Action Alert: Save Sylvia!

By Evan Manvel of Portland, Oregon. Evan is an activist who works on livability issues and much more when he's not saving comic strips from oblivion.

The Oregonian is revamping its comics pages. They’re trying to kill Sylvia. We need YOU to contact them at [email protected] and tell them Sylvia should stay, while suggesting up to four other comics to spike.

The O has a two-part process; starting with killing off some strips – and have targeted, among other strips, Sylvia.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Sylvia is often the most cutting-edge, political strip of the day. It brings political news up in a funny way, while also sometimes being about living at home with your dogs or mom or whatever. Sometimes it’s not so funny. But when it is, it’s brilliant. And it’s that cutting-edge liberalism that probably makes it one of the “most-disliked” strips and ready to be axed by the O.

For a good example, saying Donald Rumsfeld was a "Momma's Boy" visit:

(click to zoom)

Or for one that nails the Bush appointee to the FDA Reproductive Health Advisory Committee who thinks that PMS is best dealth with with prayer and bible study:

(click to zoom)

See lots more Sylvia here.

* Sylvia is one of my favorite comics. It speaks to me and where I’m at in my life.

* Sylvia is unlike any other comic. It’s witty, feminist, thought-provoking, strange and obtuse. Just because some people don’t get it (and sometimes, like all strips, the humor doesn’t quite come together) doesn’t mean it should leave.

* The purpose of selecting the comics for the comics page should not be to avoid certain strips that are “most-disliked.” People can skip over those comics if they don’t like them. The point should be to have a good mixture of comics for people’s various tastes. Using the lowest-common denominator will only make the comics all look the same.

* There are lots of comics that can go; yes, Cathy among them. You should also replace “Curtis” with The Boondocks. Garfield and the Wizard of Id are past their prime as well.

[email protected]
They’re making decisions soon!

Share this with your friends, too, eh?

  • Mac Diva (unverified)

    Well, comics do go stale after a while. The cartoonists basically repeat themselves over and over again. Same themes. Same charactes. Pretty much the same drawings. Sylvia, which I stopped reading, except ocassionally, some time ago, may have reached that stage. In the past, newspapers kept comics long after they had lost any hint of luster. So, I am not opposed to retiring older comics and bringing in new blood. I also see revamping as a way to include female and minority cartoonists in what has long been a white men's club.

  • (Show?)

    Whoah Mac,

    Sylvia is one of the very few worthwhile comics left in the Oregonian. Along with Non Sequitur (which survives because most readers think it's about a cute little rebellious girl) and the old faithful Doonesbury, Sylvia is for thinkers who keep up on the news.

    TO THE BARRICADES!!! Evan's crusade must be supported.

    Oh Yeah, and let's all lobby to get the very best strip in America Aaron McGruder's wickedly pointed "Boondocks" included.

    Write the Oregonian and your representatives today!!!!

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    I'm glad people are thinking of Boondocks. But I can't imagine The O ever having the balls to run it.

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    THIS IS WHAT I SENT IN: Dear Editor,

    It would be unfortunate if the rumors were true that the Oregonian wants to kill the comic heroine Sylvia. Comics are the best method of appealing to young Oregonians and over time bringing them into the mix. As a young Oregonian myself, I am bothered by how little my age group knows about social, economical and political issues.

    The Oregonian needs to firmly stand by its branding of excellence and superiority. Let other newspapers dumb down their editorials and comics to appeal to the huddled masses. The Oregonian needs to stand its ground and work to raise people to higher levels of intellectualism.

    This comic may not strike a note with people instantaneously, but has this newspaper along with the surrounding community given enough thought to the long-term consequence of dumbing down its dialogue.

    Leave Sylvia alone! Jenson Hagen

  • Holly Hein (unverified)

    My wife and I both wrote in. We've been reading Sylvia since the eighties. Thanks for the call to action, Evan! (You might remember me from Ft. Collins.)

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    The only time in my life that I've lived in Oregon and not gotten the Oregonian was when I dropped my subscription the first time they dropped Sylvia.

    Still, like a lot of comics, Sylvia ain't what it used to be. I have an online subscription to Boondocks. He's a little uneven but that is the strip I'd most like to see the Oregonian add.

    There are two comics taped above my computer, both Boondocks.

    Bush speaking on the space program and ending his remarks about going to the moon and to Mars with: "Then, no matter what the Vulcans say, we will attack the Klingons, liberate their homeworld, and remove the threat of their weapons of mass destruction."

    Campaign commercial on TV: "The Democrats say we can't jail, kill or occupy all our enemies. Well, one thing's for sure...pessimism never killed an Arab. Re-elect President Bush. Yes, we CAN kill everybody."

  • Patty (unverified)

    Excellent call to action, Evan. We're on it at my house. Any newspaper that considers booting "Sylvia" and keeping Wizard of Id or CATHY for crissakes, should be ashamed. And with all due respect, I don't think this is the biggest problem at our state's biggest newspaper these days. They should count their blessings that Willamette Week doesn't have a comics page.

    Sylvia continues to be relevant, mostly funny, and very necessary.

  • SteveL (unverified)

    In the words of another endangered strip's main character: "Good grief."

    Contrasting strongly with Evan's endorsement, Syliva is one of the worst strips I have ever seen. I tolerated it for years, before I finally just gave up and started ignoring it. My judgement is my personal opinion, based on the things I appreciate in a comic. Sylvia satisfies none of these for me.

    • It has never entertained or enlightened me.
    • It has never brought me new insights or perspectives.
    • I find the graphic quality to be abysmal and lacking wabi sabi: being neither endearing nor compelling.
    • The writting ranges all the way from tardy to stale.

    Agree with me, or not, but Sylvia is not too widely loved these days. Ask yourself, do you want to keep a strip with low readership for sentimental reasons, or would you be willing to exchange it with something similar that many more can enjoy?

    Give me Boondocks. Give me Dykes To Watch Out For. Both of them are quality. I am sure we could come up with others.

    Cathy, FWIW is also on the chopping block as soon as she has her infernal wedding. (Good riddance to more bad rubbish and tired stereotypes.)

  • Ruth (unverified)

    I was profoundly depressed that the O. said it received 4,500 responses thus far to its comics survey. Don't get me wrong; I love the comics and read them daily without fail. The choice of comics is important to me. just saddens me that readers who can't ever be bothered to write in about current events will send in comments about wanting to ax Sylvia.

    This rant aside...I say, ditch sexist/boring Hagar & Wizard of Id, and SAVE SYLVIA!

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    I sure have favorite comics. Sylvia, for one. And how can this many comments not have mentioned Dilbert? I like the ones that are funny. I don't like the ones that aren't funny. Perhaps that describes all of them at one time or another.

    Choice of comic strips is the most ridiculous pissant topic to get involved by, and at the same time, choice of comics is getting to be the one last reason there is for newspapers which is about the most important topic there is to discuss. What is it about comics that they are both the least and the most of our affections? And every newspaper person tells you that. "Don't mess with the comics page." "Why, such-and-such is a newspaper without a comics page!"

    I feel it. I know what the talk is about. I've thought about it. The O is really screwing up by messing with its comics, even just a little bit, in these times. But so be it. Screwing up a good thing has been the hallmark of The O and may just as well and fittingly be its epitaph.

    Probably what there is to be done is to subscribe online to comics. Then each person could compose their own comics page(s) assortment. Subscribing online to a bunch of comics is a nuisance when it means sending a bunch of separate payments to different places.

    And that's where the syndicate for comics might contribute a most serious and vital element to the internet. Being that the comics syndicates are already in place. If it proved to be a profound or powerful organization then other subjects, (editorial opinion, science, sports, human interest, and more), could copy it by syndicating their sources.

    For example the 'progressive websites.' They all feature a 'Donate-2-Us' button. What I'd like to see is a central site for the progressive syndicate. Then I could send my 'donation' to the syndicate account, and whenever I browsed to a progressive website that was a member of the syndicate, that website should be paid out of my central account for the minutes I stayed or information I saw there.

    A website that linked to another website could get a 'broker's fee.'

    When my syndicate account ran dry, I do not want to be cut off from web browsing. This is a 'donation,' remember. But I could use a reminder that I need to restock my account.

    Conversely, there may be times I forget to spend all my syndicate account. There should be some way the syndicate can convert to some use (probably their own) the leftover unspent amounts floating around.

    This idea for arranging funding for blogs is in the air, uncopyrighted, in the public domain. Just do it, somebody. Meanwhile, screw The O and their "Comic Decision '05" and here I go to see what my own comic subscription is going to cost.

  • Joshua (unverified)

    I hate to ruin y'alls fun, but Sylvia is a terrible comic, for two very good reasons.

    1. It is poorly drawn, and not in an interesting way.

    2. It is not funny.

    A comic strip cannot stand only on being "feminist." Something can be feminist and still be boring. Furthermore, why are there no openly right wing comic strips, as both "Doonesbury" and "Sylvia" are leftist? Now you wish to add "The Boondocks" to complete the conquering of the O's comics page by Leftist insurgents. Listen, I'm a liberal. I like "Doonesbury" and "The Boondocks." I agree that "Cathy" must go, but there is just no good defense of "Sylvia." Those cats aggravate me to no end. In fact, any comic strip with a cat ("Get Fuzzy" aside) should be abolished. Any strip with political cats, doubly so.

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    Most comics are poorly drawn. Notable exceptions are Opus, Rose is Rose, Doonesbury, and Get Fuzzy. I admit that Sylvia's style sometimes distracts me from the cartoon, whether it's the text-heaviness or the awkward drawing. But I also realize that despite Rose is Rose's artistry, I don't enjoy it. I don't laugh, I don't think, etc. And I can overcome Sylvia's lack of artistry by its content. Anyone else called Donald Rumsfeld a "Momma's Boy" lately? Is that stale or just plain fun? The latter, I think.

    And as far it not being funny, what comic strips are these days? Very few, I would say. Comics are to challenge us as well as make us laugh.

    Which comic strips would you really miss, were they gone? Right now, there are four comics I really like in the Oregonian: Get Fuzzy, Doonsebury, Sylvia and Brevity. And Brevity is on probation because I'm not familiar with it.

    Comics I love that aren't in the O include the Boondocks and Ballard Street. Dykes to Watch Out For isn't a daily strip, so we can't really campaign for it, just like we can't campaign for Get Your War On (and both are too racy for the O). Fusco Brothers can be decent, too.

    And as far as the O, are any of the four draft replacements any good? Pearls before Swine is the only one that I've actually enjoyed. Campaign strategy part two is to tell the O that their replacements are poor, and time for The Boondocks is now!

  • Ruth (unverified)

    Re: left wing and right wing comix. "Family Circus" is pretty dang right wing, IMO. It's so loathsome.

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    I wouldn't mind seeing Mallard Fillmore up for duck-hunting season, as it were.

    <h2>I'm kind of ambivalent about Sylvia. Give me Boondocks and Get Fuzzy, and I'm good to go.</h2>
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