The Comics Issue

The very first cartoon SN&R published was a 1989 illustration by John Kloss that took on fears surrounding nuclear contamination of Rancho Seco.

Sacramento’s best undiscovered cartoonists and SN&R staffers draw pictures of life as they see it—wonderfully weird

Anyone who’s seen a prehistoric cave drawing already knows that cartoons are exponentially older than the written word, yet they don’t always get the respect that should come with advanced age.

Maybe blame us mono-talented writers. We only have one way of telling a story and have somehow convinced you that two dimensions are better than three. But the truth is that serious journalist types owe a huge debt to the professional doodlers who send up or enthusiastically ignore whatever’s happening in our world.

Ever since Richard Felton Outcault’s The Yellow Kid became the first comic strip to appear in an American newspaper 124 years ago, the funnies and the news have gone together like cream and coffee. That relationship is arguably more symbiotic within alternative weeklies, which embrace the absurdities of political and cultural life that establishment media typically ignore.

That’s not to say we’ve always preserved a space for comics. The rapid decline in traditional advertising revenue has just made it tough. According to our online archives, it’s been more than eight years since SN&R published an editorial cartoon (a John Kloss illustration from the height of the Occupy Sacramento movement, titled “Treedom of Speech”). Since then, we’ve flirted with the funnies, most recently with the Serene Lusano-created, Devon Mc Mindes-drawn GoatKidd strip in our Cannabis section.

But I, for one, miss having a front-of-book comic setting a big, bizarre tone for the content inside. Comics are the ultimate gateway to media literacy. This issue is an attempt to reboot that tradition.

We received nearly 50 submissions from artists ranging in age from 7 to 81—many of them just before the Jan. 16 deadline; of course you cartoonists are procrastinators. Designer Sarah Hansel corralled a judging panel that somehow argued its way down to a top 12. Our staffers and contributors got in on the action, too.

Together, we’re presenting a collage of what life in and around Sacramento looks like inside our heads. It’s by turns funny, freaky and fearless.

Comics have come a long way since an artsy cave dweller scrawled a skinny bovine creature (who bears a not-insignificant resemblance to Marmaduke) on an Indonesian wall more than 40,000 years ago. I, for one, can’t see where they go next.

Stay weird, Sacramento.

Brenna Massey is a 21-year-old art student and aspiring illustrator from Sacramento. IG: @brennamassey
Dan Melzer, 48, of Sacramento teaches writing at UC Davis. This is his first published comic since college.
Aaron Belman is a 21-year-old student at Sacramento State University. IG: @aaronbelman_art
Artist Jen Monson, 44, is a wife and mother residing in Sacramento. IG: jenuoneart
Writer Ben Schwartz, 44, of Sacramento is the owner of Empire’s Comics Vault and publisher of Continuum Press.
Elizabeth Williams-Bushey is a freelance writer-illustrator. IG: @inklesstales. Her daughter Anne Bushey, 20, is a student, colorist and frequent collaborator who doesn’t do social media. Both reside in Citrus Heights.
Harry Greer is a 28-year-old artist and musician from Davis. IG: @Harry.Clarke.Greer
Reece Metzger has lived in Sacramento for almost 30 of his 72 years. Website:
Devon Mc Mindes is the writer/artist of Goatkidd. To reach him, spin around three times and whisper your name into the eastern wind.
Serene Lusano is SN&R’s art of information director and a Bay Area transplant from before it was a thing. IG: @serenelusano
Katelynn Mitrano is SN&R’s publications designer and a liker of morbid things (and plants!). IG: @katewinnnnn
Maxfield Morris is SN&R’s former co-arts editor and a sometime YouTube personality. IG: humansofjustme
Raheem Hosseini is SN&R’s news editor. He insisted we include him. Twitter: @raheemfh

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