Tom the Dancing Bug: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Corrected to reflect modern sensibilities)

By Ruben Bolling

Published 7:28 am Wed, Jan 12, 2011

62 Responses to “Tom the Dancing Bug: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Corrected to reflect modern sensibilities)”

  1. Prufrock451 says:

    Since the Indians were removed by force, I think the new version of Huckleberry Finn should take place in England. Otherwise we’re just teaching our kids it’s alright to live west of the 1763 Proclamation Line without paying reparations.

  2. SAMO1415 says:

    Cripes, what a rectal orifice!


    “3. Do you think this version should have left the image of Muhammad in?”


  4. donniebnyc says:

    Please correct the title of this post.

    • BookGuy says:

      Alternatively, edit the comic so that one of the characters Huck encounters identifies as intersex.

  5. braininavat says:

    Callin’ someone a dancing bug seems a little derogatory. Perhaps he should be Tom the Vigorous Insect.

  6. SpaceGhost says:

    Notice there were no asians or latinos in this comic? This telling of the 1840’s classic truly doesn’t reflect the world I live in and therefore I refuse to let my children read it until more characters are added and it takes place in 2011.

  7. Isoko says:

    Someone please forward this comic to Alan Gribben. Boosh!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Needs a car chase scene and some gratuitous titties.

  9. Bill Ravon says:

    I thought you died in previuos book ))))

    what a cheet ))

  10. Anonymous says:

    As an inhabitant of a three-dimensional world, I object to this two-dimensional depiction of characters and setting. Please re-publish in the correct format and make sure that government-subsidized 3-D glasses are available for those who cannot afford them.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Anon- YOU may live in a three-dimensional world, but I have only one eye (and am monocularly challenged) and I resent your seemingly insensitive agenda of forcing your 3Dism on me. There is nothing wrong with living in a 2D world, and I don’t appreciate your prejudice. SHAME ON YOU!

  11. Anonymous says:

    How do we know African American Jim wasn’t heading north to support interstate trade tarrifs?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, that was one consideration, but the Federalism/States Rights issue was what really motivated him to act.

  12. GeekMan says:

    Good, but too close to the truth for me to chuckle at.

    Rainbow-coloured paint at the ready to slather over our past and erase our mistakes, so that we may conveniently forget and inevitably repeat them. Ugh.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This version is biased against white trash.

  14. Church says:

    I resent the use of the term “Huckleberry.”

  15. Anonymous says:

    I find the word Boosh to be offensive to those of us raised in a mixed Boosh home.

  16. binbrooklyn says:

    Over coming slavery reveals says more about a country than having ever had it.

  17. Prufrock451 says:

    Also, note the fencing used in the title; this subconsciously privileges Western ideals of land ownership.

  18. Neon Tooth says:

    Unfortunately the “it’s pc gone mad!” crowd will like this for all the wrong reasons.

  19. Xenu says:

    Now that we have a Nanny State version of Huck Finn, how about the Conservapedia version? Twain’s heretical religious views can be “corrected,” we can add in references to the second amendment, and Huck can protest at an abortion clinic.

  20. The Hamster King says:

    Amazingly, the new version still contains several instances of the word “doik”. You’d think they would have fixed that.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Terrific. Laughed all the way through… and then there were the questions at the end. Hilarious.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I believe that the term “Huckleberry” is itself offensive.

  23. lubertdas says:


  24. warreno says:

    The greatest problem with Huck Finn is, of course, that the novel represents a phallocentric patriarchal approach to nature.

    This can be seen clearly in the way that Huck and Jim are frequently depicted as being on the river, or dipping their (fishing) poles into the river, and relying on the river for their livelihood – while at the same time ignoring the plight of the river in the form of pollution from riverboats and the occasional drowned corpse. The undertones of sexual exploitation and abuse of women are too obvious to need to point out.

    This is further underlined by Huck choosing to run away from a woman rather than be adopted by her and “sivilized”. Clearly he’s gynophobic. He might also be homosexual, given how Jim constantly refers to him as “honey”.*

    Until all of these egregious slights are corrected, Huck Finn will never be acceptable as a modern work of classic literature.


    * Plus, there are no tits in Huck Finn. Evidence suggests there was a scene involving Becky Thatcher that had originally been written for Tom Sawyer, wherein Tom convinces Becky to exchange a flash of her breasts for a crystal doorknob. This scene was later cut from the novel. Some speculate that this was the origin of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition of exposing breasts in exchange for beads.

    • princeminski says:

      This comic is the best thing I’ve seen in ages, but your comment is even greater. Thank you for bolstering my simple faith in the stupidity of human beings and the great yucks to be derived therefrom.

  25. Little Brother says:

    The cartoon is a hilarious bulls-eye.

    I’ve long argued that the thinking or philosophy characterized as “political correctness” is essentially tragic.

    It emerged from the “left” as a long-overdue, necessary, virtuous force of liberation and equality, but contained the seeds of its own destruction– like a benign or salutary medicine that gives short-term relief, but harbors toxic side-effects. Or a benevolent bacteria that over time spontaneously morphs into a malignant strain.

    It’s a compound and many-layered tragedy; at first, PC thinking was attacked, discredited and demonized by the reactionary Right; thus a generation of true believers became fiercely defensive of this kind of thinking.

    Embattled PC leftists in turn denounced critics for abusing and distorting the term, denied that it is an ideological, doctrinaire approach with pathological or sinister ramifications, and so on. Even today, die-hards still reflexively mistake criticism as inherently reactionary, i.e. as proof of a right-wing sensibility.

    This wonderful cartoon will do more to advance the discourse than long-winded comments from the likes of me, and I’m grateful for it.

  26. Mandaliet says:

    Is anyone in favor of this other than the publishers? I haven’t heard anyone else defend it.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Yeah, I have, and the argument advanced wasn’t too bad: this edition is not intended for general use, but rather, is intended for children at that impressionable age when they’ll thoughtlessly imitate and parrot anything that they read about, and at which age any substantial discussion of the realities of the racial politics of Huck’s day would be beyond them.

      That is to say, it is a pedagogic edition, suitable for children under (for instance) say ten years: this is not intended for High school seniors to use, nor adults.

      That’s just one of the many points of view expressed by many Canadians about this topic of “re-writing” Twain, available here:

      I think that as long as the original is available, I’ve no problem with this edition also being available.

      I don’t pretend to know how Twain himself would have regarded this: but he’s gone, and now his works are in some real sense ours to do with as we wish.

      • Anonymous says:

        Disagree, censorship is still censorship, even if for the “right” reasons. This book isn’t half the book if the political and racial context it was written in is removed. In fact, one could even argue this book is an excellent introduction for children into the realities of racial politics of 19th Century America.

        Also, censorship for the “right” reason inevitably leads to censorship for the “wrong” ones too. it’s best to leave books as they were intended and to stand or fall on their own merits.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          There have been bowdlerized and abridged editions of many famous literary works for children from… well, for a very long time.

          Huck’s a great story for kids and for bedtime reading: and that N-word can really jar the kids and spoil the mood.

          Apparently, from the comments posted on the CBC discussion I linked to above, Twain did not consider Huck to be a children’s book at all, and had had no objection when it was dropped from a school’s reading lists in his own lifetime.

          But seriously, if the thing’s out-of-copyright, it’s fair game for those who would edit or re-write it: I would only insist that such monkey-shines be clearly indicated on the cover.

          So that I a least would not buy it by mistake.

          I too prefer and wish my materials to be unabridged, unedited and uncensored (and untranslated too, if I’m capable) – but that does NOT mean that children’s editions of those same materials should not be judiciously abridged, edited or censored.

        • joeposts says:

          At least the “censored” edition has a introduction explaining the changes. About 90% of the editorials and pundits decrying this version refused to mention the word they felt was so important to the book, instead using the ‘n-word’ or ‘N—-r’ or other variants.

          HOW DARE THEY CENSOR THE N-WORD!!! lulz.

      • Hools Verne says:

        Yeah, I have, and the argument advanced wasn’t too bad: this edition is not intended for general use, but rather, is intended for children at that impressionable age when they’ll thoughtlessly imitate and parrot anything that they read about, and at which age any substantial discussion of the realities of the racial politics of Huck’s day would be beyond them.

        Which is why Huck Finn is really not a good choice for children’s literature especially in pedagogic environment. There are much better choices of literature for the age group this is intended for.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          “There are much better choices of literature for the age group this is intended for.”

          Perhaps so: but that must remain a matter of opinion, and the choice of the parent or teacher.

          My aim was simply to repeat the argument for, or in favour of, this bowdlerization that I had heard from someone other than the publisher, as requested by Mandeliet.

          I cannot say that I adopt it as my own; nor that it wholly justifies this edition of Twain: nevertheless, IMO it is not a bad argument.

  27. benher says:

    Samuel Clemens was an exceptional writer, although I was never particularly fond of the “Sawyer” world in comparison to some of his other works.

    Still, “editing” equals censorship. Time, place, and context are what lends the Sawyer/Finn saga historical relevance (arguments that have been made hundreds of times elsewhere, far more eloquently than I could ever manage).

  28. jennchlebus says:

    In no particular order:

    – Ten year olds already know the “N-WORD” (gasp) and if you can’t expect them to have a reasonable discussion about race, why don’t you just duct tape their mouths shut for the first twenty some odd years of their lives?

    -The only artistically valid, IMHO, method of censorship for a book full of offensive words is to force the censor to go through every single copy with an Exacto knife and cut the naughty bits out himself one by one. Neatly. The author of said work of literature had to put them all in there, the censor should have to work just as hard to get them out. “Find and replace” is a cheap cop out for some stuck up moderner who never wrote a novel longhand.

    -In regards to Mark Twain’s opinion: the first volume of his unabridged, unedited, UNCENSORED autobiography is out now, as he instructed, 100 years after his death. He wanted to be sure no one would be hurt by what he had to say. Are people hurt more by reading a rude word about skin color? Or by pretending, for the sake of the delicate nervous constitution of frail children, that everything is and always has been hunky dory for everybody in this grand nation of ours?

  29. roguebert says:

    “…why don’t you just duct tape their mouths shut for the first twenty some odd years of their lives?”

    Well… why don’t you? Doesn’t sound like a bad idea. It would certainly make those awkward years between 2 and 19 much more manageable.

  30. peterbruells says:

    Warum ist der Text auf Englisch und nicht auf Deutsch! Es sollte wenigstens Untertitel geben!

  31. Padraig says:

    Though my children do not know the ‘N’ word – it’s not so common in Australia – I’d not allow them to read any such book until they were old enough to understand what was being said and why, that is until they could understand the context.

    However, you have to ask what the intent is of giving them the book in the first place. If it’s because you think it’s worth reading?

    Do the supremely racist, sexist elements really do ‘make the book’? Or can the book be edited for children? In thinking about that, don’t give me the boringly predictable excuse that children are ‘mollycoddled’ these days, blah blah blah. This sort of argument have no validity and nothing behind it of substance.

    We ‘modify’ many things to make the comprehensible and suitable to children of various ages and this is a reasonable thing to do. However, at an age when they can grasp the context, then the ‘unexpurgated’ versions should be available.

    There are silly examples though. For instance, when buying “The Three Little Pigs” I found lots of versions where the first two idiot brothers survived their encounter with the big bad wolf and raced off to their engineer brothers house. REALLY! Very small children can manage these experiences when assisted by their parents. My youngest watches shows that I’m sure would’ve scared me at the same age, but she’s been educated
    to understand that these things are make-believe and she also has a very strong innate sense of personal safety and security which we’ve worked hard to support.

    Additionally we have friends who’s older children are frightened by the very things my youngest finds unconcerning.

    Learning experiences need to be provided at an age when they can be managed and integrated – Huck et al can be edited so the story can be read at an appropriate age and the original version read later when it too is provided at an appropriate age.

  32. Deidzoeb says:

    I’m happy to see no one has mentioned or reignited L’Affaire Grape Soda. (Oops.)

  33. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time someone corrected the most egregious ethnic slight in this book — the one against the Suomalaiset, as the Finns call themselves. It’s about time the title character was given a non-ethnic name, like Twain or Clemens.

  34. Washington Irving says:

    Is no one else troubled by the frame in which Huck appears holding a firearm?

  35. McManly says:

    Padraig, as an Australian who spends a lot of time with his head inside the 19th century, the n-word was certainly current *back then* in newspapers. Go to and search on the word to get more than 117,000 “hits”. Most of these were not intentionally offensive, but the word was normal. I can recall one use of it by Henry Lawson, and then there was that brand of steel wool that suddenly “Bigger Boy” when somebody stopped and thought.

  36. buddy66 says:

    Anybody here know Leslie Fiedler’s once-controversial essay, ”Come Back To The Raft Ag’in Huck, Honey”? He argued for the book’s place in a homoerotic tradition. I doubt, however, if it has ever been challenged on that basis for censoring.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      We covered that in 9th grade English class. One of the many reasons that I miss the 1970s.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Mr Clemens (Mark Twain) was an intelligent man. How do posters here think he would feel about the PC corrections to his book?
    How do the people who are correcting his book rationalize leaving in Huck’s use of tobacco?
    Tobacco may kill but the N-word will not.
    Which is the greater evil?

  38. NunyoBidness says:

    Thank you, Ruben, for consistently having one of the most intelligent, though-provoking strips out there.

  39. robcat2075 says:

    Bottom line… a weak entry for TTDB.

    “politically correct” revisions of known material for comedic effect have been done too many times to be comedic anymore.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t vitriolic condemnation of a mash-up for a kiddie audience just another form of censorship? And isn’t condemning the kiddie version just another type of pc-ness gone mad? Sort of like, gotta have my artistic purity – and my 8 year old kid does, too.

    Important, of course, to make the real thing always readily available and I, too, “prefer and wish my materials to be unabridged, unedited and uncensored (and untranslated too, if I’m capable) – but that does NOT mean that children’s editions of those same materials should not be judiciously abridged, edited or censored.”

    Don’t like the kiddie version? Don’t read it. And the above comic IS genius.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I had to google “beaner”

  42. Anonymous says:

    As a 11-dimensional entity I find your 3d chauvinism as offensive as it is naive.