An editorial cartoon, comic strip, or even a one-page comic in any semi-serious publication serves not only to entertain the reader, but can also function as a sort of court jester in contrast to the greater publication, giving voice to views that may contrast with those of the throne. Accordingly, our editor has generously allowed me for the second year in a row to draw against our theme and present the “Worst of Columbus” in my comic, The Columbusonian.
In preparation, I posted a request on my Facebook page for friends to submit their various complaints about living in Columbus. I had done the same last year and had received a healthy number of comments, which allowed me to select several of the best grievances for illustration. This year, I fired the question away on April 7th at 12:49 p.m. and the resulting thread proceeded to snowball over a period of 14 hours into an avalanche of (mostly) good-humored “hatred.” By the following morning I had over 500 comments, with complaints ranging from the lack of a dedicated jazz radio station, to questions about the mayor’s ties to big business in the city.
Commenters hated on the glut of condo developments popping up around the city, they hated on the ubiquity of Christian youth groups in coffee shops, they hated on both motorists and cyclists, they hated on Comfest and Gallery Hop, and they hated on both the burgeoning food scene and the lack of sufficient late-night food options. At a certain point, strangers began friend-requesting me just to comment on the thread.
That so many people had complaints about our city wasn’t surprising in and of itself; even the most ardent Columbusonian is bound to be annoyed by something or other. More intriguing was the notion that an online thread would turn into a significant public forum for those complaints. Commenting that there was “no meaningful leftist news-presence in a city that votes overwhelmingly for Democrats,” local bookseller and DIY organizer James Payne (previously featured in The Columbusonian) spotlighted the lack of diversity in the local media, while commenter Jean Pitman marveled at the city’s current environment of excessive self-congratulation, noting that she had never been to a city of this size that was so obsessed with celebrating itself. Those two opinions represent a deeper sentiment in the thread that Columbus culture and its media are currently heavy on cheerleading and light on constructive criticism.
Admittedly, it may seem incongruous to make that point in (614) Magazine’s “Best of Columbus” issue. However, (614) is a city life and entertainment magazine and, despite articles over the past five years addressing such issues as prostitution and sexual diversity, our publication’s primary focus is not hard-hitting exposes of political corruption or cultural stagnancy. That should be the function of our city’s dedicated journalistic outlets – in fact, it’s telling that we’re even addressing the issue in our pages.
It would be impossible for me to tackle the numerous complaints from the online thread in this month’s issue, so I’ve decided to create a comic book anthology featuring local artists illustrating as many of the gripes as possible, available soon. If it sucks – well, send me your complaints next year. •