The 80s and 90s saw a bumper crop of new features penned by editorial cartoonists. Although there’s been a long history of comic strip cartoonists starting out in the political cartoon genre, in the old days if they made the leap they typically did it early in their careers and dropped their editorial work if they met with any success.
In the past score of years though, a lot of well-known editorial cartoonists have tried their hands at strips while retaining their editorial cartoon posts. Tom Toles, Jim Borgman, Bill Schorr, Mike Peters, Bruce Beattie, and many others all tried strips with widely varying degrees of success. One of the very least successful, though, was one of the biggest names in editorial cartooning, Patrick Oliphant.
Sunday Punk starred Oliphant’s trademark penguin character from his daily editorial cartoons, and the character was pretty much used in the same way in the Sunday-only comic strip — making wry comments on politics and current events. The strip debuted on March 18 1984, and the latest I’ve been able to find is from September 16 of the same year, a run of just a little more than six months.
The strip was reasonably good, so it’s unclear why it had such a short run. Perhaps Oliphant lost interest in the project, perhaps the sales weren’t good, I dunno. I like to think it’s just desserts for Oliphant’s earlier attitude toward comic strips. He was the guy who yelled foul the longest and loudest when Doonesbury won a Pulitzer in 1975. Oliphant belittled the feature and the form of being unworthy for such recognition. Now less than a decade later he was drawing a comic strip with political content. What goes around comes around?