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The Webcomic Overlook #8: Pibgorn

There are times when a single, foolish act can forever taint a celebrity’s credibility. Just ask comedian Michael Richards or Pacman Jones, whose single Las Vegas fistfight turned him for a star cornerback into a TNA wrestler who has an NFL injunction preventing him from actually wrestling.

In comics, the most notorious example is Dave Sim, the creator of Cerebus the Aardvark. He was originally heralded as a hero of the independent comic scene and a poster boy for creator’s rights. He had an ambitious and much heralded goal set near the beginning of his run to finish the comic at 300 issues, a Herculean feat for an independent artist and writer. However, things fell apart near the end. Starting with issue #265, Sim began filling up the last pages of his issues with misogynistic essays called Tangents.

And so it was with me and Brooke McEldowney, the creator of today’s webcomic. While I was pretty ambivalent toward his print strip, 9 Chickweed Lane, I at least admired the man for his bold artistry and his chutzpah for including characters which are still highly unconventional for a comic strip — such as a lapsed preacher and a gay dancer. That was before what I call the “Unicorn Saga,” where, in some of the most smug prose committed to the funny pages, Mr. McEldowney reveals his total, utter contempt for normal, everyday people who are too uncultured to see that ballerinas can be making a lot of money. Before, you could forgive a character like Edda for being a self-centered ass because it’s good characterization. But when she becomes your mouthpiece for how annoyed you are that people won’t take you seriously, then it taints everything you’ve written — before and after.

This is why it’s difficult to approach today’s webcomic without factoring the preconceived notions I already have for Mr. McEldowney.

Today’s comic is Pibgorn, which, in a way, is a spin-off of 9 Chickweed Lane. And that “Pib-Gorn,” which is some sort of Welsh musical instrumennt, not “Pig-Born,” which means being born from a pig.

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