Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

It's time for my annual snapshot of the Year In Front Pages, which is embiggenable if enclickulated:
Newspaper front pages don't necessarily reflect the same news as the 24-hour news channels; a single headline seldom adequately encapsulates events that unfold over an extended period of time, such as this year's protests against police tactics, or the unsuccessful search for a missing plane.

Also, the ones I have access to tend to be Yankee-centric --hence "U.S. Ramps Up Fight on Ebola" and the lack of banner headlines about elections in India or the gunman who attacked the Canadian Parliament.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to read my little drawings this year. Best wishes, and we'll see you bright and early in 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Now that Sony has ended up putting out "The Interview" in "limited release," we'll be hearing from the people who have claimed that the hacking and threatening of Sony over the film was an inside job in order to gin up interest in the film. If they are right, the gambit seems to have worked.

I still tend to believe that the same sort of people who hacked PlayStation on Christmas will turn out to be the culprit, but what do I know?

Anyway, this fellow is not contemplating a ticket stub from his local multiplex. Tune in later this week to find out what his problem is.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Q Toon: Coming Attractions

Q Syndicate✒Dec 25, 2014

The cable channel still known as "The Learning Channel" plans to air a special in January titled "My Husband's Not Gay." As the cartoon explains, the show peers into the lives of a handful of gay Mormons and the women who married them plus one single gay Mormon guy in the market to marry such a woman.

I'm sure he's quite a catch.

We had some distribution problems with this week's cartoon, which is challenging enough with a midweek holiday. I had to send my cartoon files (a grayscale version, a high-resolution file for printing, and a low-resolution file for the web) to an alternate address which I apparently didn't have quite right. I've been cc-ing that address for years without getting any mailer daemon alert, so somewhere at there is an untended email address filling up with cartoons.

Monday, December 22, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

It must be the power and prestige.

A more definitive answer will appear at this general web address later this week.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kim Jong Uncool, Man!

I hardly ever have any reason to draw cartoons about North Korea, but since that overweight brat Kim Jong Un blew his top over The Interview and now nobody gets to see it, here's a cartoon I drew in 2005 when his daddy was still in charge.
It's not as if there was any chance that I was going to shell out my hard-earned pay to see Seth Rogan's latest opus, but dammit, now any kid living out of his parents' basement with internet access can decide what films I can and cannot watch.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Q Toon: Eviction Notice

The Michigan statehouse is cranking out what they call a Religious Freedom Protection Act, so that Jews can't be fired for refusing to work on the Sabbath. To protect Muslim butchers from being forced to offer pork roast to their customers. To guarantee Sikhs the right to wear turbans in their driver's license photos.

No, no, of course that's not the reason. It has nothing to do with the rights of religious minorities. Now that a tide of marriage equality is sweeping the land, something must be done to ensure fundamentalist Christians' right to discriminate against couples they don't like.
Q Syndicate✒Dec 18, 2014

The other day, I read a blog post about "Writing People of Color (if you happen to be a person of another color)" by MariNaomi. The essay included an observation by Keith Knight that "Silly 'ethnic' names and stereotypical dialect should be avoided."

Well, shoot. There go my plans to name a character of color "LiBrarian Bookman."

I often have to give names to the generic people who speak in my cartoons -- at least in the pitch that I send to my editors, even if those names don't appear in the final product. (My editors and I are the only ones who know which is Abby and which is Zoe this week.) I have a page of my sketchbook dedicated to jotting down wordplay names as they occur to me, perhaps to be used later. A few betray an ethnic background, such as "Juan Thieu III."

I grew up in a generation who could expect to have three classmates named "Steve," four named "Mike," and a bunch of "Sues" and "Anns." At least one other classmate was guaranteed to have the same name as you. For variety, "John" might be spelled without the "h," or "Erica" with a "k" instead of the "c."

Many of my fellow baby boomers decided that their own children should have unique names, although the result was a flash flood one year or another of "Ryans" "Ashleys," and "Madisons." (If I give a character one of these names, my editors can tell exactly how old he/she is.) In a desperate attempt to forge uniqueness, many parents resorted to deliberately misspelling their children's names: "Riyann," "Aschleeigh," "Madicine."

I don't know whether African-Americans started this trend or were merely swept up in it along with everybody else, but I would argue that you'll find some of the most inventive names among African-American Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers and Millennials. Some parents found wonderful names by researching their heritage. Others just made baby names up out of random syllables.

This has resulted in a lot of confusion for the people who have had to deal with these babies as they grew older. I know of a teacher scolded by a student's mother for mispronouncing the name, which included a hyphen, of her daughter: "The dash don't be silent!" (Apologies to Mr. Knight for using stereotypical dialect, but that is a direct quotation.)

If parents of any color today are looking to saddle their children with unusual, even bizarre names, I can suggest leafing through Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, with fellows named "Doremus," "Shad," and "Berzillius." The quack doctor in my cartoon last week, in fact, was named after an incidental character in the book.

All this is a roundabout way of cluing you in, dear reader, that there is an extremely obscure Merry Christmas reference in this week's cartoon somewhere.

Monday, December 15, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Uh-oh. Looks like these two, while dotting their i's and crossing their t's, inadvertently crossed an "l." And they're not Polish.

Or perhaps they've screwed up in a scavenger hunt.

All will be revealed sometime around Thursday.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Double Issue!

My copy of Time magazine's Person of the Year issue arrived in the mail today, and on page 16, there's a collage of covers of all 46 issues of the magazine this year.

It used to be that you subscribed to Time (or Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report) and got 52 issues every year. 53 if there were a January 1 issue and a December 31 issue that year. Now there are at least six weeks during which they simply don't put out a magazine.

The reason for this is the "Double Issue," which supposedly gives you double the value one week so that the magazine's staff can take the next week off. This year, those were the "100 Most Influential People" issue (May 5 / May 12, 2014, 150 pages), "The Smarter Home" (July 7 / July 14, 2014, 108 pages), "The Genius Issue" (Dec. 1 / Dec. 8, 2014, 118 pages), and "Person of the Year" (Dec. 22 / Dec. 29, 2014, 164 pages, four of which are alternative cover pages).

By the way, those first two covers at right are the December 23, 2013 Pope Francis Person of the Year issue (also a "double issue") and the December 30, 2013 The Year In Pictures issue. This year's Person of the Year cover(s) isn't (aren't) included.

So that's actually only 45 issues dated 2014, assuming that "The Year in Pictures" will come out in two weeks as the January 6, 2015 issue.

Or, I'm guessing, the January 6 / January 13, 2015 double issue. Who wants to work between Christmas and New Year's, anyway?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Q Toon: Rebranding the Tool

Q Syndicate✒Dec 11, 2014

This week's cartoon applies only in the states of California and New Jersey, plus the District of Columbia, where laws banning "reparative therapy" to change a minor’s sexual orientation “including efforts to change behaviors, gender identity or expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same sex or gender” have been signed into law. (Language from the D.C. bill.)

Court challenges by conversion therapy advocates to the California and New Jersey laws on the grounds that their exercise of religion was being infringed were both rejected. A court challenge to the D.C. law may be unnecessary, should the Republican Congress decide to step in. (Republicans talk a good game about "local control," but put them in charge of state and federal government, and they will not hesitate to make decisions about how big cities they don't live in ought to be run.)

Meanwhile, a similar laws failed to pass in New York, Maryland, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington in the latest biennium.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

God Rest Ye Merry

Digging into the water-damaged section of my ancient work, we find this cover illustration for the UW-Milwaukee Post from December, 1990:

Monday, December 8, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

In matters that have nothing to do with this week's cartoon, a small contingent from the Westboro Batshit Church has been picketing churches, schools and other sites in my neck of the woods yesterday and today. Their targets included the high school just two blocks from where I work; their picketing was planned for dismissal time, so the school let out two hours early.

I opted not to take part in the spectacle, although some people from work did take the time to counter protest the Westboro Clan in the chilly drizzle. (Beth A. Gilmore set up a Facebook page on the Racine counter-protesters' behalf; the Racine Journal Times's coverage of the Westborg and the counter-protests at St. Lucy's afternoon mass is here.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Q Toon: No Sugar Plum Fairies Here

It's time for this year's Christmas themed cartoon!
Q SyndicateDec 5, 2014

I don't much like cartoons that are this wordy, especially when they're all packed into one panel. But that big, overstuffed text balloon did save me from having to research whether there should have been loge seats or balconies behind it.

And it does make my cartoon stand out when every other cartoon out today gets by with only three words.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Does This Ring a Bell?

Due to technical difficulties (namely going through the entire day yesterday thinking I had already uploaded the file to the AAEC web site when I hadn't), this week's Q Syndicate cartoon will be delayed until tomorrow.

Yes, I could have dated the cartoon for release today when I uploaded it this morning, but I let the default date of Tomorrow slide. If you really can't wait, it's up on the Between the Lines and the Bay Area Reporter sites.

Otherwise, faithful reader, I promise to have the cartoon up with my own thoughts about it tomorrow; and in the meantime, here's an old Christmas Cheer cartoon from 2001.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Q Toon: AIDS at 30-Something

Q Syndicate✒Nov 26, 2014

My apologies for spoiling somebody's Thanksgiving appetite, but I decided to draw a cartoon for World AIDS Day (December 1) this week.

Which presented the challenge of How To Draw AIDS. For a cartoon marking the supposed 20th anniversary of the disease (or more precisely, of its diagnosis in the U.S.), I had drawn it as a skeleton; but that was a particularly unsatisfying personification. Any  deadly disease -- or terrorism, or freeway accidents or the Republican alternative to Obamacare -- can be depicted as a skeleton.

Instead, I decided to draw whatever the virus is actually supposed to look like, which is, apparently, a bucky-ball with polyps. And, I arbitrarily decided the other virus would be the poliovirus, at the risk of alarming someone out there who knows that I got their relative sizes wrong or whatever.

Monday, November 24, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Pelican Publishing has informed us editorial cartoonists that there will be no more editions of Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year.

The move is not particularly surprising. The series's longtime editor, Charles Brooks, passed away a couple of years ago. The last two editions have been edited by Steve Kelley, who produced a well-balanced book, and Dean Turnbloom, who didn't. Yet even before that, a significant number of the very best practitioners of our dwindling profession declined to submit their work for consideration; if not for the award-winning cartoons printed on the first several pages, the book's title was often rather dubious.

As for this week's cartoon: I had hoped to be able to include a street sign for Huguenot Walloon Drive in the cartoon as a tribute to the late Mike Nichols; that was the name of the street Nichols and Elaine May would use when they needed to include a street address in their skits. Unfortunately, there was no place for a street sign anywhere in the cartoon.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Q Toon: What's Good for the Michigoose

Q Syndicate✒Nov 20, 2014

Just before I left for vacation, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals went against a wave of appellate court rulings by deciding that it is constitutional for Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. The two Republican appointees found in DeBoer v. Snyder that
By creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States created an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring. That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do
not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring. 
This, after earlier noting that in the case of the Michigan couple named as plaintiffs, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse,
Marriage was not their first objective. DeBoer and Rowse each had adopted children as single parents, and both wanted to serve as adoptive parents for the other partner’s children. Their initial complaint alleged that Michigan’s adoption laws violated
the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The State moved to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of standing, and the district court tentatively agreed. Rather than dismissing the action, the court “invit[ed the] plaintiffs to seek leave to amend their complaint to . . . challenge” Michigan’s laws denying them a marriage license.
So I guess marriage discrimination is intended to promote tax breaks for opposite-sex couples having "unintended offspring." Which puts Republican opposition to "Planned Parenthood" in a whole new light.

Monday, November 17, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

I'm back from The Big Easy and drawing more-or-less current events again this week.

If you're carousing in the Crescent City any time soon, be sure not to limit yourself to Bourbon Street. We caught a couple really good, young jazz bands performing at bars on Frenchmen Street (which, admittedly, is only spitting distance from the French Quarter anyway).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Q Toon: Nature v. Nurture

Q SyndicateNov 13, 2014

I have no firm opinions on the Nature vs. Nurture debate -- that is, are gays born this way, or is it how we were raised? -- but the subject in this week's cartoon has a few ideas of his own.

Monday, November 10, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Meanwhile, in a leather recliner far away, mild-mannered New Yorker reader Werner Klapsdoktor spotted an amusing cartoon about dogs enjoying a costume party in the Hamptons.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

If I Seem Distracted

If I've seemed distracted lately, and if next week's cartoon seems curiously disconnected from current events, please accept my apologies. Chris and I were married yesterday evening.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Q Toon: Terms of Service

Since I had to send this week's cartoon to the syndicate Monday morning, it is not about the results of Tuesday's elections.

Q Syndicate✒Nov 6, 2014
At this point, you may be anxious to discuss something else, anyway.

You may recall that, back in June, CNBC squawking head Simon Hobbs had an awkward moment on his TV show when he mistakenly assumed the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay was common knowledge. (My blog entry on that is here.) Mr. Cook has decided to let Mr. Hobbs off the hook, whereupon Mr. Hobbs has probably added his outing of Mr. Cook to his list of successful market forecasts.

Meanwhile, this leaves the ladies from my Million Moms cartoons puzzling whether to okay the latest iTunes update.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Approve This Message

Now that another election is over and you find that you miss all those obnoxious, mendacious, cynical, vicious, snide, sleazy campaign commercials, take heart. There is still AM radio.
And if your inbox seems empty without those 40-50 daily emails from politicians and their staffers begging you for money, there are always Nigerian princes happy to fill the void.

Monday, November 3, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Come back later this week for the return of Stockard Character, the Mom who's One in a Million.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Q Toon: Hysteria in Liberia

Q Syndicate✒Oct 30, 2014
U.S. media have been preoccupied with the very few people in this country who have had Ebola. Frightened by the prospect of Doctors Without Borders coming home to American bowling alleys, governors have hastily imposed quarantines on health care workers returning from the front lines against the disease. Faux News and fear-mongering Republicans stoke panic that somehow Mexicans will bring Ebola across the Rio Grande.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic where Ebola really is a problem, it didn't take long for Liberian clergy to blame the disease on God's Wrath Against The Gays:
Earlier this year, the Liberian Council of Churches said in a statement that God was angry with Liberians "over corruption and immoral acts" such as homosexuality, and that Ebola was a punishment.
In May, Archbishop Lewis Zeigler of the Catholic Church of Liberia said that "one of the major transgressions against God for which He may be punishing Liberia is the act of homosexuality," local media reported.
Antigay hysteria is nothing new in Liberia. In 2012, Senator and former First Lady Jewel Howard Taylor pushed a bill increasing Liberia's penalty for homosexual acts from the current one to three years in prison to her proposed death sentence. A similar bill was proposed in the Liberian House by Clarence K. Massaquoi, but President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stated she would not sign any such bill. Still, decriminalization of homosexuality is nowhere on Liberia's horizon.

An Economist cover story earlier this month on the widening split in attitudes toward homosexuality in the West and the rest of the world includes a map of countries where homosexual acts were either criminalized or decriminalized since 1966. I should note that one of the Ebola-stricken countries, Côte d'Ivoire, is included among the countries in which homosexual acts per se are not against the law.

Monday, October 27, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Lord, grant me the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Or else!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Q Toon: Sistine Canticles

Q Syndicate✒Oct 23, 2014

Last week, I drew a deliberately detail-free cartoon: a rainbow, a Lady Justice, and some calligraphy. Anything further would have distracted from the point of the cartoon. As a result, it didn't take a particularly long time to draw once I started inking it.

This week's cartoon is another story altogether, and at one point I emerged from my basement lair in order to let ink dry before going back and adding background details. Chris asked me if I were finished drawing yet. "No," I told him. "I'm drawing the Sistine Chapel."

"Are you going to finish in time to go on vacation this year?"

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Q Toon: The Arc of the Moral Universe

Q Syndicate✒Oct 16, 2014

Well over a week after the fact, here's my response to the Supreme Court's decision not to overturn lower court rulings finding marriage discrimination unconstitutional.

It's not often that I put out something with no attempt and humor, irony, or at least sarcasm, but I decided that was the way to go this time. Nick Anderson's cartoon the morning after the decision portrayed the judicial situation better than most, although I thought it would be funnier to show Justice Roberts -- or perhaps several justices -- slapping a hand over an apoplectic Justice Scalia's mouth. But then Mike Keefe drew this one, so that idea was out.

And the judgments keep rolling in -- Idaho, Alaska, Nevada, North Carolina -- and suddenly one wonders which state will be the last to withstand the tide. Alabama?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Scott Walker Caricature

It's time for installment #3 in my series of Wisconsin candidates for office in 2014:

Here the incumbent governor, Republican Darth Snotwalker, takes to the classroom to teach the state a little lesson in division.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

This week, a little something for all you bondage fetishists out there.

And toga partiers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday

I had wanted to post this front page on September 13, the 40th anniversary of the demise of Chicago Today, but I couldn't remember where I had stored my copy.
So, here, on the 40 Year And One Month anniversary is the front page of the final, "souvenir" edition of the 7-star edition of Chicago Today. The tabloid Chicago Today was created in 1969 as the successor to the Hearst-founded broadsheet Chicago Herald American. At its demise, it was one of two afternoon papers in Chicago -- still boasting that it had the higher circulation of the two -- and was folded into its owner, the Chicago Tribune, bringing all the cartoons, columnists, and other features with it. 

For a time, the Tribune continued publishing a "red streak" edition in the afternoon. Its news was updated from the morning edition, but its features were not. It's hard to imagine why the publishers thought an afternoon paper with identical features to the morning edition would sell better than an afternoon paper with its own features.

You can read a more complete history of the Chicago American and Chicago Today at the Chicagology site here.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mary Burke Caricature

Continuing a series of caricatures of characters running for office in Wisconsin this year, here's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

I drew her squinting because one of her first TV ads had her squinting into the sun as she spoke to the camera, and that was the first impression she left on voters.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rob Zerban caricature

Between now and the November election, I'm posting a few caricatures of mostly Wisconsin candidates for office. 

I'm starting today with Rob Zerban, a Democrat from Kenosha making his second run for the First District congressional seat held since 1999 by Republican Paul Ryan. In 2012, he received 43% of the vote against Ryan's 55% in spite of the Romney-Ryan ticket at the top of the ballot losing the district to Obama-Biden.

Ryan did not debate Zerban during the 2012 campaign, but will meet him at Carthage College on October 13 and at UW-Rock County on October 20. Both debates are at 6:30 p.m., require advance tickets to attend in person, and should be over before Monday Night Football's kick-offs.

Zerban faces an uphill struggle against Ryan, a prominent leader of the Republican establishment, in a district that was redistricted to be safe for Republicans in 2001 and safer still in 2011.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Q Toon: Monday Morning Deadline Blues

Q SyndicateOct 9, 2014
So I'm spending the entire weekend stewing over what to draw for the LGBT press and finding nothing inspiring in the news until I come across a little item about South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham floating the idea that he might consider thinking about mulling the possibility of running for president in 2016. And I scour the internet trying to find a photo of Senator Graham taken from his right and spend a couple of hours sketching and erasing and resketching and re-erasing and getting thoroughly annoyed with the utter failure of his face to translate onto the page until I decide, Oh, screw it, I'm inking what I've got because it's getting late on a Sunday night and it's been a long enough day already. And I wake up in the morning to scan and colorize the cartoon, and I send the finished product off to the syndicate and post a Sneak Peek on this here website, and I get into the car and drive to work on the first Monday in October.

And as I'm getting out of the car, I hear the report that the Supreme Court has decided to let a bunch of lower court rulings in favor of marriage equality stand.

Monday, October 6, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Why, it's the first presidential campaign cartoon of the 2016 season, right on schedule.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Q Toon: Michele You Say

I thought I wouldn't be drawing any more cartoons about Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann now that she's retiring from Congress, but I guess I was wrong.
Gay blogger/Sirius dude Mike Signorile tried to engage Bachmann on the topic of marriage equality at the Value Voters Summit, but she would have none of it. According to Signorile's tweet, she walked away sniffing that gay marriage is "not an issue... in fact, it's boring."

Bachmann later qualified the remark to the right-wing World Net Daily, saying, "What I said is that this won’t be the issue that drives the 2014 election. I told the reporter it’s getting boring having them only press this issue with Republicans while ignoring Democrats."

Bachmann has a history of running away from non-sycophantic reporters, so it's entirely believable that she is still very interested in discriminating against same-sex couples. The Republican party in general, however, has suddenly taken a vow of silence on the issue now that it appears opposition to marriage equality turns off moderate and independent voters.

Not that they're getting off that nest any time soon.
(Something appears to have gone wrong with the AAEC site today. My apologies for the watermarked version of this week's cartoon, but I have to protect my editors' interests.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

By Their Fruit Shall Ye Know Them

I first saw Jerry Holbert's Boston Herald cartoon about intruders in the White House on the site, so I didn't see anything wrong with it. The cartoon shows President Obama brushing his teeth in the White House living quarters bathroom, surprised by a stranger bathing in the tub behind him who says, "Have you tried the new raspberry flavored toothpaste?"

Only that's not how it appeared in the Boston Herald. In their original version, the toothpaste flavor was watermelon, which a lot of people thought echoed the racist image of Little Black Sambos grinning from ear to ear enjoyin' demsefs a big ol' watermelon.
“I feel awful about the perception that it was racist, but it was nothing of the sort,” Holbert tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I wanted another flavor of toothpaste for the cartoon, and we had a bottle of Colgate kids’ toothpaste that was watermelon-flavored … watermelon seems to be a big flavor these days, so…I went with it.”
Apparently, the editors at Holbert's syndicate thought it was something of the sort, enough to have him change the toothpaste flavor; anything of the sort certainly slipped by his editors at the Boston Herald.

There has been a lot of things of the sort going on lately. Some feminists were upset by a Jeopardy category this week called "What Women Want" (for example, "Some help around the house; would it kill you to get out the Bissell bagless canister one of these every once in a while?" "What is a vacuum cleaner?") Christianists have complained about people mocking Tim Tebow's praying on the football field, but no team he played on was ever penalized 15 yards for it as the Kansas City Chiefs' Husain Abdullah was Monday night.

Do racism, sexism, or religious bigotry have to be intentional? In effect, no. The name of the Washington Redskins and the tomahawk chop of the Atlanta Braves (and surely of the Chiefs) offend Native Americans whether or not someone sat down and decided, "You know what? I think we should all get together and offend some Indians."

It isn't Political Correctness to try to avoid giving offense to people, intentionally or unintentionally. Yes, there may be some hypersensitive people out there, and I myself certainly can't promise that I'll never offend some group of people. Heck, I'd say that I offend people for a living except that I don't quite make a living from it.

But we take this episode as another warning to be mindful of stereotypes and cultural insensitivity. I'm not sure how anybody could fail to catch the racist association there is between African-Americans and watermelons. Image-googling "Obama watermelon" will show you that there are plenty of racist assholes out there who know it very well.

Monday, September 29, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Having spent so much time at the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning this weekend, I just tore a page out of a children's book for this week's cartoon.

And won't those children be ticked off when they find out!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

At the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning

I spent yesterday at the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning, sitting behind Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis and getting to be the 40,000th person to tell him how excellent his very personal cartoon this week about domestic abuse was.

I was curious to know how long his internal editor might have held up his cartoon idea between "Should I draw this?" and "I have to draw this," His answer: "55 years."

His presentation to the room at large included discussion of complaints he has gotten over the years. One example concerned the cartoon shown above, an apology for having supported Iraq War II ten years earlier. Somebody had responded by agreeing with his eventual opposition to the war but complaining, "Where were you ten years ago?"

To which his response was, "Did you not read the beginning of the cartoon?"

Thursday, September 25, 2014


This week's cartoon probably comes too late for my monthlies and too early for my weeklies. With Adrian Peterson smiling back at me from my breakfast box of Wheaties, where else could I go this week?
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 25, 2014

By my count, this is the fifth cartoon I've drawn this year about the NFL — which is a lot, if you consider that I draw one cartoon for Q Syndicate per week. I'm already at one out of ten for the year.

I suppose something had to replace "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

Honey? We haven't been violating the league's copyright by re-purposing the accounts or descriptions of their games for something other than our private use, have we?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Q Toon: The Secretive Nym

Turning our attention now to what has been classified as a First World Problem:
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Sep 18, 2014

Facebook has lately gone on a tear against drag performers whose Facebook pages are under their performance names rather than the names on their drivers' licenses -- closing down the performers' Facebook pages and requiring them to change the name on their accounts. This is because of Facebook's "real names" policy, which is supposed to protect against accounts set up to impersonate another user, for example. As a company spokesman put it, the policy is intended to “prevent bad behavior, while creating a safer and more accountable environment.”

Cross-gender personalities from San Francisco to Seattle have been up in arms over abruptly losing their pseudonymous accounts.

The NymWar does sound like a strictly First World Problem if you only consider this:
The problem here is that Facebook is strong arming many performers to switch their pages over to Fan Pages/Like Pages, which, for all intents and purposes, are the most useless thing on Facebook. Unless you have thousands of dollars to shell out for ads to get your page boosted for views, Like Page posts get lost among a sea of InstaGrams and viral trends.
On the other hand, these performers can face real-life stalking and harassment, or loss of employment. The Personnel Department at Beige Cubicle Inc. is very likely to think twice about hiring Harry Jones after they look up Harry Jones's Facebook page and see dozens of photos of Harry Jones on stage at Folsom Street dressed as Sister Ivanna Smooch. Gay bashing, moreover, is still a very real thing, and anyone who transgresses gender boundaries makes an easy target.

Given that the "real names" policy has been around for years, why has Facebook suddenly gone after so many drag performers?
A source at Facebook explained that, in general, profile pages are only reviewed when “a member of the Facebook community reports it to us,” adding that, “In these instances, the profiles would have been reported to us.” Given the high number of queens being “hit hard,” as Miz Cracker put it, someone has clearly made a serious project of reporting drag profiles to (or perhaps from within) the company.
A coalition met with Facebook executives this week, but were rebuffed.
A company spokesman said that Facebook would temporarily reactivate the profiles of several hundred members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community whose profiles have been deactivated: "This will give them a chance to decide how they’d like to represent themselves on Facebook. Over the next two weeks, we hope that they will decide to confirm their real name, change their name to their real name, or convert their profile to a Page."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Because Sexual Harassment Is Funny

In the second installment of cartoons from 1945's A Bird's Eye View of the Postwar World, we have a look at the workplace environment according to cartoonist Eric Ericson:
One hardly knows where to begin.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek / R.I.P.

This week's sneak peek comes with a Requiescat In Pace for one of the cartoonists who influenced my career, Tony Auth, who succumbed to brain cancer yesterday at the age of 72. He had retired from the Philadelphia Inquirer only two years ago. He continued posting cartoons on line; his last cartoon is dated July 1.

His deliberately simple style came from the theory that the message rather than the artwork should be the focus of the editorial cartoon. It also lent itself to the move from pen and ink to digital artwork, a medium he championed to others in the craft. (I'm still a troglodyte in that regard.)

A tribute from his editor is here.
The back cover of Auth's 1977 book of cartoons, Behind the Lines

Sunday, September 14, 2014

200 Years of Star Spangleness

In celebration of the Star Spangled Banner's 200th birthday today, and for the benefit of everyone who has wondered why anybody's national anthem would pose an unanswered question, here are all four verses of Francis Scott Key's original poem:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
There have been several renditions of our national anthem sung at American sporting events, from the sublime to the horrendous, but I'll bet riots would break out if any singer ever tried to get through all four verses.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Q Toon: Sure 'Tis Like a Morn in September

New York LGBT organizations are less than impressed by the decision by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) to allow Out@NBCUniversal to march in New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade next March. Out@NBCUniversal is the LGBT employee group for the media corporation broadcasting coverage of the parade, and will be the only LGBT group allowed to participate.

The last time an LGBT group marched in the parade, in 1991 (also, briefly and without permission, in 1992), it did not go very well at all. Since then, the AOH had refused to allow any LGBT  group to march in the parade until now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

This Week's Sneak Peek

I can't top Steve Benson's cartoon from last Friday, or Lena Dunham's tweet, or Howard Stern's eulogy.

Nor do I wish to pile on with yet another cartoon depicting Joan Rivers at the Pearly Gates castigating St. Peter for wearing white after Labor Day. As many others have observed, it's kind of lazy to commemorate a Jewish person that way. (On the other hand, cartoonists haven't come up with a recognizable image for being taken into the bosom of Abraham.)

So instead, I'm going for brach.