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Cartoonist Wiley Miller Flames Humble Westword Columnist

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Some of the most passionate responses to the September 6 Message column about today's funny pages can be found at The Daily Cartoonist, which touts itself as "the source for industry news for the professional cartoonist." The site posted an item about the piece under the headline "Two Week Comic Binge Bores Columnist," and it generated over thirty responses. Some expressed mild agreement with my take, but the majority essentially took me to one of Saddam Hussein's old torture rooms -- with some of the most vituperative comments coming courtesy of artist Wiley Miller, whose "Non Sequitur" strip I praised.

Miller's first remarks, penned on September 7, begin with a couple of quotes from a previous post before getting to the point:

“I had high hopes when Watterson stood up for himself and won the fight to produce his Sunday in the format HE wanted. What resulted was incredible art and writing. I thought this would change the comics for the better, but in the last ten years since Calvin and Hobbes ended, the opposite has happened.”

Yeah, I’m equally disappointed in baseball. I thought the minimum standard would be playing like Babe Ruth. So all of baseball and everyone who has played since just sucks!

Then basketball… how come EVERYONE doesn’t play like Michael Jordon? So all basketball player suck and it’s just not worth watching!

And have you noticed there hasn’t been a playwright who comes close to Shakespeare in the past 600 years? What’s up with that?! So all playwrights suck!

And once Michelangelo set the standard in sculpture….

Give me break. If the state of the art is so bad, then that leaves the door wide open for you to show everyone how it should be done. Talk is cheap. Show us your greatness.

Two days later, Miller takes issue with another correspondent, who claims that there are "literally thousands" of good web strips to be read on a daily basis: "Literally thousands?" Miller asks incredulously. A few posts later, he weighs in again in response to a writer who suggests that the Westword column was "amateurish and unprofessional":

That’s what makes his article so amateurish and unprofessional. He didn’t stick to his own assignment! On top of this, he went in to it to analyze the comics rather than just read them as a casual reader. No art form holds up that sort of scrutiny, especially when you have no understanding of the art form going in. I couldn’t help but wonder if it ever occurred to him that there might be a reason newspapers carry a variety of comics. If there was just one way to be “funny”, they wouldn’t need to carry more than one cartoon.

And what has truly gone past tiresome and into the area of ennui is this juvenile notion that the quality of comics begins and ends with “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side”.

This is just another case of a typical columnist waking up one morning, scratching his ass, belches, then decides what subject he’s going to be an expert in that day. Comics have all too often been the victim of such journalistic idiocy.

Imagine how he might have responded if I hadn't liked his stuff... -- Michael Roberts

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