Monday, October 31, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

After a decade and a half, is there any new angle on the Defense of Marriage Act?

 Tune in on Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Week's Toon: the Pall Bearer

Cartooning about youth suicide is dicey. It's not funny, and you don't want to glorify one suicide and thereby inspire others. (I'm not even going to link to the story that inspired me to concentrate on this topic, for that very reason.) For this week's oeuvre, I started out trying to come up with some incisive observation for a grieving parent to make, but ended up turning my focus to someone else:

When kids commit suicide, their parents are permanently devastated. Their friends grieve for years, but heal and go on with their lives. But do the bullies who drove them to it even notice? Or do they just grow up and continue to leave their mark on the world by posting insults on internet comment pages?

Monday, October 24, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

I was thinking of drawing a Hallowe'en-themed cartoon for this week, but nothing quite came together in that direction. Last week's cartoon will have to suffice in that regard: it wasn't what I had in mind when I drew it, but it would be easy for someone to look at my memorial cartoon for Frank Kameny and see his ghost haunting the White House.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This Week's Toon: Frank Kameny

Readers, the conventional wisdom goes, love cartoons memorializing the recently deceased. Editorial cartoonists, by and large, hate them.

Sure, there are cartoonists like Mark Streeter of the Savannah Morning News who draw obituary cartoons at the drop of a hat. But most cartoonists draw them begrudgingly, usually cranking out a cartoon of a single tear dropping from some object or logo associated with the dead person. Or St. Peter greeting the late lamented at the Pearly Gates with some catch phrase associated with the stiff -- even if the deceased was not a Christian.

(I heard objections to a cartoon I drew after the death of Meir Kahane that showed him storming away from the Pearly Gates upon finding that Palestinians were allowed in. On the one hand, I'm told that there is no Jewish concept of heaven; but on the other hand, where did Jesus come up with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus if the idea of someplace nice where Lazarus ends up were alien to his audience? How do you draw being in the bosom of Abraham?)

Matt Bors has drawn a cartoon mocking the obituary cartoons for Buddhist Steve Jobs which depicted him at heaven's gate. In coming up with a more Buddhist concept of the afterlife, it ends up being less than respectful of the dead, but cartoonists love this cartoon.

This is the second obituary cartoon I've drawn this year (the first being for Liz Taylor); in these cases and several others, I've let the deceased speak for him or herself. This quotation is from a 1965 essay by Frank Kameny titled "Does Research into Homosexuality Matter?" If you are interested in reading the quotation in context, you can find it in We Are Everywhere: A Historical Source Book in Gay and Lesbian Politics.

P.S.: Yes, Mr. Kameny came up with the "Gay Is Good" motto years after he picketed the White House. His picket that day was nowhere near as pithy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

I guess that's it for the cartoons about the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park. Thanks to the Brewers for a fantastic year (allowing the Cardinals to score outscore the Rams notwithstanding).

So it's on to more current cartoons here at the old blogstead. Here's this week's sneak peek. For the benefit of any fellow cartoonists visiting this page, let me just point out that those are not the pearly gates back there.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

From the Vault: Another Brewers Toon

Of all the cartoons I've drawn about the Milwaukee Brewers, I think this is my favorite.

When Miller Stadium first tried out its new retractible roof, there were some kinks to work out. It screeched loudly, for one thing, and rain got through some areas. I only imagined this problem, however.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

From the Vault: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

As we cross our fingers that a return home will somehow help the Brewers overcome Shaun Marcum's pitching, here's a cartoon I drew in November of 2003 to accompany a Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee editorial lamenting the difficulty for a city of Milwaukee's size to assemble a great team under the MLB salary cap.

No lutefisk in this cartoon, although it's another example of having fun naming shops in a mall. (Having background people talking on the phone has been another of my leitmotifs.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

In re Obama at the HRC

I am told that a prominent gay blogger is greatly displeased with last week's cartoon about President Obama's speech at the Human Rights Campaign dinner.

There may be more to post about it later. For now, I haven't heard anything from him directly, and haven't seen the conversation that is reportedly taking place.

From the Vault: I Sense a Theme

Randy Wolf got the Brewers' pitching back on track last night, so there is new hope for the Brew Crew. Fans might even excuse a couple of losses if it means winning the division title at home (but not of the 12-3 variety!).

Anyway, here's another Milwaukee Brewers cartoon from my days at the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee; this time the editorial had something to do with team owner Mark Attanasio's interest in determining what it is that draws fans to a ballpark.
I suspect that he found that the answer has something to do with a winning record.

The Minneapolis lady, by the way, is a tribute to Minneapolis Tribune cartoonist Richard Guindon. Apparently, there is some connection in my mind between baseball and lutefisk.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From the Vault: Meaty Issues

If I were really, really, really, really optimistic, I could save this cartoon for Game 7 of the National League playoffs. But unless the Brewers manage to overcome their hitting and pitching slump, I'm afraid Milwaukee's racing sausages have had their last run in the nationally televised sun for the year. But having included lefse in yesterday's cartoon, I thought I'd haul out this one to continue the theme of Norwegian cuisine.

This 2003 cartoon (predating the chorizo guy) was drawn to accompany a Milwaukee Business Journal editorial critical of a New York Times article which had portrayed Milwaukee as a decaying, crime-filled rust belt wasteland with third-rate sports teams and no future. I guess the Times also mentioned the racing sausages. The BJ editorial sniffed that the Times reporter didn't know whereof he wrote.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Q Toon: Won't You Save Marriage from Those Sweet People?

Like Jim Borgman, I like drawing cartoons set at shopping malls just so I can give names to all the stores in the background. When I drew for the Milwaukee Business Journal, Christmas shopping was a recurrent theme of December editorials, giving me the opportunity to toss in The Hardhaberdashery, All Things Argyle, and Sandy's Sundries.

That whimsical approach didn't work when the topic of the editorial was on trying to boost the fortunes of a troubled mall -- Milwaukee's Grand Avenue Mall has been losing business for years -- and there were some unfortunate incidents at the Mayfair Mall which sparked editorials which would have been undercut by peppering the cartoon with frivolous shops.

But as fun as these background shops are to create, they are actually anachronistic. In the heyday of the shopping mall -- back in the 1970's and '80's -- malls were populated by lots of little specialty shops. (Does anybody remember the Saturday Night Live sketches about a shop that sold nothing but Scotch® Tape?) But the typical mall today is populated mostly by clothing stores and optical shops, with the occasional shoe store and a bunch of kiosks selling cell phones and piercing ears. The only real specialty shops are in the food court.

At any rate, I can only hope that the names of some of those stores are clues to the setting of the cartoon, since it isn't definitively stated until the last frame.

And before any Tar Heelers get upset, I'm not trying to suggest that North Carolina is totally devoid of nice people, okay? It's just that Minnesota has cultivated a reputation for niceness, don't ya know.

Michele Bachmann notwithstanding.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

National Coming Out Day

I didn't draw a National Coming Out Day cartoon this year, so here's a look back at the one I drew ten years ago. At the time, it felt a little too early to turn attention to such personal concerns, so my approach was to turn that feeling around.

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week, we're taking a trip to the mall and talking with the lady at the marital aid kiosk.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Like Hitler

Some redneck with a guitar Jr. got hisself axed from his gig singing the opening to ESPN's Monday Night Football this week. I was at a meeting, so I missed the first half of the game, and didn't know anything about it until the next morning.

Funny thing is, I thought the game ran pretty long. You'd have thought that skipping the "Are You Ready for Some Football" opener would have shaved a good five or ten minutes off the show.

Well, anyway, the problem was that the guy had gone on Fox 'n' Friends and compared the President of the United States to Adolf Hitler. To most of Fox News's audience, that's about as controversial as vanilla ice cream -- and ESPN might have let it pass if Monday's game were between Atlanta and Houston -- but ESPN ultimately decided that this was a metaphor too far.

Last month, Phil Hands, editorial cartoonist for the Wisconsin State Journal, took some heat for a cartoon in which a protester against Governor Scott Walker responds to Walker's announcement that he will "focus on creating jobs" by saying, "Ya know, Hitler created jobs in Nazi Germany!" The cartoon followed a Nazi protest in Milwaukee, at which some flyer distributed by counterprotesters included a remark that Hitler, like Walker, sought to bust unions.

Hands still has his gig at the WSJ, which is a good thing. We really don't have many editorial cartoonists drawing about state politics in Wisconsin, what with the Milwaukee J. Sentinel having fired all its cartoonists and the Capital Times going web-only. Joe Heller appears in several state newspapers, and Mike Konopacki and Gary Huck draw for Labor papers. Since the Racine Post logged off, I haven't had a real outlet for any Wisconsin issue cartoons other than this here blog.

A friend asked me recently if I've ever used Adolf Hitler in a cartoon. I could only think of two, and have only been able to find one. Dating from 2003, it isn't likening anyone to Hitler; instead, it had to do with an allegation that Hitler was gay. 

The other cartoon was probably in the 1980's, and may be lost to history. If I ever run across it, I'll try to remember to post it -- it's just that I don't remember what it was about. Just vaguely that I drew him shocked or surprised about something or other.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Q Toon: Obama at the HRC Dinner

Speaking at the Human Rights Campaign dinner on Saturday, President Obama listed his administration's accomplishments in furthering LGBT rights.

Originally, I had set up this cartoon to liken LGBT voters unhappy with President Obama's record to those Republicans who fantasize about Chris Christie getting into the presidential race -- having had those same fantasies about Rick Perry's bigger head until he actually became a candidate.

Since I drew the cartoon, Christie has decided that he won't run for president after all, which leaves the Republican party stuck with its earlier dream candidates. And Mitt Romney.

I'm glad that I decided that the Christie analogy version of the cartoon was too preachy. I cast about until I hit on the "Mama didn't raise me..." line, which seems to argue against the original point that I hoped to make, but I think it's a better cartoon. (It still allows President Obama to point out the positives in his record.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's cartoon features the President of the United States and a list of things this cartoonist is no longer able to gripe about. No wonder it's such hard work to come up with cartoon ideas every week.