The Absent Fatso

May 31st, 2024 Barry Posted in Fat Acceptance, Media criticism | No Comments »


This cartoon has fourteen panels, so it’s kind of a long one.


A drawing of Barry (the cartoonist) relaxing on a sofa, holding a tablet and talking directly at the readers with a friendly expression.

BARRY: Ever notice how lots of movies and TV shows tell fat jokes without showing fat people?


A very fat woman with carefully-styled curly black curly hair is speaking, looking self-satisfied. Text identifies her as “Celesta Geyer, 1930s circus fat lady.”

CAPTION: In ye olden days, when folks wanted to laugh at fat people, they’d go to the circus. Today we’ve got reality TV for that.

CELESTA: “People laugh at me anyway, so I make them pay for the privilege.”


Barry is talking to us, smiling and leaning an arm on the panel border.

BARRY: But some viewers find reality TV too vulgar. They want to laugh at fat jokes, but laughing directly at fat people feels too crude.


Barry is looking at us and standing in front of a TV; he points a remote control at the TV as he speaks.

BARRY: So TV and movie writers have developed strategies for laughing at fat people without showing fat people.


Big, friendly looking lettering takes up most of this panel; it says THE ABSENT FATSO. Barry leans over the top of the lettering, still talking to us.

BARRY: I call these strategies…



A hand is holding a smartphone; on the smartphone is a picture of Homer Simpson eating a donut. Homer is speaking to us, continuing Barry’s dialog.

HOMER/BARRY: Strategies like… The Animated Fatso! Cartoon fatties are always safe to laugh at!


A fat woman with her thick black hair tied back is standing at a kitchen counter, holding a large knife. She seems to be cutting a slice of bread off a fresh baked loaf. An open laptop lies on the counter nearby; dialog is coming out of the laptop, but it doesn’t have a word balloon, making it less like dialog and more like a background element.

CAPTION: Or The Off-Screen Fatso! Think of Howard’s Ma on “Big Bang Theory,” or Ugly Naked Guy on “Friends.”

LAPTOP: Ma doesn’t have a neck. Just chins and fat and feet.


Two extremely happy looking fat women are cuddling a small baby. A laptop is on a countertop nearby, next to a feeding bottle. Small dialog is coming from the laptop, but no one’s paying it any attention.

CAPTION: Or the ex-fatso! This character supposedly used to be fat. But they’re played by a thin actor so fat jokes about them are okay. Like Will on “Will and Grace” or Monica on “Friends.”

LAPTOP: It’s a new band called “Will Is Fat.”


This panel shows two versions of Barry, with a lightning-bolt-shaped graphic dividing them. On the left, actual Barry, in a t-shirt that says “flashback,” is talking to us and snapping his fingers. On the right, imaginary thin Barry is smiling as he talks to us; his t-shirt says “present.”

FAT BARRY: ( Annoyingly, the “ex-fatso” trope supports the myth that any fat person could simply choose to become and remain thin. )

THIN BARRY: So easy!


A fat woman sits at a cafe table, with a coffee mug and book and muffin on the table. She’s got a drawing board propped up on the table, and is leaning forward as she draws, looking pleased with what she’s drawing. She has an undercut, many earrings and a nosering, and tattoos. She also has a cell phone propped up; dialog comes from the phone, but it’s small and she doesn’t seem to be paying it much attention.

PHONE: Thor, eat a salad!


A fat man sits in an armchair, watching TV. He has a old cowboy movie style of dress, with an embroidered shirt and sideburns. His cat has jumped into his lap and is cautiously stepping onto his stomach to sniff at his nose; he smiles at the cat.

TV: Look at my titties, Austin Powers.


We’re looking at a TV; a thermos is in front of the TV, and a sock is lying on top of the TV. On the TV, Barry is talking straight out at us, looking serious.

BARRY: If a real fat person played “Fat Bastard,” some (not all) viewers would have felt uncomfortable. That reminder that fat people are people could make things less fun.


All the previous rows had three panels each; this row has two panels, so panels 13 and 14 are a bit larger than previous panels have been.

We are looking at the inside of a dim movie theater, looking at a section of the audience. There are about a dozen people in this panel, all fat, all watching the movie – except for Barry, seating in the middle of the group, who is talking to us, and the woman seated to his left, who has turned to face Barry.

BARRY: But even when Hollywood doesn’t show us, we’re still here. In the audience. Being sneered at by proxy. Can’t the studios just skip the fat jokes altogether? And also, hire more fat act–



A well-lit, large office, with a large fancy-looking desk, and a big window overlooking a city. There are framed movie posters on the wall. An executive-looking man wearing a collared shirt and tie is sitting behind the desk, in a big leather-looking chair, and talking cheerfully into his phone. On his desk are a notebook (paper kind), an open laptop, a second phone, and a framed photo.

EXECUTIVE: Just a sec, gotta turn off some internet weirdo. So I got budget numbers on that fat suit comedy…


“Chicken fat” is a long-dead term for the little bits of unimportant but hopefully amusing things cartoonists stick in the backgrounds of their comics.

PANEL 1: There is a framed photo of Garnet, from the TV show “Steven Universe,” on the wall. On the sidetable is a magazine called “NO IDEAS MAGAZINE,” with a front cover photo of a stick figure man shrugging, and a coffee mug with “I’m actually a fork” printed on it.

PANEL 3: Barry’s tshirt says “allergic to sunshine.”

PANEL 4: Barry’s tshirt now has a picture of a very muscular arm flexing, above the large letters TOUGH GUY. If you zoom in, you can read the small letters, which make it say “not a TOUGH GUY you can easily take me down.”

PANEL 6: Homer’s t-shirt has a picture of Binky from “Life In Hell,” the comic strip Matt Groening did before he created The Simpsons.

PANEL 8: One woman’s arm has tattoos of two Steven Universe characters, Garnet and Pearl. The other woman has many visible tattoos, including a sort of demonic skeleton Micky Mouse, and a coffee mug saying “cofee = god.”

PANEL 10: The woman’s tattoos include a dancing banana and a ring of keys. The book on her table says, on the front cover, “A Book by an Author,” and on the spine it says “a Spine.”

PANEL 12: A book lying next to the TV has READ THIS written on the spine.

PANEL 13: In the audience, all the way at top left of the panel, is Uncle Iroh from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

PANEL 14: The movie posters on the wall are for the movies “MOVIE POSTER” and its sequel, “MOVIE POSTER 2.”

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