Luann Creator Wrestling With How To Address Terrorist Crisis

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Vol 37 Issue 41

Steve Vai Impresses The Hell Out Of Neighborhood Kids

GLENDALE, CA— Rock guitarist Steve Vai wowed a group of neighborhood children with his spectacular guitar pyrotechnics Monday. "His behind-the-head guitar solo was so wicked," said Jimmy Hetzel, 11, one of six children blown away by Vai's fretboard wizardry. "He also did this thing where he held the guitar between his legs and played it with a bow." The impromptu performance is believed to be the most impressive display of its kind since September 2000, when Joe Satriani "showed off a few licks" at a Southfield, MI, bar mitzvah.

Plan To Make Snacks Last Through Opening Credits Fails

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN— Despite his best intentions, moviegoer Brad Schuyler failed to make his snack supply last beyond the opening credits of Monsters, Inc. Monday. "The Harry Potter trailer came on, and I guess I just got excited," said Schuyler, 26, who took his last bite as the words "Written By Dan Gerson" appeared on the screen. "Maybe I should have bought more than a box of Sno-Caps and a 32-ounce Coke, but the stuff costs so much." Next time he sees a film, Schuyler said he will not start eating until the studio logo appears.

Argument About Capital Of Australia Occurs 10 Feet From Encyclopedia

ORD, NE— Brothers Jeff and Adam Clink spent 20 minutes fiercely debating the capital of Australia while standing 10 feet from the family's World Book encyclopedia Monday. "You're high," Jeff, 18, told Adam. "It's Sydney." Adam, who said he is "99.99 percent sure" that Melbourne is the capital, conceded that one city might be the capital of the Australian continent and the other the capital of the nation.

Ugly Man With Huge Penis Unsure How To Get The Word Out

AUBURN, ME— Overweight and balding Ira Groff, 37, is unsure how to get the word out about his 11-inch penis. "In theory, I could fumble around in my wallet for something and then—whoops!—an extra-large condom falls out," the acne-scarred Groff said Monday. "But that would come off as staged." Groff has also pondered wearing tighter pants, leaving penile-reduction-surgery brochures around his workspace, or sporting a button that reads, "Ask Me About My Huge Cock."

I Do So Adore The Adult Theatre

Ah, the adult theatre! As a discriminating patron of the adult arts, nothing compares to a night out enjoying the lights, glamour, and pelvic gyrations of the adult theatre. Each performance is a glorious release, filling me with the joy and elation that only high smut can deliver.

Could Osama Get The Bomb?

Last week, President Bush disclosed that Osama bin Laden has been trying to acquire nuclear weapons. What do you think of the possibility?

The Post-Office Crunch

Reeling from a post-Sept 11. drop in mail volume, the U.S Postal Service faces a $3 billion deficit. What is the USPS doing to imporove its bottom line?
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Luann Creator Wrestling With How To Address Terrorist Crisis

SAN MARCOS, CA—Greg Evans, creator of the popular Luann comic strip, continues to struggle to find the right way to address the events of Sept. 11 and their aftermath, the cartoonist reported from his home Monday.

The creator of <i>Luann</i> in his studio.

"I definitely feel an obligation to address this tragedy—through Luann's eyes," said Evans, referring to Luann DeGroot, the inquisitive and outspoken teen whose adventures appear daily in more than 300 newspapers nationwide. "It's a real high-wire act: entertaining, informing, and providing emotional support to my readers all at the same time. But it's a challenge I have no choice but to rise to."

"I'm so lucky to have this public forum," Evans continued. "With it, however, comes responsibility. I must not let my readers down."

Though he has been wrestling with it for weeks, Evans has yet to integrate the current crisis into either the plotline about Luann's crush on Aaron Hill or the subplot about Bernice's budding romance with Zane.

"Zane is the strip's first character in a wheelchair, so I think it would send a terrible message to suddenly drop his storyline," Evans said. "I definitely have to find a way to work this in, though. Like the rest of the country, the gang at Pitts High School would certainly be forever changed by what's happened."

"So many possibilities are running through my mind," Evans continued. "Should I have Luann talk to Bernice and Delta about this? Or should I provide guidance for the teens in the form of Miss Phelps or Mr. Fogarty? Should Luann be tough, or should she show vulnerability? These are the sorts of questions that, as an artist, I grapple with every day."

Evans has also considered using Luann's parents as a means of broaching the subject.

"I was thinking Luann's dad could call one of his dreaded family meetings," Evans said. "Then, instead of lecturing the kids about dragging mud through the house, he could hold a little 'rap session,' where he and Mrs. DeGroot encouraged the kids to talk about their feelings toward what America is going through. Still, my instincts tell me that's not the way to go. When I hit on the right take, I'll know it in my gut."

One of the most widely respected names in the comic-strip community, Evans has earned a reputation for his refusal to back down from relevant social issues. According to United Feature Syndicate's promotional packet, Evans "has been praised for his amusing, insightful portrayals of the issues that teens face—everything from reaching puberty to dealing with peer pressure, drugs, and alcohol."

"Fortunately, the folks over at United Feature Syndicate trust me and give me a tremendous amount of creative latitude," Evans said. "I'm very lucky to be working with supportive people who respect and understand my vision, and who let me say whatever it is that's on my mind."

A page from Evans' sketchbook.

"Despite the supportive atmosphere, Evans has yet to make his 'statement,' unable to decide which aspect of the nation's ongoing turmoil to address.

Not only are there the deaths of thousands, but there's the war and fears of more attacks," Evans said. "Perhaps I'm better off dealing with such a momentous topic in a book, where I'd have unlimited space. But that would mean the work wouldn't reach my readers now, when they need it most."

To avoid alienating his more sensitive readers, Evans said he would avoid specifics, just as he avoided using the words "menstruation" and "period" in his memorable series of strips, "Luann Gets Her First."

"Instead of a scary word like 'anthrax,' I'd say 'affliction' or 'illness,'" Evans said. "People would know what I meant."

For all his determination to address the current crisis, Evans admitted that a small part of him is tempted to not mention it at all.

"Maybe an alternate universe where this never happened is exactly what the American people need," Evans said. "In Luann, I could give them that escape, that safe haven from all the horror. But in my heart of hearts, I feel like that would be taking the easy way out."

Evans said he takes comfort in the fact that he is not alone in his struggle.

"This is something that all of us in the comics community are dealing with right now," Evans said. "I've talked about it with a number of my colleagues, including [Funky Winkerbean creator] Tom Batiuk and [Arlo & Janis creator] Jimmy Johnson. Jimmy asked me how I planned to make sense of this all, and I told him, 'I don't know, Jimmy. I just don't know.' He replied, 'Greg, none of us do.'"

Added Evans: "I feel like the eyes of the whole country are on me. And I don't want to do the wrong thing. When I was just a high-school art teacher, I never dreamed I'd have so much power and responsibility."

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