Dave Eggers really really hates “Pluggers”
I love daily newspaper comic strips, something that I am sure I will write about more in the future. I'm particularly drawn (hahaha!) to the serial strips, like "For Better or For Worse," "Mark Trail," and "Mary Worth," but I do also read the gag strips as well. If "Cathy" ever becomes a legacy strip, I have proven that I've read enough to be able to match the style and take over with a seamless transition.
For reasons I can't explain, I have fallen behind in my comics reading...to the tune of about eleven months. I have spent much of the last week trying to catch up, and I've made it up to November 2008. As I've gotten back into it, I stumbled across a 1996 Salon.com article by Dave Eggers about "Pluggers," the daily single-panel comic based on reader suggestions of puns about the simple lives of slow-paced, average Americans. It turns out "Pluggers" really pisses Dave Eggers off.
Pluggers are defined in phrases that appear to have been lifted from an early draft of Dole's forthcoming acceptance speech: "They're the nation's team players -- the honest dealers, the deadline meeters, the hangers-in-there. They're the everyday wit-and-grit heroes this great nation truly depends on." (It really says that.) Also, we learn that this "good-hearted majority of Americans" are "deeply committed to democracy;" that they "use technology, but don't go gah-gah (sic) over it;" and that they try "to keep life simple, uncomplicated." Can you imagine such a vainglorious manifesto from Broom Hilda or The Wizard of Id?
Much of Eggers's vitriol is leveled at the "Pluggers" creators' hypocrisy in presenting themselves as somehow in tune with average Joes despite their obvious wealth and privilege. He cites a statement of philosophy posted on the cartoon's "elaborate Web site," pausing to ask, "do pluggers have elaborate Web sites?"
Eggers's argument all sounded well and good, and then I realized this article was from 1996. What did this "elaborate" site that got Mr. McSweeney so upset even look like?
Thankfully, there is the Wayback Machine to show us this.
The terrible GIF transparency! The "under construction" sign! The impossible to read black text on top of the repeating wood background image! So much funnier than any "Pluggers" strip.