On Strips: The Four District Herald

By | Friday, June 16, 2017 Leave a Comment
At CAKE last weekend, I stopped by the Sequential Artists Workshop table. As usual, they had a variety of books from their current crop of students. But in signing up for their mailing list, they were handing out copies of the 2014 Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency annual report. Who are the CRA and why would SAW be giving away their annual report from a few years ago?

According to the CRA's site...
We help underserved regions attract private investment through community partnerships, competitive economic development incentives and improved public infrastructure. Projects have ranged from building Depot Park, renovating Bo Diddley Plaza, and replacing the former 13th St pedestrian overpass with the signature Helyx Bridge, to incentivizing Mindtree Ltd.’s pledge to create 400 high-wage local jobs. We target our redevelopment efforts in four core urban areas (Downtown, Eastside, Fifth Avenue/Pleasant Street and College Park/University Heights). After achieving our strategic goals in a district, we step out of the way and let the private sector do the rest. The CRA is devoted to helping Gainesville achieve its full potential as a vibrant, diverse community.
Like many such organizations, the CRA produces an annual report every year to tout their accomplishments, and offer some degree of transparency about their operations. And in 2014, the annual report was produced by SAW and it took the form of a newspaper funnies section. Called The Four District Herald and printed on a newsprint broadsheet, the entire report consists of parodies of many classic comic strips: Little Nemo, Peanuts, Prince Valiant, and Dick Tracy to name a few. Each strip closely approximately the visual and tonal style of the original, but the captions and dialogue speak to the CRA's goals and accomplishments, also thematically tied to the original strips. The Pogo parody takes about preserving area wetlands, for example, and The Family Circus one is one of those dotted-line adventures through a local park.

Credit is primarily given to Justine Mara Andersen, the lead instructor at SAW. Additional credit is given to Sally Cantirino (another instructor) and SAW founder Tom Hart. There's no mention of how they became involved, other than what you might infer from both CRA and SAW operating out of Gainseville.

The parodies are all very well executed, capturing the essence of the source strips. Particularly for coming from such a small group of people, it's impressive. I'd suggest checking it out, if you're able. (The copies they had at CAKE seem to have gone very quickly.)

Fortunately for you, CRA has an electronic version posted on their website here! It doesn't have quite the same feel since you end up missing the tactile qualities of the newsprint, but it's still well worth checking out for the content itself!
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