Monday, April 30, 2012

Sneak Peek of the Week

Returning to the 21st Century, here's the obligatory sneak peek at this week's Q Toon.

And still no word on the origin of Mr. Globehead.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whence Mr. Globehead?

Gary Docken and I were chatting about yesterday's blog entry, and Gary said he was surprised to see a cartoon with a character whose head was a globe appearing in a cartoon before World War I.

I have to admit that I have no idea where Mr. Globehead first appeared in a cartoon. Many of our editorial cartoon conventions can be traced directly to Thomas Nast (1840-1902): the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, and even the popular image of Santa Claus. Lady Liberty was an instant cartoon symbol as soon as her statue arrived in New York. Uncle Sam overtook Brother Jonathan as the popular representation of the United States after the Civil War. John Bull for England, Marianne for France, and the bear for Russia date back to the 18th Century.

My first assumption was that using Mr. Globehead to represent world opinion couldn't date before the advent of instant communication -- the telegraph and telephone -- in the late 19th Century. The European powers had already laid imperial claims to Asia, Africa, Australia and all the islands in between, so there might also have been cartoons in which one nation's rival's ambitions could be portrayed as threatening the world.

I have a fairly good collection of books of American editorial cartoons, but no exhaustive examples of Honoré Daumier or the many cartoonists for Punch. For that matter, Mr. Globehead could have appeared on posters advertising circuses, naval recruitment or heaven knows what else. He might have appeared as far back as 1492.

For that matter, the Man in the Moon has been staring down at us since long before Earthlings had eyes to look back at it, so the idea of putting a face on a big round ball is not a particularly novel concept.

The only other example of Mr. Globehead before WWI that I've been able to find is this at right by Frederick Opper (1857-1937). He's satirizing Joseph Pulitzer, then publisher of the New York World. Here the globe clearly is a reference to the name of Pulitzer's newspaper as well as to the planet; and while there is no body attached to it, there is a face.

I don't have a date of publication for this cartoon; one on-line source guesses that this cartoon might date from around 1900. Pulitzer had served in the U.S. Congress for 13 months, resigning his seat in April 1886 citing pressures of his publishing duties. This might possibly have inspired Opper's cartoon, except that he didn't start drawing for Hearst's New York Journal until 1899. In 1886, he was handling a wide array of artist's duties for the humor magazine Puck. Drawn & Quartered: The History of American Political Cartoons by Stephen Hess and Sandy Northrop says that this cartoon appeared in the New York Journal.
Continuing with items brought up in yesterday's blog entry, I came across this quotation from President William McKinley about the Philippines which helps inform R.C. Bowman's cartoon:
"When we received the cable from Admiral Dewey telling of the taking of the Philippines, I looked up their location on the globe. I could not have told where those darned islands were within 2,000 miles!"
My source, Volume 12 of the American Heritage New Illustrated History of the United States (1963) fails to mention the source of the quotation. (There is a bibliography, but no footnotes to connect specific citations to their respective sources.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another R.C. Bowman Cartoon on the Interwebs

One of the most viewed of my blog entries has consistently been this one, where I posted cartoons by turn-of-the-century editorial cartoonist for the Minneapolis Tribune R. C. Bowman about the Philippines. At the time those cartoons were drawn, 1900, the Philippines were an American colony, seized from Spain in the Spanish-American War.

Tracking back through the searches people were undertaking to find that blog post, I've found that a number of sites have posted the cartoon at left. Most of those sites probably found the cartoon at this Wikipedia page about the history of the Philippines.  While someone callously removed the cartoonist's signature, and it is therefore unattributed except to the Minneapolis Tribune, I'm fairly confident that this is yet another example of R.C. Bowman's work.

The American pretext for war with Spain centered on Cuba rather than the Philippines, but with the American declaration of war on April 25, 1898, Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt ordered Admiral Dewey's fleet to attack the Spanish ships at the Philippines. U.S. forces had begun arriving in Cuba four months earlier; the McKinley administration had been agitating for Cuban independence since November, 1897. I would guess that this cartoon had to have been drawn between January 25 and April 25, 1898.

I have to wonder what McKinley means to do within the context of the cartoon. Surely he doesn't mean to push the Philippines over the edge into the Spanish abyss. Nor does it make sense that McKinley is holding the Philippines back from jumping into it.

Indeed, the character most in danger of falling off the cliff would appear to be Mr. Globe there, whose heels are right on the edge, and whose head is so disproportionately huge relative to the rest of his body that the first little sneeze is likely to sending him toppling backwards.

I suppose another interpretation of the cartoon would be that it was drawn after Spain ceded the Philippines to the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris in December, but General Aguinaldo had already proclaimed Filipino independence on June 12. The McKinley administration opposed Aguinaldo's provisional government, but had no clear intention for the Philippines otherwise. Even if this cartoon were drawn in 1899, I still doubt that anyone in America or the Philippines seriously entertained the notion of returning the Philippines to Spanish rule.


Here's one additional bit of Filipino and presidential trivia: the first American governor of the Philippines, appointed in 1899, was none other than future American president William Howard Taft.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

QToon: Don't Say Gay

Republican legislators in Missouri and Tennessee are pushing "Don't Say Gay" bills, which prohibit any mention of homosexuality in sex education or, for that matter, any mention by a gay or lesbian teacher of his or her personal life at school. From a Huffington Post article:
[Missouri] House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Andrew Koenig (R-Winchester) told HuffPost. "It is a pretty political subject. I know there are a lot of parents that do not want the homosexual agenda taught in the schools." Koenig said he has heard of what he called a "homosexual agenda" being taught in elementary school, but when questioned, said he did not know of specific incidents "off the top of my head."
From that same article, there's this little insight into the mindset of the people who come up with this stuff:
State Rep. Steve Cookson (R-Fairdealing), the bill's principal author, was not available for comment. Cookson's assistant, Agnes Rackers, said Cookson rarely speaks to people from outside his southeastern Missouri district.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wouldn't an Infographic Have Been Just As Effective?

The Sioux City Journal printed a front page editorial and cartoon on bullying this Sunday. The cartoon, by Brian Duffy, shows a hand labeled "Community" reaching down to help a defensively crouching figure labeled "Bullied", as threatening shadows menace from the opposite side of the cartoon.
In a rare and forceful act of advocacy, an Iowa newspaper devoted the entire front page of its Sunday edition to an anti-bullying editorial after a gay teen committed suicide. Relatives have said 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. suffered intense harassment, including threatening cellphone calls and nasty comments posted online, after coming out to family and friends about a month ago. He died April 15 from what the local sheriff's office described only as a "self-inflicted injury." The Sioux City Journal's front-page opinion piece calls on the community to be pro-active in stopping bullying and urges members to learn more about the problem by seeing the acclaimed new film, "Bully," which documents the harassment of a Sioux City middle school student. It notes that while many students are targeted for being gay, "we have learned a bully needs no reason to strike."
Earlier in the week, somebody named Farhad Manjoo sniffed on Slate that editorial cartoonists don't deserve Pulitzer Prizes.
The backwardness of political cartoons is especially evident when you compare them to the bounty of new forms of graphical political commentary on the Web. My Facebook and Twitter feeds brim with a wide variety of political art—biting infographics, hilarious image macros, irresistible Tumblrs (e.g., Kim Jong-il Looking at Things), clever Web comics, and even poignant listicles.
If you haven't already, go check out the picture of the Sioux City Journal at the first link in this blog entry. Regardless of whether you think it's a great cartoon or not, it's a damn sight more effective than this:

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's cartoon is so simple, even an Australopithecene-American could do it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Toon from the Archives: Shock Light!

This week's cartoon (see yesterday's post) reminded me of a cartoon I drew in 1991:
The cartoon was based, more or less, on a shampoo commercial airing at the time, as well as on various ads for lower-calorie malt beverages.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

QToon: Don't Watch That! Watch This!

That's the problem with drawing a weekly cartoon. Remember that Hilary Rosen story? It's already been preëmted by the GSA Weekend In Las Vegas Scandal, which has already been superseded by the Secret Service - Colombian Hookers Imbroglio.

Since the Allen West story is now buried under layers of news cycle sediment, here's a quick reminder. At a public event last week, the Florida Republican and Tea Party darling was asked how many Marxists there are in Congress.
"That's a fair question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party. It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus."
There was a brief flurry of calls for West to disavow that McCarthyist crack, but the Congressman has steadfastly refused to do so.
My use of "Faux News" on the rolling anchor desk really does a disservice to the rest of the right-wing media who spent so much time and effort harping on Hilary Rosen's foolish crack about Ann Romney. The AM radio crowd and other Newsmaxis powers did their darnedest to keep the outrage going -- even Rush "She's A Slut" Limbaugh decried the supposed Liberal War on Women.

But not until I went looking for something to which this blog post could link did I find this tweet from America's own Torquemada, Bill Donohue:
“Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own."
Take that, you contumelious strumpet! 

Meanwhile, on the Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite front, I've now found that CS5.1 does not include the ability to import an image from a scanner or other Twain source. I've been twunked!

It's a good thing that trusty old Ulead Photo Express 3.0 still accepts input from my scanner. If only it saved files that other programs were able to find...

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

Progress report: I'm gradually learning my way around Adobe Photoshop CS5.1. This morning, I found where the command to format into CMYK color is.

Meanwhile, I can't find where Ulead's default location for saving the initial scan of my cartoons is. I've made a note of the path when I've saved these TIFF files, but when I go to open them in Photoshop, the folder is empty.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

QToon: Titanic History Lesson

Leave it to a cartoonist to take a tale of tragedy and valor and make poopoo jokes about it.

I have to give fellow Q Syndicate cartoonist Dave Brousseau the hat tip for bringing this story to my attention.

Archibald Butt and Francis Millet were real people. Butt was chief military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, continuing in the post under President William Howard Taft. He was born in Augusta, Georgia, and was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Millet had been a drummer boy in the Civil War, and later a surgical assistant. The two also shared experience in journalism, Butt with the Louisville Courier Journal and then a chain of southern newspapers, and Millet with the Boston Courier, New York Herald, London Daily News, and London Graphic reporting news of the Turko-Russian War.

Millet turned his attention to art, painting murals and helping found the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He invented an early form of spray paint. Unlike Butt, Millet married and had children, but in his sojourns in Europe, he has been romantically linked to travel journalist Charles Warren Stoddard.

In my cartoon, the two are described as "life partners," although that term is a creation of a much later era. Major Butt described their relationship more discreetly, according to the Daily article:
“Millet, my artist friend who lives with me” was Butt’s designation for his companion. (Their only recorded quarrel was over Millet’s choice of decoration for their home. Butt complained that the wallpaper, crammed with red and pink roses, from buds to full-blown flowers, made him feel giddy.) 
Major Butt was reportedly greatly distressed by the enmity that developed between Roosevelt and Taft to the point where it adversely affected his health, and took the occasion to accompany his artist friend Millet on a trip to Europe in 1912. They headed back to America as first-class passengers on the ill-fated Titanic on April 10, 1912. Butt boarded at Southhampton; Millet joined him at Cherbourg.

As the ship went down, they were both reported to have been seen helping women into the lifeboats, giving their life jackets to the ladies.

There is a fountain dedicated in 1913 to the memory of Archibald Butt and Francis Millet in Washington D.C. at the Ellipse on Executive Avenue.

Monday, April 9, 2012

This Week's Sneak Peek

I had to replace my computer last week, so I'm learning my way around a new operating system and graphics program. It's a good thing I'm taking a day off from the office job.

This all came about because of planned obsolescence from the folks at Silicon Valley. Our internet service provider switched the anti-virus program it packages as part of its service. We uninstalled the previous AVP, but were repeatedly thwarted in attempts to download and install the new one. The on-line help at the new AVP diagnosed the problem as being that Microsoft Service Pack 3 was not installed on our Windows XP computer.

Service Pack 3 refused to install no matter how many times the techies at Microsoft Bangalore had me go over the same instructions again and again, so the choice was to go without anti-virus protection or get a new computer. After digging up as many installation disks as I could find and  backing up every file conceivably worth having, we had a new Windows 7 computer built. (Yes, I know that a Mac would be a better computer.  If it were strictly up to me, I might have taken this as an opportunity to switch over.)

Installing the AVP on the new computer was a piece of cake, but the Adobe Photoshop installation was interrupted by a warning of "known incompatibility issues" with Windows 7 -- not surprisingly, since Elements 3.0 was designed before Windows 7 was a gleam in Bill Gates' eye.

Curiously, however, my old version of Ulead Photo Express, designed for Windows 98, installed without complaint. I've continued to use this old program because there are a few things it does better than Adobe Elements, such as putting that e-mail notice precisely where I want it; Adobe, for some reason, always stubbornly wants it a few pixels to the left, right, higher, and/or lower than I do.

Unfortunately, there are other areas where Ulead Photo Express falls short, so I sampled the trial version of Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 this morning. It took some digging to find some of the editing features I frequently use, but they proved to be in locations that made sense. I'll probably buy this program.

And I'll be going through much the same process at the office. The Windows XP OS computer on my desk tries and tries, but it has never been able to install Windows Service Pack 3, either.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Q Toon: Mitt's Ten Grand

A lot has been uncovered recently about the race-baiting and divisive tactics of the anti-marriage equality National Organization for Marriage (here personified by Maggie Gallagher). In among the other discoveries has been a $10,000 donation from Mitt Romney three weeks before the California vote on Proposition 8.

Mitt attempted to keep the donation under wraps by channeling it through his Political Action Committee, "Free and Strong America" and, apparently, failing to report it to state authorities. Well, not entirely secret -- the once and future presidential candidate certainly wanted the people devoted to breaking up same-sex households to know where the money came from.

With Romney, it has always been about perception:
"There’s something to be said for having a Republican who supports civil rights in this broader context, including sexual orientation. When Ted Kennedy speaks on gay rights, he’s seen as an extremist. When Mitt Romney speaks on gay rights, he’s seen as a centrist and a moderate." --Mitt Romney, in a 1994 Bay Windows interview
 I'm so relieved to know that he was for us before he was against us.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bill Clinton: You Know Who Started Individual Mandates? The Founding Fathers

Luke Russert interviewed former President William Jefferson Clinton on the Daily Rundown this morning, and I was struck by this exchange about whether insurance mandates in the 2010 Health Care Reform bill are constitutional. Most defenders of the bill have been desperately pointing out that ten to twenty years ago, Republicans -- such as the likely 2012 nominee -- favored the individual mandate, but Clinton takes it back further:

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"I don't think it was unconstitutional in any way, shape, or form. Even in the 1790's, there were mandates. George Washington mandated that shipping companies insure their employees; he signed a bill mandating that able-bodied citizens have firearms in their homes because they thought the British were coming again. John Adams signed a bill to mandate that individual seamen have hospitalization insurance. You know, to me, it's hard to take the constitutional argument seriously."

And while no government is forcing anybody to purchase broccoli these days, I seem to recall that certain municipalities have seen fit to require people to buy guns.

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week's peek is somewhat sneakier than usual.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's spring election is tomorrow (the first of three -- the second of four if you count our unseasonably warm February as part of spring this year). Even if you don't intend to vote in the Republican primary, there are important local elections whose campaigns haven't been ringing your phone off the hook all week. Not that they don't call, but certain national candidates make it difficult for anyone else to get through.

Here where I live, two of the candidates competing to be elected village trustee are Gary Johnson and Barry Johnson. I'm so glad I haven't had to listen to attack ads from their superPACs.