Monday, February 8, 2010


Bill Watterson was in the news last week after he granted the Cleveland Plain Dealer a rare "interview" (answering questions via e-mail). I also learned that in the early '80s, after he left the Cincinnati Post he continued to draw editorials for the Sun Newspapers. They've posted a nice archive, with better quality than my scanned photocopies of scratchy microfilm. It was an interesting coincidence that it came out the same week as the death of J.D. Salinger, as both are famous for their reclusive natures. Watterson hasn't published any art in the 15 years since ending 'Calvin & Hobbes', and has remained elusive to reporters and comics fans who try to track down his whereabouts.

[click to enlarge]
In this strip from June 30th, 1980, Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati were at odds over money to build a new jail for "low-risk" prisoners while a new county jail was being built to replace the Cincinnati Workhouse in 1984. The Workhouse was a massive building that dated back to 1870. It was still in use after the Hamilton County Justice Center was completed, on a limited basis, until it was demolished in the early 1990s.

In an 'everything old is new again' vein, the lack of adequate jail space is still a hot button issue for Cincinnati and Hamilton County. A 2007 levy to build a new facility, in addition to remodeling the existing jail, failed by a wide margin. The result is a revolving door justice system where some offenders are released because there's no space and others are shipped to jails in neighboring counties at taxpayer expense. The cops of today are feeling the frustration of the cops in Watterson's cartoon, going after the bad guys but having nowhere to put them.

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