Molarity Classic: 314-318

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Author: Michael Molinelli '82

The Molarity crew is getting a little larger. And a little more aquatic.

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314. Inspired by the dolphin Alpha in the 1973 film, The Day of The Dolphin, the creation of the character Alphie was my attempt to deal with prejudice. When you introduce a character from a minority ethnicity, jokes about that character’s personal flaws are projected to the entire group. For example: Chuck can be an incompetent, violent anti-authoritarian without the reader thinking I am saying all white males fall in that category. But if Chuck was African American with the same attributes, the comic could be interpreted as slamming the entire race. By making the dolphins the new minority, I thought I could deal with the issues without being misinterpreted as saying things about a particular race. You will see what happens…

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315. This cartoon caused a bit of a stir and it was probably because my joke was poorly set up. The better punchline is in the next cartoon. The joke was that Alphie, once liberated from the ocean, was able to cover 12 years of schooling in two years. Thus he must be intelligent. But he got into ND on affirmative action because they wanted him on the swim team, a fact I don’t mention until the next cartoon. I expected the affirmative action joke to stand on its own and then get double the comic effect when you see why in the next cartoon. It did not work that way.

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316. After this cartoon I got a phone call from a student identifying himself as black. He said that he and some of his friends at the lunch table were concerned about my cartoons. They had interpreted the previous cartoon as me saying that all the blacks at ND got in because of affirmative action. I explained that was not my intent nor did I think the cartoon said that. He did like the flipper joke.

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317. In this Observer was a critical review of the Rolling Stones new album “Emotional Rescue” by Mark Rust. Fortunately, Mark stays away from any predictions about this album leading to the demise of the group.

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318. For comics, there is a delicate balance to strike between providing cutting edge commentary with being socially responsible. The character Mitch can say all sorts of impolite things as long as he gets some comeuppance. However, it does put me on the defensive as to how I manage to think of these things.


See the first five classic strips. Check back monthly for more classic Molarity strips. Molarity Redux, the updated, continuing adventures of Jim Mole and friends, also is posted monthly. For those new strips, check out the cartoon archives.


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