really? That’s an absurd claim.

    An editor in the fifties worrying about overt politics offending the readers or Berkeley Breathed deliberately trying to slip in yiddish obscenities and getting caught hardly counts as “famously prudish”.

    “but I mentioned just such a case in my earlier post: to wit, Scott Adams was unable to devise any acceptable way to make clear that Dilbert slept with Liz except via a code only some of his readers would be familiar with”

    That’s evidence of a “famously prudish” editor? So I assumed the Scott Adams drew them ****ing but an editor said no, so Scott responded with Dilbert saying “I just ****ed Liz” and the editor said no, so Scott had a caption “Dilbert just made sweet love to Liz” and the editor said no, so Scott had Dilbert’s tie pointing down, and the editor said “Hmm, is there any indication of sex in this strip?” and Scot said “er, no” and the editor was duped?

    Well, no. So far as I can tell Scott completely made up the code on his own and the editors had nothing to do with anything.

    I guess my point is if you want to put in a subtle erection or ****ing joke in your strips, go ahead. But *don’t* confabulate an entirely ficticeous “famously prudish” editor that you so cleverly duped, when in reality *NOBODY CARED AND NOBODY BATTED AN EYE*.

  18. “Even web comics have censors: https://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=4008 (I’d say for good reason with this one.)”

    Uh… no.

    There was no “Google” who would have gotten mad at the cartoonist, and there was no editor. The cartoonists simply self-censored voluntarily.

    S/He did so because *s/he* wanted to.

    And as you say for good reason. Black censor bars are funny and a common 4th wall humor trope. An actual dirty picture is off putting and weird and not funny and utterly changes the content and character of the strip in the way no-one, not the readers and not the cartoonist, actually want.

    There was no “famously” (or in this case reasonably) prudish editor to stop him/her. None at all.

  19. As I understand the QC, the cartoonist is talking about Google Ads I don’t know any specifics about Adsense, but if it works at all like another arm of the Google, Youtube, they could well “demonetize” specific comics or even the entire web site. That happens with videos Youtube finds objectionable. That led to the shooting incident some time back, where a Youtube creator had her channel demonetized.

    This particular comic might be a joke poking fun at that. And it might reflect real experiences of previous comics that were demonetized. I don’t follow QC, so I couldn’t say.

    So there is censorship like, “You can’t do that.” And there is, “You can do what you want, but we won’t sponsor it.”

  20. You but neither *really* apply. The cartoonist didn’t *want* to draw it and thought it’d be funnier to have black censor marks. And s/he’s right; it is funnier. I’m okay with it because she’s not really claiming s/he’s so cool and the man is hold her/him back nor is she setting up fictional strawmen prudes which don’t in actual life exist. It’s more we are all in all the joke; it’s good to imagine there’s universal force preventing this because gosh knows– none of us want to see it.

  21. Granted that this was over 10 years ago, I remember a specific example of comic strip censorship. It was in the strip “Out of the Gene Pool.” There was a storyline where someone was marketing a perfume named “Sheet,” and a character demonstrated it by spraying it at an electric fan and saying, “Just relax as the Sheet hits the fan.” The Chicago Tribune announced that they were skipping that particular strip because “it did not meet our standards of taste.”

    https://www.gocomics.com/outofthegenepool/2005/01/26

  22. Yes, your site does get demonetized by ads if you show naughty bits. It famously happened to Menage a 3 so bad they had to create “web safe” versions of a lot of strips just to have enough ad revenue to keep going. The books are uncensored. And just as is mentioned in the Questionable Content post, he drew the entire thing, which is available behind a Patreon paywall. Advertisers pulling their support over sexual subjects in webcomics absolutely happens.

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