Monday, August 21, 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Comic Caper, Holiday Edition

For this Swipeback Saturday wallow down memory lane, I need to explain that when these next episodes of "The Funny Paper Caper" appeared in December and January of 1983-1984, Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" was in the middle of a 22-month hiatus. At the time, it wasn't clear whether the comic strip, having been moved to the editorial page of some newspapers, was going to come back.

Fed up with drawing all those soundproofing dimples in the wall of the interrogation room, I switched to one of Trudeau's tricks and set the next episode outside the building its characters were in. It was the last episode of the year, and ran on a little longer than the previous thirteen had. If you're not in the habit yet, you'll definitely want to Click To Embiggen.

In the new year, it became increasingly clear that I would need to move the plot along in order to complete the story by the end of the school year. Kind of like Davos rushing to fetch Gendry from King's Landing so they could join Jon Snow's Magnificent Seven racing north from Dragonstone to the Wall while, presumably, Daenerys, Cersei and the Dothraki paused to get their hair done.

A purely technical note here: in the Ranger's Christmas gift exchange, news editor Bob Kiesling gave me a Koh-i-noor rapidograph set, which I began using for some of the drawing of this strip in the new year. The technical pens produce a steady, uniform line in india ink, but they clog up and become useless if you're not assiduous about cleaning them. I did find them superior to felt-tip pens for lettering; but sometimes a uniform line is not what you want, so I have never given up on hawk and crow tip pens.

On the topic of moving the plot along, I gotta post some of these midweek, or I'll have to cancel some retrospectives of other people's work I've had planned. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Q Toon: Loaded Response

I settled down in front of my drawing board last weekend after one of those weeks when LGBTQ issues just seemed insignificant relative to all the other news.

The week started with Donald Joffrey Trump responding to North Korean threats of nuclear attacks against the U.S. with overheated "fire and fury" rhetoric of his own. Nuclear war seemed so likely that even Wall Street suddenly snapped out of its giddy response to Trump's lazy faire economic policies.

Then fascists wielding semi-automatic rifles, swastikas, Ku Klux Klan banners and tiki torches marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, where one of their number ran over a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19. Trump blurted out that "many sides, many sides" were responsible, driving the Korea story right off the front page (to the relief of Wall Street).

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Aug 17, 2017

After two days, Trump begrudgingly read a statement assigning blame to the Nazis and Klansmen, but then stunningly revoked that statement at an unhinged press conference the next day. Beggaring credulity, Trump insisted that some participants in the march organized by the website The Daily Stormer, the Neo-Confederate League of the South, the National Policy Institute, and the National Socialist Movement are actually "very fine people." Perhaps those people were only Nazi sympathizers.

Why would Trump leap to the defense of the indefensible?

With his approval ratings down to 33% of the electorate, Trump can't afford to piss off Nazis and the Klan. As the sane, reasonable portion of the minority of voters who elected him slowly develop buyer's remorse, Nazis, Klansmen and their ilk become an evermore significant part of Trump's remaining base.

He is losing support among previously sympathetic corporate and labor leaders. Led by Merck chief executive Ken Frazier,  eight members of Trump's Strategy & Policy Forum and his Manufacturing Council resigned from them over his inability to distinguish a moral difference between his fascist base and anti-fascist protesters; Trump then disbanded the councils before any more businessmen could defect.

At this point, however, not a single member of Trump's Evangelical Council has resigned. They have no problem associating themselves with a Nazi sympathizer sympathizer.


As long as I've brought up Bathroom Bills, let's pause for a moment to celebrate one gleam in the sh¡tstorm: the Texas legislature adjourned its special session without passing Senate Bill 6. A legislative priority for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and the theocratic right, the Texas Bathroom Bill was opposed by the Republican House Speaker Joe Straus, as well as by the Texas business community and the state's professional sports teams.


On Monday, I invited you to guess who that was kibitzing over my shoulder in this week's cartoon. For the answer, look through the list of keywords at the end of this post.

And should you wish to share or link directly to this week's cartoon, throw some traffic to the news outlets which run my cartoon. Try here, here, or here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Comic Caper, Chapter Drei

For this week's Sleuthback Saturday feature, I dredge up the November installments of a comic strip I drew for the UW-Parkside Ranger back in 1983-84. "The Funny Paper Caper" told the story of  the murder investigation of one Rufus T. Pornapple, who was also the victim of an unreported burglary, and romantically linked with more than one comic strip female. As we rejoin the story, the investigation turns to a little lady whose name was McGill, and who called herself Lil, but everyone knew her by another name.

One characteristic of "Nancy" in those days was that cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller avoided use of any and all punctuation, save for the occasional dash or unavoidable question mark. It may have been part of Bushmiller's minimalist approach to cartooning overall. He put nothing in the cartoon that wasn't essential to the gag du jour. I like Wally Wood's observation about the strip that "By the time you decided not to read it, you already had."

This tenth installment, however, requires considerably more commitment.

There's an inside joke in the first panel of strip #11. John Kovalic was a cartoonist colleague at the Ranger that year, drawing a comic strip which appeared just below mine every week. Carson the Muskrat in his current "Dork Tower" is a survivor of his earlier "Wild Life."
As promised earlier this week, Dick Tracy — er, Thelma — has entered the story line. After reading Tuesday's post here, Dave Brousseau reminded me that Dick Locher continued to script Dick Tracy's story line for two years after he stopped drawing the strip in 2009, which I did not explain on Tuesday. He also noted that there was talk on some message boards that perhaps Locher was still drawing some of the strip after 2009. I can't venture an opinion on that; there are signs of Parkinson's impairing his ability to draw in his late editorial cartoons, but comic strips such as Dick Tracy employ support staff (such as Locher himself, early in his career) to polish up, ink, and letter what may only be rudimentary sketches from the person whose name is attached to the cartoon.

You can compare, for example, the rough look of Doonesbury when Garry Trudeau was a student at Yale to its slick production values once the cartoon became a marketing juggernaut a few years later.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Q Toon: Soda Jerk

When I was drawing this cartoon this past Sunday, my chief concern was that before anyone would have a chance to read the cartoon, its subject, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, would become the latest Trump administration official to go down in history as having had the shortest tenure of anyone in his position.

By Tuesday, that concern was replaced by the prospect of nuclear war breaking out first.

I can't help but be distressed by Mr. Sessions's decree that his Justice Department will not defend the civil rights of LGBTQ citizens; but if Messrs. Trump and Kim goad each other into turning millions of human beings into radioactive ash, civil rights for anyone becomes a largely moot point.

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Aug 10, 2017

As for this cartoon, however, I made the conscious decision to keep most of the image in black-and-white, since I associate the pre-civil rights era with black-and-white photography. Googling and checking Time and Life coffee table books for images of Woolworth's lunch counters, my results were almost entirely limited to finding photos of sit-ins or empty counters. Several of the latter were color photos of counters now in museums or in long-closed Woolworth stores now converted to other purposes.

In no photo did I find Woolworth employees behind the counter.

Fifty years after the sit-ins, New Orleans Times-Picayune photographer Bill Minor explained why:
"The people working behind the counter at Woolworth's were afraid to serve anybody," Minor says. "They just let them sit there. They wouldn't serve them. That's what they were ordered to do--not serve any blacks."
It may soon be equally difficult to find photos of  Justice Department officials on the job.