Letters

Letters 08-29-2016

Religious Bigotry President Obama has been roundly criticized for his apparent unwillingness to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” His critics seem to suggest that through the mere use of that terminology, the defeat of ISIS would be assured...

TC DDA: Focus On Your Mission What on earth is the Traverse City DDA thinking? Purchasing land around (not within) its TIF boundaries and then offering it at a discount to developers? That is not its mission. Sadly enough, it is already falling down on the job regarding what is its mission. Crosswalks are deteriorating all around downtown, trees aren’t trimmed, sidewalks are uneven. Why can’t the DDA do a better job of maintaining what it already has? And still no public restrooms downtown, despite all the tax dollars captured since 1997. What a joke...

European-Americans Are Boring “20 Fascinating People” in northern Michigan -- and every single one is European-American? Sorry, but this is journalistically incorrect. It’s easy for editors to assign and reporters to write stories about people who are already within their personal and professional networks. It’s harder to dig up stuff about people you don’t know and have never met. Harder is better...

Be Aware Of Lawsuit While most non-Indians were sleep walking, local Odawa leaders filed a lawsuit seeking to potentially have most of Emmet County and part of Charlevoix County declared within their reservation and thus under their jurisdiction. This assertion of jurisdiction is embedded in their recently constructed constitution as documentation of their intent...

More Parking Headaches I have another comment to make about downtown TC parking following Pat Sullivan’s recent article. My hubby and I parked in a handicap spot (with a meter) behind Mackinaw Brew Pub for lunch. The handicap spot happens to be 8-10 spaces away from the payment center. Now isn’t that interesting...

Demand Change At Women’s Resource Center Change is needed for the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area (WRCGT). As Patrick Sullivan pointed out in his article, former employees and supporters don’t like the direction WRCGT has taken. As former employees, we are downright terrified at the direction Juliette Schultz and Ralph Soffredine have led the organization...

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Tales of The City - Derf unveils his vision of America in *The City Collected*

Robert Downes - January 8th, 2004

Long before there were reality TV shows there was the grueling urban humor of Derf, a Cleveland-based cartoonist who slams a weekly slice of irony and grit down on the comics page with his strip, “The City.“
In his new book, “The City Collected,“ Derf offers the best of his strip over the past 14 years, with thoughts on America‘s obsession with body makeovers, trashing the environment, overconsumption and fear of the unknown (to name a few), all drawn in a style of contemporary baroque married to lank desperation.
Derf, whose strip has run in the Northern Express for almost a decade (often to the displeasure of our more staid readers), is featured in nearly 60 independent weeklies across the country. Derf writes the strip from the perspective of a street-roaming everyman, absorbing the foibles of an outrageous world with a sense of world-weary disbelief from across the counter of a coffee bar or in the desolation of a bus stop. While Derf frequently pokes fun at the super-straight patriotic superhero known as White Middle Class Suburban Man, he also takes care to lampoon fashion-addled hipsters, big-hair mall babes and assorted geeks, hard hats, cops, politicians and mentally unbalanced street-persons. He‘s equally comfortable poking fun at the body-piercing crowd or ripping the Bush administration a new one with his scathing political commentary.
Derf writes from the perspective of America‘s soul, best found in the Midwest. He grew up in a small Mayberry-style farm town of Richfield, Ohio, and claims to have attended school with serial killer cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, who was at least an acquaintance, if not a friend. He profiled the relationship in a comic novella called “My Friend Dahmer,“ a dark view of what goes into a troubled adolescent‘s mind. After dropping out of art school, he did a stint as a garbageman, profiled in another graphic novel entitled, “Trashed.“
“It was an idyllic childhood for which I‘m very grateful,“ he says in a forward to his book, written by Bob Ethington. “My teenage years, after some hideous hormonal transformation, were spent as an ostracized dork, face buried in a comic book, skulking warily through the school to avoid beatings by jock assholes. The stereotypical adolescence for a cartoonist.“
Drawing cartoons for the school paper at Ohio State University, Derf managed to generate hundreds of angry phone calls, letters and threats after one of his strips reamed local football heroes who‘d gotten in trouble with the law. It was the beginning of a career of aggravating those readers who can‘t handle “alternative“ comics. Derf was fired from a small paper in Florida for “general tastelessness“ before launching his career with the alternative press in 1990 through a now-defunct paper called the “Cleveland Edition.“ Even with a more receptive venue, several jittery papers have dumped his strip through the years, and “The City“ has gotten others banned from buildings -- more proof that Derf tells it like it is.
“I don‘t think my stuff is any more outrageous than what you see on cable TV,“ he says. “I think it‘s a puritan hang-up about comic strips. Some people think comix should only be like ‘Hi & Lois‘ and just can‘t get beyond that.“
No one escapes Derf‘s satrical eye, which manages to capture the humanity as well as the absurdity of any given moment in America. Check out his book, “The City Collected,“ $10.95 from SLG Publications, with additional info at www.derfcity.com.
-- Robert Downes
 
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