Thursday, October 8, 2015

Q Toon: Kim's Private Audience

While I was busy at my drawing board with last week's National Coming Out Day cartoon, a story leaked out that was a gay editorial cartoonist's dream topic. So, with apologies to editors of weeklies who would rather have seen this week's cartoon last week and vice versa:
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Oct 8, 2015

Liberals who have felt that Pope Francis was one of their own were dismayed when rumors began to emerge that Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis had taken time away from obstructing the duties of her office for a "private audience" with Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S. Could it be that this Pope, with all his talk of climate change, economic justice, and "Who am I to judge?" is but a cafeteria liberal?

First reports made it seem that Kim and Francis had met as the leaders of Roman Catholicism and American Apostolicism for intense discussions of strategic policy. We now know, of course, that Kim Davis's private meeting with Pope Francis was only private insofar as it was conducted indoors without a live broadcast feed. She met with the Pope along with a couple dozen other people who each had enough time to exchange "Hello, I'm so glad to meet you" greetings, arranged by some Vatican functionary in charge of deciding who the Pope gets to shake hands with.

We also know that Pope Francis did meet privately with a gay couple, half of whom was a student of his back home in Argentina -- a meeting which someone hastened to publicize after Davis started advertising her meeting of him. (And presumably, that someone was someone other than the functionary who invited Davis to that subsequent meet-and-greet.)

In the end, Kim Davis would probably have been better off wrangling an invitation to sit down with Robert Mugabe.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

This graph showed up on a friend's Facebook page after the Umpqua Community College shooting:

I can't tell you how relieved I am to learn that mass shootings are not a problem! So President Obama has had to find something to say to the nation about fifteen mass shootings during his presidency, and residents of our inner cities aren't safe from stray bullets from the street piercing their walls and children -- it's not as if murder is overtaking old age as a major cause of deaths in this country.

Although, perhaps, if gun murderers get on the ball and boost their numbers up to rival All Cancers Put Together, the murder rate will start to eat into the NRA's profit margin enough that even Jeb! Bush will begin to show some concern.

(Meanwhile, here are some statistics from The Guardian that won't fit in this blog post.)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Another Day in America

This week's Stepback Saturday is sparked by yet another episode of America's Well-Regulated Militia run amok.

I could start this review of my old cartoons of previous gun murders anywhere, but I'm going to start with this one from March, 1996.
The National Rifle Association and its stooges in all levels of government often respond to any call for gun control with the tiresome and disingenuous trope that if we'd only just enforce the gun control laws that we already have, yadda, yadda, yadda. What action they have taken, however, is to repeal as many of those already existing laws as they can, and to defund enforcement of the laws that remain.

In April, 1999, two well-regulated militia high school students tucked an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons under their trench coats and put Columbine High School on the map.

Mass shootings at the workplace were already old hat by this time. If a sentence includes the word "disgruntled," you can be sure that it also includes a body count.

Numbers of casualties alone should not be the only thing that shocks us. This cartoon from March, 2000 was occasioned by the shooting of a very young girl by a very young boy. I forget whether the lad knew he had a real, loaded gun or not. If this had been the only time such a tragedy had ever happened, I'm sure that you and I would both remember the details.

When I first decided upon the theme of this blog entry, I thought I might only have a few cartoons to choose from, since most of the cartoons I've drawn in the current millennium have been for the Milwaukee Business Journal and the gay press, and gun violence isn't a prominent issue for either of them. Since the Beej no longer wanted my cartoons by the time a neo-Nazi shot up the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek in 2012, I drew no cartoons on gun violence for them; but it turns out that I've drawn too many cartoons for Q Syndicate about gun fatalities to include all of them today.

The inspiration behind this cartoon was a widely published photo of a middle school student who was shot at his school; in the photo, he had a caterpillar in his hand.  If a fellow student had not decided that bringing a gun to school and shooting a classmate in the back of the head was the most appropriate response to unwanted advances, Lawrence King would be 22 now.

My intention was not to include the names of the gunmen in these incidents, but I can't avoid it in the case of a drifter who claimed that a lifetime of teasing over his last name was the reason that he sought out a crowded Roanoke, Virginia gay bar and started shooting.
I bring up this particular case in part because of the coincidence that a shooting 15 years later in Roanoke, on live television, seems to have inspired the Umpqua Community College shooter to aspire to the same sort of lasting infamy. Yet, unless you have some close connection to the Roanoke gay community, I'll bet you had totally forgotten all about Mr. Gay.

There was no LGBT connection to the mass shooting at the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre... least not for most of us. But some people are determined that guns have nothing to do with gun violence, and will blame anything, anything, ANYTHING else.

And the beat goes on.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Q Toon: Savings in the Costumes Budget

Occasionally, I like to draw something for National Coming Out Day, which is October 11. I haven't done an NCOD cartoon every year, because it's hard to avoid clich├ęs after a while. But every so often, there's something new in the culture that seems like a good fit for the topic.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
∇Oct 1, 2015

It's also an excuse this time around to draw some beefcake.

Every cartoon has to be set somewhere (unless there is so much dialogue that there is no room for background). I could have drawn these two at breakfast, or at a bar, or at work, on the subway, or bungee jumping off the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, and the basic idea of the cartoon would not have been greatly changed.

There used to be a cartoon strip in one of the local LGBT papers in which the characters were frequently at the beach, no matter what the topic of the week might be. I often got the impression that the cartoonist had a bunch of already-drawn strips of Guys In Speedos waiting for him to add dialogue once he had a humorous gag to add to one of them.

Some of this cartoonist's later strips appeared to have been drawn on napkins with felt tip pen, which suggested that either he was doodling at a bar somewhere, or that his strip really was not paying for itself.

Monday, September 28, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

The past several weeks, I've drawn nonagenarian military generals, homely registers of deeds, peeping Coach Toms, and an elephant chef. Every once in a while, however, I feel the need to draw something the "bar rags" that run my cartoon might appreciate. Something for those readers who pick up the issue for the photos.

At the risk of annoying the editors of publications that take their journalistic mission more seriously, here ya go.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

After M*A*S*H*, the Deluge

I failed to get a Sinkback Saturday post in yesterday; I had wanted to post a cartoon I'd drawn during Pope John Paul II's first visit to the United States, and a subsequent complaint about the cartoon, but I can't seem to find them.

So instead and a day late, here's a follow-up to last week's cartoon, from 1983.

The CBS comedy M*A*S*H* ran for eleven seasons -- almost three times as long as active hostilities in the Korean War on which it was based. And frankly, it had jumped the shark well beforehand, but was a top-rated program for its network.

I didn't get to see the final program when it originally aired. (I was acting in a local theatre production. The crew had it on a TV backstage, so I did catch a few moments of it; but for the whole show, I had to wait for the episode to be rerun at the end of the summer.) Like the series itself, the final episode dragged on too long, trying to give each of its major characters a Emmy-nomination-worthy send-off.

And there was, in fact, an attempt to squeeze more ratings success out of the expired franchise with the series After-M*A*S*H*, in which Col. Harry Potter, Father Mulcahy and Max Klinger went home to run a rural medical clinic, but that show didn't last long. CBS was already running Trapper John M.D., a medical drama with barely any real connection to M*A*S*H* at all but with a greater degree of success.

China Beach would eventually come along to satisfy the viewership for medical war television, but it wisely had no connection to M*A*S*H* whatsoever.