My editor sent me an email a few days before today’s strip was going to press saying “I can’t let you do this.” It had all the urgency of an intervention. My editor was refusing to let me OD. She was pouring my vodka down the drain. Apparently jokes about pedophilia, even mild ones like this, aren’t allowed on the comics page. But thank God for the Web!
Here’s the CENSORED version (below). I had to come up with something that would fit the existing art and I had about ten minutes in which to do that. It still works. In fact, all I did was replace the offending last two panels with an earlier draft of the strip, so this is still something I wanted to say. I like it more than I did when I grabbed it from my notes in a mad rush to meet the deadline. You might even prefer it:
The edited version of today’s strip removes all jocular (funny word to use, considering… oh never mind) references to Michael Jackson’s questionable relationship with small boys. In fact, they even removed “your possible depravity” from panel three in a second round of censoring (I’m not going to spend time doing the same here, but I will for the version that’ll go in a book collection). Some believe that’s for the best, because he was never convicted and because he’s dead and should be left alone.
But the uncensored version of the strip doesn’t assert that he was guilty. What it does is acknowledge that people have questions about him that are impossible to answer because of his own actions. He went through a child molestation trial and settled out of court for $20 million. Whether he was innocent or not, inviting young boys to sleep with him AFTER having gone through that was a stupid and naive decision. I bought his story. But I have to admit that as much as I admire him and his music, he handed people who don’t believe him plenty of reason to doubt his veracity. And I’ve never believed that we should only speak well of the dead. That’s dishonest.
**EDIT: Several of you have asked if I could make a poster available composed of the entire Michael Jackson/Lemont series. I’ve created an order button. If enough of you order to cover the production costs, I’ll go ahead and order a print run. If not, I’ll refund the money. Profits will be donated to Aids Project Los Angeles. Here’s how to order:
International Orders: $15 (includes s&h)