Monday, August 3, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's cartoon involves some people sitting around a table, which means there must be backs of heads in the foreground.

That never happens on television, which is kind of a weird way to arrange things if you think too hard about it. Everybody sits on three sides of the table, even though they'd have more room if someone sat with his or her back to the camera.

I guess the other side of the table is up against the fourth wall.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sketches from a Photo Album

For Swooshback Saturday today, I beg your forgiveness for some purely personal nostalgia. (It's my birthday, and I'm ready to rechercher some temps perdu, if you don't mind.)

Looking for something else the other day, I came across these sketches I had done back in college of a few of my friends at the time. They are all drawn from photographs. Sort of.
Nancy V. and Lynn J., from a photo taken at an off-campus Hallowe'en party. Nancy came dressed as an elderly woman, and Lynn  dressed up all formal.

John S., from just hanging around. These drawings are in Bic ballpoint pen on one sheet of newsprint, which accounts for the color.

Eli H. In the original photograph, he was dancing at the Rueb 'n' Stein. It's possible that 131 was his room number.

My junior year roommate, Marc P. If I remember correctly, someone sitting to his right had just attacked his holdings in a game of Risk. We did have a flood in our dorm that year, but not in our room on the second floor.

Marc died the following summer, but the rest of these people are still very much with us.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Q Toon: Kenya Matata

President Obama visited Eastern Africa during this past week, and during a press conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, he was asked about gay rights, which very few African countries respect. He answered:
"If somebody is a law abiding citizen who is going about their business and working in a job and obeying the traffic signs and doing all the other things that good citizens are supposed to do, and not harming anybody, the idea that they are going to be treated differently or abused because of who they love is wrong. Full stop. ... When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they're doing anybody but because they're different, that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode and bad things happen."
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Jul 30, 2015

Under Kenyan law, sexual activity between men is illegal and may result in a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Kenyatta, described by Politico as "clearly uncomfortable, fidgeting at the podium,"  dismissed the topic entirely: "The issue of gay rights is a non-issue."

Given recent events in marriage equality in the United States and the horrible record in many African countries on LGBT rights, that the topic would come up during President Obama's visit was widely anticipated. A planned naked protest against Obama for his pro-gay stand had been canceled hours before his visit. Organizers claimed that 3,600 had signed up to participate in the protest before some unidentified 2:00 in the morning caller persuaded them to cancel.

One shudders to imagine such a protest in this country. I don't want to see thousands of naked Kentucky county clerks, Alabama judges, Mississippi cake bakers, Arkansas florists, Texas legislators, Scott Lively, Franklin Graham and Maggie Gallagher flapping and flopping their way up Pennsylvania Avenue, do you?

Monday, July 27, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

We have declared a mostly Donald-Free zone in the editorial cartoon scheduled for release later this week.

Although I do wonder when, if ever, the Donald has driven on Wisconsin roads.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Postwar World: Women's Fashion

Welcome to another Stickleback Saturday episode of A Bird's-Eye View of the Postwar World!  We had recently been perusing the cartoons in this 1944 pamphlet which concern how the end of the war would affect the fairer sex, and there is one cartoon that recognizes the Women's Army Corps:

Cartoonist Harvey Johnson's returning WAC may not have made entirely practical clothing choices, but sometimes you really gotta cut loose. Footloose. Kick off your army boots.

This next woman, however, is looking into something exceedingly practical, as long as she doesn't live in, say, Arizona.

I think this is another cartoon by Fritz Wilkinson -- the signature is difficult to make out, but the technique of using swaths of benday wash in the background matches some of the other cartoons with neater penmanship.

Here's another Wilkinson cartoon, just because.

Friday, July 24, 2015

100 Years Ago Today: the Eastland

100 years ago today, the tourist steamship Eastland capsized and sank in the Chicago River, killing 844 passengers and four members of the crew.

Originally designed in 1903 to hold 650 passengers, the ship was retrofitted in 1913 with the aim of increasing its capacity to 2,500. It had a history of listing due to its top-heavy design, dating back to its first year.

On the morning of July 24, 1915, some 7,300 employees of Western Electric Company gathered at the dock between LaSalle and Clark streets to be carried out to an annual company picnic in Michigan City, Indiana by the Eastland and four other steamers. Some reports suggest that more than 2,500 people boarded the Eastland; there are also stories that the crowd tipped the boat off balance by gathering on the port side of the boat to pose for a photographer. What is known as fact is that engineer Joseph Erikson opened one of the ballast tanks, releasing water within the boat meant to stabilize the ship. The Eastland capsized moments after leaving the dock.

Ironically, the weight of the lifeboats added to the Eastland as a result of the U.S. Seaman's Act, passed after the Titanic disaster three years earlier, contributed to the instability of the ship.

A nearby vessel, the Kenosha, came alongside the hull to allow those stranded on the capsized vessel to leap to safety. But hundreds were trapped below decks, some crushed by pianos, bookcases, and other furniture. Many of the dead would be taken to the 2nd Regiment Armory (there are stories that they continue to haunt the building, later used as Harpo Studios by the Oprah Winfrey Show, but I've never heard that any of them made an on-camera appearance). 

The Eastland itself would be salvaged, renamed The Wilmette, and put into military service as a gunboat in World War I. It was scrapped after World War II.

The last known survivor of the capsizing was Marion Eicholz, who died on November 24, 2014, at the age of 102.

Chicago Tribune accounts, photographs, and a couple John T. McCutcheon cartoons are on the Chicagology page here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Q Toon: The Eyes of Texas

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that he wants to see the elimination of current restrictions against transgendered troops serving in the U.S. military. Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson is leading the group working on the practicalities and logistics of the policy change.
“At my direction," Carter said, "the working group will start with the presumption that transgender persons can serve openly without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”
I expected the Republican Party to jump immediately into its standard Argument Clinic mode, but astonishingly, not all the response has been negative. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, for example, told Yahoo! News that “ …if you can accommodate people who are transgendered and deal with making sure the military’s comfortable with this and making sure that the overriding principle ought to be how do we create the highest morale for the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen … and if you can accommodate those two concerns, then fine.”

That measured reaction must be why he's running well behind Donald Trump.

The reaction of the red state, Knee-jerk Party of No, confederate flag-waving, Tea Partisan, Obama-hatin', God-Guns-and-Not-Necessarily-In-That-Order crowd is probably something more like this:

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jul 23, 2015

If not, it probably will be soon, now that I've put this idea out on the internets for them.
If you're still puzzled by Texans' sudden suspicion of the United States military, this Gromer Jeffers column in the Dallas Morning News attempts to explain it.