Monday, April 29, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

You're not in for a major national news headline issue this week here at Berge's Cartoon Blog. We might be headed for war with Syria over weapons of mass destruction. Hundreds are killed in Bangladesh. The Lieutenant Governor of Texas has called for the Sacramento Bee to fire its editorial cartoonist over a cartoon critical of Texas's vaunted laissez faire attitude toward occupational safety. I'm patiently waiting for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson to be David Letterman's Stooge of the Night.

And somehow, my deadline was too early for the news of NBA center Jason Collins coming out as 34, black and gay.

So, unless you already recognize the person in this week's sneak peek, you may be left scratching your head wondering why I settled on my topic.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Days of Dungeons and Dragons

We've pretty much cleaned up everything we can in our basement. Our little flood -- God's subtle way of telling us it was high time to clean up the basement -- may yet force us to replace the drywall in the furnished section of the basement, and we're crossing our fingers that no water wicked up through the corks of the wine bottles stored upside down in the bottom boxes. We've filled up our garbage bin twice and recycling bin once, and I've taken trumkloads of damp cardboard to the recycling dumpster at work; and there is still plenty of garbage left to go.

This is a drawing in colored pencil from the inside front cover of one of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books I had to throw out. I'm already forgetting which book -- I think perhaps it was inside the Dungeon Master's Manual, but I can't even remember finding a Dungeon Master's Manual in the box. I could swear that I owned one, but the more I think about it, the more I become convinced that I only scanned drawings out of three books.

And I remember for certain that the remaining drawings in this series were inside the Fiend Folio and the Monster Manual II.

At any rate, this was the second or third drawing, continuing the theme of having a doorway in the background. Or maybe it's a window. At any rate, this monster has arms long enough to be of some use. She clearly doesn't get enough sleep, however.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Q Toon: Gather Ye Merit Badges While Ye May

Amid the news of pressure cooker bombs in Boston and fertilizer plant explosions in Texas and fucking shit bombs in North Dakota, a news story overlooked in the chaos is that the Boy Scouts of America organization has decided to stop barring young boys who identify as gay from joining the Scouts. Gay and lesbian scout leaders and den mothers, such as Jennifer Tyrrell of Ohio (not, I feel obliged to point out, of Westeros) who was booted out last April, are still persona non grata.

It's the sort of half-baked semi-solution that won't last long.
"How does a (gay scout) commit his life to an organization who he knows full well is going to dump him the day he turns 18?" Tyrrell asked. "It would be really hard for that boy to believe in trustworthiness and loyalty and all those things that are important as a scout."
By the way, there's been some sort of problem with Q Syndicate's email since the weekend. All of my messages to Q Syndicate addresses came back as undeliverable (fortunately, some of the editorial staff have emails outside the system). My address there wasn't working, either. Logging in to retrieve my email, I found the inbox empty even of messages I had saved.

With luck, the syndicate is still able to distribute my cartoon and all the other features this week. But on the off chance that someone out there has tried to complain about last week's cartoon, I'm not really ignoring you. (You're just wrong is all.)

The comments feature of this blog still works.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

This week's sneak peek

My ink-slinging brethren and sistren are having a field day with the Senate's failure to move even tepid gun legislation, the chances for immigration reform, the bombing of the Boston Marathon, and even a fertilizer factory explosion in Texas (an excellent observation by Pat Bagley here, by the way). While there was an LGBT sidebar to the Boston story, I'm hoping my editors are looking for something in which the gay angle is less tangential.

Friday, April 19, 2013

D and D Days

Yesterday morning, I went down to the basement to fetch a box of cereal from the pantry, and stepped into a half inch of water.

Probably overworked due to this rainy spring, our eight-year-old sump pump had stopped, and water rising (we now believe) through a hole left in the floor by the guys who installed our basement bathroom covered the entire basement from one end to the other. I was able quickly to restart the sump pump, but a fair amount of damage was already done to nearly all of the cardboard boxes anywhere on the floor.

Among the lost items was a box full of the scripts from all of the plays I have ever been in (including a book of all of George Bernard Shaw's plays bought because the local theatre guild needed the scripts for You Never Can Tell returned) -- ouch! I also was forced to discard, some of my old friends will be horrified to read, all of my 1980's era Dungeons and Dragons manuals.

I haven't played D and D in nearly 30 years, but I couldn't throw those manuals out without first scanning the drawings I added inside the covers.

This is the first drawing, from the back cover of the Monster Manual. I drew it using some green fountain pen ink that had belonged to my grandfather, and without first sketching out a pencil outline of any kind -- meaning, whatever line I put on the page, I was stuck with.
What I'm saying there is that you shouldn't try to make any sense of this particular drawing. The short-armed ape-like beast, the mallet-wielding creature with eyestalks beneath its nose, and the fire-breathing horse aren't patterned after any monster in the game, mythology, literature, movies, or the Reagan administration.

Some of the other drawings make more coherent attempts to tell some sort of story. The media vary from Bic felt tip pens to colored pencil, some of which did not hold fast against a little bit of water at all. I'll be posting a few of the other sketches from time to time as the spirit moves me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Q Toon: Health Care POA DOA

It seems like only two years ago that President Obama signed a directive that all hospitals that accept federal funding must allow patients' same-sex partners visitation rights. Why, yes, it was exactly two years ago this past Monday, in fact.

Last week, Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, hauled a patient's civil-union-husband away from his bedside in spite of that directive, and had him arrested for being "disruptive." The hospital even went so far as to file a restraining order against the C-U-H of five years, Roger Gorley.

“I was not recognized as being the husband, I wasn’t recognized as being the partner,” Gorley explained.
He said the nurse refused to confirm that the couple shared power of attorney and made medical decision for each other.
“She didn’t even bother to look it up, to check in to it,” the Lee’s Summit resident recalled.
The hospital defends itself by noting that it was the family of the patient who wanted Gorley evicted from his husband's room, and they were merely respecting the wishes of "the family":
We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process. And, the patient's needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.
Happily, I have a good relationship with my husband's family and he with mine, but you can be sure that either of us would raise a stink if we were prevented from seeing the other in the hospital.

Monday, April 15, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the cowardly bomb attack at the Boston Marathon this afternoon.

Which has nothing to do with the sneak peek at the syndicated cartoon going out later this week.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One Thumb Down

When my Facebook feed started to fill up with notices of Roger Ebert's death, I commented on one of them that surely Gene Siskel had saved him an aisle seat in the balcony of the heavenly Rialto. I didn't bother to draw that as a cartoon, because I was confident that several other cartoonists were already hard at work drawing the exact same idea.

I was not disappointed.

Then, of course, there is curmudgeonly altie cartoonist Ted Rall:
Ted Rall
Universal Press Syndicate
Apr 10, 2013
I have so far not been able to attend any of the annual AAEC conventions; there always seems to be a wedding or a conflict with work or family schedules. I don't have any direct conflict for this year's convention in Salt Lake City, but now I'm afraid to go.

I can just see myself meeting Ted, and having a lively discussion about self-plagiarism, or cross-hatching, or whether there is any difference between Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Then, someday, he'd come speak at my funeral just to get the last word in about how wrong I was.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Q Toon: Mike Rice

Looking back over this year's cartoons, I notice that I've drawn an awful lot of cartoons about marriage equality lately. My editors are probably happy to see that this week's cartoon is about something else.

Last December, Rutgers University suspended men's basketball coach Mike Rice after administrators were shown video of him verbally and physically abusing his players -- hurling basketballs at their heads, shoving, kicking and manhandling them, calling them faggots -- you know, motivational stuff. Then ESPN showed the videos to the world, and the University hastily fired Rice.

It probably helped that the season was over, too.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This Week's Sneak Pique

According to (oh, please excuse me for mumbling there -- I meant the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health), high blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, huge bulging eyeballs, and other health problems.

They recommend that you get all worked up over it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Maggie Thatcher

In memory of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, here's a bit of my juvenalia that I've dug out of my files. When the Falklands War broke out in the spring of 1982, many of my fellow cartoonists went for "Evita" references. I reached for a much older musical:
If I were to draw this cartoon today, I would probably have drawn Thatcher in one of Mitzi Gaynor's outfits or some such. Whether there would be any comedic point in drawing General Galtieri and Al Haig as Ray Walston and John Kerr is debatable.

I didn't draw a whole lot of cartoons about Thatcher; she appeared as a supporting cast member in a few cartoons about America's allies, such as this one when Ronald Reagan was attacking Muamar Qaddafi in 1986:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Q Toon: Can't Figure Out the Cable Remote, Either

“Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new. I think it was first adopted in The Netherlands in 2000. So there isn't a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a — a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe. But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the internet? I mean we— we are not —we do not have the ability to see the future.” — Justice Samuel Alito. (Link.)

Why, for its first forty years or so, the U.S. Supreme Court sat around without taking any cases at all, reasoning that the whole damn country was an institution newer than the the lightning conductor or the steam engine.

On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that same-sex marriage is older than the Constitution.
"In the period up to roughly the thirteenth century, male bonding ceremonies were performed in churches all over the Mediterranean. These unions were sanctified by priests with many of the same prayers and rituals used to join men and women in marriage. The ceremonies stressed love and personal commitment over procreation, but surely not everyone was fooled. Couples who joined themselves in such rituals most likely had sex as much (or as little) as their heterosexual counterparts."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This Week's Sneak Peek

The sneak peek is a little bit late this week, and from the looks of things, His Honor does not appreciate having been kept waiting.

After all, you know what they say about Justice Delayed.

Monday, April 1, 2013