Saturday, November 26, 2022

Happy Centennial, Sparky Schulz!

If you picked up a newspaper today, first of all, thanks for keeping journalism alive for another day; second, you may have noticed a lot of Peanuts references in the comics page.

Today would be the 100th birthday of Charles Schulz, Peanuts' creator.

Schulz was probably the very first inspiration sparking (wink, wink) my urge to cartoon — as he was to so many of my contemporaries. As a child, I had all the Peanuts books, including The Gospel According to Peanuts and The Parables of Peanuts — the former, autographed by its author, Robert Short. Peanuts didn't run in my local paper, but my grandparents would clip and save Peanuts from the Sheboygan Press for me every day even into my college years.

The Gospel According to Peanuts, Bantam edition, 1968, must have been my sixth Peanuts book.

So how to join in the centennial celebration of such a towering figure in our field?

Just last June, I highlighted Schulz's reference in Peanuts to a cartoon drawn by a mentor of his, Frank Wing, in the wee decades of the 20th Century. Five years ago, I celebrated April Fools' Day by featuring some of the more obscure characters he drew in Peanuts.

But for today, I decided to rummage through my own archives in search of cartoons I've drawn with a nod to Mr. Schulz.

I was a bit surprised to come up with only three.

Well, reaching back to some of my juvenalia, four. But that old, old cartoon essentially stole an idea drawn by Tony Auth and stuck Charlie Brown and a few other additions into it. It was utterly unoriginal, and I don't feel like giving that cartoon new life on the internets.

But here are the three that I don't mind bringing back today.

March, 2017

There was this caricature of Scott Pruitt, an anti-environmental activist and the Corrupt Trump Administration's first head of the Environmental Protection Agency, as Pigpen, the hopelessly filthy member of the Peanuts gang who could raise a cloud of dust ice skating.

I had hoped to find an occasion to work this caricature into a fully realized cartoon, but that never came about in the less than 17 months Pruitt was in the cabinet. When he resigned in July of 2018, he was the target of at least 14 federal investigations.

in Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, July 5, 2005

This one from 2005 takes a Peanuts trope that long ago became a cliché in editorial cartooning. Perhaps the only other Peanuts trope we have rehashed more often is the Great Pumpkin.

Q Syndicate, January, 2014

So when I went to that particular inkwell again in 2014, I attempted to find something fresh and new to do with it.

Chris Kluwe was a punter for the Minnesota Vikings, and a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ causes, which he claimed led to his being cut from the team. A subsequent investigation found testimony to support some of Kluwe's charges, but after getting bogged down by uncooperative witnesses, ended quietly. The Vikings settled the case by promising to donate some undisclosed monetary amount to LGBTQ+ causes.

I suppose that since I draw primarily for LGBTQ+ publications, a cartoon about young angst-ridden children isn't, well, sexy. But then, you could say that about a lot of the topics I draw about.

Oh, sure, I could easily draw cartoons in which Marcie and Peppermint Patty take their relationship to the next level. And yet that seems like cartoon blasphemy somehow, akin to drawing Snoopy with rabies, Schroeder playing bagpipes, or Charlie Brown winning the World Series.

So I didn't add to the reams of cartoons of weeping Charlie Browns and Snoopys when Schulz died very shortly after retiring the strip; the topic didn't fit either Q Syndicate's or the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee's needs that week.

Well, let's not end today's post there. 

I started this post talking about how Charles Schulz inspired me, and generations of other cartoonists, when we were youngsters. I'll leave you today with his very first published cartoon, in the nationally syndicated feature "Ripley's Believe It Or Not," when he was just fifteen years old.

"Ripley's Believe It or Not" by Robert Ripley, for King Features Syndicate, Feb. 22, 1937
"Peanuts" by Charles Schulz for United Features Syndicate, July 1, 1972

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving!

 If you were looking for this week's cartoon, I posted it yesterday. 

"The Scoffer" by H.T. Webster, Nov., 1922

But thanks for stopping by anyway. Here's an oldie for your troubles.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Q Toon: Merry Christmassacre


Saturday night, a young man armed with two long rifles of the AR-15 variety burst into Club Q, a popular LGBTQ+ bar in Colorado Springs, and opened fire. Two of the bar patrons heroically disarmed and subdued him, but not before five people were killed and at least 17 more injured by gunfire or in the ensuing panic.

It was an exceptionally violent week across the U.S. Prior to the Club Q shooting, a former member of the University of Virginia football team shot and killed three current Cavaliers and wounded two others on a bus returning to campus from a class field trip; someone still at large stabbed four University of Idaho students to death at their off-campus apartment.

Politicians and religious leaders from across the political spectrum expressed their varying degrees of outrage and sympathy after each of these tragedies, the Club Q attack no less than the others.

That includes Colorado Congressman Lauren Boebert — or someone on her staff, or whoever paid Elon Musk eight bucks to impersonate her — who sent out a sympathetic tweet the morning after the Club Q shooting:

Up to now, Boebert's reputation has been as an ammosexual activist (today's cartoon is based on her actual 2021 family Christmas card), a hard-core defender of all things Trump, and a spreader of Trans Derangement Syndrome. On the floor of the House, on the campaign trail, on right-wing media, and prolifically on Twitter, she has mocked others' pronoun preferences, blamed trans men for shortages of baby formula and tampons earlier this year, and accused the Biden “regime” of paying for the “mutilation of children who are gender confused.”

In August, Human Rights Campaign rated her as the #3 on their list of "the top ten people responsible for driving the 'grooming' narrative on Twitter."

Back when Twitter had rules about hateful conduct.

But if she finally wants the public to know she's now against slaughtering LGBTQ+ citizens, perhaps at least we're seeing some progress. Why, even Franklin Graham has come out against spraying weapons fire into gay bars.

Consider that only six years ago, the morning after the terrorist attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 LGBTQ+ patrons, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, thought it would be a good time to tweet out Galatians 6:7: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Faced with uproar from the LGBTQ+ community and our allies and friends, Patrick quickly took his tweet down, and his staff issued a mealy-mouthed apology that it had nothing to do with the massacre. It was just supposed to be an inspirational message from a random book off his nightstand.

Twenty or thirty years ago back before Twitter, politicians like Patrick would have responded to loss of LGBTQ+ life by proudly issuing that biblical passage as a press release. That generation of conservatives unapologetically exulted that HIV/AIDS was God's punishment of gay men for being gay, and made jokes about Jeffrey Dahmer.

So, goody for Lauren Boebert for showing some vestige of humanity this time. Those morning prayers were the least she could do, and I guess they're better than nothing at all.

But they don't get her off the hook for contributing to a culture that egged on — and armed — some murderous psychopathic loser.

Monday, November 21, 2022

This Week's Sneak Repeat

Instead of the usual snippet out of this week's syndicated cartoon, here is my cartoon published immediately after a hate-filled gunman killed 49 patrons of Pulse, an LGBTQ+ bar in Orlando, Florida, six years ago.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Meanwhile, in Non-Gump Election News

"Keeping to the Main Highway" by Gustavo Bronstrup in San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 9, 1922

I hope you enjoyed our recounting the past two Saturdays of Andy Gump's election to Congress and the recount that took his victory away. But it's time now to get serious and to catch up on what really happened in the off-year election of 1922.

Gustavo Bronstrup, with a nod to the initially victorious Mr. Gump, celebrates the Republican sweep in California that year. Friend Richardson was elected Governor and Hiram Johnson was reelected Senator, both by landslides. (Ironically, Richardson, supported by a Republican majority in the legislature, would proceed to undo several policies enacted when Johnson had been Governor.) 

The Proposition 19 straw man fallen off the back of the car represents a defeated constitutional amendment that would have granted the governor authority to create and fund a board to develop, distribute and fix rates for water and electrical energy.

"Nearly Everybody in the House Knew..." by John Knott in Galveston Daily News, Nov. 10, 1922

The California results ran counter to the national trend that year, however: Democrats gained 72 seats in House and a net gain of six seats in the Senate. 

"Shrinkage? It's a Washout" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 9, 1922

The Democrats' gain was not quite enough to regain the majority lost in the elections of 1918 and 1920, but was an impressive showing nonetheless, and set off a wave of prognostication as to where the Republican Party had gone wrong.

"Now We'll Hear the Specialists" by Edwin Marcus in New York Times, Nov. 12, 1922

One of Edwin Marcus's "specialists" is an "anti-prohibitionist" who doesn't look anything like the Mr. Dry used by every other cartoonist of the time (see John Cassel, below). That may well be because Mr. Dry looks more like an undertaker than a doctor; but it leaves me suspecting that Marcus had everything drawn before the election results were in but the labels and the elephant head.

"After the Downpour" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, Nov. 10, 1922

To the extent that Republicans were hurt by the "wet" vote, it was primarily because they happened to have more incumbents in office than the Democrats did in 1922. Prohibition sentiments pro and con crossed party lines; support for the 18th Amendment included both conservative Southern Democrats and northern progressive Republicans. Opponents included big-city Democrats and Republicans alike.

"Home Again" by John Knott in Galveston Daily News, Nov. 13, 1922

One of my disappointments in covering the 1922 election is that I was not able to turn up any cartoons by John Knott of the Dallas News and Galveston Daily News having anything substantial to say about the Klan candidate Texas elected to the U.S. Senate that year. Instead, he chose to celebrate Tennessee returning its governor's chair to the Democrats — and I do apologize for that character carrying Miss Tennessee's bags.

"The Retreat of the Lame-Duck Brigade" by John Baer, reprinted in National Leader (Minneapolis), December, 1922

Former Congressman John Baer cites a few of the ailments diagnosed in Edwin Marcus's cartoon and adds a few more: a proposed sales tax (to replace the income tax), an anti-strike bill, and a subsidy for shipbuilders.

What I was expecting to see in the National Leader was a celebration of Minnesotans' election to the Senate of the Farmer-Labor candidate, Henrik Shipstead, ousting Republican Senator Frank B. Kellogg, seated in the wheelchair in Baer's cartoon. (The Democrats' candidate, Anna Dickie Olesen, came in a distant third). The Farmer-Labor Party was the offspring of the Leader's "Non-Partisan League," after all, and the Leader had emblazoned a heroic sketch of Shipstead all over the front page of its November issue.

Front page of National Leader, Minneapolis, MN, November, 1922

Other than that, however, the Leader seems not to have found much to say about his campaign or his election.

Shipstead, a former and future Republican, would serve in the Senate until losing a GOP primary in 1947. An isolationist, anti-Semite, and conspiracy monger (Protocols of the Elders of Zion and all that crap), a senator described by the British Foreign office as "bigoted and crotchety," he is not remembered fondly these days.

"A Case for Careful Diagnosis" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, Nov. 13, 1922

But returning again to 1922: it must be noted that for all this talk of the Republican Party needing to find out where it had gone wrong, the 1920's would continue to be a solidly Republican decade in most of the United States.

"He Fits the Niche" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, Nov. 8, 1922

To wit: 1922 saw the election of one of the Democratic Party's enduring heroes, Alfred E. Smith, as Governor of New York. As the party's presidential nominee in 1928, he would lead the Democrats to their third consecutive landslide loss.

And lucky for him, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Q Toon: Above All, D'Oh!

While liberals (and not only a few conservatives) were celebrating the defeat of Trumpism at the ballot box last week, right-wingers were able to celebrate the triumph of Trumpism in the courts.

Trump appointee Matthew Kacsmaryk struck down a Biden administration ruling that LGBTQ+ patients were covered under Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) protections against discrimination. The Obama administration had also stipulated these protections for LGBTQ+ patients, only to have them erased by the corrupt Trump administration.

Kacsmaryk's ruling came in a case brought by a pair of doctors — medical professionals, mind you — who think providing professional medical care to transgender patients is icky; and so, backed by a right-wing legal activist group looking for any way to destroy the Affordable Care Act, they went to court.

Now, if you're a transgender person, and you're looking for a doctor, you probably shouldn't go to a doctor who personally objects to treating transgender people. It's highly unlikely that such a doctor has bothered to learn anything about the medical needs peculiar to transgender patients. You might as well ask your ophthalmologist to perform root canal surgery.

But we're talking about Texas here: home to vast, wide open spaces sparsely populated by people who think that Ted Cruz is a marvelous senator. You may not have a lot of choices when looking for a doctor there.

Texas, moreover, is ruled by a Republican Party from Governor Abbott on down who are determined to make health care for transgender persons a crime; so even if you've had a country doctor who is considerate and caring (they call that "woke" in these parts), the best she can do is refer you to someplace out of state. 

If the statehouse hasn't already made that illegal, too. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Praising Arizona

The results are in, and Trumpster Kari Lake has been defeated in the race for Governor of the state of Arizona.

It's too bad that Saturday Night Live is on hiatus for the next couple of weeks.

I had been looking forward to a sketch in which Lake was played by Cecily Strong when filmed with a gauzy filter and by Amy Sedaris without it.

Or possibly by Andy Serkis.