Cartoonist sets out to take taboo out of swastika

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Swastikas can be funny, insists American cartoonist Sam Gross, whose new book is devoted to cartoons featuring the controversial symbol most often associated with the German Nazi Party.

The swastika is the focus of the jokes in We Have Ways of Making You Laugh: 120 Funny Swastika Cartoons, the latest effort from the 74-year-old cartoonist best known for his drawings of talking cats, flying cows and snails falling in love with Scotch-tape dispensers.

The idea came to Gross 11 years ago during an evening news story about vandalism, Gross told CBC's Q radio program Thursday. The report was about a boy in suburban New York who was drawing the swastika symbol on garage doors. Gross said he didn't understand why the story made headline news.

"The symbol is held in such awe and terror. I just got so angry that I decided to have fun with it," he said.

The goal was both to take the power out of the swastika and also to be funny, he said.

One such example is a cartoon in which a dog says to a vandal who has just painted a swastika on a wall, "Try scent marking. It's nicer."

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