In a 1984 interview with the Atlantic, Walker told Cullen Murphy..about his ongoing battles with newspapers over the depiction of belly buttons, male and female, which were routinely excised with a razor blade. Behind the scenes, he drew much more racy Beetle Bailey strips, featuring full-on nudity — which ended up being sent to Sweden, where they found a more receptive audience.
This year, as men and women have confronted long-suppressed evidence of sexual abuse so pervasive it’s simply the air we breathe, we’ve also begun to reckon with a kind of toxic humor that so often excuses such behavior — the ways in which humor is used as both sword and shield, and women as cannon fodder. As Rebecca Traister recently wrote in New York magazine, this moment is not just about sex, but about work. In the context of the comedy industry, it’s about how women have been and continue to be shut out of professional opportunities and the chance to shape cultural narratives because of the adolescent prurience of the men who run the show.