Vue Weekly
September 10-16

Space Moose alive and well on the WWW

Controversy helped sell books

by Charles Mandel

It's been almost a year since the University of Alberta kicked Space Moose off the school's Internet servers, but that hasn't stopped the cartoon from showing up in cyberspace.

Adam Thrasher, the cartoon's creator, has moved his act to the World Wide Web, creating a comprehensive Space Moose site that is every bit as controversial as the original. The site, , includes over 170 Space Moose cartoons and a section titled "Clobberin'," inviting website visitors to "fume with the feminists who banned Space Moose from the university network."

The website includes a banner ad from Microsoft as well as a web counter showing that the page has been accessed over 17,800 times since November 1997.

Last week, Space Moose began its 10th year of publication as a cartoon strip in The Gateway, the University of Alberta's student newspaper. Langara College in British Columbia also carries the cartoon, as does the University of Manitoba.

Thrasher's Space Moose first sparked anger and censure among the U of A's academic staff and students last October over a cartoon showing women being killed during a Take Back the Night March.

Strip reprimanded

The Gateway originally turned down that particular instalment of the cartoon, but published a website address where readers could view it online. Controversy broke out after it turned out that Thrasher had posted the 12-panel strip on a website originating in the university's biomedical department.

At the time, university associate professor Linda Trimble told the Globe and Mail, "I was shocked. I was upset. I was amazed that someone would draw such a misogynist, hateful cartoon. This is trivialization of a hate crime."

The university ordered Thrasher to remove all his content from the servers and fined him $200 for a non-academic offense.

In finding Thrasher guilty of violating the university's student code of behaviour, the school issued a written statement: "We reprimand Mr. Thrasher for failing to treat women with dignity and respect. In future, Mr. Thrasher should be more sensitive to some of his reading audience in depictions of issues."

Thrasher is currently appealing the fine and his third hearing into the matter is scheduled for the end of September.

Another of Thrasher's cartoons, this one printed in The Gateway, drew a joint letter of recrimination from the campus's chaplains. That cartoon, titled "Antlers of the Damned," featured Jesus Christ as well as a panel showing a dog sodomizing Space Moose.

Thrasher wasn't Bashful

A third cartoon published in the punkzine Slur caused A&B; Sound to withdraw all its advertising and ban Slur from its stores. The cartoon in question featured the seven dwarves sexually assaulting Snow White.

Today, Thrasher remains unrepentant over the fuss, and in fact says the controversy helped sell his then-newly released book of Space Moose cartoons. "It couldn't have come at a better time, because the book had just come out," he says. "People went out looking for the site and it generated a lot of interest in the book."

Thrasher, who is about nine months away from completing his PhD in biomedical engineering, said he set up his current website after the university closed down his previous site.

Edmonton's Darkcore Networks invited him to post his work on space they provided, he says, noting the company is a branch of OA Internet, one of the city's largest service providers.