Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hillary Clinton: The First Lady Sings the Blues

One of my colleagues produced a caricature of Hillary Clinton this week that was perhaps a little less than successful. Well, at least according to one of the people who posted a comment on his Facebook feed it was. The commenter conceded that Hillary's having changing hair styles over the years could have contributed to the caricature falling short.

That got me to thinking. I've had my difficulties drawing Mrs. Clinton in spite of having nearly a quarter century to get her right, and those changing hair styles are only part of the problem. So, with apologies to Bernie Sanders (and Martin O'Malley) fans, I've dug up a handful of my efforts to capture the essence of Hillary.

My first attempt was this cartoon for the UWM Post from April, 1992, featuring the wives of the three general election presidential candidates. Her face should have been rounder than I drew it. (And no, that's not really Mrs. Perot.)

This one followed Bill's election, as he hit the first road bump of his presidency even before his inauguration; you might notice that I'm still making reference to candidate Clinton's claim that the nation would be getting two presidents for the price of one.

His first two nominees for Attorney General were compelled to withdraw over accusations that they had hired illegal immigrants as domestic help. Zoë Baird and her husband had hired two undocumented Peruvian immigrants as nanny and chauffeur for their kids, and Republicans nicknamed the furore "Nannygate." The next nominee, Kimba Wood, turned out to have hired undocumented immigrant child care workers, too; so Mr. Clinton's third and final choice was the unmarried, childless Janet Reno.

There are multiple references to explain in this cartoon from 1996. New York Times Columnist Bill Safire penned that Hillary Clinton was "a congenital liar" during the Whitewater investigations doggedly led by then New York Republican Senator Alphonse D'Amato. D'Amato's investigation -- and career -- went nowhere, but Safire's accusation has become central to conservative attacks against her ever since.

Bill Watterson had recently quit drawing his "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoon at the peak of its popularity; Calvin's snowball attacks on Susie Derkins had been a running gag of the strip. My credit to Watterson in the cartoon refers to a comic strip running in the rival to the UWM Post, the very conservative UWM Times, which ran as a regular feature a cartoon whose leading character was a thinly disguised version of that image of Calvin peeing on stuff, which you've probably seen in the rear window of a car or pick-up. (Neither that image, nor the UWM Times cartoon, were in any way licensed.)

By 1999, the Illinois-born former First Lady of Arkansas was putting herself forward as a candidate for Senator from D'Amato's and Safire's home state.

Now, I've skipped over some cartoons about health care reform and Republicans' impeachment of Bill Clinton. I might come back to them someday, or not. I will rerun a few of my cartoons about Hillary Clinton's elected career some Snapback Saturday soon.

It's a much deeper well than my archive of one Bernie Sanders cartoon. (So far.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Q Toon: Phil's Out

Can we just be silly for a moment?
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jan 28, 2016

I know that some people will accuse Mr. Punxsutawny Phil of being insensitive to the plight of the victims of Winter Storm Jonas, even though, as an outdoor-dwelling creature, Phil ought to have plenty of empathy for that sort of thing.

On the other hand, as an internationally famous meteorological spokesrodent, Phil probably enjoys a pretty cushy one-percenter lifestyle compared to the rest of his genus.

That's our mailbox on the left.
Blizzard Jonas spared my particular neighborhood this time around, but I'm no stranger to two-foot-plus snowfalls. And winter ain't over yet. As folks around here will tell you, if the ground hog comes out and sees his shadow, we'll have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, winter will drag on for another month and a half.

Either way, Spring will eventually come in with more freezing temperatures and at least one nasty snowstorm.

Monday, January 25, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


To all my friends who have spent the last week praying for Christian unity, Happy Third Down Conversion of St. Paul Day today.

To everyone, I promise you: this guy is not about to barf.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Slip the Surly Bonds of Earth

For our trip in the wayback machine last weekend, I discussed some of the highs and lows of memorial cartoons. Since the 30th anniversary of the Challenger disaster is coming up this week, I thought I'd share the two cartoons I drew for that occasion.

I didn't see the explosion live; I had a second shift job in 1986, and I overslept the launch time. (Some of you may recall that the launch had been postponed from an earlier date, which factored into the ill-considered decision to launch on January 28 in spite of the freezing temperatures overnight.) I had my TV programmed to turn on at a certain time every weekday, forcing me to get out of bed and go into the next room to watch it or turn it off. All channels were on news coverage when the TV came on, as the news anchors were still trying to come to grips with what schoolchildren around the country had just witnessed.

This first was my immediate reaction to the disaster.
This cartoon was drawn entirely in charcoal, except for the material in the text box (which I had to redo because I inadvertently omitted the name of one of the astronauts; thankfully, an editor caught my mistake before it went to press).

A week later, the student newspaper I drew for at the time wanted a drawing for its front page, and I came up with an illustration whose wishful thinking was misinterpreted by some as a sort of denial that the disaster had really happened -- like those people who have insisted all these years that we never landed on the moon.
That misinterpretation was partly because when the cartoon appeared in print, you could see the outline of the space shuttle contrary to my intention. I drew the shuttle only using white-out, but some shadow of the white-out showed up anyway.

The point of the cartoon was to push back against the response from some that the space program should be shut down. Given the chance, I'd have liked to have changed the caption to advocate letting "their dreams live on" or "soar" or something other than "not ... die."

17 years later, February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia broke apart on reentry. I did not draw a memorial cartoon on that occasion, although I did end up having a few seconds on local TV. It was a Saturday morning, and I'd gone to the church where I work to fetch something I'd forgotten there on Friday afternoon. I decided to put an appropriate prayer on the outdoor sign as long as I was there, and was almost finished when a reporter from Milwaukee's channel 6, in Racine because astronaut Laurel Blair Clark had attended the high school two blocks away, stopped to get a comment from me. The reporter mistook me for the church's pastor, but I quickly corrected him; and since he didn't happen upon any other Racine clergy walking the main streets on his way back to Milwaukee, he used the footage of our interview.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Q Toon: Walk Together

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Jan 21, 2016

Last week, the Anglican Communion -- the church that broke off from Roman Catholicism so that Henry VIII could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn -- voted to punish its American outlet, the Episcopalian Church. "Global South" Anglicans, particularly those in former British colonies in Africa, have been eager to expel the Episcopalian Church for its acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex couples (and for allowing an openly gay man to serve as bishop).
Nigeria alone has more Anglicans than the U.S., Canada and Great Britain combined. When Anglican leaders from the global South insisted on punishing the U.S. church for same-sex marriage, they had the votes to get most of what they wanted. A joint statement said U.S. church's policy on same-sex marriage represented a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican provinces.
The punishment, shutting the American church out of doctrinal meetings of the Anglican Communion for the next three years, was not enough for the Ugandan Primate, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, who stalked out of the meeting. Ntagali had been pushing for a stronger resolution calling upon the American and Canadian churches to "voluntarily withdraw from the meeting and other Anglican Communion activities until they repented of their decisions that have torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level."

After the vote, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued a statement attempting to mitigate the schism.  “It’s a constant source of deep sadness that people are persecuted for their sexuality," he wrote. "I want to take this opportunity personally to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and present, that the church has caused and the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do, in many parts of the world including in this country.”

As for the still divided church, Welby hopes that the primates will continue to "walk together," a phrase taken from Amos 3:3: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (KJV)

The feelings of LGBT Christians aside, Giles Fraser in The Guardian takes a look at the bright side:
For three years the American church will be banned from various doctrinal and ecumenical meetings of the communion. Given that such meetings are about as interesting at watching paint dry, one might conclude that the Americans have been rewarded rather than punished.

Monday, January 18, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


"The calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak."
-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 4, 1967

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wham, Bam, Thank You, Starman

Eulogy cartoons tend to be the most popular ones we editorial cartoonists draw. They're also the ones we roll our eyes over and usually consider our most hackneyed work.

On November 22, 1963, Bill Mauldin hastily drew a cartoon of the Lincoln Memorial statue bent over weeping, in reaction to the assassination of President Kennedy, and it became his most memorable cartoon ever (at least outside of his Willie and Joe œuvre). Bob Englehart hit the bulls eye with a cartoon of Alice Kramden sobbing on the table in the Honeymooners kitchen after the death of Jackie Gleason.

But having a tear drop from whatever person, creature, object or symbol was most associated with the dearly departed is such a cliché that most cartoonists try to avoid it. The pull may be too great, as with the death a few years ago of George Harrison. How could you not draw a guitar gently weeping? It's not as if you could wrest a eulogy out of "I Me Mine." And bringing up "My Sweet Lord" would have been in very poor taste.

So there was an onslaught this week of cartoons eulogizing David Bowie, who had the immense foresight and courtesy to leave behind several lyrics malleable to the situation. Unfortunately, it takes much longer to draw a cartoon around "The stars look very different today," "I'm stepping through the door," "Time may change me, but I can't trace time," or "The Man Who Fell to Earth" than it takes for half a million Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users to type the same thing onto a downloaded photo and repost it on the internet.

Frankly, unless one has a personal angle for the cartoon (see Pat Oliphant's cartoon recalling having drawn a band-aid on Gerald Ford's forehead), there really isn't an awful lot a cartoonist can contribute that nobody else can. My only connection to David Bowie is that I named a D&D magic user after a character in a Bowie song, so I'm not drawing a Diamond Dog shedding a tear, or whatever lyric is left still untouched.

Not that I won't ever draw a eulogy for someone I've never met. I drew the cartoon at the top of this post after the death of Washington Post editorial cartoonist Herbert Block, without anywhere to publish it but my own blog. (I had a caption for it, set in Bodoni type because that's how Herblock's cartoons appeared in the Post, but I didn't write it on the cartoon and I've forgotten what it was.)

I drew the cartoon at right for the Milwaukee Business Journal to accompany their editorial mourning the death of Quad Graphics founder Harry Quadracci. He didn't have a catalog of malleable song lyrics, but he was known for his successful printing business and his bow ties, so I limited the drawing to those two things. I like the composition, but I do wish I'd made him a little less cross-eyed.

I've eulogized heads of state, entrepreneurs, movie stars, authors, and activists -- none of whom I've ever met -- but my personal favorite in this field remains my 1999 cartoon upon the death of Quentin Crisp. Crisp, one-time rent boy turned raconteur, wit and actor, made famous by his autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant, was flamboyant and contrarian to the end. So, for Q Syndicate, I drew this.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Q Toon: Need I Say Moore?

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jan 14, 2016

Last week, Roy Moore, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, declared that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling favoring marriage equality throughout the land does not apply to the state of Alabama because ... well, just because.
[Moore] insisted that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which found that same-sex marriage bans violate the federal Constitution, was not binding in Alabama because the state was not a party to that specific litigation. Because Orbergefell did not “directly invalidate” Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban, Moore wrote, the law remains in force until the Alabama supreme court strikes it down. 
 A lower court in Alabama has already ruled for marriage equality:
Last January, Judge Callie Granade tossed out the Alabama ban as a violation of the 14th Amendment, a decision which the U.S. Supreme Court seemed to endorse. She reaffirmed her decision in May. Then, following Obergefell, Granade explicitly held that the ruling invalidated Alabama’s marriage law—precisely the legal formality which Moore says never occurred.
There has been a suggestion that Moore's edict, while certainly in line with his well-known hostility to gays and lesbians, was timed to distract from the trial of his son Caleb on drug charges. Caleb entered a not guilty plea on December 21 to charges of possession of marijuana stemming from an arrest last March. Caleb has complained that his repeated arrests are all because of attempts by nefarious forces to smear his paw.

This is the third time I've featured Papa Moore in a cartoon. Non-Alabamans may remember Moore Senior from thirteen years ago:
In 2003, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Moore from his post as chief justice for defying a federal court order to remove a gargantuan monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building. After his bids for the governorship in 2006 and 2010 ended in the primaries, voters reelected him as chief justice in 2012.

Monday, January 11, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

Time may change me,
But I can't trace time.
I said that time may change me,
But I can't trace time.
-- David Bowie, Changes

Saturday, January 9, 2016

We're So Glad We've Had This Time Together


Well, it's the first Saturday after Epiphany, and time to take down the Christmas lights, trees, wreaths, and stockings. At least at our house.

My Dad always made it a point to de-Christmasify the house on January 6, Epiphany. Back when we had live trees, they went out to the curb, until he started taking them back to the compost pile. Once we started using artificial trees, they went up to the attic.

My husband and I got the outside lights taken down today before the rain started and the bitter cold that is predicted to follow behind it. We were going to tackle the tree today, but only got as far as getting the empty boxes for the ornaments up from the basement.

This is not our tree, thank God.
One of the churches where I work is also "un-hanging the greens" today, but the other, with a largely Latino congregation, will leave Christmas up until February 2. The Anglo members were initially mystified by this practice, wondering if the Latinos were ever going to put their Christmas diorama away at all. The custom stems from a Mexican practice of leaving Christmas decorations up until Candelaria, Presentation of Our Lord, which is always on Ground Hog Day.

This custom obviously comes from people who don't try to keep a live tree in the house until eight days before Ash Wednesday.

Latinos are not the only ones who try to extend the Christmas season beyond the church-proscribed twelve days. The Scandinavian Lutheran Church tried to popularize having 20 days of Christmas in honor of the sainted Danish Prince Knut Lavard, Duke of Schleswig, who was martyred on January 7, 1169. Somewhere along the line, his Saint's Day got moved back a week from the seventh to the thirteenth.
Tjugondag Knut translates into “20th Day Knut,” which refers to the 20th day after Christmas Eve. This used to be the day when Swedes, Finns, and Norwegians would ransack the tree of the candy and cookies it had been adorned with before Christmas and then kick it to the curb, so to speak.
Happily, nobody has subjected the rest of us to songs of what their true love sent to them on twenty days of Christmas ... let alone the forty days from December 25 to February 2.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Q Toon: Tow Be Or Not Tow Be

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒Jan 7, 2016
A presidential election is not the only thing you can look forward to in 2016. ("Look forward"? It's been underway for over a year already. Perhaps "Look around." But I digress.)

On many Republican-ruled state agendas are "religious liberty" proposals to create gaping loopholes in civil rights laws. Loopholes you could drive a tow truck through.

The stated aim of "religious liberty" laws is to excuse anyone who cites religion from having to respect the civil rights of someone else -- by which they mean LGBT folks. Religious institutions already have that exemption. Don't expect the pastor at a WELS church to marry Giuseppe and Miryam, or to rent them Luther Hall for the reception.

"Religious liberty" legislation opens up the loophole to everybody else. While a gay couple in Atlanta can probably find someone to bake them a wedding cake that is just as good or better than the baker whose religious sensibilities might be offended by the prospect, that might not be true for a gay couple in McCaysville.

"Religious liberty" can be cited as an excuse for damn near anything, not just wedding cakes and reception halls -- see Pat Bagley's cartoon today. Republicans write these proposed laws so broadly that anyone could cite "religious liberty" as their grounds for discriminating in housing, employment, health care, education -- things the religious libertine no doubt takes for granted for him or herself.

Monday, January 4, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek


Now that we're at the 11 Pipers Piping day of Christmas, everyone is well past the stage of merrily dashing through the snow. Nobody has a one-horse open sleigh any more, and dashing is not a word generally associated with travel through snow.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

All This, and WWI

I haven't posted any World War I stuff for Stealback Saturday in quite a while -- largely because the material I have on hand isn't a propos until next November -- but Mike Peterson posted some 100-year-old New Year's editorial cartoons yesterday. He included this one by Carey Orr (then drawing for the Nashville Tennessean, and soon to move to the Chicago Tribune's front page for many years):
"And We All Wanted It to Be a Girl"
I hope I've correctly addressed the link above so you can check out all the other New Year's 1916 cartoons Mike posted. Other times when I've tried linking to him, I've ended up having linked to his "Comic Strip of the Day" site generally -- which is always a good read, anyway.

In yesterday's post, Mike links to Terry Beattie's display of cartoons from a pamphlet urging readers to purchase war bonds. Since the appeal is for the "Third Liberty Loan," I assume that the cartoons are drawn well after U.S. entry into the war in 1917, but I'd like to include this Frederick Opper cartoon anyway:
The center and right characters are Paul von Hindenburg and Kaiser Wilhelm. Somehow, I had thought that the guy on the left -- and countless cartoons and TV/movie representations of men just like him -- were a stereotype that grew out of World War II; but I see that he is identified here as Crown Prince Wilhelm. The Crown Prince would still figure in the rise of Hitler, which is probably where my mistake comes from -- that, and the fact that WWII continues to have a much greater cultural impact than the original WW on this side of the pond...
...Even if World War I was seen as the greatest threat to the world of all time as it was happening, as evidenced by this Sid Chapin contribution to the booklet.

To close this post, let's return to the first week of 1916. With suspicion of Islam at a heightened frenzy today, here's an example by William H. Walker for Life magazine ("That Will Please Him," January 6, 1916) of how our fear of fifth columnists has a long, long pedigree:
The letter reads: "Somewhere, U.S.A.
Majesty,
Things are going well over here. Three munitions (3) factories blown up
this week and bombs placed on several ships.
Obediently Your Lieut. X.Y.Z."

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 in Review, Part 2

Here's my annual shot of headlines from the year just past:
You probably will need to click on the photo to embiggenificate enough to read most of the headlines; the Wall Street Journal and New York Times almost never print huge banner headlines, but their headlines more thoroughly explained events better than the other newspapers in my area.

What's with the WSJ printing election results so close to the fold, anyway?

As always, I have to exercise a lot of editorial judgment in putting this collage together. With so many gun-propelled mass murders in the U.S., I could have chosen San Bernardino over Charleston, or perhaps Waco or Roseburg, or the constant violence in Chicago; none is necessarily more representative than the others.

I ended up not including the magazine covers of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Ben Carson in favor of a cover that featured eight other presidential candidates, two three of whom have already dropped out of the race. If  Time magazine had used Steve Brodner's caricature of Trump as a hot-air balloon on its cover, maybe I'd have used that instead.