Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pogo and the Jack Acid Society

Hunting up Pogo on line last week, I came across a mention that in the early 1960's, Walt Kelly had satirized the John Birch Society in a series about the "Jack Acid Society." I had never seen that series, and was curious to find any other mention of it.

I found a site where someone had posted scans of several pages of a Pogo book where Pogo and Churchy fall in with (and eventually out the window of) the Jack Acid Society. It's mostly the zany madcap humor typical of the strip: thousands of monkeys at typewriters are producing pages of gibberish which the leaders of the Society treasure as profound literature; the real powers behind the group keep deposing the nominal figureheads of the Society at their whim.

On page 5, the incumbent leader of the Jack Acid Society is a chicken -- a chick, really -- named Prince Pompadoodle.
In some panels, he reminds me a little of Newt Gingrich. He may, I suppose, have been a caricature of a real John Bircher; Kelly certainly liked to de-anthropomorphize real people for his cartoon.

Before long in the story line, Pompadoodle is imprisoned within a bass drum and replaced with the unassuming Pogo. But Walt Kelly apparently liked Prince Pompadoodle's name, and brought the character back in 1968. By then, Pompadoodle had matured a bit, growing tail feathers, a southern accent, and a marked resemblance to Alabama Governor George Wallace.
As far as I know, Walt Kelly never found an excuse to revisit the character as a roosterfication of French President Georges Pompidou.

Monday, January 30, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

We're hopping into the wayback machine for this week's Q Syndicate cartoon. So dust off your waistcoat and britches, powder your wig and get ready to hold some truths self-evident.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Q Toon: Ante Up

Buried beneath the news of the Republican brawl for president, the U.S. Conference of Mayors last week came out in favor of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. 80 mayors -- Republicans, Democrats, and Bloombergs -- announced an initiative dubbed "Mayors for the Freedom to Marry." The move fell short of getting unanimous support -- mayors of Dallas and (Republican convention host) Indianapolis were two of the dissenters -- but was nevertheless overwhelmingly approved.

Some quotes from the mayors:

"Marriage for gay couples has made my city of Boston a much better place to live." -- Boston Mayor Thomas Menino

“Allowing loving and committed couples to join in marriage has benefits not just for couples and their families, but also for society.” -- San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

"For me, the question is not if marriage equality will come to all 50 states. The question is when, and with America’s mayors standing up for what is right in their cities, I believe that day will come sooner than most people think." -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

“I’ve often said in L.A. that it doesn’t matter who your father is ... and hopefully soon, it won’t matter if you have two of them.” -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Romney, a la Kelly

Since this caricature of Mitt Romney is pretty much a rip-off of a Walt Kelly cartoon, I'm not putting it up on the AAEC site. But it's something I wanted to draw, and I'm posting it here anyway -- which, I suppose makes this a Bergetoons Exclusive. Count yourself among a privileged few!

If you recognize the name Walt Kelly, it's probably as the cartoonist who created Pogo, a daily comic strip about an unassuming possum and a huge cast of animal characters who inhabited the Okefenokee swamp. Actually, the cartoon first appeared in book form in 1941 before moving to newspapers when Kelly was hired as editorial cartoonist of the New York Star in 1948.

Kelly drew a series of cartoons depicting the 1948 Republican presidential nominee with a cash register for a body. One such cartoon depicted Dewey placidly scooting along railroad tracks as two of the other three major candidates race to catch up to him. Kelly drew incumbent President Truman running blindfolded, alongside Progressive candidate Henry Wallace, who is encumbered by "168 gross of old boomerangs." Another cartoon showed the three candidates jealously sporting identical women's hats. (Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond is missing from these cartoons, I suppose, because as a strictly southern candidate, he wasn't a significant factor in New York.)

The Star folded a few months after Kelly started work there, and Kelly's editorial cartoons disappeared along with it. Pogo survived to be picked up by Post-Hall syndicate. Kelly still worked politics into his comic strip: a wildcat named Simple J. Malarkey appeared in 1953 as an obvious caricature of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy. J. Edgar Hoover showed up as a secretive, suspicious bulldog, and Vice President Spiro Agnew was a self-important hyena. Those are but the best examples out of many. Mitt's father, George Romney, made a brief appearance as a wind-up toy who sticks his foot in Pogo's mouth.

After Kelly's death in 1973, his widow, Selby Kelly, and son Stephen continued drawing for a couple of years. But the ever-shrinking size of newspaper comic space (which was still bigger in 1975 than it is today) was ill-suited for the densely drawn and wordy comic strip -- not to mention the lettering: there were characters who spoke in Gothic lettering, ornate script, or other flashy fonts. I have read that the Los Angeles Times revived the strip for a while starting in 1989, but that didn't last long, apparently.

Pogo remains one of my all-time favorite comic strips. Walt Kelly's uncanny ability to transmogrify politicians and issues into goats, spiders and wilder creatures, and his ability to entertain without sacrificing his message, are an inspiration to any editorial cartoonist who aspires to draw more than just didactic talking heads.

Monday, January 23, 2012

This week's sneak peek

So much for the "Battle of the Harbaugh Brothers" story line. And even the "Revenge of the Surviving Harbaugh Brother" story line got trashed..

It's going to take more than a couple of weeks to get worked up over the "Eli Gets to Play in His Brother's Sandbox" story line.

And this week's cartoon has nothing to do with any of that.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Git Along, Now, Rick Perry

Rick Perry announced today that he was dropping out of the GOP presidential race. After some frightfully bad moments in the candidate debates, and one loopy campaign appearance, the Texas governor sank from Party Darling to Late Night Punch Line. And finally, like former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman before him, he had fallen behind Steven Colbert in the South Carolina polls, so he had to admit that it was time to go.

But before he rides off into the sunset, here's a caricature of the feller, Texas swagger and all. (But curiously unarmed.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Q Toon: Troy Mayor Daniels

Tea Partisan Janice Daniels has only been mayor of Troy, Michigan since November, but she has quickly come to the attention of national LGBT groups for her vociferous antigay bigotry.

It started with a post on her Facebook page back in June, saying, "I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there." After the post blew up in her face in December, she apologized for the language, but not the sentiment, reiterating her opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples.

In an attempt at further damage control, she met with a gay-straight alliance (GSA) group at the Troy high school. The damage, however, spiraled further out of control:
According to [Troy High School senior Skye] Curtis and others who attended the meeting – including GSA member Zach Kilgore and lesbian couple Amy and Tina Weber – Daniels, while discussing mental health and suicide among members of the LGBT community, at one point suggested putting together a panel of psychologists to show that homosexuality is dangerous to your mental health.
Mayor Daniels has denied that she made such comments. She has also so far refused to release recordings her staff made of the meeting, so we are left to wonder whether or not she indeed knows how to watch what she says.

And perhaps it's a good thing if she doesn't. As the Detroit Free Press opined in a strongly worded editorial:
The most peculiar thing about bigots is that they never figure the term applies to them. Or they're smart enough to know that, at least in polite society, prejudice is like nose-picking. So prejudice in 2012 is the art of veiled references and coded language. ... It's a reason to be thankful for someone like Troy Mayor Janice Daniels, who wears her own irrational biases like a fashion accessory of which she is especially proud. She's a throwback who makes it distressingly clear how elusive tolerance still is. ... 
[I]t's better for residents in Troy to hear what she's really thinking, and see how she's representing them publicly. Elections have consequences, and Daniels' embarrassing run so far as mayor of Oakland County's largest city is a good reminder of how swiftly those consequences can materialize.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I'm taking a break from presidential politics this week to comment on a local story out of Troy, Michigan.

Besides, the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire have spoken and the voters of South Carolina speak on Saturday, which means the presidential nominating process is over, anyway. Right?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Keep the Martin Luther King in Martin Luther King Day

"Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man."
--Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Newt Gingrich caricature

Today's caricature is of our old buddy, Newt Gingrich.

Mike Peters has a cartoon about Gingrich in the latest Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year in which he has shaded in Newt's hair. It looks all wrong in grayscale, so I assume it was meant to be printed in color.

What color would you shade Newt's hair? Light blue?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rick "Dastardly" Santorum

Earlier this week, I mentioned that after having inked Rick Santorum riding his dog in this week's Q Syndicate cartoon, it hit me that I could have cast them as Dick Dastardly and Muttley.

Returning to that thought:

With apologies to Messrs. Hanna and Barbera.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ron Paul caricature

If a cartoonist gets half an idea -- a germ of an idea that just doesn't sprout, he has two options: he can either post it as a caricature of the person involved, or he can put an empty caption balloon on the cartoon and post it as a Cartoon Caption Contest.

Cartoonists are divided on the merits of these CCCs. Some of the younger, internet-savvy ones embrace it as a way to be interactive with their audience, while some of the older fellas think it's a waste of time.

Middle-aged cartoonists -- those of us who have embraced Facebook but don't have thousands of followers on Twitter -- view CCCs as a way to salvage cartoon ideas that just weren't gelling. Why wait to have a complete cartoon idea when you can just start drawing, and if you don't have a caption by the time everything else is drawn, just let the reader fill it in for you?

So anyway, I'm drawing a few caricatures of the candidates who are going to be yesterday's news before voters in 47 states get any chance to have any say in the matter. Here's Ron Paul for ya. If you can think of anything for him to say, not only can you fill in your own caption, I'll let you draw the balloon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Q Toon: Santorum Out of the Gate

Just in time for contrary results out of New Hampshire, here's this week's cartoon for Q Syndicate:

After having already inked Mr. Santorum and his dog, it occurred to me that I could have drawn them as Dick Dastardly and Muttley from the Wacky Races, a Saturday morning cartoon from the 1970s. I wonder if anyone would have recognized them. (As it is, I'm hoping the caricature of Santorum is recognizable enough, since I opted not to label him.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Last week's cartoon was about Ron Paul, who was surging in the Iowa polls when I drew it. Then Rick Santorum essentially tied for first in the Iowa caucuses
Drawing this week's cartoon about Rick Santorum when he's not particularly likely to repeat that performance in New Hampshire tomorrow may have been kind of foolish. But on the other hand, why save this cartoon for later when the history of polling this year suggests that second place is followed very quickly by oblivion?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Q Toon: The Ron Paul Report

Oh, Iowa! You send Ron Paul to the top of the Anti-Romney heap in the week before your caucuses (cauci?), so I go to work to churn out this cartoon about Ron Paul and his lovely little newsletters, cramping my hand creating all the teeny tiny type, and what do you do? At the last minute, you decide to make Rick Santorum the story, after stubbornly ignoring him for an entire year!

How do you expect anybody to pay any attention to you in the future if you can't be serious about the selection of a presidential candidate? 

The rest of us (well, outside of New Hampshire) don't get to meet candidates strolling into our breakfast nooks and hardware stores. If we see them at all, it's from the back of a crowd, catching Mr./Mrs. I Want Your Vote as he/she sweeps through the state on the way to some other state a thousand miles away -- that is, if we feel like standing around in the cold starting at 6:00 a.m. for a campaign visit that is scheduled for 11:30 but that includes an hour and a half of pep talk from local politicos and activists and a couple of pastors before the Candidate actually strolls onto the stage.

At least we think that's him/her. It could be that comedian from Saturday Night Live. The Candidate's plane is snowed in at Buffalo. Or Boise.

And if we're not able to lose a whole day at work for the stump speech the press corps can recite in its sleep, what are we left to do to decide who ought to lead the free world? 

We can always Google the guy. 

Oh, Iowa...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I had this week's cartoon drawn a few days early this week -- I couldn't manage to do the same for Christmas weekend, but I figured my editors and myself would appreciate a little time off for the New Year's holiday.

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012, with no pesky Mayans to spoil your joy.