Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Headlines

Newsmagazines have made further inroads into this year's edition of my annual photograph of newspaper headlines.

While I've always had a row of magazines along the top, and have occasionally filled in the sides of the photo with magazines as well, there were some stories this year that just didn't make big headlines in my neck of the woods: easing of military dictatorship in Myanmar, for example, or election of a new leader in China.

And my hometown newspaper doesn't appear at all; the Racine Journal Times increasingly highlights local stories atop page one. And while they did scoop the Kenosha News by a day on Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, the JT had to cram the story in as a two-column story on the edge of the page -- hardly legible in photos such as this one.

It's hard enough to read the Financial Times banner headline about François Hollande's election in France. That story didn't get as prominent play in the other newspapers available in my area, however. I remember buying this particular paper at the local Barnes & Noble; the cashier remarked that it was the first copy of the Financial Times she had ever seen anyone buy there.

Last Sneak Peek of the Year


In case we don't see each other again before the ball drops in Times Square, I'd just like to thank my readers for following -- or at least checking in with -- me during 2012. Thank you, also, to my editors, and to the publications around the country that run my cartoons.

Best wishes to you all for peace, joy and laughter in 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rememberin' Stormin' Norman

General Norman Schwarzkopf passed away yesterday at the age of 78.

He was such an imposing figure during the First Gulf War (Gulf War I, I suppose) it is hard to believe that the generation who currently make up the bulk of our armed forces would have no real memory of him, but that was 22 years ago now. He was briefly an analyst for NBC news, but retired from that position as well.

By 2004, he had his doubts about Gulf War II, criticizing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and civilians in the Defense Department who "showed a total lack of understanding of the culture that we were dealing with" in Iraq.

As a veteran of America's war in Vietnam, I imagine he nevertheless decided that the troops could do without his criticism of the war, and he maintained a low profile during the rest of the war.

Back during Gulf War I, the media chafed at being kept away from the war -- another reaction by military brass with bad memories of how news media covered Vietnam from the field. Schwarzkopf became famous for his news briefings in which the media were treated to military film of how the war was going:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Q Toon: Condemned to Repeat It

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
 ‡ Dec 26, 2012
Senator Lindsey Graham appeared with Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman on CNN earlier this month, and program host Piers Morgan brought up the topic of marriage equality. After Graham had stated that South Carolina would never vote for marriage equality, the other two senators couched the issue in the question of states' rights to define marriage for themselves.

Morgan then suggested that it wasn't fair that a couple could be legally married in New York but not in South Carolina. I've twisted Senator Graham's words in the cartoon, so here's his original reply:
"Can — can I suggest this? Slavery was outlawed by a Constitutional amendment. Go watch 'Lincoln,' a great movie. The people decided. The question for us is who should decide these things? Should it be a handful of judges or should it be the people themselves? And I come out on the side of the people themselves. Different people will look at it differently. But slavery was outlawed by a Constitutional amendment. If you want to propose a Constitutional amendment legalizing same-sex marriage and it passes, that’s the law of the land."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sneak Peek for the Holidays


Because of holiday schedules, I actually had to draw this week's cartoon last week. That may or may not be a sufficient clue to the mystery of who this subject of the cartoon might possibly be.

For the answer, tune in at the same bat time, same bat channel.

Meanwhile, merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Q Toon: AP Style

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
•Dec 19, 2012
Last month, the Associated Press announced that it would no longer use the word "homophobia" in news articles. Contrary to my cartoon, the alternative verbiage is reportedly "antigay," which no doubt upsets those lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons who feel left out by the word "gay" because they believe that "gay" refers exclusively to gay men.

On the other hand, congratulations to all you lesbian, bisexual and transgendered purists. With the end of "homophobia," you're now universally accepted and respected!

Of course, one could argue that "homophobia" excluded bisexuals and the transgendered, too. But the problem, according to the AP, was not the "homo" but the "phobia" in the word.
AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told Politico that “homophobia” is often “off the mark” as a descriptor. “It's ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don't have,” Minthorn said.
While "antigay" may serve as an adequate alternative to the adjective "homophobic," it doesn't quite do the job of replacing the noun "homophobia," however. When Ricky Martin spoke at a recent U.N. conference against homophobia, the AP reported it as such. That is what the conference was called, after all; how could the AP have reported it as a conference on antigaiety?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Further Apologies

Andrew Wheeler over at Editorial Explanations thought that my cartoon this week was "the most egregious example ever of 'two things make a cartoon."

Well, I never. In the first place, two things always make a cartoon. In the second place, I gave you at least nine things, which ought to count for something.

It's not as if describing as "a Christmas present" a Supreme Court decision whether or not to take a case was a strikingly original thought of mine -- so I guess I should have included the San Francisco Examiner, and NUVO, among others, in my list of apologies in the corner of the cartoon.

A 1994 Christmastime cartoon of mine.
In it, Governor Tommy Thompson was demoted from
having been the Grinch in a cartoon requested by
another editor a few years earlier.
As I noted in a reply on Wheeler's blog, editorial cartoonists are contractually obligated to draw Christmas-themed cartoons in December, whether we want to or not. Usually, that means portraying politicians we don't like as Ebeneezer Scrooge or the Grinch (even when they're not being miserly); sending the three wise men out in search of whatever goals seem illusive at the moment (or whatever is bright and shiny at the moment); planting anybody with a wish list on Santa's lap; or placing goodies under Christmas trees. Conservatives have enjoyed drawing President Obama as Santa dispensing "free stuff" to undeserving 47 percenters ever since being let down by Fox News's predictions of a Romney landslide. You're bound to see a coal-in-the-stocking cartoon somewhere before Christmas Day dawns.

Well, Merry Christmas, anyway. Because of my editors' schedules, I'm not likely to draw any more Christmas-themed cartoons this year. In fact, I'm frantically trying to come up with a couple of ideas before Christmas for release in January (just in case the Mayans were wrong).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Keeping Christ Out of Advent

There is a Christian tradition of not adding the baby Jesus to the family manger display until Christmas day arrives. It helps make the Big Day all the more special, but the way most manger sets are designed, the result looks a little ... odd.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Q Toon: The Christmas Court

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
 ‡Dec 12, 2012
It's customary among editorial cartoonists when stealing borrowing other cartoonists' creations to credit the other cartoonists with "apologies to..." or a similar note. We're not usually so assiduous about apologizing to film makers or 19th Century authors -- think of any of the myriad cartoons that use whatever current movie is out to draw some parallel to political or social events (my own from last week, for example). But it would have seemed discriminatory to have left Charles Dickens and Frank Capra out of this week's credits, so in they go.

Besides, I wasn't confident that everyone would recognize Mr. Potter.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

It looks like this week's cartoon may be an indication that we watch too much Turner Classic Movies channel in our house and not enough News.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

RIP Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck on piano in "You Are My Rock and My Strength" with the Russian National Orchestra and the Yurlov Russian State Academic Choir in Moscow, December 1997.

(Bobby Militello on sax, Jack Six on bass and drummer Randy Jones. Conducted by Russell Gloyd. Soprano Maria Maskhulia, tenor Mark Bleeke and bass-baritone Kevin Deas.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Q Toon: The Life of Lambda

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
•Dec 5, 2012
Drawing this cartoon, it occurred to me that there are such things as Siberian tigers, so I could have put tigers in both boats. I stayed with my original idea of using a bear, which is, after all, the cartoon shorthand for Russia.

And in trying to find a picture of a tiger from the angle I wanted, I was somewhat surprised to learn that there is no real difference between African tigers and Bengal tigers. I guess I had assumed that, as with elephants, there would be something to distinguish one from the other -- more stripes, a longer snout, tufted ears, or that sort of thing.

I did squeeze in one change along the way. The original proposal to my editors called for the word "death" to be crossed out on the tiger's label, with "life in prison" squeezed in, due to claims by the Ugandan bill's sponsors that the death penalty has been removed from it. More recent reports, however, are that the death penalty remains in the bill, so I shoehorned "death" back into the label.
"The only version of the bill that is public today still includes the death penalty provision for 'aggravated homosexuality'" said Kasha Jacqueline, Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG). "We know that the bill still refers to death, contrary to what the media [are] saying."
The Russian bill doesn't include a death penalty, but the proposed ban on "homosexual propaganda" recalls the Soviet-era ban on homosexuality:
Igor Kochetkov, head of the LGBT Network, a Russian gay rights group, [said,] "It's a strange coincidence that this law will be looked at on 19 December, and on 17 December 1933, the Soviet authorities made sexual relations between men illegal. They argued that gays were alien to Soviet society. Now and then, we hear the same rhetoric."
_____
Update: It  has been brought to my attention that tigers are not native to Africa at all. Which would explain why there wouldn't be any way to distinguish between African and Bengal tigers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Q Toon: World AIDS Day

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
•Nov 28, 2012
I'm taking a serious turn with this week's cartoon, and a somewhat less colorful one.

My decision to colorize only the red ribbon may have been influenced by having been at my drawing board until 1:00 a.m. inking in all those itty bitty people in the lower half of the cartoon..

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just for the holiday, here's an old Thanksgiving-themed cartoon from 2003:

Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Q Toon: Beefcake for Thanksgiving

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Nov 21, 2012
We pause one moment before the Thanksgiving holiday, the fiscal cliff, and the next round of Israeli-Palestinian bombings to wring one more drop of prurience out of l'Affaire David Petraeus.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. Unless you're forcing your minimal wage employees to spend the holiday stocking shelves and ringing up sales. Then I hope your Thanksgiving sucks even more than theirs.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What the Deuce, Holmes!

Well, now I don't know what to make of what I'm finding and not finding in Google's postings from The Strand Magazine.

That series of articles by Thomas E. Curtis on American cartoonists to which I linked in the March, 1903 issue last night?



 The same series appears begins in the March, 1902 issue as well: 
Note the difference in that introductory note about previous articles in the series; furthermore, three paragraphs have been added in the later edition prior to the introduction of Frank Opper, whose cartoons appear on these pages.

Obviously, these are from different strands of The Strand Magazine -- the British edition and the American edition, perhaps. So it is entirely possible that the nine pages of The Strand Magazine in the possession of Gus Frederick are indeed from the November, 1902 issue, even if Google's posting of the very same magazine doesn't include those pages.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Sneak Peek, and Still Looking

Well, okay, this week's sneak peek is rather disturbing.

÷ ÷ ÷
I'm still hunting for that The Strand Magazine article about American editorial cartoonists.

What I wasn't considering at the time I wrote last Wednesday's entry was that while "THE STRAND MAGAZINE" is plainly printed at the top of every other page, the date of the issue appears only on the front cover and on the title page. That opens up the possibility that those nine pages of The Strand Magazine which Gus Frederick bought on Ebay are indeed from The Strand Magazine, but perhaps just not the November, 1902 issue.

The article includes mention of German Prince Henry's visit to the United States, which did take place in 1902; therefore the article has to be from 1902 or later. R.C. Bowman died in 1903, and the article makes no mention of that, so it can't be much later than that year.

Google's scan of Volume 25 of The Strand Magazine (the first half of 1903) is missing the issue for January, as well as the index for the volume. In March, April, and May, there is a series by Thomas E. Curtis on "Some American Humorous Artists"  (not, I notice, Humourous ones), at the beginning of which
"Attention is drawn to the fact that the present series of articles on the Humorous Artists of the World have already dealt with German artists in May, 1901; with those of France in January, 1902; with those of England in February, 1902; with those of Australasia in July, 1902; and those of Holland in August, 1902."
There is also an interesting article in the May, 1903 issue on "England and America, as Illustrated by Punch," showing political cartoons about Anglo-American relations in the British publication from 1842 to 1902. In the examples below from 1861, the U.S. is represented by "Brother Jonathan," a predecessor of Uncle Sam.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Q Toon: A Totally Gay Election

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
÷Nov 14, 2012
2012 will go down in history as the first year that voters approved marriage equality.

Different-sex marriage remains the law in Minnesota; but voters in Washington and Maryland approved prior action of their legislatures in favor of marriage equality, and voters in Maine overturned a previous referendum restricting marriage to straight couples. (And voters in Iowa rebuffed an effort to unseat a fourth justice of their Supreme Court who had ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2009.)

The six congressional candidates alluded to in this cartoon are incumbents Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), and newly elected candidates Mark Pocan (D-WI), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Mark Takano (D-WA), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The lone gay candidate to lose last Tuesday was Republican Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost to incumbent John Tierney (D-MA).

I went somewhat out on a limb by including Sinema in that list when I drew the cartoon on Sunday night. That race wasn't called in her favor until Tuesday. She will be the first openly bisexual member of Congress, and possibly its second out atheist.

And I'm particularly proud that my home state elected Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate. I'll admit that I occasionally had some doubts that Wisconsin would elect as Senator one of the most liberal members of the House (and I was not alone here) after making such a sharp turn to the right in 2010 and 2011. But, the unrelieved nastiness from all advertising comers in the fall notwithstanding, she did a great job of introducing herself to the voters while Tommy Thompson and his Republican rivals were busy attacking each other in the spring and summer.

÷ ÷ ÷
Regarding Saturday's blog entry about in the Strand Magazine, I've been trying to find the next article in Arthur Lord's series on American editorial cartoonists in 1902, so far without success. In fact, I have been unable to find Mr. Lord's article in Google's on-line digitization of the October, 1902 edition of Strand Magazine in which it is supposed to have appeared.

What Mr. Gus Frederick says on his Homer Davenport site is: "Through Ebay, I recently obtained a selection of nine original pages from the October, 1902 number of The Strand Magazine from London. This was an article entitled The American Cartoonist and His Work by Arthur Lord and featured short bios and examples of four 'famous' cartoonists of the day."

Mr. Frederick posted an Optical Character Recognition rendition of the text and illustrations rather than images of those nine pages, so we can't confirm that they have "The Strand Magazine" in the top margin of alternate pages, as the magazine would have had. I have so far found no reference to anyone in the U.S. or Canada having started up a "Strand Magazine" stateside, or that there was a separate North American edition of the London publication. (Perhaps in London, Ontario?)

One reason I suspect that the publication is American is the lack of any British condescension toward the New World cartoonists or the U.S. press. When Ohio Senator Mark Hanna is first mentioned in the article, it is by his last name alone, indicating that the author expected all of his readers to know who "Hanna" was. It's a reasonable assumption that American readers would recognize "Hanna" as the Karl Rove of William McKinley's presidency, but would British readers?

Mr. Frederick notes the British spellings -- "draughtsman," rather than "draftsman"; "abhour" instead of "abhor" -- and florid language of the article, but that doesn't guarantee that the pages were published in London. "American" spelling was not universally accepted in in this country in 1902. American spelling dates back at least as far as Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary, but there were resistance and ridicule when Teddy Roosevelt proposed making "simplified spelling" official in 1906.

My first thought was that the pages might be from another publication. I thought of Public Opinion, which was fond of printing editorial cartoons; but it was published weekly, not monthly, and doesn't appear to have attached bylines to its feature articles. It seems unlikely that Puck would have profiled a cartoonist from the competing Harper's Weekly while ignoring its own remarkable cartoonists. Harper's Weekly, of course, was published weekly; and, like any other magazine of its day, put its own name on the top of every page.

I'll keep looking.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Strand Magazine: The American Cartoonist

Gus Frederick, whose blog is the [Homer] Davenport Project , discovered my site while researching turn-of-the-century editorial cartoonist Rowland Claude Bowman because of a write-up in the October, 1902 edition of Strand Magazine: "The American Cartoonist and His Work" by Arthur Lord. The article profiles the New York Journal's Homer Davenport, Harpers Weekly's W. A. Rogers, and the Chicago Tribune's John T. McCutcheon, in addition to R. C. Bowman of the Minneapolis Tribune.
"Where Davenport, in short, would make an enemy, Bowman would make a friend, so great is the difference in the styles of the two men. Bowman is a careful student of politics, and his picture editorials always present a strong argument. He possesses a rare originality and spontaneous humour, and that his drawings are well thought out is proved by their simplicity in detail. ... Bowman is a humorist and not a satirist, and has attained his success through close adherence to well-defined principles of directness, simplicity, and gentleness. The Tribune reader opens his paper with the knowledge that he is going to get a laugh, and the man made fun of may open his copy with the knowledge that he is not going to squirm."
The Strand article includes three more samples of Bowman's cartoons (I suspect they are details of portions of cartoons, however). The article appears to be one of a series, insofar as it promises more about Bart Bartholomew of the Minneapolis Journal in the next issue.

And, as long as I'm on the topic of R.C. Bowman again, here's another cartoon, from page 14 of the 1900 edition of his cartoons, in which the Populist Party is depicted as a bunch of frogs pestering Vice Presidential hopeful Adlai Stevenson Sr.
Stevenson hollers for help.

I wonder if the Illinois Senator laughed at the gentle treatment of consistently being drawn wearing a little girl's dress.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Q Toon: There's Got to Be a Morning After

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
•Nov 7, 2012
If you were expecting a cartoon congratulating the victors of last night's election this morning, sorry. I had to have this week's cartoon to my syndicate by Monday morning, when the results were still unknown, and I figured there would be plenty of other cartoons out today exulting in the end of the nasty ads and incessant phone calls.

Mother Nature and the predictable religious idiots who blame every hurricane, earthquake and volcanic eruption on gays and lesbians provided me with today's non-election-related cartoon. Those religious idiots include a Pennsylvania pastor John McTernan, an upstate New York rabbi Noson Leiter, a Maryland pastor Luke Robinson, and some twisted ex-gay sister Lisa Miller.

Drawing water, by the way, is mighty tricky. It doesn't have a lot of corners. It doesn't sit still so you can draw its edges. It does have a mood: calm or angry, pleasant or turbulent. I've been looking all over (for a couple weeks, actually) for a book I have somewhere on the history of the comic strip; I remember there being an excellent drawing from the 1940's of Tarzan swimming through some angry water. There must have been some other example from Terry and the Pirates and Tintin, I'm sure.

You don't see a lot of today's editorial cartoonists or comic strip artists drawing with the evocative precision of Hal Foster (there are some choice examples of how to draw water at that link, by the way). Who has time to draw each individual raindrop? Just for kicks, here's a cartoon by Stuart Carlson. Here's one by Dave Granlund. And here's an example by Pat Bagley.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Q Toon: Republican Group Endorses Mitt Romney!

Paul Berge/
Q Syndicate
÷Oct 31, 2012
The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney for President this month after a brief meeting with the candidate. I guess his staunch opposition to marriage equality as a candidate and as Governor of Massachusetts never came up.

Highlights of their endorsement announcement:
"If LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter's choice. However, Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing multifaceted individuals with diverse priorities. Having closely reviewed the candidate’s history and observed the campaign, we believe Governor Romney will make cutting spending and job creation his priorities, and, as his record as Governor of Massachusetts suggests, will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans. ...
"And for those people who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann."
They then go on to argue that Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter, and Joe Biden is Anthony Weiner.

Monday, October 29, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I know that folks are getting sick and tired of all this election stuff. Everyone complains about all the attack ads on TV, and all the political posts on Facebook, and all the junk flyers in their mailbox.

And that's not even counting the people in Wisconsin who have had no relief from partisan politics for over two solid years now.

But this is the last week I can draw about the election for Q Syndicate, so that's where I'm going, dammit.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Syria Is Iran's Route to the Sea

"Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea." -- Mitt Romney, in his third debate with President Obama, October 23, 2012
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 26, 2012
According to the Manchester Guardian, that was the sixth time that Mitt Romney has characterized Syria, which is separated from Iran by northern Iraq, as Iran's route to the sea.
"Maybe one of the few bright spots in the Middle East developments in the last year has been the rising of the people in Syria against Assad. Obviously, as you know, Syria is Iran's only Arab ally in the region. Syria is the route that allows Iran to supply Hezbollah with weapons in Lebanon. Syria is Iran's route to the sea." -- Romney, at the AIPAC conference, March 6, 2012
"Syria is their [Iran's] key ally. It's their only ally in the Arab world. It is also their route to the sea." -- Romney, in a Republican candidates' debate on February 22, 2012
See also an interview on MSNBC on December 21, 2011; an interview with the Washington Post on February 10, 2012; and an interview on Brian Kilmeade's radio program on March 14, 2012.

And here you thought Romney couldn't be consistent.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Q Toon: Marriage Equality on Balance

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
÷Oct 24, 2012
With election day 13 days away, it's time for this cartoonist to stop frittering his time away on cartoons about National Coming Out Day, evangelicals slumming in the gayborhood, and TV sitcoms.

The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last week that the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
[Judge Dennis Jacobs] said the law was written so broadly that it touches more than a thousand federal laws. "Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public," Jacobs wrote.
He rejected arguments by supporters of the law that it was intended to limit new categories of eligibility for federal funds, promote uniform administration of federal law, protect traditional marriage and encourage responsible procreation.
"Even if preserving tradition were in itself an important goal, DOMA is not a means to achieve it," he said.
That DOMA was headed for the Supreme Court was a virtual certainty, so the question is how the ruling will affect ballot initiatives in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington state on November 6. The legislatures of Maine, Maryland and Washington have voted for, and their governors have signed into law, marriage equality. Opposite-sex marriage exclusivity, on the other hand, is the law in Minnesota, where the Catholic Church is dropping everything else to enshrine it in the state constitution.

The Washington, opponents of marriage equality succeeded in putting Measure 74 on the ballot, possibly confusing voters because passage would actually affirm what the legislature and governor have already done.


In Maine, this marks the first time that gay-rights supporters -- rather than opponents -- have chosen to put same-sex marriage before voters. A gay-marriage law passed by the legislature in 2009 was overturned in a referendum that fall. Marriage equality supporters in the state decided to put a measure in support of marriage equality on the ballot this year, when the presidential election would draw out more voters.

The polls have the Minnesota amendment on the razor's edge, while there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about one of the other three states becoming the first in the nation to support marriage equality by popular referendum.


In Maryland, as in Maine and Washington, the most recent polls show a lead for the supporters of same-sex marriage. But comparable leads in other states -- notably in California in 2008 -- evaporated by Election Day, and Josh Levin, manager of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, expects the final result to be extremely close.
With races this close, anything, from a judge's ruling exciting one side, to the Obama and Romney campaigns' decision to focus their efforts elsewhere, could have an effect on the outcome.

Monday, October 22, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Not to be judgmental about it, but judging from this snippet from this week's cartoon, you can expect some jurisprudence coming your way.

Stare decisis, nolo contendere, ex parte and all that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two More McGovern Cartoons

I finally located the folders with my cartoons from 1983 and before, and found George McGovern in two more cartoons about the early race for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination.

Fair warning: both cartoons reference death, so I hope people don't find them in bad taste today. The first cartoon is from September, 1983, imagining Democrats' response to the announcement of McGovern's third try for the presidency:
The state of the race at the time was that former Vice President Walter Mondale was the front runner with the support of organized labor and a number of other interest groups. Ohio Senator John Glenn was a more centrist alternative, while California Senator Alan Cranston and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson were competing for the party's far left. Some of the party faithful held out hope that Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy would change his mind and run a second time, and there were Senators from Colorado, and South Carolina and a former Governor of Florida (Gary Hart, Fritz Hollings, and Reuben Askew) who were trying to get some attention.

McGovern's bid for the 1984 nomination was doomed from the start. In recent history, Democrats have shunned any of their candidates for president who had previously run and lost (although Teddy Kennedy could have easily been an exception had he tried in '84).

It hasn't always been this way: Democrats nominated Grover Cleveland for a third time in 1892 after he had been thrown out of office in 1888; and Williams Jennings Bryan won three out of the next four Democratic nominations. Democrats nominated Adlai Stevenson for a rematch against Eisenhower in 1956; and if it weren't for the McGovern rule changes of 1968, Hubert Humphrey might have been a shoo-in for the nomination in 1972 or 1976.

As the nominating process stands since -- and even including -- 1968, the only way for a failed Democratic candidate to win the Democratic nomination is to have served as Vice President in the meantime. The examples of Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Al Gore do not bode well for Joe Biden.

Back to George McGovern. He is only an extra in the cartoon below, but it might have some resonance for Republicans today. Democrats felt they had an opening to unseat President Ronald Reagan because the economy had been in recession since 1981. By December of 1983, however, all reports indicated that the recession was over.
If you missed the cartoon from December, 1983 (published in January), my earlier blog post is here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Q Toon: The Cross in the Closet

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 17, 2012
This week's cartoon is inspired by a fundamentalist Christian originally from Nashville (now in Portland, Oregon) and graduate of Liberty University who has written The Cross in the Closet, about the year he spent pretending to be gay.

The only people Timothy Kurek let in on his ruse were an aunt, asking her to keep an eye on how his mother was handling the news, and a guy he recruited to pretend to be his boyfriend after getting weirded out by oiled-up beglittered guys trying to pick him up in gay bars. He began working in a gay café, joined a gay softball league, and attended Pride events, all the while maintaining his inner identity as a straight Christian.
Many friends, especially from Liberty, ... wrote emails to him after he came out asking that he repent of his sins and warning that he faced damnation. He does not regret their loss. "I now have lots of new gay friends," Kurek said.
He sneaked a peek at his mother's diary and read that she would rather have been told she had terminal cancer than that her son was gay. Fortunately for Mr. Kurek, she did not attempt to ship him off to an ex-gay indoctrination center.
Eventually she too was won over and changed her views. "My mom went from being a very conservative Christian to being an ally to the gay community. I am very proud of her," he said.
Kurek also experienced firsthand being called abusive names. Though he himself had once called gay protesters at Liberty "fags", he found himself on the other side of the fence of insults. During a softball practice session in Nashville, a man walking his dogs called Kurek and his teammates "faggots."
Kurek had to be restrained from confronting the man and then broke down in tears at the shock. "When I was first called that for real, I lost it. I saw red. I felt so violated by that word," he said.
The version of the story I came across first was this one on RawStory.com, and it's a good thing I googled Timothy Kurek before setting pen to paper. Rawstory illustrated the article with a picture of a cute cowboy in a presumably gay line dancing group. The cute cowboy looks nothing like Mr. Kurek, who is considerably more ... hefty. And given to wearing heavy steel earrings. Although he does like plaid shirts. As a bit of editorial license, I have given him a shave in the cartoon.

I have no idea what his mother actually looks like. I considered drawing her as Debbie Novotny from Queer As Folk (US), but decided against it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

George McGovern

This morning comes the news that former Senator from South Dakota George McGovern is "coming to the end of his life" and has been entrusted to hospice care.

I don't have any of my own cartoons from his 1972 race for the Presidency, although I do recall having tried to sketch a Time magazine cover image of Richard Nixon only to have my drawing look more like McGovern than Nixon. I do have a college newspaper clipping of a cartoon from December, 1983, when McGovern was making yet another try for the Democratic nomination:
If I remember correctly, I had difficulty drawing McGovern this time around and ended up drawing him on another sheet of paper and pasting that head over the one on the page with the rest of the cartoon. That would account for all those marks around his head on the printed copy, as the exposure here appears quite dark.

By 1984, I had a lot more experience drawing Richard Nixon, so I doubt that it would have helped me to try to draw that Time magazine cover again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Yes, folks. The gay community drags mothers kicking and screaming to become our allies these days. I can't divulge how it's done, but if you've seen The Manchurian Candidate, A Clockwork Orange, or that scene in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan in which Ricardo Montalban puts big old scorpions into the ears of Paul Winfield and Walter Koenig, you begin to get a vague idea of the processes involved.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Veep toon: Yakov Smirkov

EditorialCartoonists.com won't have this posted until tomorrow, but I thought I'd share a sketch from Thursday's vice presidential debate with you today:
I've already posted this cartoon on the Bergetoons Facebook page, where someone has kindly pointed out that Paul Ryan may be the only conservative who hasn't complained about Vice President Biden's condescending attitude throughout the debate. Fair enough. I drew this sketch during the debate and then decided to impose a cartoon on it, adding caption balloons and swapping out the suits and ties for children's clothing.

Frankly, I had been hoping that Biden's having gotten ahead of the President on marriage equality, or perhaps ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell would come up in the debate so that I'd have something to draw for Q Syndicate, but I guess I'll have to come up with another topic for that cartoon this week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Qtoon: 14, 12, or 11 Years Later

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
ΔOct 11, 2012
Today is National Coming Out Day, and to mark the occasion, I decided to follow up on a cartoon I drew way back in 1998. (See this week's "Sneak Peek.")

In the original cartoon, Uncle Jim did most of the talking to his 18-year-old nephew, Dylan. The cartoon implied that Uncle Jim was past his 38th birthday but still well short of his 48th. Twelve years later, Dylan would be 30, and Jim somewhere in his 50's. Uncle Jim has changed his appearance significantly over the years. He's put on a fair amount of weight and decided to compensate for his thinning hair by growing a heavy beard. Nephew Dylan now wears glasses and has exchanged his shaggy mane for something with more product in it.

Now, most of my readers don't have my life's work at their fingertips, so it's not like any of the following really matters. But if there are any obsessive fans reading this blog, there is one nagging little inconsistency about this week's cartoon that I might as well try to explain.

I added the copyright date in the second panel as I was nearly done inking the cartoon, and suddenly realized that 1998 was fourteen years ago, not twelve. I hadn't left myself enough room to change "twelve" to "fourteen," so we're left to suppose that perhaps Dylan didn't come out to his parents at 18 (after all, in the original cartoon, Jim advises him that there's no rush to do so) but two years later after another conversation at this diner.

Then, when I hunted up the digital file for Monday's Sneak Peek, I found that for reasons I cannot recall, its copyright date had been changed to 2001. This cartoon was originally drawn in August, 1998 as a "reserve" -- to be released at some later date when I might not have another cartoon at the ready, so my first thought was that we held onto that reserve cartoon for three years.

There is a note on the page the cartoon was drawn on, however, indicating that it appeared in the Phoenix Echo in October, 1998. (Back then, a few of the papers in which my cartoons appeared would mail me those issues.) So either I mistakenly included this cartoon for three years in the January ritual of updating the copyright dates of the unreleased reserves, or somebody wanted to re-release this cartoon in 2001.

I don't have any idea. All I know is that I've fallen woefully behind in keeping up a supply of reserves; I've been without one for months, if not years. I've learned that there's little point in drawing up reserves such as the original Dylan and Jim cartoon for release at specific dates on the calendar unless I have plans to be busy or on vacation at that time. It's more useful to have something totally generic in case of emergency, and I have less need for a reserve Christmas cartoon than I have for a cartoon to be released for publication immediately after Christmas.

By the way, if you have any confident predictions about what is going to be a happenin' topic for LGBT readers around December 27 of this year, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Love Imperial Zombie Lucy

Here's a drawing I was asked to do for the Twin Cities Imperial Court of Minnesota (kind of an LGBT Elks Lodge, I suppose) to publicize an event this weekend:
It's their first annual Zombie Ball, and my assignment was -- wait, let me describe it in steps:
  1. Start with the picture from "I Love Lucy" of Lucy, Ethel, Ricky and Fred driving in the car.
  2. Replace Lucy, Ethel, Ricky and Fred with four members of the Imperial Court.
  3. Make them zombies.

I started out by sketching the original picture, just to get the characters in place. Then, without zombifying them, I tried caricaturing the Imperial Court, beginning with "Ethel," since I was sent two pictures of her, and she bore some slight resemblance to Vivian Vance. "Ricky" was next, since he's in front; I was told he'd be clean-shaven for the event. The one photo I had of him is almost ten years old if the imprinted date is correct.

I found several pictures of "Fred" among the Court's Facebook photos -- which helped a lot. With "Lucy," on the other hand, I only had this one photo to work from, and it was the lowest-resolution photo of the bunch. (There were some photos of a woman who might have been the same person, but I just couldn't be sure.) That made her very difficult to draw, and I decided that nothing about this drawing would work at all unless I gave her Lucy's hair -- particularly since she and "Ricky" bear little or no resemblance to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I suppose I should have done the same with Ethel, since the guy who's going to be Ethel is no doubt rustling up a Vivian Vance wig for the party.

The last step was to add zombie features. In the case of Ricky, that involved giving him a totally different facial expression than Desi Arnaz in the photo, in which the four appear to be singing. I beat up the hats, blackened eyes, tore off ears, and broke Lucy's neck. (Sorry, dear.) Jeff, who had signed me on to the project, had suggested turning the picture into a car accident, but then there would have been no element of the original picture left.

In the end, does it work? I'm not sure it does. I might have liked to choose a different picture to start from -- say, Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory. I can see severed heads going by them on the assembly line as they top the exposed brains with whipped cream and cherries; Fred could be messing with the line's speed dial, and Ricky... um, I don't know. Bandleading, or reacting to the mess, or something.

Or don't you think these four would be ideal as zombie Mary Ann, Ginger, Skipper and Gilligan?

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek. Sort of

Instead of the usual snippet from a corner of this week's Q Syndicate cartoon, this week's sneak peek is a cartoon I drew for the syndicate 14 years ago.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

QToon: Tommy v. Tammy

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 3, 2012
National media attention this week has been on tonight's debate between President Barack Obama and Bain Capitalist Mitt Romney. Less attention gets paid to the congressional and senatorial debates around the country, by and large, although the Elizabeth Warren v. Scott Brown debate over the weekend did get some tongues wagging.

(As an aside: I don't buy the media spin that it was a gaffe when Warren started to answer a question about which Republican now in the Senate she could work with on major issues by citing Dick Lugar. Dick Lugar is "now in the Senate," as David Gregory phrased the question, even if Lugar won't be there once the next Congress is sworn in. And while a Democrat might be able to work with, say, Marco Rubio on immigration reform, or Rand Paul on limiting government surveillance of private citizens, on "major issues," the Republicans who will be calling the shots if Scott Brown is reelected have no interest whatsoever in working with any Democrats.)

Last Friday in the race to succeed retiring Senator Herb Kohl, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and Madison area Congressman Tammy Baldwin met in what was billed as a debate. It was no such thing; the format consisted them taking turns answering questions from four TV/radio people. They each got to give one answer to each question, and there was no opportunity for rebuttal or response to each other. The one time a questioner asked what he called a follow-up question, he changed the subject from abortion to marriage equality. Well, that's not a follow-up question; that's a question asked out of turn.

Having breezed through several debates in his races for governor, Thompson was at ease with the format, repeating his favorite talking points frequently but as if they were fresh new thoughts each time -- so that any given one of those sound bites could be used in news reports or his own campaign commercials. Baldwin faltered a bit more at the outset, with enough umms and uhhs that I began to wonder if she had only crammed for the event on the drive to the studio. But she addressed the questions directly, with detailed facts, and without harping on a select few talking points all night; and she seemed more comfortable by the end of the hour.

And, unlike Thompson, Baldwin did not come off as downright scornful of her opponent. It rang strange when, after Baldwin had given her answer to a late-in-the-debate question asking what could be done to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, Thompson blurted out with mock astonishment, "I'm absolutely surprised! That's the first time I haven't been blamed for something or George W. Bush!"

Thompson brought up his wife three times during the debate, although, curiously, he never said her name. Now, admittedly, that's fewer times than he said that he'd cut taxes 91 times, but one wonders what kind of point he was trying to make. There was nothing all evening that he said that he hadn't planned beforehand to say. I have to suspect that this was a "dog whistle" to the people whom he wanted to remind that Ms. Baldwin is one of those scary lesbians.

What else went on during the evening?

We learned that somehow, when nobody was looking, Tommy Thompson built a hospital in Afghanistan. The morning-after research finds that not all is well with that particular project:
A contractor's assessment of the hospital found that Afghan physicians at the hospital often did not have basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology and lacked skills needed to resuscitate women and infants. In addition, the hospital routinely lacked basic supplies, including surgical gloves and antibiotics.
More impressively, he also built Wisconsin. He even claimed to have brought Wisconsin unemployment down below 2%. (Politifact disagreed with an earlier claim of 2.1%.) But don't blame him for any of today's problems. He's not in Congress, he's a private sector.

Monday, October 1, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

It's rare that I get to draw about Wisconsin issues for Q Syndicate, but this week, I'm afraid I'll have to insist.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Q Toon: RBG on DOMA

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 27, 2012
Last week, as a way of declining to answer a question from a Colorado law student on the subject, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that DOMA (the so-called Defense of Marriage Act) was likely to come before the court in the upcoming term.

Somehow, I think this is Justice Ginsburg's first appearance in my cartoons. I don't recall drawing any cartoons about her when President Clinton nominated her to the bench in 1993, or when the Supreme Court decided the 2000 presidential election, or when she pointedly cited Romneycare in her opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act last year.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Week the of Peek Sneak

I have no particular reason for putting the words in the above headline backwards. Just bored with having the same headline for every other blog entry, I guess.

In other news, I decided to submit only two cartoons to Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year's 2013 edition, the deadline for which was this past weekend. They usually allow late submissions about the outcome of November elections. I don't believe I've ever taken advantage of that option -- the LGBT angle on presidential election results isn't often of general interest.

On the other hand, it wasn't the Charles Brooks-edited BECY but Daryl Cagle's rival The Best Political Cartoons of the Year that for 2005 included a Rob Rogers (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) cartoon that was the exact same idea that I drew in response to George W. Bush's reelection.

Here's mine:
Rogers's cartoon includes Dubya wielding a paddle bearing the words Iraq Mess, Lost Jobs, Tax Cuts, Deficits, Health Costs, Pollution and World Anger on it. I guarantee you that neither of us had seen the other's cartoon; we were both riffing on Dubya's frat boy past. Cagle calls these coincidental cartoons "kismets."

But I'm serving notice here and now that if any conservative cartoonist draws this idea to lament Barack Obama's reelection, it's plagiarism.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Q Toon: The Team Name? The Cougars

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 19, 2012
I had discounted this story as fodder for an editorial cartoon when I first read it -- too obscure, I thought. Besides, I'd just drawn about football last week. But I reconsidered the story when it popped up in the Saturday Night Live Update, and when there seemed to be no other LGBT story out there other than the one I'd just drawn about.
"A freshman at a two-year college in North Dakota is saying he was kicked off the football team because he is gay. However, North Dakota State College of Science football coach Chuck Parsons is saying linebacker Jamie Kuntz was dismissed from the team for lying. A teammate saw Kuntz kissing his older boyfriend in the press box at a game in Pueblo, Colo.
"The teammate reported the kiss to the team's coaches. Football coach Chuck Parsons confronted Kuntz on the bus ride back to Wahpeton, N.D. and Kuntz told his coach the man he kissed was his grandfather. Kuntz's boyfriend is 65 years old."
Now off the team, Jamie dropped out of college as well, telling SB Nation that he didn't see any point in going to NDSCS if he couldn't play football. I hope he has something else planned for his future, and I don't mean following Anna Nicole Smith's career path.

It would have been only too precious if the North Dakota college's football team were the NDSCS Cougars. Actually, they're the Wildcats. My mistake.

Monday, September 17, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Am I trying to get Outsports's attention or something?

After last week's cartoon featuring NFL stars endorsing marriage equality, this week's cartoon looks at another side of the coin.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ayanbadejo and Kluwe Speak on NPR

A follow-up to yesterday's post: Brendan Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe were interviewed on NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday afternoon.

Some highlights:
"I've had some encouraging conversations with my teammates, and with people in the building. I'm so glad that it's coming to light and that so many people are supporting it; because you go back 24 months, 12 months, and it was a completely different feel. People weren't so supportive, and I'd hear some snickering and some comments. So, I'm glad that in our football community we're changing. Our sport, that's known as a macho sport, known for, you know, making gay slurs and whatnot, I'm glad to see a changing of the guard, and people broadening their horizons and starting to accept equality, really." --Brendan Ayanbadejo
"The NFL is a business, first and foremost. They're in it to make money. And as players, our jobs are to go out on the field and to play to the best of our ability. Now, that being said, we also have a very unique social platform in that we can reach a lot of people that normally, you know, this message might not reach. I think if you're willing to take the risks, okay, if you're willing to deal with the distractions, while maintaining the level of your play, well, for me, personally, it's worth it." --Chris Kluwe
Toward the end of the interview, Melissa Block asks whether their seniority within the sport -- Ayanbadejo is 36 and Kluwe is 30 -- informs their comfort in speaking out.
"Being players that have had success in multiple years in the league does make it a bit easier, because, you know, we have some of those years when we've got some money saved up; but at the same time, I'd like to think of us as kind of the veteran guys that when young guys come in, you know, they look at us and they're like, okay, you know, that's okay, these guys are talking about it; these guys are supporting it, you know. We're okay with it. And just make the league a better place then when we came in." --Chris Kluwe
"We're trying to change the whole attitude that's in the locker room. And I think we've done it. One of the biggest, you know, compliments that I get -- I kind of don't like it, but it's also a compliment -- is, 'Oh, I wouldn't expect a football player to be talking about marriage equality.' But why not? We're no different than anybody else. We laugh; we cry; we have emotions. Just because we play football, it doesn't mean that we're these quote-unquote macho guys or whatever. I mean, we want everyone to be treated within our organizations and within our sport. We're trying to get that done, and I think Chris has done a great job of showing what kind of people we are." -- Brendan Ayanbadejo

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Q Toon: This He Said, And Nothing More

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
ǁSep 12, 2012
As Marylanders have been preparing to vote on a referendum to overturn their state's marriage equality law, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo spoke out strongly against the measure back in March.
"Gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons as we all do: love and commitment. It’s time to allow them the opportunity to build a family through marriage. It’s a matter of fairness. This is why I’m asking Marylanders to join me in supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples.
“Having the freedom to marry means committed couples and their children will have the same crucial protections under the law as other families. Churches can always have their beliefs, but government is supposed to treat everybody the same, and that’s equal. America is supposed to be the land of the free but in order for this to be true for all of us, then we must have the ability to marry whom we love regardless of their gender."
More recently, Ayanbadejo offered two tickets to the Ravens' first home game of the season this past Monday as part of a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fund raiser. Delegate to the Maryland legislature Rev. Emmett C. Burns, Jr. (D-Baltimore County), who is also founder and pastor of Rising Sun First Baptist Church, wrote a letter to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti expressing his outrage:
"I am requesting that you take the necessary actions as a National Football League Franchise Owner to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing."
 Burns cc'ed his letter to the media, and has since learned of at least one other NFL player who agrees with Brendan Ayanbadejo.
"I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your 'I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing' and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole."
So wrote Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe in a very profane but otherwise quite eloquent broadside to the preacher-turned-politician-turned-censor.
 "What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to speech. ...
 "'Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement.' Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who's 'deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland'? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have 'no place in a sport'?"
It is Kluwe's letter on Deadspin that has turned this story from a local one to a national, but I've chosen to highlight the original center of controversy.

Besides, I'm a Packer fan. It's really, really, really, really, unbelievably, stupendously, insanely, Herculeanly hard to force myself to say anything nice about a Viking.

Monday, September 10, 2012

This Week's Sneak Pique

I draw cartoons for LGBT media, you know. If I can find an excuse to draw beefcake, that's what at least half of my readership wants.

Heck, it's the only way to get some readers to notice the cartoon at all.