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Kudzu (comic strip): A Southern Tale of Humor and Heart

Kudzu (comic strip): A Southern Tale of Humor and Heart

Kudzu was a beloved daily comic strip created by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette. Set in the rural South, the strip captivated readers with its endearing characters and witty commentary on Southern life. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, Kudzu ran from June 15, 1981, to August 26, 2007, leaving an indelible mark on the world of comics.

Kudzu (Comic Strip)

Kudzu was a daily comic strip by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette about rural Southerners. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, the strip ran from June 15, 1981, to August 26, 2007.

Publication History

  • Launch Date: June 15, 1981
  • End Date: August 26, 2007
  • Syndicate(s): Universal Press Syndicate

Characters and Story

The strip’s characters include Kudzu Dubose, Nasal T. Lardbottom, Rev. Will B. Dunn, Ida Mae Wombat, Veranda Tadsworth, and NASCAR Dad. Rev. Will B. Dunn, modeled after civil rights activist Will D. Campbell, became a beloved character in the strip.

Current Status/Schedule

Concluded daily & Sunday strip

Genre

Humor, the South

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette.
Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette.

Origins and Title

The title Kudzu was derived from the notorious kudzu vine, introduced to the Southern United States as a solution for soil erosion. However, the vine soon spiraled out of control, becoming invasive. This aptly named strip mirrored the unstoppable growth and unpredictability of its namesake.

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Publication History

Debuting on June 15, 1981, Kudzu quickly gained popularity and was syndicated in over 300 newspapers at its peak. Tragically, creator Doug Marlette’s life was cut short in a car accident on July 10, 2007. Consequently, Kudzu ceased syndication, with the last daily strip published on August 4, 2007, followed by the final Sunday strip on August 26, 2007.

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Characters and Storyline

Cast of Characters

  • Kudzu Dubose: The nominal star is a 16-year-old resident of Bypass, NC.
  • Rev. Will B. Dunn: A charismatic Southern preacher with a unique perspective on life.
  • Ida Mae Wombat: Kudzu’s mom is portrayed as pushy yet loving.
  • Uncle Dub is Kudzu’s leading male role model.
  • Veranda Tadsworth: Kudzu’s love interest is portrayed as less interested in him than in her.
  • Maurice Jackson: Kudzu’s pal, adding depth to the small Southern town of Bypass.
  • Will B. Dunn: The true star of Kudzu is Rev. Will B. Dunn, a minister who defies stereotypes with his sarcasm and eccentric worldview. Modeled after civil rights activist Will D. Campbell, Rev. Dunn’s character resonated deeply with readers, earning him a place in the hearts of fans.

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Legacy and Impact

Despite its brief run, Kudzu left an enduring legacy, fondly remembered by readers for its humor and insight into Southern culture. Beyond the comic strip, Kudzu ventured into other media, with a sitcom pilot airing on CBS in 1983 and a musical comedy adaptation produced in 1998.

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In Other Media

  • CBS Sitcom Pilot: Initially intended as a sitcom, Kudzu aired as a TV special on August 13, 1983.
  • Musical Comedy Adaptation: Marlette collaborated on a musical adaptation titled Kudzu, A Southern Musical, which premiered in Washington, D.C., in 1998.

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Conclusion

Kudzu may have ended its daily and Sunday strip, but its impact continues to resonate with audiences, showcasing the enduring appeal of Southern humor and storytelling. Doug Marlette’s creation remains a testament to the rich tapestry of Southern life, immortalized in the pages of newspapers and the hearts of readers.

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FAQs about Kudzu (comic strip):

1. What is Kudzu?

Kudzu was a daily comic strip created by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette. It centered around the lives of rural Southerners and their humorous escapades.

2. When did Kudzu run?

Kudzu ran from June 15, 1981, to August 26, 2007, making it a beloved staple in the world of comics for over two decades.

3. What inspired the title of the comic strip?

The title Kudzu was inspired by the kudzu vine, initially introduced to the Southern United States as a soil erosion control plant but quickly became an invasive species, much like the characters and stories depicted in the strip.

4. Who were the main characters in Kudzu?

The cast of Kudzu included memorable characters such as Kudzu Dubose, Rev. Will B. Dunn, Nasal T. Lardbottom, Ida Mae Wombat, Veranda Tadsworth, and NASCAR Dad, each adding their unique flavor to the comic’s Southern charm.

5. What was the setting of the comic strip?

Kudzu was set in the fictional town of Bypass, North Carolina, a small Southern hamlet brimming with quirky and endearing personalities.

6. What was the significance of Rev. Will B. Dunn in the comic?

Rev. Will B. Dunn, a minister in Kudzu, emerged as a standout character with his unconventional yet relatable personality. Modeled after real-life figure Will D. Campbell, Rev. Dunn added depth and humor to the strip, captivating readers with his wit and eccentricity.

7. How did the comic strip Kudzu end?

Sadly, the comic strip came to an end following the untimely death of creator Doug Marlette in a car accident on July 10, 2007. The last daily strip was published on August 4, 2007, while the Sunday strips concluded on August 26, 2007.

8. Did Kudzu extend into other forms of media?

Yes, Kudzu ventured into other media formats, including a CBS sitcom pilot aired on August 13, 1983, and a musical comedy adaptation titled Kudzu, A Southern Musical, produced in Washington, D.C., in 1998.

9. What was Kudzu’s reception during its publication?

Kudzu garnered widespread acclaim during its publication, syndicated in over 300 newspapers at its peak. Its humorous portrayal of Southern life resonated with readers, earning it a dedicated fanbase.

10. Is Kudzu still available for syndication or purchase?

Unfortunately, Kudzu is no longer in syndication. However, collections of the comic strips may still be available for purchase, allowing fans to reminisce about the charm and wit of this beloved Southern comic.

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Written by Chris Krol

Hey there! I'm Chris Krol, a cartoon enthusiast with a penchant for visual storytelling. My Toons Mag creations often explore the lighter side of life, offering a dose of joy and laughter.

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