I struggle with how to best express my thoughts and feelings when yet another stupid, senseless tragedy happens in the world. Part of me feels that I should use the platform of comics and art to speak out against all of it, but I find myself feeling like Just Another Guy with an Opinion who happens to express it in drawings.
People have to speak their conscience and maybe artists do even more so. I've never been an activist (tried it a few times - it never sat well with me). I don't really like to editorialize in my work, especially in Cletus. I've found that the strip is funniest when Cletus is the butt of the joke, but when I use him to stand in for my own stances on political issues, something feels incongruent.
In some sense it's a writing problem, meaning that I'm still discovering a coherent world/world view for Cletus, and instead of starting out with the entire world mapped out I'm letting it grow organically. I've never wanted Cletus to be an ISSUE comic. Like, you need to know 1980's politics and social culture to really get some of the old Bloom County comics. It was hilarious at the time, but jokes about Lionel Richie just aren't as funny anymore. I would prefer to keep Cletus much more in the realm of The Far Side - human frailty and foibles don't change that much over the years.
Still, crimes like the one perpetrated in Orlando hit me hard. I'm STILL reeling over Sandy Hook and cannot believe that we haven't done anything to change gun culture and safety laws after that one. But it just doesn't stop. Our leaders have failed to protect us. Our neighbors might have the capacity to commit mass murder. It's left me speechless.