Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rand Paul Caricature

The 2016 campaign season is well underway now, so here's the first of my stand-alone caricatures of the presidential candidates:

Peacenik Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Plagiarism Thing

Lack of talent and originality will out. Especially if you fancy yourself an editorial cartoonist lampooning local officials in the hometown newspaper.

A sorry hack submitting free editorial cartoons to the Montgomery (Maryland) Sentinel under the signature William Charles was exposed by council member Tom Moore as a serial plagiarist, stealing other cartoonists' work, expunging the signatures and repurposing the cartoons to address local issues. (Alan Gardner of the Daily Cartoonist notes that even the cartoonist's name might turn out to be stolen. Heck, even the signature!)

For example, this cartoon from last July, critical of the aforementioned Councilman Moore...
...was a badly labeled rip-off of this cartoon by someone named Kes:
Or, compare the "William Charles" cartoon on the left with the Andy Singer "No Exit" original on the right:

"William Charles" swiped the work of about a dozen different cartoonists, whose styles are so dissimilar, it boggles the mind how the Sentinel editors could possibly have mistaken Charles's so-called work as the product of any one individual. I've looked through a number of the cartoons Councilman Moore collected in a .zip file, and several cartoons clearly involve pasting together pieces of three or four different cartoonists' and clip artists' work.

Councilman Moore reports that "I informed the Sentinel’s editor, Brian Karem, in person several months ago that his newspaper is stealing art from all over the Internet and passing it off as its own; he seemed unconcerned and said he’d maybe mention something to 'William Charles' about it." Since Moore took the case public, Mr. Karem has suddenly taken notice:
“He is a third-party UNPAID contributor. We have about four or five of those. As I said, we’re a small family-owned newspaper. As for not noticing, yep, the buck stops here on this one. He sent us Jpegs and PDFs of his art that showed no tells of being manipulated. If there is a way to tell in the future, I’d appreciate a heads up on that. In fact any assistance you can provide in that area would be GREATLY appreciated. I first found out about it from Mike Shapiro [one of the plagiarized cartoonists] two days ago. We pulled all of the cartoons and I now have a copy editor going through them all to see how many are original.”
"No tells of being manipulated"? Seriously? Mr. Karem couldn't see that the piper and the children in this 'toon were not drawn by the same person? (I'd bet that the four or five nearest kids were drawn by Walt Handelsman.)

Given the discrepancy between Karem's responses a couple months ago and a couple days ago, I have to wonder whether this is just another example of a newspaper happily choosing free content, worth every penny. I've been disappointed in a weekly newspaper here in Wisconsin which breaks up its editorial page with its "Web Picks" -- images copied from whatever is trending on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
At least they don't make any pretensions that they are running original work. And the local TV news does the same thing when they present viral videos as news, so I guess that's where bottom line journalism has sunk.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Q Toon: Irish Ayes

Over the weekend, Irish voters overwhelmingly approved granting gay and lesbian couples the same right to marry that heterosexual couples enjoy. Which you already knew, if for no other reason than you read the fake newspaper headline at left.

We cartoonists put these fake newspapers in our cartoons because we can't trust that every reader will have knowledge of the story we are commenting on, or that they will connect the cartoon to it. These newspaper headlines require figuring out some way to compose the cartoon so that it doesn't look out of place to have a newspaper prominently displayed where the reader can read it.

But they do come in handy, because the Irish vote might have been overshadowed by the subsequent vote of the Greenland Parliament in favor of marriage equality. It's so easy to confuse Ireland and Greenland, you know; them both being Atlantic islands and into the color green and so forth.

So, now that I'm quite certain that you have indeed read the headline and located Ireland on a map, here's the cartoon.

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒May 28, 2015

This year, the New York chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians begrudged the LGBT employees of NBC-Universal to march in its St. Patrick's Day parade, if only at the insistence of NBC, which televises the parade. Before then, the AOH forbade any LGBT group from its parade, ever since the hostile reception to them (and then-Mayor David Dinkins marching with them) in 1991.

Greenlander-Americans, so far as I know, have never barred LGBTs from marching in their parades. Ullortuneq is coming up on June 21, and I expect to see a healthy representation of out and proud Greenlanders marching in cities all across these United States.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Earlier this month, the Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science -- whose acronym attests to their not being entirely or exclusively serious -- published a series of articles finding a lack of racial and gender diversity among New Yorker cartoons.
In the 47 issues we examined, we recorded 1,810 characters in 639 cartoons by 70 cartoonists. 94.7% of these characters were judged to be white (thus 5.3% were non-white), and 70.6% were judged to be male (29.4% female) (Table 1). For reference, about 72% of the US population is estimated to be white (this categorization includes Hispanics) and about 51% is estimated to be female. ...
This problem of underrepresentation of minorities and females should be an easy fix. Cartoonists can simply draw more female and minority characters. This would amount to more than just pandering. ... For his part, Robert Mankoff can also begin to encourage cartoons featuring more women and minority characters.
I'm not a New Yorker cartoonist, and I do try to diversify the people in my work, but doing so can occasionally distract from the joke. Take for example, the two white guys in this 2001 cartoon:
The boys in this cartoon represent a certain "gay clone" prevalent at the time. There have been certain stereotypical types of lesbian or non-white characters that I could have drawn instead, but I think I would have been accused of being mean-spirited if I had.

The PNIS study (I warned you about the acronym) notes that female cartoonists tend to draw more cartoons about females than male cartoonists do. I would note that female New Yorker cartoonists also tend to draw more autobiographical cartoons than male New Yorker cartoonists do. Still, Roz Chast, for example, is less likely to be accused of sexism if she draws a cartoon in which a female character appears in a not-so-flattering situation than if, say, Christopher Weyant drew the same cartoon.

Sexism and racism aside, there are other considerations when casting the characters in a cartoon. Crowden Satz, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and other publications, took issue with the PNIS study in a Facebook post today.
For humor to exist, the reader's brain has to be, very quickly, jarred out of its rest position. Setup + unexpected twist = funny. So what happens if, in addition to the gag, the characters don't fit expectations in the setup? Such as, for instance, the overbearing executive is played by a slim woman rather than a big fat old white guy? Well, the humor train gets derailed. One's brain pauses to say to itself "Hey, look at that character. Why is there a slim woman yelling instead of an old guy? What's going on? Is she the boss or what?"
The third installment of the study examined this tendency of cartoonists to draw white males in certain professions (bosses, mobsters, doctors) and white women in others (secretaries, molls, nurses).

One of the professions included was "God," represented 100% of
the time in New Yorker cartoons as a white male. Here again, if a cartoonist tries to break stereotype, the reader is apt to be confused -- unless it is the point of the cartoon, such as the 1975 Bill Plympton cartoon for the Soho Weekly News at right, which depicted Alabama Governor George Wallace, paralyzed in a 1972 assassination attempt, rising from his wheelchair and praising the Lord for the miracle.

Divorced from this context, the reader might be left thinking that maybe the cartoon was about one of the Supremes having just died.

One could, I suppose, draw Morgan Freeman in the role of God; but he's played other characters in the movies, too, including some decidedly unholy men that the reader might have seen on screen more recently than the Bruce/Evan Almighty flicks.

Still, it might work, if every cartoonist in the country were to agree that cartoon God would henceforth always be Morgan Freeman.

Monday, May 25, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

Having this story break on what in the U.S. is a holiday weekend probably means that this cartoon won't make it into a number of my client newspapers, but how could I draw about anything else?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

For the Fallen

For Spyback Saturday this week: Memorial Day cartoons generally fall into two categories. One scolds the reader for using the first holiday of Spring as a holiday. The other tries, after a century and a half of Memorial Days, to find something original to say about remembering those who laid down their life for their country.

This cartoon by Abel Faivre for Echo de Paris in 1916 was drawn for All Saints' Day (Memorial Day not being a thing in France), but it pretty well sums up category #2.
"Where must I pray for papa if he has no grave?"
"On my heart, dearest."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Q Toon: Patchwork Uniformity

This week's cartoon was touched off by Republicans' proposed measure in Michigan to nullify local anti-discrimination ordinances, and a similar measure which went into law in Arkansas.
LGBT activists breathed a sigh of relief when a provision that could have invalidated all 38 LGBT inclusive anti-discrimination ordinances in Michigan was removed from the final version of a bill passed 11-7 by the House Commerce and Trade Committee May 19. The Republican sponsors of the original version of the "Local Government Employer Mandate Prohibition Act" claimed they were simply trying to unify employment practices across the state.
In the final version passed out of committee, communities will not be allowed to pass ordinances regarding wages, benefits or working conditions in their towns. 
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
May 21, 2015

I apologize, dear reader, that this cartoon works a whole lot better in a newspaper, which is easy to turn upside down, than on a desktop computer, which isn't, or a smart phone, which will keep trying to turn the image right-side up. (At last, an advantage dead trees have over live circuits!)

This cartoon is probably the result of my having recently read a mention of The Upside-Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo. The six-panel cartoon by Gustave Verbeck (starting in 1903) was ingeniously designed so that the second half of the story was told when you turned the page up-side down.

Verbeck's reader had to overlook the fact that Old Man Muffaroo's legs were extending up from the top of Little Lady Lovekins's hat, or that a stream the heroes had waded across in panel #3 was flowing through the sky in panel #10. But it was a weekly tour de force nevertheless: a story aimed at children but presented in a way that adults could appreciate.

At first, I was going to have a human character in the cartoon, talking out of his ass, as it were --  one of the preliminary sketches is at the top of this post. In the end (ahem), I decided that some of my editors endeavor to run respectable news publications in which exposed derrières belong in the club photos and phone sex ads in the back pages, not the editorial page. So I went with an elephant instead -- the traditional symbol of the Republican Party, whence these laws superseding local ordinances on everything from the above mentioned labor conditions to gun safety and fracking bans originate these days.

With an elephant instead of a human, the aspect of talking out of one's ass still remains, but not quite so explicitly that the League of Perpetually Offended Complainers should catch it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Late Night

Tonight is David Letterman's last Late Show, so I thought I'd dredge up the one cartoon I ever drew of him.

This was in May of 1997. Ellen DeGeneres's "Yep, I'm Gay" Time magazine cover story was still making waves when Bruce Willis came on Dave's show promising to make a groundbreaking personal announcement. "Yep," he proclaimed at length, "I'm straight!"
I've been watching Letterman since his very first Late Night with David Letterman on NBC in 1982 -- well, not every show; I had a job where I sometimes worked third shift at one point, and some nights I even had a social life. Then he moved to an earlier time slot on CBS and there were some nights there was a reason to watch Leno instead. And then Stephen Colbert's show spun off of The Daily Show and the choice had to be made between Letterman and Colbert.

Well, now that choice has been made for us. (Coming soon: What will it be this evening: Colbert or Wilmore?)

Letterman's comedic style brought back to television the inventive zanyness of Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs. Who can forget Larry "Bud" Melman, the Library Lady, the Guy Under the Stairs, Stupid Pet Tricks, dropping things off a five-story-tower, the Top Ten List, Oprah transcripts, or the sneezing monkey that made you laugh no matter how many times they ran that clip? And how great was it for all those kids who got their moment in the late-night sun bringing their classroom science experiments onto the show -- or performing their award-winning bird calls -- year after year after year?

There have been one or two changes in the world since 1997. I should commend Letterman for sticking up for LGBT Hoosiers earlier this year when Indiana passed its "Religious Liberty Protection Act" into law. And he did have Wisconsin's Senior Senator pegged a couple years ago.

And as for Bruce Willis, some time after this appearance on Letterman's show, he did eventually come out of the closet as a proud member of the balding community.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Happy Centennial to Me

And on this day in 1915, Mrs. Hazel Fordingham of Shaker Heights, Illinois, invented the selfie.

Monday, May 18, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

I picked up a copy of Cartooning by Roy Paul Nelson at a used book sale recently, so I've been reading this 375-page book. It was published in 1975, so a lot of the information is well out of date: Nelson, an editorial and gag cartoonist and illustrator working in Oregon, writes in a time when several cities had more than one daily newspaper, and when local cartoonists had one significant advantage over national cartoonists who sent their work to their syndicates through the U.S. Mail.

In an early chapter, Nelson struggles to list any female editorial cartoonists. He was either unaware of, or unimpressed by, Etta Hulme or Kate Salley Palmer (Hulme began cartooning for the Fort Worth Star Telegram in 1972; Palmer would have just begun drawing for the Greenville News the year the book was published). On the other hand, Nelson includes one of the cartoons of Pete Wagner, who was still drawing for college newspapers at the time, so it's not as if Nelson wasn't trying to be as up-to-date as possible.

Anyway, I mention this book because there is a distinct possibility that a reference in chapter 5 was in my head when I came up with this week's cartoon idea.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Postwar World Salute to Service Members

While this is a departure from the topic where we last left off from A Bird's-Eye View of the Postwar World, it's Armed Services Day. So here's a salute to the man and women in uniform... with apologies that there are no cartoons about servicewomen in this 1945 booklet. *
"Well I'm home for good now, woman, and things are going to be different from now on!"

The cartoons are also about life after the war is over, so there are no Willie and Joe in the trenches cartoons, either.

The signature on the cartoon above is nearly cropped out, but it might be by William Wenzel (January 22, 1918 – May 12, 1987). This next cartoon is definitely Wenzel's, and it is much the same style -- but suggests that our returning Master Sergeant's wife may be more prepared for his return than he thinks:
"Sergeant Gilhooy will now tell us how to handle our men in the postwar world!"

* Well, almost none.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Q Toon: Yes, We Have No Jurisdiction

This week's cartoon concerns Sylvia Driskell, a 66-year-old woman in Nebraska who filed a lawsuit in federal court against all homosexuals. According to her court filing, she brought the suit acting as the ambassador for Jesus Christ, although one assumes she was unable to provide paperwork to prove her bona fides.

Her seven-page petition, handwritten at a seventh-grade level of legal expertise, was eventually thrown out of court. Judge John Gerrard declared that "This court is not the place to seek opinions regarding theological matters; this particular forum is closed and the case will be dismissed."

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒May 14, 2015

The panel (above right) that I used for this week's Sneak Peek is what is known in the Comedy Biz as a "beat." Comic actors and stand-ups use the same technique to create a moment of tension before delivering a punch line.

It's a common technique in printed comics as well. Charles Schulz, for example, used it fairly often in Peanuts, and not just because he stuck rigidly to a format of four equally sized panels in his daily strip, even if the kids in a particular day's comic had only three things to say. In my cartoon today, the characters have four dialogue balloons, and I could have easily put the second to last one in the third panel instead of the fourth. Or omitted the third panel altogether, since I don't slavishly adhere to a four-panel format.

The reason for the silent panel is to convey pacing. The woman who isn't Sylvia is perhaps momentarily at a loss for something to say. Meanwhile you, the reader, are supposed to take a moment to scan the panel just in case there is something significant in it that will help set up the punch line. In this case, there isn't, but you never know. That discarded cigarette might have set the flamingo on fire or something.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

AAEC Responds to Attack

Last week, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists came out with a statement condemning the attempted attack by two gunmen on the "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" in Garland, Texas
The shootings in Texas once again demonstrate that art is provocative, but we must not cower in the face of threats to this profession or to free expression. Political art, be it cartoons, paintings, sculpture, or anything else, is protected speech under the First Amendment.  The group that sponsored the “art contest” has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The leader of the group seems to have her own tasteless and ignorant agenda. However, a group's political agenda, whether we agree with its goals or not, is subject to the same constitutional protections we all enjoy. Cartoons are powerful, as has been repeatedly shown in the past few months, and the AAEC condemns this senseless attack.
Well, I don't know whether I'd go so far as to call the attack "senseless." It sort of made some degree of sense in that it didn't take any great amount of effort to figure out why they did it. Pamela Geller hired extensive and mostly heavily armed security because the attack was rather predictable, which senseless attacks generally aren't.

Squeaky Fromme shooting at President Gerald Ford was senseless. Mark David Chapman killing John Lennon was senseless. The ridiculously convoluted murder plot on CSI: Cyber this evening was utterly senseless.

That one word, however, is a minor quibble in an otherwise accurate response.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

I guess folks 'round the trailer park are just hanging around, waiting for the tornado to show up.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 9, 1915

For Saunterback Saturday this week, a follow-up to Thursday's Chicago Daily News headline. Two days later, The New York American trumpeted the death toll from the sinking of the Lusitania and Germany's official statement.
The sinking of the Lusitania is often credited as pushing the U.S. into World War I. Certainly it was a factor, but you have to consider that Woodrow Wilson campaigned in 1916 that "He Kept Us Out of War." The November election was just as far away then as the election of Hillary Clinton is now.

Wilson insisted that "America is too proud to fight," yet succeeded in getting Germany to suspend submarine warfare until January, 1917. The final straw was actually the "Zimmerman telegram" of 1917, intercepted by Great Britain and passed along to the U.S. government, in which the German foreign minister invited Mexico to declare war on the U.S. with the promise of receiving Texas, Arizona and New Mexico after the war. The U.S. entered the war in April, 1917.

✒ ✒ 

Rollin Kirby cartoon  in the New York World
showing Kaiser Wilhelm applauding
William Jennings Bryan.
For the past two Saturdays, I've been posting cartoons of William Jennings Bryan's unsuccessful run for the White House in 1900, and it's worth noting here that Bryan was Secretary of State in the first Wilson administration.

He had made serious attempts to negotiate treaties with the belligerent nations of Europe, failing in his efforts with Germany. He foresaw that the European powers were more likely to wear themselves out than to achieve total victory, "and if either side does win such a victory it will probably mean preparation for another war."

After Germany sunk the Lusitania, Bryan objected to the Wilson administration's increasing tilt toward the Allied powers -- Wilson's insistence that Germany stop u-boat attacks was not balanced by any demand that Great Britain lift its naval blockade against Germany. In June, Bryan resigned from the cabinet, sniffing, "[W]hy be so shocked by the drowning of a few people, if there is to be no objection to starving a nation?"

Friday, May 8, 2015

Toon: Messin' With Texas

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✒May 8, 2015
Deep in the heart of Texas, folks are all riled up that a U.S. Army training exercise called "Jade Helm" -- and apparently Walmart basements -- are somehow part of a government plot to overthrow the government of Texas. Accordingly, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-Naturally) ordered the Texas State Guard to keep an eye on them darn Yankees.
Some websites paraded a PowerPoint presentation — marked unclassified — as evidence that Army Special Operations Command was training to suppress American rebels in a coming military coup or civil war....

Theories have tied in elements beyond the slides depicting the exercise. "FEMA death domes" — purportedly being built as detention hubs for detained American insurgents — had already been absorbed into the martial law/coup conspiracy theory.

Some have now implicated Walmart, citing the retailer's sudden temporary closure of five of its more than 4,000 U.S. stores, including two in Texas. As noted Wednesday by Texas Monthly, some theorize the stores are being appropriated by the government for use as bases during martial law.
Meanwhile, the Texas legislature has also passed a bill prohibiting local governments from doing anything to regulate fracking in their communities.
Texas moved Monday to ban its own cities from imposing prohibitions on hydraulic fracturing and other potentially environmentally harmful oil and natural gas drilling activities within their boundaries – a major victory for industry groups and top conservatives who have decried rampant local “over-regulation.”
The bill last month overwhelmingly cleared the House, which Republicans control by a 2-to-1 margin, and passed the GOP-dominated Senate almost as easily Monday – sending it to Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it into law. ...
Lawmakers in America’s largest oil-producing state scrambled to limit local energy exploration prohibitions after Denton, a university town near Dallas, passed an ordinance in November against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, attempting to keep encroaching drilling bonanzas outside their community.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On the Newsstands 100 Years Ago Today

On this day in 1915, a German u-boat sank the British luxury liner Lusitania, en route from New York to London. The British Navy had equipped the Cunard liner with guns and used it to import munitions under the cover of being a passenger ship.

Germany had placed advertisements in New York newspapers warning against ocean travel into the war zone that was Europe, but folks generally scoffed at the idea that someone would deliberately torpedo a ship conveying the rich and famous in such high fashion.
In the precious little time they had, passengers frantically worked to get themselves off the ship. In a futile attempt to save infants, life jackets were tied to wicker “Moses baskets.” The rising water carried these baskets and their infant occupants into the water, but none survived the turbulence. Many of the lifeboats, not properly prepped, took on water and sank.
A mere 18 minutes after being struck by the torpedo, the Lusitania was gone. Of the 1,949 passengers and crew, over 1,200 drowned, including 124 Americans and 94 children

Q Toon: Schaerr Madness

The people who file amici curia briefs for Supreme Court cases don't actually get to appear before the court -- which is kind of a shame, because it would be fun to see what the justices would say to those friends of the court.

Gene Schaerr, a former clerk to Justices Warren Burger and Antonin Scalia, filed an amicus curia brief  in which he seriously claimed on behalf of "100 scholars of marriage" that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, the result will be at least 900,000 more abortions. 

Now, I admit that Mr. Schaerr did not claim that gays and lesbians are eager to exercise the right to have abortions, as I have him doing in this week's cartoon.

No, his explanation makes even less sense.
"A reduction in the opposite-sex marriage rate means an increase in the percentage of women who are unmarried and who, according to all available data, have much higher abortion rates than married women. And based on past experience, institutionalizing same-sex marriage poses an enormous risk of reduced opposite-sex marriage rates."
By the same logic, having a bus system results in more car accidents, because many people who ride the bus would be people who don't have driver's licenses, and people who don't have their driver's licenses are worse drivers than people who do have licenses.

Most people avoid eating citrus fruit after brushing their teeth because citrus fruit tastes bad after minty toothpaste. People who don't eat citrus fruit run a much greater risk for scurvy than people who do. Therefore brushing one's teeth causes scurvy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Je Ne Veux Pas Être Pammie Geller

Sunday night, a pair of Islamic would-be killers tried to attack a deliberately provocative "Cartoon Mohammed" event in Garland, Texas. Armed guards killed them before they could carry out their plans; an unarmed security guard ("probably the only unarmed person in Texas," writes Clay Jones) was wounded in the 15-second gunfight. The So-Called Islamic State (SCIS) has claimed responsibility for the attempted mass murder.

The "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" was organized by professional defiler of the prophet, Pamela Geller, and I have no doubt that this outcome was everything she had hoped for.

Now, I'm not above dipping my pen into some blasphemous ink from time to time...
This cartoon from 2005, a year before the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy, and six years before Charlie Hebdo's Mohammed cover (yet three years after Doug Marlette's "What Would Mohammed Drive" cartoon), doesn't include Mohammed -- but not because I set out to be sensitive to Islamic sensibilities. I simply didn't have a place for him in the cartoon. If I were redrawing the cartoon today, I wouldn't gratuitously stick Mohammed into it just to piss off the homicidal wing of his religion.

Not even for a $10,000 prize.

99.94% of the time, cartooning the founder of a religion is unnecessary.  Christ rolling his eyes has already been done (Marlette, again), and God delegates bouncer duty to St. Peter in all those eulogy cartoons set at the Pearly Gates. Overwhelmingly, it's the modern-day mouthpieces of religion who end up deserving of cartoon criticism.

I've seen the cartoons of Ms. Geller's contest compared to Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," which depicts a plastic crucifix submerged in the artist's urine and won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition in 1987. It is a very offensive piece of art, it is true. That competition, however, was not expressly limited to art intended to offend Christians, as Ms. Geller's contest was expressly limited to cartoons intended to offend Muslims. The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art does not have attacking Christianity as its mission statement.

Let me be clear, here. I am against mass murder and attempted mass murder. I'm against the murder, or attempted murder of editorial cartoonists. I believe in free speech, and that this right extends to Stéphane Charbonnier, Bosch Fawstin and Larry Flynt.

To paraphrase Voltaire, "I may defend your right to say what you say, but I will disapprove of it to the death."

Or perhaps these Hebdo cartoonists say it better.

Monday, May 4, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

Nortorious RBG makes an appearance this week, along with a curiously feline Antonin Scalia.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

R.C. Bowman Hurls Everything He's Got

Continuing the series of Rowland Claude Bowman editorial cartoons about William Jennings Bryan's 1900 run for the presidency, here are three cartoons in which Bowman throws everything but the kitchen sink at the Democratic-Populist nominee.
They've got him up a tree.

The tags on the dogs read: "How about the Paris treaty?" "What do you think of the disenfranchisement of our colored citizens?" and "What do you think of Clark of Mont.?"

As I mentioned last week, Bryan sent a message to Democratic senators in February, 1898 to go ahead and ratify the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War, supposedly so that he could run against American imperialism later; thus that issue is a legitimate criticism of Mr. Bryan.

The Democratic Party at this point depended heavily on support from southern states where the black vote was actively suppressed, so its national candidates had a strong disincentive against criticizing Jim Crow laws, whatever their personal opinion might have been. From today's vantage point, I'd say that this was a fair criticism of Bryan as well.

Somewhat less germane is the question of Montana Senator Andrew Williams Clark, a copper magnate and one of the richest men in America, who bought his senate seat, was forced to resign, and then got himself re-appointed to the seat when the governor was out of town. I don't see any connection between the copper millionaire and Bryan's bimetalism policy, or, really, between Clark and Bryan on any level other than party affiliation. Perhaps that's why that particular dog is further away from the tree. (Here are Bowman's cartoons about Senator Clark. And if you've been wondering whatever became of his daughter Huguette's estate, here's the 2014 story from NPR.)
He leaves his happy home to ta-ah-ah-ah-alk.

In this cartoon, you have: Bryan's 16-to-1 silver-to-gold monetary policy; an empty dinner pail to contrast with President McKinley's campaign slogan of "the full dinner pail"; the Tammany tiger (the traditional representation of the New York Democratic party machine) with its tail stuck in New York Mayor Robert Van Wyck's Ice Trust scandal; and the barrel representing Montana Senator Clark. The closed front porch may be a reference to President McKinley's campaign style in 1896, when the Republican campaigned from his front porch in Ohio while Bryan spoke to crowds around the country from the back of a train.

The Ice Trust Scandal cost Mayor Van Wyck his job, but had nothing to do with Bryan. Mr. Bowman drew several cartoons linking the Ice Trust scandal to Bryan anyway.

To top off this cartoon, Bowman sticks a dictator's crown on Bryan's head -- a complaint usually lodged by the vanquished against the victor rather than the other way around. Cartoonist Charles Green Bush of the New York World, for example, drew a crown on McKinley's head as a way of criticizing the creation of an American Empire. Bryan was soundly defeated in each of his three runs for the presidency, so he never got a chance to be a dictator, if he ever entertained the notion in the first place.

If a dictator's crown on anti-imperialist Bryan's noggin seems a bit overboard, consider this next one:
The political "boxer"

The cartoon here is comparing Bryan's platform to the Boxer Rebellion in China, the bloody revolt that year by nationalist Chinese aiming to expel Westerners and Christian converts from their country. This cartoon is so over the top -- its Bryan isn't merely going to extinguish the smokestacks of prosperity, he's going to behead "The American Working Man" and his entire family.

Remind you of anybody?