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Comics and the U.S. South$
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Brannon Costello and Qiana J. Whitted

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030185

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030185.001.0001

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“The Southern Thing”

“The Southern Thing”

Doug Marlette, Identity Consciousness, and the Commodification of the South

(p.89) “The Southern Thing”
Comics and the U.S. South

Christopher Whitby

University Press of Mississippi

The nationally syndicated comic strip Kudzu, a creation of editorial cartoonist Doug Nigel Marlette, celebrated “the values, humor, and original characters still to be found in rural America.” In addition to Kudzu, Marlette produced thousands of political cartoons, numerous cartoon anthologies, and two novels. This chapter explores the ambivalence toward the evolving South in Kudzu in relation to the concept of southern authenticity within the region and in U.S. culture generally. More specifically, it considers how Marlette’s cartoons comment on the transformation of the South into a commodity utilized by a wider American culture and the various uses to which that commodity was put. The chapter shows how Marlette used Kudzu to address issues of race in the South, particularly the South’s desires to eradicate the derogatory stigma attached to “whiteness.”

Keywords:   comic strip, Kudzu, Doug Nigel Marlette, political cartoons, South, culture, commodity, race, whiteness

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