About

This is the complete archive for the legendary alternative political comic strip Sidewalk Bubblegum. Started in 1993 and retired in 2001, Clay Butler’s self-syndicated weekly political cartoon, Sidewalk Bubblegum, has been seen in hundreds of magazines, books, and zines including Z Magazine, Playboy, Funny Times, Comic Relief, Creative Loafing, Metro Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Sentinel and Finland’s largest Swedish-language daily newspaper, the HUFVUDSTADSBLADET.

sidewalk bubblegum 0211 About

Eschewing the typical gag format and avoiding topical references Clay Butler focused on the issues behind the issues. Even though the first strips were penned nearly seventeen years ago, they often read as if they were created today. Some were truly prophetic as the messages and issues Clay put forth began to hit us full force nearly a decade or more later, while others capture a moment in time, a way of thinking, a burst of lunacy that typify a uniquely American way of being.

Freely jumping from the past, to the present, and into the future, Clay uses juxtaposition and irony to remind us that were are not as free from our most sordid past as we’d like to think.

Clay Butler also chose to write this introduction in third person so he could toot his own horn without coming across as a complete douche. Hey, someones got to do it.

How to Use This Site

I’ve organized this site by chronological order of creation and by topic. If you want to take the full journey start with Archive 1993 on the bottom right navigation. If you want to browse by topic choose any from the category menu. Note that many strips fall in multiple categories so you will see the same ones pop up from time to time.

The American Culture and Politics category is somewhat of a catch-all for strips that are either to weird to fit anywhere else, or more often, say something about our culture, our way of thinking and our identity as Americans.

I also have the entire Sidewalk Bubblegum collection available as a FREE eBook download, a FREE Sidewalk Bubblegum comic font that you can download and use with any graphics or office program and a nice comic strip tutorial.

Thanks,

Clay Butler

Creator of Sidewalk Bubblegum

File Under: Socialist Cartoons, Left Libertarian Cartoonist, Alternative Cartoonist, Political Cartoonist, Modern Cartoonist, Editorial Cartoonist, Political Cartoons and Comics  about War, Racism, Sexism, Capitalism, U.S. Prisons, Prisoner Rights, Worker Rights, Human Rights, Consumerism, Socialism, Facism, Military Industrial Complex, Colonialism, War on Drugs, War on Terrorism, Gender Issues, Identity Politics and the Environment, Political Cartoonist, Political Satirist, Political Humorist, Editorial Illustrator, Editorial Cartoons, Political Illustrations, Social Commentary Comics, Political Commentary, Progressive Cartoonist, Left Socialist Cartoonist, Anarchist Comics and Cartoons

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Discussion (5)¬

  1. Glauber says:

    Simply the best ever!!!

  2. BZ says:

    Should be renamed “The Reality of Human Nature”

  3. EDpeak says:

    When we see an act of oppression by some people against others, under
    monarchy, or under the Soviet Union, or under feudalism, we don’t say
    that’s human nature” but recognize the institutional reasons, how “the
    system” if not “caused” then at least strongly contributed to those
    actions..the same goes for Capitalism/or really the Corporatism or
    Corporate Feudalism we live under today…

    “human nature” is multi faceted, and which facet “comes out” depends
    on the context, environment, and the economic and political system in
    particular, play a huge role…

    the question is not whether human nature good or bad the question is,
    what kinds of systems and institutions bring out the best and reward
    the best, while discouraging the worst…versus what kinds of systems
    and environments, including economic systems, encourage the most
    selfish and greedy and anti-social and materialistic and short-term
    thinking and acting…our present system sadly, does a good job of
    encouraging the worst, and under-valuing (at best) or degrading and
    looking down on, our best human qualities.

    P.S. Dear Clay: I admire so much of your work…one criticism..imagine
    a planet where you give something a compliment by saying “that music
    is great, it really punches face!” what a violent crazy culture! Yet
    we use (and your web page uses at this time) “kicks ass” to mean
    “good. Can you imagine a planet where “Cartoonists which punch face!”
    is meant to say links to cartoonists you like? How about finding
    different language?

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      I think you’re dead on about how we recognize how environment shapes our behavior when looking at other countries but are often blind to how it does the same thing here. It’ like how we react to prisoners in China or North Korea. We perceive them to be political prisoners of an unjust system. The fact that most of them are probably common thugs doesn’t enter our minds when we hear the words “Chinese prisoners”. However, in the US, our prisoners are perceived as 100% thugs. They are ALL guilty and deserving of punishment. We treat our prison/justice system as a separate entity free from the constraints, biases, and cultural influences of the political and social system on which it is a part of. In short, we perceive a Chinese criminal in context of the system but see an American criminal in isolation of the system.

      Now for your other suggestion:

      I think it’s fine to use kick-ass. It’s very appropriate to how I feel about these cartoonists. It’s short, punchy and visceral. I think anyone reading it would understand it as intended (prolific, edgy, fearless cartoonists that match my sensibilities). I have yet to hear anyone use the word “punch face” for anything so the analogy makes no sense. It makes about as much sense as saying Imagine a world where people say “penis/vaginal intercourse you” when they were angry instead of “fuck you”.

      Words mean something, and context is king. You can’t substitute synonyms at will and retain meaning. I personally don’t want to live in a world where language is stripped of color, vibrance, nuances, dual meanings and plain old fun. You’d have to toss out most great music, literature, advertising, and poetry to follow your suggestion to it’s logical conclusion.

  4. EDpeak says:

    Or Iran “versus” Saudi Arabia. Hearing “Iran” we think dangerous armed dictatorship which is a religious extremist. Hearing Saudi Arabia we’re conditioned to think “moderate” when, in fact, it is a dictatorship; it is armed to the teeth including a $60 Billion (with a “B”) arms sale from the U.S., a brutal abuser of human rights there (and with Tanks, helping put down a peaceful protest in Bahrain, just quietly reported) and is even more extremist fundamentalist religious than Iran, including women driving for years in Iran, but not allowed to in Saudi (small steps to reform that just now being thought about). Even knowing all this, I find myself having to fight the “Aural conditioning” I’ve undergone for years, to make the deeper part of the mind other than the analytical one, year anything but “moderate” when I hear, “Saudi Arabia”

    I know my suggestion was pushing the envelope. I complately agree about wanting color, vibrance, etc, in language. I’m for free expression. I’m for allowing use of the F word. etc. But your example actually makes my point. Because, if we visited another galaxy with a society that said “penis/vaginal intercourse you” as a way to _insult_ someone, we would find it pretty self evident that, at least to some extent, these people have some issues with sexualtiy, that it is one of their top insults, one of the strongest insults, to say that. Can you imagine if “kiss your face” was an insult? People don’t use the phrase “punch face” (yet) for very similar reasons to why we don’t say “sexual intercourse with you!” as an insult; it would be so obviously a strange choice of words that it would jump out at people almost as much as “kiss your face” as an insult would jump at people. But “fuck you” is just a short ‘package’ we’ve gotten used to. This is not in contradiction to my being in favor of people being allowed to say “fuck you” ; I do want people to be more introspective about what this says about our culture, however, and its views on sexuality (for that matter other top insults include “dick” and “pussy” and “prick” and “cunt” but not “elbow” ;-o) similarly I want us all to be more introspective about what is says about our culture’s ever present violence that our ears don’t even hear the violence in “kicks ass” in part because we hear it all the time, a known, pharse, but also in part because of that ever present violelnce in our culture.

    I didn’t really expect you do change that. And I knew this was pushing the envelope and would make even radical/progressive folks pause and maybe a tad uncomfortable to hear this radical perspective. And yes, your cited example that we use the notion of sexuality with another, as one of the strongest way to insult someone, is an excellent example too – don’t ban the F word, but yes, it too holds a mirror to our culture, and both mirrors can be used to evolve our culture, over time, into something saner, healthier, better :-) Peace.

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