Tar Heel Ink


Tar Baby, published in 1917, was the first in a series of campus humor magazines. For the next several decades, other imprints devoted to humor came and went, although some would be revived for short periods of time after their initial runs. Many of the early comedic offerings were professionally printed on glossy, high-quality papers. Nevertheless, all eventually closed either due to student indifference or to community criticisms of their alleged risqué or low-brow content. After the demise of Tarnation in 1947, very few humor magazines survived past a few issues.

Bounce: Carolina’s Satirical Spin on the World, March, 2001

Debuting in March, 2001, Bounce is the most recent addition to the humor genre. In this first issue editors characterize Bounce as “a non-partisan humor magazine dedicated to amusing and enriching the UNC-Chapel Hill community with satirical commentary on current events, both on campus and around the globe . . . .” This issue contains features such as “Political Fun with Left and Right,” and “Top 6 Reasons to be Glad Student Elections Finally Ended.” Bounce is published six times a year.
Bounce Cover
The Carolina Buccaneer

The Buccaneer remains the longest-running of the humor magazines. Beginning publication in 1924, it contained jokes, cartoons, and advertisements. Each issue was devoted to a theme, for example, the “pirate’s issue,” the “football issue,” and the “commencement issue.” From its inception, the Buccaneer published slightly risque material, but by 1934 was considered by some a magazine of “dirty jokes.” Students and faculty repeatedly objected to the magazine’s content over the years, and the November 1939 issue was considered so offensive all copies were destroyed and the magazine was abolished.

Carolina Buccaneer Cover
The Worthless Gazette, June 24, 1966

The Worthless Gazette was published in the summer of 1966. Its editors professed their mission as taking on “grits, politicians, klansmen, presumptuous weenies—in short, EVERYBODY.” The magazine includes satires on other student publications and a cartoon serial about “Super Grit,” the “über-WASP of the South.”
Worthless Gazette Cover
Tarnation, 1947

Tarnation, which premiered in 1947, was published sporadically for seven years. An editorial in the first issue proclaimed that Tarnation would be more than just a humor magazine; it would contain “straight” articles as well. The magazine’s publishers also said they would abstain from printing dirty jokes or offensive covers in an effort not to fail as the Buccaneer had. Nevertheless, some readers roundly objected to Tarnation’s humor. The magazine struggled along until 1954, when it ceased publication due to lack of student interest.

Tarnation Cover
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