Thursday, May 5, 2016

Q Toon: In the Flesh

This Sunday, Ted Cruz spoke up in support of North Carolina's HB2 and other "Bathroom Bills" on NBC's Face the Nation and Today Show.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate

It didn't help him in the Indiana primary, in a state which has already gone around the track on LGBT rights issues.

Well, I for one am glad that Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is down the toilet.

In February, I drew a cartoon portraying A Voice From Above holding Cruz as the only but worse alternative to Donald Trump, only to have Cruz fall to third place in New Hampshire behind the Great White Bread Hope, John Kasich. I drew this week's cartoon over the weekend only to have Lucifer in the Flesh drop out of the race before any of my weekly papers could hit the newsstand.

Now he has to go back to the U.S. Senate, where nothing ever happens ... except ... at ... a ... glacial ... pace.

Plenty of time for my next cartoon about him to get from inkwell to recycling bin.

Monday, May 2, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

I'm back in the bathroom again,
Making sure men there are men.
And each woman's toilet tank
Is sanitized and sacrosanct.
Back in the bathroom again...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Shrinking News Hole

Yesterday, I mentioned that newspapers today are smaller than the ones of 100 years ago. I didn't mean in terms of page numbers, but of page size. So by way of illustration, here are a copy of the Milwaukee Journal from 1937 and a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from this year, photographed side by side:
Now you know why the words in those cartoons were so damned small.

Next time I try to post 100-year-old Sunday comics on the web, I promise to post them in smaller chunks.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

100 Years Ago in the Funnies

After so many installments of war and turmoil, Slapstickback Saturday this week takes a lighter look back at the papers 100 years ago today by turning to the Chicago Sunday Tribune funny pages.
I must apologize, however, for the casual racism running rampant in the cartoons of the day.

We start with "Hans und Fritz," one of the iterations of Rudolph Dirks's Katzenjammer Kids strip. In the April 30, 1916 episode, the captain essays to deliver a chimpanzee to the "cannibal chief" by motorcycle. "I take him der chimp for a present, und dot's der finish of der monkeyshines," he exposits. "Maybe der chief von't know vitch is vitch," chortles Hans. Or Fritz. I don't know which is which, either.

Dirks was 7 when his family emigrated from Heide, Germany to Chicago; in the 1890s, he moved to New York to begin drawing "The Katzenjammer Kids" for the Hearst's New York Journal (soon followed by his younger brother and fellow cartoonist, Gus). He parted company with the Journal over his request to take a year off to travel to Europe with his wife. Hired by Pulitzer's New York World, Dirks had to go to court to win the right to continue drawing his characters under the new title here.

"Hans und Fritz" would soon be renamed "The Captain and the Kids" as America entered the war and things German weren't considered so funny.

Dirks is credited with one of the innovations in the above strip that you may not even have noticed: the lines behind a moving object to indicate speed.

I know next to nothing about Penny Ross and her cartoon, "Mama's Angel Child." Gus the chauffeur credits axle grease as the hair tonic that gave him his long locks. Hilarity ensues.

You will notice that each of these cartoons fills a full page in the Sunday color funnies section. Mind you, those pages were a good deal larger those of than any newspaper you'll find on the newsstand today; broadsheets shrank during the shortages of World War II, again in the 1970's, and even further in the 21st Century.

"Bobby Make-Believe" was drawn by Tribune cartoonist Frank O. King. Current events intrude on the funny pages yet again with Bobby's fantasy of fighting off marauding Mexicans.

King came to the Tribune in 1909 from the Minneapolis Times, drawing a series of short-lived strips including "Bobby Make-Believe." The premise and pacing take their cues from Winsor McKay's "Little Nemo in Slumberland," but are more down-to-earth than McKay's wild flights of hallucinogenic fancy.

In addition to "Bobby Make-Believe," King was drawing another full-page cartoon for the Sunday Tribune at this point, "The Rectangle," a black-and-white collage of cartoons connected only by a common theme. In 1918, the collage included the first installment of "Gasoline Alley," which would go on to be a multi-generational saga and King's claim to greatness in the comic strip pantheon.

Finally, "Old Doc Yak" by Sidney Smith, starring a talking goat, is based on a character Smith had created for the Chicago Evening Journal from 1908 to 1911. In this episode, Smith employs Frank King's speed lines as Yak pursues a speeding motorist.

In the last weekday episode of "Old Doc Yak" on February 10, 1917, Doc Yak and his family moved out of their home, wondering who would live there after them. Smith answered the question on February 12, as Andy and Min Gump moved in to stay for the next 42 years. "Old Doc Yak" continued only on Sundays until June 22, 1919; in his final appearance, Yak sold his car to the Gumps, and with it his page in the Sunday funnies.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Empire Strikes Back

I usually save this sort of thing for Saturday, but I have something else planned for tomorrow.
The Advocate, April 29, 1916
I did want to follow up on last week's Slainteback Sathairn, however, and today is the centennial of the quashing of the Easter Rising in Ireland. Above is the front page of the April 29, 1916 Advocate, a weekly newspaper of the Irish in New York City, still reporting "Rebellion Spreading in Ireland."
The Chicago Daily Tribune, April 27, 1916
In keeping with this blog's gay slant, here's the LGBT connection with the Easter Rising. Sir Roger Casement, an Irish sympathizer, was captured by British forces during the failed attempt to ship guns from Germany to the Irish rebels.

Casement had worked with Henry Stanley (the guy famous for saying "Dr. Livingston, I presume") in the Congo (Zaire). He documented human rights abuses, up to and including murder, by the private army created in the Congo by Belgian King Leopold II to force the locals to work in the King's rubber plantations. He investigated similar abuses in Peru of the Putumayo Indians, and was knighted by the British crown in 1911 for his efforts.

Retiring from the British consular service in 1913, Casement was a founder of the Irish Volunteers, and met with German diplomats at the outbreak of World War I to funnel German arms to Ireland. 900 Mauser rifles made it to the rebels in July, 1914, but the British were able to intercept the April, 1916 shipment and sink the ship.

Suffering from malaria, a disease he was never able to completely shake from his days in the Congo, Casement was arrested in County Kerry and imprisoned in the Tower of London. A petition urging clemency was circulated by such luminaries of the time as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Bernard Shaw; to counter this, the British released Casement's "Black Diaries," detailing a series of sexual encounters with young men in 1903, 1910 and 1911.

Whether genuine or forged, the Black Diaries essentially quashed support for Casement among Irish and American Catholics. Casement was convicted of treason, stripped of his knighthood, and hanged on August 3, 1916. Ireland now has a military airfield named in Casement's honor, even though he wouldn't have been allowed to march in the Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick's Day Parade until very recently.

The Duluth Herald, April 29, 1916
In closing, here's the May 5 edition of The Advocate. You can embiggen these images all you want, but the resolution of my original source wasn't good enough to read the copy anyway.
The Advocate, May 5, 1916

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Q Toon: Goodnight, Sweet Prince

I'm a little late to the Prince Tribute Cartoon Wake, but it was about time I drew something that didn't have anything to do with North Carolina's bathroom bill.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Apr 28, 2016

Prince had, shall we say, a complicated relationship with the LGBT community. He sang, "Am I black or white? Am I straight or gay?" and "I’m not a woman, I’m not a man; I am something that you’ll never understand."  He rejected stereotypical cisgender norms, performing in androgynous but highly sexual outfits, eyeliner and blush.  Becoming for a time The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, he created as his identity "Love Symbol #2," Prince logo.svg, an amalgam of the male and female symbols with a horn through it. It all made him an inspiration to queer Black Americans who didn't identify with the White American depictions of what it means to be something other than straight.

Nevertheless, Prince was most definitely and openly 100% heterosexual. If you bought "If I Was Your Girlfriend" expecting it to be some kind of anthem for Queer Nation, that's not what you got.

Did he oppose marriage equality? Maybe yes. Maybe no.

So I guess what I'm getting at with this cartoon is the enigma that was Mr. Nelson, Prince, Prince logo.svg, Camille, Joey Coco, or Alexander Nevermind, however you thought you knew him. "I am something that you'll never understand," indeed. He made a whole movie about "Purple Rain" that runs nearly two hours; and yet does anybody know what that really means?

At least it provided that basis for half of the Prince tribute cartoons out there, my own included. The other half, of course, drew crying doves.

Sure, I'd have liked to avoid referencing the same song as so many others, but I didn't find any hook out of my favorite Prince tune, "Mountains," which wasn't popular enough to be easily recognized, anyway. A cartoonist friend of mine derided one outlier, Henry Payne's cartoon showing a little red Corvette zooming through the Pearly Gates; but heck, Payne not only draws for the Detroit News, he's their Auto Critic. He takes any opportunity to draw cars in his toons. And I give him props for not referring to the same two songs the rest of us used.

Now, if the persistent rumors that pain killers were involved in Prince's death, we can all crank out cartoons quoting "I Would Die 4 U."
Prince logo.svg
P.S.: If you want to get snooty about this stuff, I'm seriously not getting the purpose of Gary Markstein's, um, cartoon? here... I mean, a collage of celebrity tweets? What even qualifies that as a cartoon at all? How do you justify slapping a copyright notice on that? Do you know how many ideas I've rejected on this topic alone because I saw someone else post them on the internet before I could draw them?