Thursday, May 13, 2021

Q Toon: Keeping Up with the MAGAshians


At the moment, one of the leading candidates to replace Governor Gavin Newsom in California's recall election is former Olympian, Wheaties cover athlete, and surreality TV personality is Caitlyn Jenner. In a crowded field, that may simply be a matter of name recognition, but California has a history of electing  celebrity candidates; viz., Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Bono, and Clint Eastwood.

You will note that all five celebrity candidates in that paragraph are Republicans. Non-GOP celebrities running for office elsewhere tend to get dismissed as lightweights in general elections (except in Minnesota).

In a series of interviews, Jenner's grasp of the issues has proven less than impressive: she didn't vote in the last election because she wasn't interested in any of the propositions on the ballot, and she is upset that homeless people have driven away the owner of the airplane hangar across from hers. So why is she running?
Although a lifelong Republican and a Trump supporter, the 71-year-old performer possesses a flimsy résumé; she’s not a natural candidate any more than she is a crooner. The smart money in California says she doesn’t have a chance to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom, who enjoys the support of 56 percent of the California electorate. (Though the examples of Donald Trump, Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sonny Bono suggest you can’t be too sure.) 
She told Dana Bash that she would make up for her inexperience in government by surrounding herself with "really good people," which sounds an awful lot like a certain twice-impeached former president's promises in 2016. But the Politico article speculates that her run is "a reality show by other means," or perhaps intended to set up a congressional run.

Interviewers have had a hard time pinning Jenner ("I don't like labels") down on the issues — even on the one issue with which she is most identified. Accepting the Arthur Ashe Award at the 2015 ESPY's, she voiced her support for young trans athletes, telling the audience, "I also want to acknowledge all the young trans athletes who are out there — given the chance to play sports as who they really are."
But now that Requblican legislatures around the country are passing bans on transgender athletic participation, Jenner has done a complete 180, telling TMZ, "This is a question of fairness. That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls sports in school. It just isn't fair. And we have to protect girl sports in our schools."
When Sean Hannity attempted to bring up the subject during their airplane hangar interview, Jenner kept diverting the conversation away toward Joy Behar or Jenner's mother having misgendered her. As Hannity pressed her on the issue, Jenner complained, "To be honest with you, I don't know why they keep asking that. What do you think, Sean? I don't know. Why do they keep asking me that question?" and decided to come out strongly against wildfires instead.

Drawing Caitlyn Jenner is going to present a challenge to cartoonists insofar as, well, let's just say it's pretty obvious that she's had some work done over the years, and it has made drawing her in a way that avoids charges of being anti-trans damned near impossible.

I completely understand that Ms. Jenner wishes to appear the way she sees herself, and she may not see herself as a 71-year-old woman. There's nothing exclusively transgender about that, or even exclusively Californian. Plastic surgeons are able to sell the fantasy that nips, tucks and collagen injections will make someone look like Angelina Jolie circa 2003 because nobody sees themselves as Dame Judy Dench except Dame Judy Dench's stunt doubles.

Some other cartoonists are choosing not to dignify Ms. Jenner's campaign by expending ink and pixels on her. That's their choice and their right, and solves the problem of how far to take her caricature.

But LGBTQ+ news is my bailiwick. Until she sinks to asterisk levels in the polls, I may be stuck with her.

Monday, May 10, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

For today's sneak peek, I decided to take this photograph of the pencil rough sketch of this week's cartoon. On my drawing board, underneath my drawing lamp. Which was on. Shining directly on my work.

I hadn't realized that I was drawing on parchment left over from the Civil War.

I really do need to get my eyes checked.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Alas, Poor Cartoons Magazine

I must acknowledge Google Books' archive of Cartoons Magazine as having been an invaluable resource in putting together my series of essays featuring editorial cartoons of events 100 years ago. But sadly, that resource is approaching the end of the line.

Cartoons Magazine, Vol. 8 #1, July, 1915; cover based on a Rollin Kirby cartoon

Not Google or Google Books (at least not just yet — nothing on the internet is as permanent as we were once led to believe, especially the "information wants to be free!" part). 

What I mean is that Cartoons Magazine underwent significant changes in 1921, and not for the better as far as my purposes are concerned.

Cartoons Magazine, Vol. 1 #1, January, 1912

Cartoons Magazine was first published in 1912, by Henry Haven Windsor in Chicago, Illinois. The magazine featured a wide variety of mostly editorial cartoons at first, on all the major issues of the moment: U.S. government, elections, international affairs, wars, the economy, you name it. Most cartoonists represented in the magazine were from the U.S., but examples from Europe, Australia and Latin America appeared frequently; and occasionally some from Japan and the Philippines as well. At first, the cartoons stood without much explanatory text, but over time they came to be be accompanied by humorous essays on the topic — unless, as in the example of the sinking of the Lusitania, whimsy did not suit the subject.

The typical issue would also be leavened with less topical gag cartoons and jokes, slice of life cartoons, and seasonal cartoons about holidays, the weather, sports, school days, and so forth. "What the Cartoonists Are Doing" became a regular feature, reporting such things as when a cartoonist was moving to another newspaper, getting married, presenting a public demonstration, joining the armed forces, retiring, or had gone to draw the pearly gates in person.

One of two pages of cartoons critical of a racist South Carolina governor in the January, 1913 issue, accompanied by no additional text

Other features that came and went were profiles of individual cartoonists, two-page cartoon spreads by a given cartoonist drawing about the city where he was working, feature stories about historical cartoons and cartoonists, and full-page cartoons drawn expressly for Cartoons Magazine.

Advertisements in the front and back pages promised lucrative careers to graduates of this or that cartooning school. Charles "Bart" Bartholomew backed his claims up with reports of the exploits of his school's alumni; and if hardly any of his graduates achieved any lasting fame, I'm sure that several made a comfortable career in those days when they had multiple employment opportunities in any given city.

One thing that hardly ever appeared in Cartoons Magazine was the work of William Randolph Hearst's stable of cartoonists. You would, for example, find plenty of the work of cartoonists for Chicago Tribune, Chicago Daily News, Chicago Post, Chicago Inter-Ocean, or Chicago Journal, but nothing that appeared in Hearst's Chicago Examiner. I don't know whether that was by Mr. Windsor's editorial preference, or if Hearst's publishing empire did not make those cartoons available.

Cartoons Magazine, Vol. 19, #6, June, 1921

The June, 1921 issue of Cartoons Magazine, published in May of that year, would be the last under that title. For several months, its issues had featured short works of fiction or light essays toward the front of the magazine, always illustrated with cartoons drawn specifically for them. Political cartoons were still predominant, but it had been a while since an adaptation of one had appeared on the front cover.

Cartoons Magazine and Wayside Tales, Vol. 20, #1, July, 1921

With the July, 1921 issue, Cartoons Magazine merged with Wayside Tales. The editor's note explained the changes to come:

"To our readers: Beginning with this issue, CARTOONS MAGAZINE makes its appearance as CARTOONS MAGAZINE AND WAYSIDE TALES. The best cartoons of the month will appear as before, with the running whimsical comment which has distinguished our pages in the past. In addition to the cartoon feature, however, the magazine under its new title will offer entertainment in the form of popular fiction by the best writers of the day. Romance, adventure, humor, mystery — these themes will constitute the new menu which we will serve our readers. Each issue will contain one serial by a popular novelist, one complete novelette, and a number of short stories, as in the present issue. — The Editor."

The table of contents made it clear which half of the magazine title came first inside, in spite of its placement and font size on the front cover.

So for August, they fixed the cover.

Wayside Tales and Cartoons Magazine, Vol. 20, #2, August, 1921

Editorial changes went further than as described by the Editor's Note. Topical cartoons remained, but political cartoons completely disappeared. There was not one cartoon about the new administration, about Democrats or Republicans, about immigration, or about Yap, Germany, Ireland, Armenia, or Mexico. Probably the closest thing to controversial cartoons were the ones about Sunday Blue Laws that I brought you last week.

Wayside Tales and Cartoons Magazine, Vol. 20 #6, December, 1921

Of course, when I say that the cartoons weren't controversial, I mean that by the standards of the time. Their cartoons featuring Black Americans would be highly controversial by today's standards, and I don't feel any pressing need to post them on a blog under my name. Ditto and ibid. for a few cartoons featuring Native Americans (with, by the way, the cut line "Drawn for Wayside Tales").

Wayside Tales, Vol. 21, #1, January, 1922

With the January, 1922 edition, "Cartoons Magazine" disappeared from the title entirely. There were still drawings and cartoons inside, and a dozen advertisements aimed at aspiring ink-slingers; but the "80 Pages of Humor" had been whittled down month after month to only 40 pages. 

Editorially, all that was left of Cartoons Magazine in the February issue was ten pages of "Best of the Jests." The final edition of the magazine was the May, 1922 issue.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Q Toon: In Memory of Olympia Dukakis

Much as I dislike drawing architecture, this is how I wanted to take note of Olympia Dukakis's role as the landlady at 28 Barbary Lane.

Without drawing a teardrop falling from it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021


Homer Simpson in a 1921 Swedish cartoon:

"Adamson and the Bachelor's Button" in Söndags-Nisse, Stockholm, 1921

Monday, May 3, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Today's sneak peek reaches even further back along the creative process than the pencil roughs that I occasionally post.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Something Moral, Something Blue

Orville Williams in New York Journal, ca. April 5, 1921

I had intended to run this last week in time for the Oscars, but these cartoons have waited an entire century. What difference is seven more days going to make?

100 years ago, the films playing at your great-grandparents' local Odeon might feature sexual promiscuity, swearing, disrespectful depictions of clergy, and even partial nudity. Your great-grandmother was shocked at the stuff great-grandfather took the family to see. On Sunday, no less!

1921 saw a flurry of legislation to censor the movies — somewhere around 100 bills in 37 states. New York created the first official censorship board that year, six years after The Supreme Court had ruled unanimously that motion pictures had no First Amendment rights.

"No Chance to Go Wrong" by Albert Reid in New York Evening Mail, April 1921

Given how the Christianist Right came to be synonymous with the Republican Party in recent decades, you might be surprised to see a staunch Republican like Albert Reid ridiculing prudish censorship. Issues cut across party lines much more a century ago than they do today, however, and the call to clean up the movies was then viewed as a progressive cause. 

It arose from the same social activism that gave the nation Prohibition, and was expanding its purview toward bans on tobacco smoking and chewing. Reid's cartoon above, and this one by Craig Fox, suggest that their successes would not have been possible without female suffrage (which, by the way, Reid strongly supported).

"No Wonder Willie Weeps" by Craig Fox in Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April, 1921

Women were only one of the liberal groups behind these moves to improve society. Consider that Blue Laws, prohibiting a wide swath of activities on Sundays, were supported by unions as one way of ensuring that their members got that day off from work.

"Tying the 'Nots'" by Harold J. Wahl in Sacramento Bee, April, 1921

But there's the rub. If you mandated Sundays off for all those movie projectionists, baseball players, popcorn hawkers, and the rest, what were Grandpa and the family supposed to do with their day off?

Well, the social reformers had a ready answer for that, too.

"The First Blue Sunday" by Alfred G. "Zere" Ablitzere in New York Evening Post, May, 1921

Alfred Ablitzere made a whole series of these "First Blue Sunday" cartoons in which his Blue Law Officer waged a valiant battle against all sorts of sacrilegious Sabbath activity. 

"The First Blue Sunday" by "Zere" Ablitzere in NY Evening Post, June, 1921

You will notice that some of these activities would not have required any employees to have shown up for work.
"The First Blue Sunday" by "Zere" Ablitzere in NY Evening Post, July, 1921 

But I guess Officer Blue Law's tireless efforts were appreciated by those workers such as this noble lifeguard who were able to take the Lord's Day off. The officer's was not a completely thankless job.

"The First Blue Sunday" by Alfred G. "Zere"Ablitzere in NY Evening Post, April, 1921
And thus, having successfully reformed everyone in this country, the social justice warriors of 1921 were eager to expand globally.
"Keeping Up with the Neighbors" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, April, 1921

And heck (if you will pardon such strong language), why even stop there?
"The Futurist Saturday Sunset" by Edward Gale in Los Angeles Times, March, 1921