Monday, October 18, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Can I just say here how much I love having a "beat" frame in a multi-panel cartoon?

That's the panel — usually the second-to-last one — in which the characters pause to take in what happened or was said in the previous panel. There's no dialogue, corresponding to the "beat" taken in comedy before springing the punch line on the audience.

Being left-handed, I almost always ink the penultimate panel, down there on the left side of the bottom row of a four-panel cartoon, last.

Gosh, I love not having to do any more lettering by the time I get down there.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

October Affairs: Domestic

Hey, kids! It's time to catch up on all the domestic national news from October, 1921!

We'll start with something that seems as relevant today as ever, because, like the weather, everybody talks about it but nobody ever does anything about it.

"Rather Late Canning Time..." by Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Evening Star, Oct. 13, 1921

It was Republicans who had complete control of the White House and both houses of Congress in 1921. But the filibuster was a favorite tactic of senators from southern states — Democrats in those days — who would thwart an anti-lynching bill throughout the entire 67th Congress. 

Other legislation killed by filibusters from both parties during that congressional session included the Harding administration's ship subsidy bill, a Railroad Refunding bill, the Rogers Foreign Service bill, the "Blue Sky" securities regulation bill, the Radio Regulation bill, and a Statute Codification bill.

"So Near, And Yet" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, Oct. 10, 1921

If getting legislation passed was easier said than done, so was breaking Americans' alcohol habit. Prohibition was in its second year, and not only were folks learning how to brew hooch in their private basements, but since not every home has its own basement, a thriving black market in liquor had sprouted up across the country in major cities and small towns.

"Autumn Leaves..." by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, by Oct. 27, 1921

Ted Brown's consumers look mighty happy with their crop, for now. Who that fellow is back there saying "Never again," I'm afraid I can't tell.

"Is He Worth It?" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, Oct. 19, 1921

The major national story of October was a threatened strike by railroad workers for better pay and working conditions. This was three decades before the interstate highway system; trains, not trucks, were primarily responsible for transporting goods across the country, as well as for passenger travel and mail delivery.  

"There's a Limit to All Things" by Albert Levering in New York Tribune, Oct. 23, 1921

Railroad corporations demanded significant cuts in wages and benefits to their workers in 1921, and also increased farming out work to non-union sub-contractors. Five major unions indicated they were all set to go out on strike, but the Railroad Labor Board ordered union leaders to keep their workers on the job. After the Board consented to delay Interstate Commerce Commission orders to slash half of the increases workers had enjoyed during World War I, union members voted to cancel the strike.

It was only a temporary peace, kicking the can down the railroad; the unions would go on strike within a year when that pay cut delay ended.

"Ford Shows the Way" by John Baer in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo ND, Oct. 31, 1921

As peculiar bedfellows as they may have been, leftist former Congressman John Baer (Nonpartisan League-ND) here holds up right-wing Republican Henry Ford as an example for how to run a railroad. Baer cartooned for the National Railroad Union newspaper Labor as well as the Nonpartisan League's official paper (which was published in Minneapolis as the National Leader after the October 31, 1921 issue).

Looking to improve supply and distribution lines for his auto plant in Dearborn, Ford bought the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad in 1920, modernizing and transforming it, in the words of railroad historian William Pletz, "from a streak of rust into an extremely efficient and profitable operation, the likes of which has or will seldom be seen in this country." 

Under Ford, DT&I employees made higher wages than others in the industry. He also launched an electrification program for the railway, which was, however, abandoned after he sold the DT&I (at a hefty profit) to a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1929.

John Baer in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, Oct. 31, 1921
Baer (not William Morris) here accuses President Harding of trying to break up the Nonpartisan League's alliance between farmers and laborers, Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party being the last vestige of the movement. Republican efforts to gin up farmers' resentment of organized labor have been remarkably successful, even in ostensibly Democratic Minnesota.

"Th' Hog" by William Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, Oct. 3, 1921

Oh, and the World Series was held in October, but it was the New York Yankees vs. the New York Giants, so nobody beyond the outer boroughs really cared all that much.

(Just kidding. Even game 4 getting rained out made banner headlines across the country. And the Giants took the series five games to three.) 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Q Toon: Filth!

Jon Gruden may be gone, but Mark Robinson, the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, is not backing down from incendiary remarks against the LGBTQ+ community. Last Tuesday, People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch Project posted video of a political sermon Robinson had delivered at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove back in June:

“There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson says. “Yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you.”

Continuing his tirade at Upper Room COGIC in Raleigh in August, Robinson called transgender rights "demonic," and that any discussion of it in schools is "dragging our kids down into the pit of Hell."

If anti-LGBTQ bigotry were Robinson's only fault, the Charlotte Observer might not have described his views as "cringeworthy" and "an embarrassment." On other subjects, he has claimed that the movie Black Panther was "created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by [a] satanic Marxist" that was "only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets"; called former President Obama "a worthless, anti-American atheist"; and charged that COVID-19 was a "globalist" conspiracy to defeat Donald Trump.

Robinson is a Republican, which, if you've read this far, should hardly come as a surprise. The Governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat, which would make for some strained relations between their offices even if Robinson weren't such a crazed demagogue. Republicans criticized Cooper earlier this year for not mentioning newly elected Robinson, the state's first African-American Lt. Governor, in his State of the State address.

The recent shenanigans in Idaho demonstrate why our country's founding fathers quickly switched to having President and Vice President run together on the same ticket (originally, the presidential candidate who came in second got to be Veep as a consolation prize). Having the top two executive officers working at cross purposes is a recipe for mischief and instability.

According to the state website, North Carolina's Lt. Governor does get to take over the Governor's duties in the event of the Governor's "absence, death or incapacitation."

One hopes that Governor Cooper keeps his executive order stationery locked up, and a very secure computer password set up, whenever he ventures across state lines.

Monday, October 11, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Happy Canadian Thankscoming Indigenous National Pope Columbus Out John Giving XXIII Day, Peoples! Here's a bit of the preliminary pencil roughs from my sketchbook over the weekend.

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists held our annual convention by Zoom on Friday and Saturday, and I was able to take in a bit of it for a change. It was good to have exchange with others in the Opinionated Toon Biz.

In one forum I attended, "Cartooning in the Age of Doom," panelists shared their experiences of working amid coronavirus constraints and constrictions of the newspaper industry. As someone who has had very minimal conversation with fellow editorial staff for a decade and a half, I was interested to know how others are getting along with the new work-from-home standard.

For the free-lancers, the advent of COVID-19 didn't change their work habits greatly. Kevin Necessary had just moved into an office at the Cincinnati Enquirer when suddenly everyone had to work from home. Scott Stantis had already accepted a buy-out from the Chicago Tribune, but keeps in touch with select trusted colleagues as a sounding board. 

What everyone seemed to agree on was that the Ground Hog's Day nature of the coronavirus pandemic (and the intransigence of Republicans who aid and abet its spread) has been a real strain on finding anything new to say about it. (And when Stantis was seriously ill with the virus himself, he had an assistant who was able to keep Prickly City going for him.)

Well, happily, my cartoon this week is about something else.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

October on the Ones

I lead this Saturday Flashback with an unpublished cartoon I drew after Herblock died 20 years ago this past Thursday. The cartoon references several Herblock cartoons and recurring characters. I was tempted to put together a retrospective of his over 70-year career today — the man published cartoons almost up to the day he died — but you can visit the Library of Congress's exhibit of his work, or buy the book.

So rather than incur the wrath of the Herblock Foundation, I herewith present a smattering of the other cartoons Little Ol' I drew in Octobers of 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011. Let's start with the little oldest:

in UW-Parkside Ranger, Oct. 1, 1981

President Reagan had an advertisement on TV, if I remember correctly, urging viewers to call their congressional representatives to express their belief in Reagan's "bipartisan economic recovery plan" —i.e., tax cuts. (Finding a few Democrats willing to sign on to a Republican bill was an easier lift than the opposite is nowadays, especially since there were Democrats to choose from who would soon start calling themselves Republicans.) For the moment, however, the stock market appeared shaky, and a recession was indeed around the corner.

There must be over 100 horizontal lines in that cartoon, all painstakingly drawn by hand. The thick ones behind the window were the most challenging.—

in UW-Parkside Ranger, Oct. 22, 1981

Somewhere along the line, all of my cartoons from the fall of 1981 have somehow gotten mislaid. I still had them a few years ago when I posted one I drew in October, 1981 about the situation in Poland; I had certainly scanned that from the original. The originals aren't where they belong now, so unless Mom or I clipped them for our respective scrapbooks, I have to resort to copying them from the University of Wisconsin Ranger on-line archives, like this one above.

Continuing along to 1991...

in UW-Milwaukee Post, Oct. 3, 1991

Members of the Supreme Court have been at pains lately to deny that they are "partisan hacks." What they cannot deny is that for over half a century, the selection process by which most of them made it onto the Court has been overtly partisan. 

Reacting to civil rights rulings of the 1950's and '60's, conservative partisan hacks have been determined to remake the Court in their own image. Liberal Congresses were able to block the most egregious nominees — Clement Haynsworth, G. Harrold Carswell, Robert Bork — but not right-wingers William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, or, in spite of allegations of sexual harassment, Clarence Thomas, now the most senior Justice on the Court.

in Racine, WI Journal Times, Oct. 17, 1991

Conservatives, for their part, have "Borked" Abe Fortas, Homer Thornberry and Merrick Garland, and pressured presidents of their party to name "No More Souters." Thus we have six currently serving Republican appointees who are all products of the right-wing Federalist Society. I was startled to hear it put this way on NPR this week, but the center of today's Court is no longer Chief Justice John Roberts (himself a conservative George W. Bush pick), but Kevin-Boofing-Kavanaugh!

in Milwaukee WI Business Journal, Oct. 5, 2001

Moving right along to 2001, the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee wrote an editorial critical of labor lawyers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I drew a silly cartoon to go along with it.

for Q Syndicate, October, 2001

Of course, there were weightier issues in the fall of 2001 than genii safety. The Bush II administration was about to launch a 20-year war in Afghanistan, so naturally, the Christian Right weighed in with their reservations... about the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Romania.

As with Bill Clinton's appointment of James Hormel to be Ambassador to Luxembourg, antigay groups such as the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America opposed Bush The Younger's appointment of Michael E. Guest as Ambassador to Romania. But unlike with Hormel, the Senate approved Guest's appointment. Also unlike Hormel, who was pressured into promising not to bring his then partner to Luxembourg, Guest's partner, Alex Nevarez, moved into the ambassador's residence with him — with Secretary of State Colin Powell's explicit blessing.

“It put the Secretary of State on record as supporting homosexuality as if it were as normal, healthy and morally sound as marriage," sniffed Concerned Women for America's Robert Knight. "This means that America will be represented to the Romanian people by an openly homosexual couple. How trendy. How decadent.”

for Q Syndicate, October, 2011

Ten years later, when antigay activists were pushing an amendment to enshrine marriage discrimination in the Minnesota state constitution, it only seemed natural to set a cartoon in the Mall of America.

Besides, I enjoy giving odd and punning names to imaginary specialty shops.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Q Toon: Sinema Viditée


Democrats rejoiced in 2018 when Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema narrowly won the Senate seat vacated by Republican Jeff Flake to become the first openly bisexual senator in the United States. 

Now Sinema is one of two nominally Democratic senators double-handedly blocking President Biden's Build Back Better Bill. The other 48 Democratic senators, the Biden administration, and everyone in the press are struggling to figure out exactly what it would take to get her and West Virginia's Joe Manchin on board. 

In Manchin's case, we've pretty much figured out that he wants a bill that some theoretical Republican might vote for; which is akin to finding a steakhouse a vegan might agree to eat at, or a classical opera your four-year-old would like to sit through.

If there is something that Kyrsten Sinema would like to see stricken from or added to the bill, she is being extremely coy about making everyone else guess what it might be. A reporter in the Capitol attempted to get her to explain her position:

Q: What do you say to progressives who are frustrated they don’t know where you are?

SINEMA: “I’m in the Senate.”

Q: There are progressives in the Senate that are also frustrated they don’t know where you are either.

SINEMA: “I’m clearly right in front of the elevator.”
It's dickishness like that that gets you harassed in the rest room by frustrated former supporters.
Q: No, I mean, what is your position on negotiations?
SINEMA: Sitting down, usually.
Q: What is your position now?
SINEMA: I'm standing, silly. 
Q: Is there anything you would like to see in the bill?
SINEMA: Words and numbers. Charts.
Q: Can't you be serious for a moment?
SINEMA: No, I'm Kyrsten Sinema.
Q: Hold on — I'm just getting word that Susan Collins has announced that she might be persuaded to vote for the bill. I'm gonna go talk to her.
SINEMA: Wait, what? No! She can't — she can't do that!
Q: Of course she didn't. Gotcha!

Monday, October 4, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Pencil roughs from my sketchbook... trying to figure out how the person on the left should look with the facial expression on the right.