Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

Congressman Cuff

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I have to make a comment that is bugging me about today’s strip, seen here in reduction:

I found this character’s name in Leaves of Grass (“Song of Myself”, Section 6 I think), in the midst of a litany of Whitman is offering praise to:

“Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I
receive them the same.”

I like alliteration, and I like a word that means a hit or a swat- two of my favorite things! So I named this character “Congressman Cuff”, DESPITE LEARNING 5 SECONDS LATER (they’re called foot notes) that “Cuff” was slang from back then for slave or African American.

It seemed wrong to do, but I kept the name, because it was really hard to find any more recent usage or outrage over the word. Googling and poking around, I found one instance of someone “selling a cuffy” in the mid 1800s. So I am trusting the word is long gone, and ask humbly to use it to mean “whack to the head” and to move on.

The real issue about the strip should be that the Congressman’s dialogue in panel 3 doesn’t set up the “joke” in panel 4. It’s repetitive, and a 4 panel thing should be all new, all the time.

Thank you and goodnight.

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Written by hutchowen

October 31, 2006 at 9:14 am

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