The Evolution of Education in Comics
Czerwic (2018) acknowledges the contribution made by comic strips in the dialogue about HIV and AIDS. In particular, Czerwic (2018) underlines the fact that images and storylines in the comic strips may ultimately encourage true public education, and understanding as well as compassion when dealing with a biomedical condition that requires more than just biomedical relevance.Yu (2016) argues in her book The Other Kinds of Funnies: Comics in Technical Communication that comic-style technique in education assist reader participation and comprehension depending on the age bracket.(Yu, 2016).
In Doonesbury, the author maintained a storyline that was leaning towards a matter that not only required a social, but also a biomedical and human consideration. Besides Andy being gay, he lived a normal life within the American circles. He probably escaped the brunt of discrimination that normal gay people would face during that moment in time by the virtue of being a fictional character. However, his identity implied that he highlighted the need for education of the public in regards to the life of the LGBTQ in the society. When he disappeared from the comic for a moment, a new phenomenon was on the rise in the popular culture of the United States – the phenomenon of HIV/AIDS epidemic. This disease coupled with the fact that the character was gay brought into the forefront the direct relationship between HIV/AIDS and the gay community in the popular culture. In this regards, Andy Lippincott highlighted the original popular attitude towards HIV/AIDS thus creating gap in research about the relationship between the two.
Noteworthy is the fact that the comic strip was produced during a period when HIV/AIDS was still considered in the ethical perspective. A look into the history of the Doonesbury and in particular after the death of its most famous comic character indicates that out of the 900 publications that ran the story, three of them declined to publish the episode of the death of Lippincott citing inappropriate content. The fact underscores the environment of the moment and the perception that the public had in regards to HIV/AIDS especially among the LGBT community. According to Schafer (1991), the epidemic that was HIV/AIDS had not become too pronounced in the US. It is during this period that there were proposals anti-migratory litigations that would reduce the likelihoods for increased infections of the disease by limiting the number of people that were coming into the United States.
The disease was considered a plague going by the fact that it seemed to be spreading rather rapidly. Likewise, it is prudent to note that the country was trying to come up with ways of reducing the spread of the plague. Schafer (1991) describes a plague as something that would indicate evil and scourge. The fact emphasizes the reason for the apparent negative attitude that the public had against HIV/AIDS. He refers to this attitude as plague mentality. Therefore, it is quite superficial that this fact brings into the forefront the public reaction after the death of Andy Lippincott from HIV/AIDS complications. Lippincott’s character represented what the public was told by the affluent and the culture associated with the ‘plague’ mentality.
The morality of the contents of the comic strip was finally questioned upon the death of the popular character. When the three publications refused to run the strip after the death of Lippincott even after the nomination for the Pulitzer Prize indicates that HIV/AIDS was a moral determinant in the United States in the 90s. The three publications described the comic to be in bad taste since it was a direct critique of events without shying out, as was the case by many media channels. The fact that the publications had never earlier questioned the content until the moment of the death of the character indicates that the comic strip no longer seemed to value the social norms of the society in the United States at that moment. Schafer (1991) indicates that when the victim suffering from the ‘plague’ disease comes from the ‘other’ groups such as people with a different identity or sexual orientation they are likely to be blamed for it. Andy was gay and as such his difference makes him more vulnerable for blame for their condition. In this light, as Andy was a ‘different’ individual, it is quite obvious that he was likely to be blamed for the social indication that he would be blamed for his medical condition and the social scourge that he represented. Therefore, it is rather obvious that there was a definite stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS and especially if the people were considered different from the majority. In Valdiserri’s article which was published in The American Journal of Public Health refers to a study conduced in the United States by the CDC in1999 “Nearly 1 in 5 respondents agreed with the statement people who got AIDS through sex or drug use have gotten what they deserve”. (Valiserri, 2002) (CDC, 2000). It is pretty specious that in 1990 the government was forced to come up with a legislation that would prohibit discrimination against people with disability against those living with HIV/AIDS.
photo of former President George W. Bushing signing the ADA in 1990
The aspect of stigmatization brings into the forefront the rights of the people that were considered ‘others’ in the society. This is the group of people who are considered foreigners or the marginalized members of the society due to their color, socio-economic status, religious difference or even sexual orientation. Andy Lippincott is known to be one of the few comical characters that embodied a social aspect that was not popular at the moment. He brought into the forefront the aspect of homosexuality at a time when there was much stigmatization against the LGBTQ. It is quite obvious that for a very long time same sex relationships have not only been considered from a human rights perspective but have also been considered with a moral lens. The stigma associated with being gay was a factor that has been in the United States for a rather long time. In the 80s, it is quite definite that the stigma was rather predominant (Marcus, 2009). Andy Lippincott coming out as gay is a fact that not only created a social predicament among the readers but also brought into the limelight the social indications about homosexuality. Lippincott not only embodied the impact of stigmatization that the gay population felt, but the attitude that the ‘others’ elicited from the rest. It is prudent to note that Jeanie Caucus felt attracted to Lippincott before she knew he was gay, but felt quite heartbroken when she knew his sexual orientation.
[Comics in Education]. Retrieved April 20, 2018 from https://fedena.com/blog/2013/11/education-fun-comics.html
[LGBTQ Rainbow]. Retrieved April 20, 2018 from https://inspirerecovery.com/about/lgbtq-presentations/
[1980’s HIV/AIDS “gay plague” ]. Retrieved April 20, 2018 from http://www.gayinthe80s.com/2014/04/1980s-hivaids-why-was-aids-called-the-gay-plague/
[ Former President George W. Bush signing ADA 1990]. Retrieved April 20, 2018 from https://mountainmessenger.com/film-showing-commemorate-americans-disabilities-act/
[Andy admits he is gay to Joanie]. Retrieved on April 20, 2018 from https://alchetron.com/Andy-Lippincott