Monday, November 28, 2005

Dagwood Jailed as Trotskyist

I'm excited to share with you what I've been working on the past three months. In the service of BigMedia, I've devised a Comics Subversiveness Rating _ a computer program that scans newspaper comic strips for questionable content.

With the old stand-byes (Garfield, Peanuts, Blondie, Brenda Starr) aging rapidly before our eyes, it's up to the newspaper editor to be meticulous in his/her scrutiny of the new generation of strips that will take their place. The Comic Subversiveness Rating is a tool to aid the editor in this process.

Simply feed 10 strips from a prospective comic into the machine and wait for the results. Let's look at some sample tests...

1. Perry Bible Fellowship: a three-to-four panel strip appearing in arts papers. CSR rating: 98.3. Highly offensive with explicit sexual content, free use of blood, satire of important corporate trademarks, perversion of children's stories and disrespect for the Christian religion.

This is an easy one. An editor could spot it a mile away. The real threat is what is known in the comics monitoring industry as a "trojan horse." For example...

2. Arlo and Janis: a four-panel strip appearing in large dailies nationwide. CSR rating: 94.2 _ the highest mark for a major strip. Thinly veiled contempt for the modern workplace and productivity in general. Promotes laziness, daydreaming, unstructured free time and portrays a free-floating consciousness similar to a drug-induced state.

In contrast, look at one strip that scored low on the CSR...

3. Edge City: a three-panel strip appearing in major dailies around the country. CSR rating: 13.4. The story of a two-parent, two-worker family. Encourages company loyalty, personal goals as stimuli for increased productivity, devotion to religious and traditional practices and the general curbing of non-traditional tendencies.

There you have it. Keeping the nation's mind safe. Tonight I plan to drink a bottle of wine and feed copies of "Heavy Metal" into the CSR machine. That makes it scream.

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