Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This Week's Toon: Frank Kameny

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 19, 2011

Readers, the conventional wisdom goes, love cartoons memorializing the recently deceased. Editorial cartoonists, by and large, hate them.

Sure, there are cartoonists like Mark Streeter of the Savannah Morning News who draw obituary cartoons at the drop of a hat. But most cartoonists draw them begrudgingly, usually cranking out a cartoon of a single tear dropping from some object or logo associated with the dead person. Or St. Peter greeting the late lamented at the Pearly Gates with some catch phrase associated with the stiff -- even if the deceased was not a Christian.

(I heard objections to a cartoon I drew after the death of Meir Kahane that showed him storming away from the Pearly Gates upon finding that Palestinians were allowed in. On the one hand, I'm told that there is no Jewish concept of heaven; but on the other hand, where did Jesus come up with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus if the idea of someplace nice where Lazarus ends up were alien to his audience? How do you draw being in the bosom of Abraham?)

Matt Bors has drawn a cartoon mocking the obituary cartoons for Buddhist Steve Jobs which depicted him at heaven's gate. In coming up with a more Buddhist concept of the afterlife, it ends up being less that respectful of the dead, but cartoonists love this cartoon.

This is the second obituary cartoon I've drawn this year (the first being for Liz Taylor); in these cases and several others, I've let the deceased speak for him or herself. This quotation is from a 1965 essay by Frank Kameny titled "Does Research into Homosexuality Matter?" If you are interested in reading the quotation in context, you can find it in We Are Everywhere: A Historical Source Book in Gay and Lesbian Politics.

P.S.: Yes, Mr. Kameny came up with the "Gay Is Good" motto years after he picketed the White House. His picket that day was nowhere near as pithy.

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