And here's a reason NOT to read the Star

Dateline: Fri 30 Jul 2010

When I want a newspaper, I want print: indepth reporting that TV can't provide. When I want a comic book, I want pictures.

When I want a newspaper, I do not want a comic book and a nice little storyline.

Hence I am at a loss to understand why the Indianapolis Star is wasting the considerable talents of cartoonist Gary Varvel on a full-page comic saga now running once a week. In color, yet.

"The Path to Hope," is filled with good intentions and smacks of Varvel's particular brand of Christianity: with faith in God and good old gumption, the American poor can rise from the ashes of despair and build meaningful lives. Thursday's offering, "On Her Own," told the inspiring story of Jeanne Scott and her five kids: loss, redemption, loss, redemption. Jireh Sports, the cool Christian sports ministry in Brightwood, where poverty is choking, gets a nice plug.

But -- but -- but -- why? This yarn takes up a full page on the editorial page -- space that could be better devoted to analysis, editorial comment, thoughts of the day, reflections.

Just seems to me a real waste of space and besides that, a dumb idea. Yes, it is a nice showcase for Varvel -- but at considerable cost to the reader.

And I know other more sophisticated papers occasionally run graphic novel treatments/stories, etc., but I've never seen a space hog like this feature. Besides, the others I've read are edgier and more cerebral. This is just "nice."

And newspapers should not do nice.


Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

The Varvel page recalled the slogan for Wendy's: "where's the meat?" Truly puzzling.

I'm thinking his graphics story pages will eventually be published in book form, available to readers for $19.95.

His artistic talent is considerable, but the humor in his cartoons is usually hard to find. And not a little preachy.

I miss Oliphant.

2010-07-30 07:47:09

hendy [Member] said:

Categorically, Varvel has toted the fear-mongering, neocon tea party line. So far as I'm concerned, his inked bile has no redeeming qualities. His 'cartoons' are Bircher Porn incarnate.

2010-07-30 08:01:07

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Hendy is absolutely right. Varvel is bile. Always has been. Always will be. Hateful. Mean.

2010-07-30 10:18:04

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

I sure do agree with y'all.

Methinks The Star misreads its constituency if it thinks the literate of this county want to see such drivel displace thoughtful commentary.

Wait a minute. I'm talking about The Star here. There no longer is thoughtful commentary to displace (other than the occasional Carpenter piece).

2010-07-30 12:21:26

Liberal reader [unverified] said:

Lighten up. It's a nice change of pace during the summer.

I don't often agree with Varvel's editorial point of view, and don't necessarily on this series, but he's a conservative cartoonist for a conservative editorial page. What do you expect? I wonder if those who really don't like this feature would be happier with it if it reflected their own points of view?

Often, people who agree with a sharp editorial cartoon think it's great; those who disagree think it's mean.

I think it's a unique and valid use of a cartoonist to let him (or her) go beyond the single panel and do a Sunday style strip during the week.

And though it may be short on analysis, Ruth, it does contain "editorial comment, thoughts of the day, reflections."

2010-07-30 12:44:36

hendy [Member] said:

Edmund Burke once said that evil triumphs when good people do nothing. While I'm inclusionist, the agenda of the fearful is more onerous than those seeking enlightenment. Such is Varvel: not a conservative, as conservatives are as rational as liberals in most ways; there are liberals who aren't taking their meds, too... or perhaps too many.

Instead, I watched year after year as a hateful and fear-mongering agenda was used to vilify, castigate, and use boorish epithets in a 'cartoon' format to render bilious images. Hey, that was fun. Then I quit my Star subscription and didn't have to face the slap-down hatred anymore. Varvel epitomizes the irrationality of Bircher-speak in a cartoon format.

Lighten up? Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

2010-07-30 14:15:02

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Again, Hendy i right. That goes double for me. Varvel used up his reservoir of good will 15 years ago. Mean isn't attractive. He's irrelevant. Talented illustrator, though. Pity.

2010-07-30 14:33:32

Christopher Lloyd [unverified] said:

Interesting that people are calling Gary hateful and vile in criticizing ... a series about young people turning their lives around.

I'm with "Liberal Reader": People dub an opinion columnist (and that's what Gary is; he just works in a visual medium) good or bad based solely on whether or not they agree with his/her political views.

As for this particular endeavor -- they're trying something different, getting out of their comfort zone, finding new ways to render stories and opinions beside the familiar methods. I, for one, value experimentation with old formats, even if it isn't always a rousing success.

2010-07-30 15:22:12

hendy [Member] said:

It's rather like asking a plumber to be an electrician. It presumes Varvel's values are anywhere close to mainstream. Watching his work, you'd believe that Indianapolis was the worst part of Birmingham Alabama.

Where character is plain and obvious, it's pretty important to not beat around the bush. It's my opinion that given his track record, much of what he does is suspect. He can try what he wants; but when you ask a plumber to do an electrician's work, you'd better hope for a pre-switch inspection.

Political views are expressed in many ways. Bile, fear-mongering, churl, misogyny, and race-baiting aren't the credentials one looks for in a journalist. An opinion writer that uses this bile gets respect for only one thing: polarization, not remediation and compromise. Democracy in this republic depends on remediation and compromise or it becomes deadlocked, much the way the federal and state governments have been for seemingly decades. These are *my* opinions.

2010-07-30 16:25:22

VladTheImpaler [unverified] said:

Bile? Mean? Fear-mongering? Race-bating?

Someone is full of bile, and it's not Varvel.

2010-07-30 19:17:32

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Uh, yeah, it is...for 20 years. He's used up his good will.

2010-07-30 19:43:59

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"It presumes Varvel's values are anywhere close to mainstream."
Good point, Hendy. I don't know the man and I hope he is well-intentioned - though certainly misguided - to try to communicate his "brand" of Christianity with extreme right-wing political slants. Tell me....would Jesus vote against extending unemployment benefits to people who are already living in near-poverty? Would He oppose single-payer health care coverage so that people wouldn't go bankrupt or die because they have had the "audacity" to become ill in the United States (or have a loved one become ill)?

The "brand" of Christianity Varvel propogates in many of his cartoons is slowly, but surely, losing its popularity. Increasing numbers of young folks aren't drinking that flavor of Kool-aid. They are finding Christian role models like Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa instead of the right-wing "money changers in the Temple" who used to attract so much perverse adulation.

2010-07-31 14:39:16

Carolina [unverified] said:

Plumbing involves hard work and you need to have the right aptitude and mentality to become a plumber. As a plumber you need to have the ability to solve problems that could be simple as well as complex.

2010-08-01 00:38:59

hendy [Member] said:

I respect plumbers and other tradesman. I didn't mean to denigrate them by comparing them with Varvel's Taliban-ness.

2010-08-01 09:11:57

Write Man [Member] said:

I'm not a fan of Varvel's, but am OK with the Star trying something different. What have they go to lose?

But we live in an era when many won't read (the Star or otherwise), preferring to become "informed" via sound-bytes and simple, shallow content...such as Varvel's.

There are some staggering facts out right now about why so many of the poor remain poor...including the wide disparity in household assets in the U.S. Over the last generation, the divide between assets in white households and black households has more than quadrupled. It's now large enough that the DIFFERENCE alone is enough to put two children through four years of public post-secondary education and then pay for medical school. (Brandeis University reports).

Yes, a small number of children begin life without any sort of household asset (like money for tuition) and then find a way to join the middle-class. But most don't, because when you're poor you don't have any money to save (and institutionalized saving policies that benefit and enable the upper and middle class simply aren't applicable to the low-income, or in fact penalize them).

I'll bet you won't find any of this information in the Star, or in Varvel's Horatio Alger fantasies.

That's what I find insulting.

2010-08-02 08:01:01

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