Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dagwood on Outsourcing

Two comic strips that rarely take on sociopolitical issues weighed in on outsourcing and the class struggle today. Dagwood and Blondie learned the true extent of globalization in today's comic.

Baldo learned an important lesson about the class struggle in America today.

It's pretty difficult to inject social commentary into a comic strip that usually avoids commenting on such matters. Baldo succeeded in making an interesting point, but Blondie largely failed. There are a number of reasons for this. For one, Baldo, a comic strip that has roughly 70 fewer years under its belt than Blondie, arguably has a more richly developed set of characters. Comic strips have at most four panels a day to make some kind of a statement. By building up a set of characters with distinctive and nuanced personality traits, a comic strip writer can add humor, drama, and insight to a comic strip without having to draw it or write it out explicitly. Since we know nothing about the fellow at the electronics store who is helping the Bumstead's or their personal economic philosophy, the only thing that this comic strip tells us is that Dagwood & Blondie haven't read the business page of any of the newspapers that they inhabit since the early 1970s.

Baldo, on the other hand, relies on the relatively new character Che and his already established revolutionary credentials to deliver a poignant observation about the class struggle in America. Che, whose name is an allusion to Che Guevara, I assume, is one of Baldo's classmates who generally parrots the standard socialist student boilerplate about capitalism and worker oppression. In today's comic, we learn that Che is a child of privilege and Baldo learns that the people who yell the loudest about worker oppression often know very little about working themselves.

If you enjoy the comic strip commentaries I write from time to time, be sure to check out the Comics Curmudgeon, who does this on a daily basis.


MDS said...

I like your commentary more than I like the strips.

Unknown said...

Thank you. FWIW, I think Baldo is one of the better comic strips out there. At first, I thought it was little more than a color-by-numbers ethnic comic strip. I'm not sure what changed my opinion, but I now find it to be somewhat more humorous and observant than the average comic strip. It does rely a little bit too much on kids-said-the-darndest-things style humor, however.