Rafu staff report
Asian American readers have complained about The Los Angeles Times about a racial slur that appeared in one of his daily comic strips on Wednesday.
The newspaper apologized and announced that it would suspend publication of the offending comic strip, “9 Chickweed Lane”.
Written and drawn by Brooke McEldowney for over 25 years, “9 Chickweed Lane” follows the women of three generations of the Burber family. In recent weeks, the strip has focused on Thorax, an elderly man who also appears in McEldowney’s webcomic “Pibgorn.” It is revealed that as a young man he was a pulp fiction writer, and the panel in question is from a spy/sci-fi novel set during World War II.
The December 1 comic contained the following passage: “Pen emerged from the waves, her bathing suit barely clinging to her wet, throbbing understructure.
“A Jap Zero blasted through the sky and started blasting their little piece of peace. Pen pulled out his ray gun and blasted the Zero out of the sky.
“‘Wow, you got that Zero right!’ Charge said.
“’That was easy,’ she purred. “He was in the wrong hemisphere. He had planned it, if you understand my drift. She raised an eyebrow and looked at him with heavy lids, easily weighing twelve pounds in all.
“He made it drift. If he hadn’t had it, it could have floated out to sea.
Many readers were in disbelief that no one at the newspaper reported the insult before it was published. Lawyer Mia Frances Yamamoto posted on Facebook: “Posts like The temperature would never allow the “N-word” because the backlash would be immediate and widespread, but an anti-Asian epithet is prominently displayed and a simple apology issued. Just another example of insensitivity towards anti-Asian racism and widespread violence against Asians.
Soji Kashiwagi of the Grateful Crane Ensemble was among those who filed a complaint to ReadersRep@caltimes.onmicrosoft.com. He received the following response from readers’ representative JT Cramer:
“Thank you for writing. The ‘9 Chickweed Lane’ comic strip we published on December 1 did not meet our standards. We regret that it was published and apologize for that.
“We have decided to suspend publication of ‘9 Chickweed Lane’ while we review it and all other syndicated comics we publish.
“Comic pages should be a place where our readers can engage with social issues, reflect on the human condition and have a little fun. We intend to maintain this tradition in a way that is welcoming to all readers.
A similar apology and announcement appeared in the December 3 issue of the newspaper.
The use of slur is somewhat surprising as “9 Chickweed Lane” has a number of Asian characters, including Xiulan Yuan, an acclaimed Hong Kong cellist from a wealthy family; Ginger Ouyang, steward of Canton Airways and friend of Xiulan; and Nan-Lin Peel, a Korean American woman in her thirties and wife of composer Arthur Peel.
Some Time readers criticized the strip for its frequent depictions of sex between characters.