As part of The New York Times‘ opinion section rebrand, “The Sunday Review,” syndicated national political cartoons are out; taking their place is a commissioned column by cartoonist Brian McFadden called The Strip.
Mr. McFadden is the author of the web comic Big Fat Whale, which is syndicated in alt-weeklies. As such, it’s not exactly standard Times fare.
Take a post on undeclared GOP presidential candidates, which included “a Speak & Spell stuck on ‘tax cuts’ and an “embryo conceived in the missionary position with the lights off.” Or this “fact” about the filthy rich: “They pay top dollar for egg donors because human caviar is their favorite food.”
Mr. McFadden also has a knack for pointing out the hypocrisies of white, upper middle class liberals–topics that should hit pretty close to home for the average Weekender subscriber.
“I always respected the Times, but there are some failings in all media,” Mr. McFadden told The Observer. “They’re willing to address that by letting me do what I want, so I can point out what reporters aren’t reporting on.”
That includes the social and political concerns of the young and the poor, which tend not to get the Sunday Styles trend piece treatment. Mr. McFadden himself “scrapes by” with the alt-weekly comics, and by selling self-published books and merchandise on his site. He lives in the gentrifying Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston.
At 31, Mr. McFadden is just a few months older than Ross Douthat, the youngest ever regular Times opinion writer. With their opposing political views but shared interest in privilege, they could provide a nice point-counterpoint in the section.
“When I agreed to do it, they told me what cartoons they liked, which was all of them except for the silly fart joke ones. They didn’t say any topic was off-limits,” Mr. McFadden said. His scripts and sketches go through an editing process, but he said his debut column, The State of Unemployment, went through unchanged.
“It’s not really a comic strip,” section editor Andy Rosenthal told The Observer. “We wanted something that was not Dagwood or Hagar the Horrible–it’s sharp and it’s social and it’s opinionated.”
Mr. McFadden has been commissioned for the weekly comic through the summer. If the column is successful, the platform may be handed off to another cartoonist, he said.