Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Qtoon: Red Meat for Republicans

Well, look who's back!

It was back in October that Newt Gingrich called same-sex marriage a "temporary aberration that will dissipate," but he was back in the pack of also-rans then. Now that he is once again the Not Romney, his opinion of same-sex marriage matters to more than just his half-sister Candace and her wife.

As horrifying as the prospect of a Gingrich presidency is, he is actually rather fun to draw. He is, in fact, a cartoonist's dream. He's about as impolitic as anyone in politics could be, stubborn, egotistical, and prone to rash statements. And does anybody think he really has it in him to make it through eight years married to Callista?

Heaven forfend he should start an affair with wife-to-be #4 while in the White House and get impeached over it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vintage Barney Frank cartoons

16-term Congressman from Massachusetts Barney Frank announced yesterday that he would not run for office again in 2012. He cited his redrawn district as one factor, and that at 71, he wanted to spend some time in academia before settling down to retirement.

As the first out gay man in Congress, he has been the subject of occasional Q Syndicate cartoons over the years. Rep. Frank's office requested the original of this one from August, 1998.

At the time, revelations of the affair between President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky were coming out fast and furious; that the famous semen-stained blue dress was in existence and in evidence was a recent headline. While many congressional Democrats whispered that perhaps it was time for Clinton to resign and let Al Gore assume the presidency, Barney Frank was vocal -- and alone -- in his defense of the President.

Later that year, Frank was joined in the House by Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who has the distinction of  being the first openly gay non-incumbent elected to Congress. The above cartoon  refers to an incident where Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) was recorded referring to the Gentleman from Massachusetts as "Barney Fag."

After a separate incident of Armey making a poor joke about Frank's homosexuality, a reporter asked Frank if he wanted an apology from the Texan. "I’m trying to think of what I would be less interested in than an apology from Dick Armey," he replied. "Maybe the lyrics to the national anthem of Bhutan."

I'll wrap this post up with a cover I drew for Q Salt Lake. Playing up Rep. Frank's role on the House Banking Committee, I drew him as he might look on U.S. currency. This was in 1999, well before the subject of this week's Q Syndicate cartoon advocated throwing Mr. Frank in jail for the temerity of imposing rules and regulations on the banking industry whose reckless abandon (not, as Republicans have been trying to convince people ever since, schoolteachers' retirement plans) created the worst recession in 80 years.

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

It sure would have been nice to have had some warning that Barney Frank was going to announce today his intention not to seek another term. As you can see, this week's cartoon will have something to do with another (former) congressman with a talent for keeping the conversation interesting.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Q Toon: Rush on Coach Sandusky

Last week, Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience, "[Jerry] Sandusky has to be — he’s a gay guy. Nobody’s mentioning that aspect, because it’s just too dangerous." The Gay Mafia, Limbaugh explained, is enforcing omertĂ  on the mainstream media, keeping the former Penn State assistant football coach's homosexuality hidden way back in the closet.

This cartoon would have been easier to draw if Limbaugh hadn't taken the care to draw a distinction between gays and pedophiles. Right-wingers have a long history of broadcasting their belief that there is no difference between two consenting adults having a sexual relationship on the one hand and pedophiles or "Man-on-Dog" on the other. So I at least give Limbaugh credit for steering clear of that canard.

Another problem with this cartoon is that Limbaugh got more publicity out of calling Michelle Obama "uppity" this week, defending NASCAR fans who booed the First Lady as she, Dr. Jill Biden, a veteran and some children of servicemen prepared to say "Gentlemen, start your engines" a at a Florida race. Somewhere, an editor is wondering what Jerry Sandusky's legal problems have to do with a radio blowhard calling Mrs. Obama "uppity."

(Remember when all those elitist liberals booed First Lady Laura Bush at that one event? Yeah, neither do I.)

A couple weeks ago, when I drew a cartoon about Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, I was happy to see that  videos of him were going viral in the meantime, because it meant that there would be more readers who had some idea who he was. I don't need to worry about people not knowing who Rush Limbaugh is (although I will never forget a guy I dated for a while who thought that Senator Jesse Helms was an ally of the LGBT community; you can fool some of the people all of the time). I do expect, however, that a lot of readers will have no knowledge of anything Rush Limbaugh has said about the scandal at Penn State. 

With any luck, there will be some news event of common knowledge to draw about next week -- although there's a big holiday this week shutting down Washington D.C. and many of the big-name newsmakers around the country are taking most of the week off. Unless I finally find some gay angle to the Occupy Movement (oh, God, I hope Offisa Pike is straight!), I suspect that next week's cartoon will be just as obscure as this week's.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Q Toon: J. Edgar

And the winners in the expletive derby are "Gadzooks" and "Dang."

For all I know, J. Edgar Hoover was as foul-mouthed in private as Richard Nixon. Hoover came across as a hard-as-nails crime fighter, all business, who made it his business to know all the dirt on everyone in the country. That was before Susan Rosenstiel told Anthony Summers that Hoover got dressed up in drag to go out to Roy Cohn's private parties, where he was introduced to her as "Mary."

A little bit more back story to the cartooning here: I wanted to draw Hoover in drag in this cartoon, but after David Simpson's latest plagiarism scandal, I had to be careful not to copy Pat Oliphant's cartoon of J. Mary Hoover -- especially now that I gave This Land permission to cite me as having spotted three previously unnoticed examples of his down-to-the-crosshatch copying of other people's cartoons. (I would note that other cartoonists have spotted the same cartoons; The Oregonian's Jack Ohman also left a comment on This Land's previous article.)

To keep Hoover's garb contemporaneous with Hoover himself, the dress in the cartoon is patterned more after Marilyn Monroe's famous updraft dress or something out of the Folies Bergères. Not that it wouldn't have been fun to have shown him dressed like Snooki or Lady Gaga.

Monday, November 14, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

We almost went to see this movie this weekend. I wish we had gone to see it, though; it would have been helpful for this week's cartoon to know what sort of expletives Clint Eastwood and Dustin Lance Black put in the mouth of Leonardo DiCaprio's J. Edgar Hoover.

Tune in later this week to discover my choice.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Joe. (My God.) Walsh.

When I decided to draw this past week's cartoon about Illinois freshman Congressman Joe Walsh, I was worried that hardly anybody outside of his district would have any idea who he was. I certainly had never heard of him before.

I needn't have worried. The congressman has been caught -- twice --on video going batshit crazy at constituents, and both incidents have gone viral. He even made Willie Geist's "Week in Review" segment at the end of Morning Joe today.

So Joe Jervis of the blog Joe. My. God. took note of my silly cartoon, and almost all of the reader comments approve enthusiastically. (Sorry, Charlie.) I appreciate the feedback.

It feels good to be ahead of the news curve for once!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Q Toon: Joe Walsh, Family Supporter

This news item may not have the shock value of Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story, but we're giving it the notice it deserves here at Bergetoons. Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh (R-Teaparty, not the former Eagles guitarist) was recently named a "True Blue" member of Congress by the right-wing, gay-bashing Family Research Council. His "unwavering support of the family" falls somewhat short of supporting his own, however; he is more than $117,000 behind in child support payments to his ex-wife and children.
The thick nine-year-old divorce file in Cook County Circuit Court chronicles how every few years Laura Walsh has gone to court saying her ex-husband is not paying [child support] and asking a judge to order him to pay, sometimes garnishing his wages.
He claims that he and his ex agreed to let him slack off on child support.

Running for Congress is mighty darned expensive, you know.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This Week's Sneak Peek

Yes, this week, we're handing out awards!

Incidentally, I guess there is nothing coming of the ire from a prominent blogger to which I alluded a couple weeks ago. I was only forwarded a portion of the e-mail he sent to an editor, so I don't believe I could fairly characterize his opinion. Since that editor did not print the letter -- perhaps it wasn't meant for print -- there's no kerfuffle, no dispute.

That particular blogger has since become far more interested in the Occupy Wall Street protests, so unless and until the topic of whether Barack Obama has done anything for the LGBT community comes back to the fore, move along; there's nothing to see here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The David Simpson Plagiarism Scandal

Yet another case of plagiarism by fellow cartoonist David Simpson has been exposed. Simpson lost his job at the Tulsa World in 2005 after he was caught copying a 1981 cartoon by Bob Englehardt of the Hartford Courant. Lately, Simpson had been drawing for Urban Tulsa. A week or so ago, alert cartoonists recognized a cartoon about giving a jump start to a bomber in a junk yard as having been copied from a cartoon drawn by the late Jeff MacNelly during the Carter administration -- even the other junk in the cartoon was in exactly the same place. Rival publication This Land then unearthed three more copied cartoons. The resulting calumny has forced Simpson into early retirement.

Since the Urban Tulsa doesn't keep an on-line archive of its cartoons (and I guess Simpson is the only cartoonist in the world who doesn't post his stuff on the internet), This Land posted pictures of Simpson's UT cartoons requesting help spotting any more plagiarized work. I spotted three right away: #3 is straight out of an August, 1972 cartoon by Pat Oliphant; #12 rips off another Oliphant cartoon from December, 1975. #35 copies a Jim Borgman cartoon from August, 1985.

Then there's #16. It's not the entire cartoon that is copied from a September, 1975 Jeff MacNelly cartoon, it's just the garbage truck. I remember that garbage truck well.

Because I used it as a model for a garbage truck in a May, 1987 cartoon.

The garbage truck was the sole focus of the original MacNelly cartoon, which blamed New York City's sanitation workers for their contribution to the Big Apple's financial mess. The cartoon showed the Manhattan skyline inside the back of the truck.

Back in the Reagan administration, we didn't have the Google like the kids of today have. If I needed to draw a garbage truck in a cartoon, my options were a.) draw one from memory, b.) see if the dictionary has a picture of one, c.) drive around town until I found a parked garbage truck and draw it, or d.) Don't I have a cartoon of a garbage truck in my scrapbook somewhere?

So I'm reluctant to include Simpson cartoon #16 in the list of plagiarized cartoons, because it would mean I plagiarized, too. Besides MacNelly's garbage truck, I've referenced horses drawn by Pat Oliphant, whose drawings of horses in motion are some of the most alive and vibrant you will ever see in black and white. I certainly don't copy them, and I also reference Animals: 1419 Copyright-Free Illustrations of Mammals, Birds, Fish, Insects, etc., A Pictorial Archive from Nineteenth-Century Sources selected by Jim Harter (Dover Publications, Inc.You can probably find it in the art section of your local bookstore) .

We cartoonists copy images all the time. Just think of all the cartoons riffing on Shepard Fairey's poster of Barack Obama over the word "HOPE." (The poster image itself was swiped from an April, 2006 photograph by freelance photographer Mannie Garcia for the Associated Press.)

When Moammar Khadaffy was killed, several cartoonists whipped out cartoons showing the remnants of Pan Am flight 103 at Lockerbie, Scotland. Some didn't even bother to draw the image, but rather scanned the photograph and used that image as the basis of their cartoons.

Bob Gorrell
Creators Syndicate Inc.

Oct 20, 2011
None of them credited the photograph or the photographer. Was that plagiarism, then? The copyright notice at Wikipedia would seem to say yes. The "Fair Use" doctrine gives us cartoonists the wiggle room to say no.

By the way, just to be clear: I do not in any way think there is any possibility that David Simpson ever saw my 1987 cartoon about Ronald Reagan and the Contras. I'm very certain that he referred to Jeff MacNelly's cartoon when drawing his garbage truck. But since I remember the 36-year-old cartoon I used as a model for a cartoon I drew 24 years ago, I find it utterly incredible that Mr. Simpson claims he can't remember where he found his sources.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Q Toon: The Theoconoclasts

Now that gay and lesbian military personnel no longer have to lie about themselves, and since some of them are able to marry, a group of service members and veterans has filed a lawsuit that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is discriminatory. DOMA, passed by the Republican Congress in July, 1996 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, forbids any aspect of the federal government from recognizing the marriage of any same-sex couple in any way.

From the Washington Post:
Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, 41, and her wife, Casey, 34, are serving as lead plaintiffs in the suit, which includes five other troops and two career Army and Navy veterans. The McLaughlins, from Foxboro, Mass., married in December 2009 and have 10-month old twins. Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004.
Although Shannon pays for the twins’ health care through her military benefits, Casey, a former high school history teacher who gave birth to the twins, pays about $700 a month for a separate health-care account, the couple said. ...If Shannon is deployed, Casey would be barred from taking the twins to regular medical appointments at a nearby military base, the couple said.
“What Shannon and Casey are seeking is the same treatment that their straight counterparts, who are legally married, receive every day without question and take for granted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which helped organize the suit and once represented troops discharged for violating “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Likewise, same-sex widows and widowers of servicemembers are ineligible for survivors' benefits, unlike different-sex widows and widowers. Happily, there is nobody yet with standing to bring suit in that respect, but someone will inevitably be in that position someday.

It will be interesting to see how this legal issue plays out in court -- if the Republican-dominated state legislatures produced by the 2010 elections don't fast track a constitutional amendment first.