Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day with the NCJ

In celebration of Earth Day, Sierraback Saturday recycles a handful of cartoons I drew for the NorthCountry Journal roughly 30 years ago.

The NorthCountry Journal was an environmentally themed monthly newspaper published in Poynette, Wisconsin from 1986 to 1988. Each issue ran 12 pages, with news primarily of issues concerning northern Wisconsin, updates from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), activities of the state legislature, and regular columns about wildlife by Ced Vig, living close to nature by Justin Isherwood, and hunting by Jim Kalkofen. Plus the occasional handy household hints: did you know that cucumber peelings repel ants?

My cartoons became a regular Page 6 feature in the NCJ soon after the newspaper was launched. Editor Susie Isaksen would send me the topic of the next edition's editorial, and I'd send her a cartoon to complement it; for example, finding common cause between hunters and naturists above, and in favor of funding a Wisconsin soil erosion program below.

I've selected here cartoons that don't focus on specific politicians, although the guy with the bulbous nose in the background of this next cartoon was a generic politician character I used in the NCJ from time to time. (The unshaven guy was another recurring character.) The editorial was about industrial representatives and farmers "whining" to state officials about the so-called undue burdens of environmental protection regulations.

The U.S. Air Force was conducting low-level flights of B-52 bombers over northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan in the spring of 1987, leading to complaints that people couldn't hear each other talk in the woods. There was also concern of the flights' effects on eagles and other wildlife. I tied the story in with another environmental concern of the time.

Where to put the state's garbage was a growing problem. There was such a thing as recycling back then, but it mostly involved taking your old newspapers, cans and milk cartons to a recycling center. Very few municipalities had curbside pick-up of recyclables, and rather than wait in line at the recycling company yard, many people didn't bother to separate recyclables from their other trash.

Recyclables aside, did you know that an apple core will completely decay in a couple weeks in a compost pile, but it will last for several months in a landfill? And that we've been stocking our landfills with non-biodegradable Styrofoam (well, almost non-bio-degradable) since World War II?

That unshaven guy from the third cartoon above puts in one more appearance in this last cartoon featuring a generic industrial plant, Slimeco, that was another recurring entity. I never made it clear what sort of company Slimeco was, other than that the corporation had a callous disregard for the environment.

Slimeco and its CEO Roger Slimec appeared in a few cartoons I drew for other publications after the NCJ suspended publication. I have not, however, had much call for it to appear in my LGBT-focused work, so Slimeco has been out of the public eye for a quite a while.

Heck, it's probably a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries by now.

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