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Note: Bad Cartoon. It's one of those things that makes BW .... well, BW.

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In addition to our serious side, which we employ for breaking news at boiseweekly.com, in-depth reports on gritty stuff like the current state of HIV/AIDS cases in Idaho, and the occasional finger wagging at other media outlets, we believe it's important to have a lighter side. Our weekly cartoons help us embrace that side and, in keeping with being the most unique and community-focused game in town, the majority of our cartoons are from local artists.

But even those cartoons have a bit of serious in them. Mike Flinn's weekly pictorial editorial puts his acerbic wit to the test every seven days in "Mondo Gaga," which has been a reader favorite since it first started running in Boise Weekly. He takes the serious stuff, puts his Flinn spin on it and puts it back out as a sort of enlightening rearrangement of the world.

Flip to the Arts and Entertainment section of Boise Weekly and you'll find the wildly popular "Mild Abandon." People who don't know E.J. Pettinger always seem so surprised to find out he's a Boise guy. Yes, that biting yet mundane take on life is homegrown. It's also award-winning and featured in alt weeklies across the country.

Somewhere near "Mild Abandon" each week, you'll find "Eye-Spy," the not-so-award-winning-but-often-pee-your-pants-funny visual rendering of the city's eavesdropping skills. "Eye-Spy" is for those moments when the cell phone yapper in front of you in the coffee-shop line says something so outrageous you just have to share it with Boise Weekly readers everywhere. E-mail your one-liner to leila@boiseweekly.com, and we'll pair it up with a ridiculous clip art snippet.

But back to award-winning. This week, we add a new toon to the lineup: "Dude Howdy." It's been eight years since the first Bad Cartoon contest, and we still don't have the answer to the question most often asked: is Bad Cartoon bad? Or is it good? Or is it so bad it's good? Or is it bad like Michael Jackson bad? The answer, we think, is a resounding yes to all of those questions, but you, readers, will have 52 weeks to size up "Dude Howdy" and decide for yourself.

Thanks to Jacob Good and Daria Kanevski, who were last year's winners and whose "Sockratic Method" delivers its swan song in this issue. Keep it bad, kids. To have a look at their replacement, turn to Page 13 to get the rundown on this year's winner and many of the almost-winners.

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