Monday, August 29, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

If you've been relying on my cartoons for your news and current events, you might be wondering whom the Democrats have nominated for President this year.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

August, 1916: Putting a Smile in the War

Sashayback Saturday returns yet once more to the cartoon pages of World War I a century ago this month. Having no particular urge this week to devote a great deal of time to my usual research, I was delighted to discover that the August 28, 1916 issue of The Independent magazine included a whole page of European cartoons under this banner:

So here are all six of them with a minimum of explanation. Embiggen at will. This one is from an uncredited cartoonist in neutral Netherlands, characterizing the war as a sort of dance of nations:
"The European Quadrille" by an unnamed cartoonist in Die Amsterdamer, Amsterdam, August, 1916
Calling the dance in the cartoon is Marshal Joseph Jacques CĂ©saire "Papa" Joffre, Commander-in-Chief of French forces on the western front.

I'd characterize the remaining cartoons as less editorial and more topical.
Mauryce Motet in Le Pele-Mele, Paris, August, 1916
Nowadays, we call the wall "distressed," and consider it quaint and picturesque.

"Prepared" by A.E. Horne in Today, London, August, 1916
If you were closer to the front lines, you might not think chemical warfare was quite so funny. Better to poke fun at the food shortages reputed to be rife on the other side of the trenches:
"The Obliging Mirror" by E. Brod in Le Pele-Mele, Paris, August, 1916
German food shortages likewise surely seemed the safe topic for this Polish/Russian cartoonist -- although, as I've noted before, Russian cartoons just ain't funny.
"A Dire Dilemma," by Mucha, "Moscow, late of Warsaw," August, 1916
But the Allies had shortages too; the difference being that the British could have a sense of humor about it (as long as they could apply some national stereotype to the joke):
"In These Hard Times" by A.E. Horne in The Passing Show, London, August, 1916

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Q Toon: The Protectionist

As it turns out, Donald Berzilius Trump spent much of this week trying to attract Black and Latino voters with his new slogan, "What Have You Got to Lose." (Considering the priorities of states controlled by Republicans, The Right to Vote comes to mind.)

But earlier this summer, Trump tried to use the Orlando massacre as the basis of an appeal to LGBTQ voters, awkwardly pausing partway through the five-letter acronym. Perhaps he was having difficulty remembering the whole thing. Perhaps he gets out of breath saying five-syllable words. Better page Dr. Harold Bornstein.

As a cartoonist, it's a daunting challenge to come up with things for Cartoon Trump to say that are more outrageous than the things that come out of Reality Trump's mouth. One imagines that Trump's spokesschmucks are taking Botox injections to avoid the inadvertent looks of terror when they contemplate having to explain what they are hearing.

P.S.: This story broke this week.

Monday, August 22, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

Buck up, pals. It could be worse.

You could have to make excuses for Ryan Lochte.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

If You Must Visit North Carolina

Photo by Jape Trostle
If you happen to be in Durham, North Carolina this summer, do stop in at the Horse & Buggy Press Bull City Arts Collaborative to see the exhibit of cartoons and installations about the Tarheel State's HB2 (the "Bathroom Bill"). I see one of my own cartoons over the shoulder of the guy in the checked shirt in J.P.'s photo above.

The show will be up in the gallery on Foster St. in Durham through the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists' convention in September.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The 1991 Soviet Coup

Sovietback Saturday this week recalls the attempted coup d'etat in the Soviet Union 25 years ago this week.

On August 18, 1991, conservative members of the Soviet politburo attempted to put an end to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of glasnost and perestroika. As far as they were concerned, Gorbachev's reform efforts had led to nothing but the loss of their puppet states in Eastern Europe and mounting disorder at home as citizens of non-Russian soviet republics clamored for independence from Moscow.
There is an unexpected link to current events in the cartoon I drew for the Racine Journal Times immediately after the coup. The Latino-American Chief of Police in Milwaukee was meeting a great deal of resistance from the rank and file to his attempts to modernize and humanize the force after decades of Chief Harold Breier's Old School, racist, authoritarian approach to law enforcement.

Resentment toward Chief Philip Arreola would boil over a month later over after he suspended the two police officers who had foiled the escape of Konerak Sinthasomphone from Jeffrey Dahmer, returning the naked, drugged 14-year-old Laotian boy to his killer.

But that's another story. This is supposed to be about the coup in the Soviet Union.
With Gorbachev held captive in Crimea by coup plotters, it fell to Russian President Boris Yeltsin -- elected in June over Gorbachev's preferred candidate -- to lead the resistance to the coup. Yeltsin's stirring speech from atop a Soviet tank won him worldwide admiration and respect and made him a hero at home. Three days after it was launched, the coup collapsed.

Gorbachev was returned to office, but the center of power was now with Yeltsin. And many of those anti-reform politicians were put out to pasture.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Q Toon: Rio Grindr

Although none of them represent the United States, there have been a record number of out LGBT athletes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero — 49 by Cyd Ziegler's count on Outsports. I've seen some complaints that these athletes aren't getting American media attention, even when they've celebrated finishing an event by proposing to their significant others; the American media's concentration on American athletes accounts for some of this.

Enter, on the other hand, Daily Beast London editor Nico Hines, a straight reporter who posted a profile on the gay hook-up app Grindr to see what athletes were looking for gay sex in Rio. Hines then posted an exposĂ© on the site, headlined  "I Got Three Grindr Dates in an Hour in the Olympic Village."

What the straight guy didn't realize was what a terrible idea it was to publicly share key identifiers that would help people identify who these athletes were and possibly lead to a mass outing. It would be bad enough if they were all divers from Western Europe. But Hines didn't stop there, admitting in the piece that at least one was from a homophobic country. And he didn't stop there, he even identified the sport the athlete was in!
The consequences for that athlete could easily exceed embarrassment. Several countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Islam actively persecute LGBT citizens and visitors. Worse, in some of these countries, there is no legal consequence for murdering a gay or lesbian family member.

Hines himself acknowledged in the article that some athletes remain closeted in their "notoriously homophobic" home countries. To its credit, The Daily Beast made an effort after receiving complaints to scrub identifying details from the article, then removed it entirely and sent Hines home to his wife and children.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Remembering John McLaughlin

Longtime PBS talking head wrangler John McLaughlin died yesterday at the age of 89. Last weekend, he was missing from his eponymous Group for only the first time in its 34-year run.

The often parodied host of "The McLaughlin Group" made one appearance in my cartoons at the end of 1999. The editors of The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee told me that the editorial for the week would be some sort of look ahead to 2000 for the region; could I draw something to go with that?
No, these were not regulars on his program.

Monday, August 15, 2016

This Week's 19-Year-Old Sneak Peek

I couldn't figure out a snippet of this week's cartoon that I could use for this week's sneak peek without giving the whole cartoon away, so here's the bottom half of a front-page illustration I did for the year-end edition of In Step in 1997, because it includes a gay Olympian in the mix.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

August, 1916: Women's Suffrage

"An Addition to the Political Menagerie" by W. Hanny for St. Joseph News Press, Aug. 1916
In celebration of the first woman nominated by a major political party as its candidate for president of the United States, Stantonback Saturday presents some editorial cartoons from August, 1916, during the last presidential election held before the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Republican and Democratic party platforms in 1916 both supported women's suffrage only on a state-by-state basis (the Progressive Party had endorsed full women's suffrage in 1912). Women had the vote in twelve of the 48 states already, nearly all of them in the far west.

The Republican nominee, Charles Evans Hughes, went one step further than his party platform on August 1, 1916, endorsing a women's suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"The Summer Flirt!" by Chapin in St. Louis Republican, Aug., 1916
This also put Hughes a step ahead of the incumbent president, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who was on record against amending the Constitution. Suffragette Alice Paul had organized a march at his inauguration, and in 1916 co-founded the National Woman's Party with Lucy Burns. The NWP continued protesting for women's suffrage with marches and women chaining themselves to the White House fence again and again throughout his administration, but still Wilson held women's suffrage to be a states' rights issue.

"Mr. Hughes Kissed Her!" by Daniel Fitzpatrick in St. Louis Post Dispatch, Aug. 1916
Suffragettes having gotten nowhere with Wilson, the Women's Committee of the Hughes Alliance raised over $132,000 from 1,100 contributors with which they organized and financed a special train to travel throughout the states where women had the vote. They held campaign rallies where women orators mobilized supporters to get out the vote for the Republican.
"What Will Poor Wilson Do Now?" by Raymond O. Evans in Baltimore American, Aug. 1916
Wilson did not come out in support of women's suffrage until September, 1918, tying it to the war effort (the U.S. having entered the war in April, 1917):
"I regard the concurrence of the Senate in the Constitutional amendment proposing the extension of suffrage to women as vitally essential to the successful prosecution of this great war of humanity in which we are engaged. ...
"This war could not have been fought, either by the other nations engaged or by America, if it had not been for the services of women – services rendered in every sphere – not merely in the fields of effort in which we have been accustomed to see them work, but wherever men have worked and upon the very skirts and edges of the battle itself. We shall not only be distrusted but shall deserve to be distrusted if we do not enfranchise them with the fullest possible enfranchisement."
"A New Friend" by Rollin Kirby for New York World, Aug. 1916
Meanwhile, back in 1916: Hughes's endorsement of women's suffrage was seized upon by Rollin Kirby and other Democratic-leaning cartoonists who pointed out the tension between Holmes's support from German-Americans and the suffrage movement's historic ties to the Prohibition movement. Prominent among German-American businesses were breweries and distilleries, which naturally did not welcome the financial ruin Prohibition promised them.

"Packing His Belongings" by Jonathan H. Cassel for New York Evening World, Aug. 1916
In Jonathan Cassel's cartoon, Hughes appears to cherish suffrage (that's a mirror, isn't it?) the most of all the issues in his carpetbag – Wall Street support; the late President of Mexico, Victoriano Huerta; Hyphen support (meaning non-WASP-Americans); military conscription; and the Trusts – as he heads off in pursuit of those western women's votes.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Q Toon: Safe Kissing

Instead of yet another cartoon about the latest appalling utterance from the mercurial mogul Donald Berzilius Trump, Bergetoons this week brings you a public service message.

There has been an as yet unexplained spike in meningitis cases affecting gay and bisexual men, particularly in major urban centers such as New York, Chicago and Southern California.
Meningitis cases in L.A. and Orange counties are thought to be connected because lab testing showed that many patients were infected with the same strain of meningococcus, known as serotype C.
Federal, state and local public health officials are working together to investigate the current outbreak, which is estimated to have begun in February, with most cases in the past two months. A man in Orange County died after being infected this year, alarming many in the region’s gay community.
A rare but potentially fatal disease, meningitis is often spread by saliva, (e.g., by kissing or sharing drinks) because the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria tends to colonize in the throat and mouth. The disease causes inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes. Symptoms include fever,  stiffness of the neck, nausea, vomiting and confusion.

Health officials worry that a strain may have developed that could be sexually transmitted (I don't think a Ph.D in MSM is required to imagine the possibilities), and fear a pandemic similar to the spread of HIV/AIDS in the 1980's. Fortunately, unlike with HIV/AIDS, there are vaccines to protect against meningitis, and the disease is treatable when caught in time.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The State of Local Journalism

John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" had a good segment on the sorry state of newspaper journalism Sunday night. Newspapers are slashing staffs and discounting investigative journalism and simple monitoring of government in favor of clickbait ("You'll Never Believe What Happened Next!") and incomprehensible marketing buzzwords.

The cost-cutting affects every aspect of the business from writing to production.

On the same day, someone traveling around Wisconsin might have noticed an eerie similarity on several different newspapers' front pages, as shown in this screen shot from Not only did the Fond du Lac Reporter, Green Bay Press Gazette, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, Oshkosh Northwestern, Sheboygan Press and Wausau Daily Herald run the same feature story on page one with the same graphic and layout, they also all used the same photo of Brett Favre in the same spot on top of the page to tease the story of his induction into the Football Hall of Fame.

The colored circles might put you in mind of what national newspaper owns these six.

Monday, August 8, 2016

This Week's Sneak Peek

It's been a busy weekend. Time to get out, meet up with the madding crowd, and cut loose.

A quick P.S. to yesterday's post: Driving to work today, I noticed another of those "Vote for Ryan and send your job to a foreign country" signs.

It was at the entrance to a German industrial manufacturing company that opened a manufacturing plant and its North American headquarters in my village in 1994. It was bought by a Chinese company in 2012. The plant employs about 200 Americans.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Paul Nehlen's 15 Seconds of Fame

As your representative cartoonist from House Speaker Paul Ryan's congressional district, I've had a front row seat to Tea Partisan Paul Nehlen's challenge to the Congressman in this Tuesday's Republican primary.

Ordinarily, Nehlen's candidacy would find itself desperate for any attention. Wisconsin's First Congressional District is home to no television stations, and the media in the district generally accord non-incumbent congressional candidates the same level of coverage that national media grant to Green and Libertarian candidates.

But then Donald Trump decided he'd pay Ryan back for the Congressman having spent the presidential primary season "just not there yet" to endorse the mercurial business mogul. Trump praised Nehlen for running "a very good campaign" and declared that as far as endorsing the House Speaker, Trump was "just not there yet," either.

Suddenly, Nehlen found himself welcome to appear on national TV to fulminate against Ryan for supposedly supporting porous borders and job-killing trade pacts. California-based liberal pundit Mickey Kaus published an open letter to Wisconsin Democrats to cross over to vote for Nehlen, forsaking the two candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

I don't know of any push by local Democrats to encourage crossover votes for Nehlen, but then I'm not close to anybody who would be behind such a strategy. It would be just desserts for the party that has been free to cross over to vote for the weakest Democrat in every race for the 1st CD seat for the past 20 years.

I do know that a bunch of signs have suddenly cropped up along our highways, printed on Ryan's shade of kelly green (but not in his Gill Extra Bold font) with messages like:
Corporations first! Vote for Ryan.
Open our borders! Vote for Ryan.
Don't be selfish! Vote for Ryan and give your job to a foreign worker. 
Those might well come from the Nehlen campaign, which already had plenty of Vote Nehlen signs festooning our roads, or from a shadowy organization called "AmericaSpeaks" that took a full-page ad for Nehlen in this morning's newspaper. We also got a mailing yesterday paid for by "Volunteers for Nehlen" headlined "Speaker Ryan - Congressman for Beijing." After a series of bullet points using the ¥uan symbol for bullets, the tag line is "Vote August 9 for Speaker Ryan and Make China Great Again!"

Trump finally endorsed Ryan this Friday, which probably carries little or no weight here anyway. Conservative talk radio is solidly pro-Ryan and has hardly warmed to Donald Trump since leading the Never Trump movement in the Wisconsin presidential primary.

To cap off Paul Nehlen's day, he was refused entry to Trump's rally in Green Bay. He accused the state Republican Party of keeping him out of the rally even though he had two tickets to get in, but the state GOP says it was the Trump campaign that turned him away.

A Trump spokesperson supports the Wisconsin GOP version of events.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

All Noise on the Eastern Front

You know what country we hardly mentioned in these Salzback Saturday reviews since marking the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand?
Sidney Greene for New York Evening Telegram, August 11, 1916
You would hardly know it to read American history books, but World War I was still going on in the country that declared war first. In August of 1916, Imperial Russia seized Stanislau (then in Austria, but now in Ukraine and called Ivano-Frankivsk), while Italy was advancing on Austria's Adriatic port city of Trieste.
"They That Take the Sword Shall Perish with the Sword" - Wm. C. Morris for Harper's Weekly Independent, August 21, 1916
It's difficult to read some of the labeling in this next cartoon; the jaws of the big nutcracker are labeled "Russians" and "Italians." Oh, by the way: things weren't quiet on the western front, either.
"The Allies' Nut Cracker" by John McCutcheon for Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1916
In the Austrian press, this cartoonist awkwardly tries to put the best face on the loss of Trieste:
"His Majesty the Boy" by Franz Wacik in Die Muskete, Vienna, 1916
Viewed a century later, when we know that Trieste would remain Italian, Franz Wacik's cartoon doesn't make much sense. The pejorative title of the cartoon is also rather curious, given that at 46 years of age, the Italian king was a "boy" only when compared to Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, who turned 86 on August 18 (and died of pneumonia before year's end).

Continental cartoons of the period don't always translate well outside of their original language, especially where they were required to hew to a strict government line. When the propaganda works, it is entirely due to the artwork. Even when it doesn't, the artwork is the cartoon's only saving grace; I think this Russian cartoon falls in that category.
"Your Victorious Troops..." by "Kuk" for Lukomorye, Petrograd (St. Petersburg), 1916

Friday, August 5, 2016

Star Trek - The Lost Episodes

Yesterday's Q Toon did not exactly go where no Q Toon has gone before. Here's your Flashback Friday fix from 2005:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Q Toon: To Seek Out Fabulous New Worlds

We editorial cartoonists are having a lot of difficulty keeping up with Donald Berzilius Trump's barrage of jaw-dropping behavior, so I'm just going to ignore him this week. You're welcome.

In Hollywood hype for the latest Star Trek movie, word got out that Helmsman Hikaro Sulu, played by straight actor John Cho, has a husband in the new film, Star Trek: Beyond. Everyone involved probably intended this as tribute to gay actor George Takei, who originated the role in the 1960's TV series. Takei's reaction must have come as a disappointment.
 "I’m delighted that there’s a gay character," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate." ... 
"I told [Cho], 'Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.'"
Frankly, hardly any of the crew on the original show had a sex life unless Captain Kirk or First Officer Spock were involved, so it doesn't necessarily follow that TV-Sulu was "closeted." As any hardcore Trekkie, Trekker, Trekkoid or Tribble will tell you in animated detail, the only clue to Helmsman Sulu ever having a sex life of any kind comes in Star Trek: Generations (1994), in which Captain Kirk meets Hikaro's daughter Demora on duty as Helmsman of the Enterprise B. (For that matter, Sulu and his husband have a toddler daughter in Beyond as well. It's not as if 23rd Century gay people won't have been raising families for 250 years.)

As far as the "closeted" thing is concerned, you could argue that, at least, Dr. McCoy assumes Sulu is straight at the end of the "Shore Leave" episode. Just don't be alarmed if my eyes glaze over while you do.