Speed Reads


Elon Musk laments that Scott Adams' Dilbert is 'legit funny and insightful.' Cartoonists disagree.

After Dilbert creator Scott Adams posted a video about how Black Americans are a "hate group" that white Americans should "get the hell away" from, hundreds of newspapers across the country dropped Dilbert from their comics pages. Next, Dilbert's distributor, Andrews McMeel Universal, severed ties with Adams. And then his book publisher canceled an upcoming non-Dilbert book and his book agent dropped him, Adams tweeted Monday. 

Twitter owner Elon Musk criticized the mass abandonment of Adams, tweeting Sunday that the U.S. media is "racist against whites and Asians," and emphatically agreeing that while Adams' "comments weren't good," there is "an element of truth to this." Musk added Monday: "I don't agree with everything Scott says, but Dilbert is legit funny & insightful. We should stop canceling comedy!" Some Twitter users did find that comment funny, or at least ironic.

Several cartoonists and newspaper editors said Dilbert stopped being funny or insightful years ago.

The editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, which dumped Dilbert last October to little complaint, said Adams' strip "went from being hilarious to being hurtful and mean," The Associated Press notes. Cartoonist Luke McGarry drew a comic depicting Dogbert pointing at Adams in a Ku Klux Klan hood. "Somebody had to make a joke out of it, because Scott certainly isn't funny anymore," McGarry told The Washington Post.

Dilbert had "drifted off into staleness and irrelevancy," but that alone "wouldn't have doomed it," Mike Peterson wrote at The Daily Cartoonist on Monday. "Staleness becomes familiarity and there is a sizeable market for strips that tell the same jokes for years on end, passed along to new artists who simply fill the template readers have come to expect. What doomed Dilbert was that Adams, like Al Capp before him, let his increasingly antisocial personal views appear in the strip. The focus on management foibles had long since gone stale and the new material was off-topic and not just conservative — a lot of strips are conservative — but openly offensive."

Dilbert is probably dead, but Adams is wealthy, Peterson added. "He could self-syndicate the strip, and given the response of some rightwing sources, he'd likely find a few willing clients, either because they agreed with his vision, or because they wanted to own the libs, or both. But my guess is that he's ready to move on."