Typical street scene in the small society. Artists: Morrie Brickman and Bill Yates.


Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: King Features Syndicate
First Appeared: 1966
Creator: Morrie Brickman
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From Pogo to The Boondocks, with stops along the way for Doonesbury, Mallard Fillmore and a host of others, certain …

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… comic strips have been deemed overly political by some readers (usually the ones who disagree). But here's a strip that's blatantly and openly political, but with practically no readers in its 30+ years demanding it be shunted off to the editorial page.

Maybe that's because its gags tended to be along the lines of this: "The president says the budget deficit is outrageous. And he should know." Or this: "I don't know how I feel about the latest scandal. I'm running out of reactions." Glib one-liners, in other words, designed to elicit a not-too-merry smirk about those darned politicians, but not to express opinions with any great likelihood of stirring up controversy.

The cartoonist behind the small society (note lack of capitals) was Morrie Brickman, whose previous strips, Pic-Trix, Crosscut and Blue Chips, each lasted between five and seven years. With this one, tho, he had a winner. King Features Syndicate distributed it from May 2, 1966 to February 27, 1999.

The basic idea was a faux editorial cartoon, not too topical (tho the title is a reference to one of President Lyndon Johnson's catch-phrases, "The Great Society"), with the general theme of exasperation, sarcasm, resignation, or some other generally negative but not very intense response to the world at large (politics wasn't its exclusive subject). Like the later Frank & Ernest, it was the same shape as a regular comic strip, but consisted of only one long panel. One to three talking figures occupied the center, and the ends contained a lot of white space. The characters (who had names according to the syndicate's publicity materials, tho their names were seldom if ever mentioned in the strip itself) represented ordinary people, commenting on things they couldn't control. Outdoor scenes often depicted Washington DC landmarks in the background.

Brickman handled it on his own for a couple of decades, then brought in another cartoonist, Floyd Buford "Bill" Yates (Little Iodine, Professor Phumble, Redeye) as a partner in 1986. They signed it jointly until 1989, when Yates took over completely. Yates retired in 1999, and the strip ended.


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Text ©2003-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © King Features.