Saturday, September 30, 2017

America in Cartoons: A Book Report

In place of my usual Smorgasback Saturday rummaging through my own old cartoons or the century-old cartoons of others, I herewith present a book report on the latest addition to my bookshelf.

Perusing the remaindered books cart at Barnes & Noble recently, I discovered two copies of America in Cartoons: A History in Pictures, edited by Tony Husband. I'd never seen the book on the regular shelves; but then, I don't visit the bookstore quite as often as I used to, so perhaps I had missed it. At any rate, I bought the 192-page hardcover tome for under $6.00.

Husband is a British cartoonist whose work has appeared in Private Eye, The Spectator, and Punch. The bulk of his work is humorous, but he has published more serious cartoon books about dealing with his father's dementia and with his son's drug addiction. His compilations of other people's topical cartoons include books on propaganda, dictators, and the 20th Century; I already had his book on cartoons of World War II*.

There is a nice selection of cartoons in America in Cartoons, but if there is one glaring fault, it is that they all appear to be downloaded off the internet. I do the same here, but I do my best to clean up the images so that they are legible. And that's only for viewing on a 96 pixel-per-inch screen; the print quality for a book needs to be considerably greater.

That's especially true of the oldest cartoons in this book. Reading the tiny, italicized, vertical dialogue in the typical cartoon drawn in the early years of the Republic is difficult enough without each letter being reprinted as six or seven dots. The intricately detailed crowds and crosshatching of Winsor McCay's cartoons a century later become fuzzy, fading into the gray background suffered by many of the book's illustrations.

Using the internet as source material also leads to some curious crediting in the appendix. The artists are credited by name in the text of the book, but while for example the book includes several cartoons by Daniel Fitzpatrick and Bill Mauldin from their days at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the cartoons are credited in the appendix to the State Historical Society of Missouri. Herblock's cartoons are credited to the Library of Congress.

I appreciate that space is limited, but it seems strange to me that there is no mention of Watergate or Bill Clinton's impeachment in this book, which was published in 2015 and closes with a fairly generic Bill Bramhall cartoon (credited to Getty Images) of Barack Obama. Watergate in particular marked the glory days of 20th Century American editorial cartooning and illustration, whether you think the actual scandal was of lasting importance or not.

That said, there is a nice mix of cartoons about politics and war on the one hand and everyday life on the other. Entertainment and pop culture often get overlooked in collections of historical cartoons, and I enjoyed running across them in Husband's book. And I'm happy to see the 600-thread-count, precisely composed editorial cartoons of Winsor McCay, which often get passed over in favor of his equally amazing Sunday comic pages. I just wish these copies were worthy of the originals.

For all I know, they might look just fine on your iPad or Kindle. There are people like me who will eat this stuff up anyway just for the chance to see some classic cartoons that we haven't seen before. If you're one of us, check out the remaindered books cart at your local bookstore, or watch for it to show up used on-line.

I just wouldn't pay the full £9.99 list price plus shipping and handling.


* Which I also found in the remaindered books cart, apparently.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Meet Mr. Mnuchin

It's time for another installment of Meet Your Cabinet!

Sixth in line in the presidential order of succession is Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin, 54, followed his father in the mortgage department at Goldman Sachs, becoming a partner there in 1994. He left in 2002, managing hedge funds and heading the residential lender OneWest, as well as founding a film production company, RatPac-Dune Entertainment.

An early supporter of Donald Joffrey Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Mnuchin accepted Trump's offer to be the national finance chairman of his campaign last April, after Trump had won the New York Republican primary. Up to that point, the Trump campaign had not set up a large-scale fund raising drive; Mnuchin set to work creating and managing one.

In spite of Trump's campaign attacks on the banking industry (an ad charged Goldman Sachs of having "robbed the working class"), Mnuchin joined the Trump administration, along with fellow Goldman Sachs alums Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Eric Ueland, and appointees up and down the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In August, Mnuchin came under scrutiny for his use of government aircraft after his wife, Louise Linton, posted a selfie on Instagram showing her deplaning a government jet in Kentucky in time to see the solar eclipse. Mnuchin denied that the solar eclipse had anything to do with the trip, saying "People in Kentucky took it [the solar eclipse] very seriously. Being a New Yorker, I don't have any interest in watching the eclipse."

An investigation by the Treasury Department's Office of the Inspector General subsequently found that Mnuchin had requested a military jet for his honeymoon travel to Europe in June. The OIG investigation also showed Mnuchin had taken a USAF C-37A to return from New York to Washington on August 15 after flying to New York commercially. Mnuchin's return flight lasted less than an hour and had an operating cost of at least $25,000.

Mnuchin has reimbursed the government for the definitely-non-eclipse-viewing flight, and has defended the honeymoon flight on the grounds that he needed access to secure communications during that trip. But a pattern is emerging of Trump cabinet officials who seem unable to accomplish anything without a five-figure government plane trip involved.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Q Toon: Smokin' in the Boys' Room

Having to draw this week's cartoon days before Alabama Republicans went to the polls to nominate Baptist Inquisitor Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate, I had to find another topic (on the way, way, way outside chance that Alabama Republicans might join the 21st Century on Tuesday). I found it in Donald Joffrey Trump's nomination to a federal judgeship in Texas of another politician of Moore's ilk.

Jeff Mateer is a theocratic culture warrior in the Texas Attorney General's office who has preached that transgender schoolchildren are a sign of "Satan's plan."
"In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader and I forget the sex, she's a girl who thinks she's a boy or a boy who thinks she's a girl, it's probably that, a boy who thinks she's a girl," Mateer said in a video posted on Vimeo in 2015 and reviewed by CNN's KFile. "And the school said, 'Well, she's not using the girl's restroom.' And so she has now sued to have a right to go in. Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults: a first grader really knows what their sexual identity? I mean, it just really shows you how Satan's plan is working and the destruction that's going on."
The link from the CNN page to Mateer's speech on Vimeo yields a "Sorry, we couldn't find that page" message, but there are other speeches in which the First Liberty Institute propagandist sermonizes about the persecution of conservative Christians who are forced to coexist against their will with LGBT persons.

In another speech, Mateer lamented that states have banned "conversion therapy," in which quack psychiatrists inspired by the Bible and A Clockwork Orange purport to turn LGBT victims straight. He believes that marriage equality will lead to people getting married to dogs, trees and summer breezes, and plenty of other such nonsense.

And he is not alone among Trump judicial appointees in such views. Matthew Kacsmaryk, nominated to another Texas district court, is a deputy general counsel to the First Liberty Institute. Leonard Grasz, nominated last month to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, is on the board of a Nebraska organization that defends conversion therapy.

Whatever Mr. Trump's personal beliefs on LGBT persons' rights may be, it is clear that the crew making judicial appointments for him are steadfastly antigay. And determined to stock the American courts system for decades to come with activist judges for whom the book of Leviticus always trumps the Constitution.

Monday, September 25, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

We've had some record-breaking heat in my neck of the woods for the past several days, which probably had something to do with this week's upcoming cartoon.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Disloyalty Daze

Today's installment of Seditionback Saturday takes a look at cartoons attacking whoever might be hindering America's war effort 100 years ago.

In the September 9 post here, I mentioned William Randolph Hearst's reputation as fostering a pro-German bias in his media empire. Cartoons magazine, in reporting his hiring of outspoken anti-German cartoonist Louis Raemaekers for his syndicate and recently purchased Puck magazine, said,
 "Raemaekers for a long time has fought his silent battles against Prussianism with a courage borne of convictions. His new employer has been doing his bit in the war by opposing the dispatch of American troops to Europe."
"The Poisoned Pen" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, August, 1917
It's a common myth today that one's own ancestors arrived on America's shores fluent in the Queen's English — or at least Bronx English; but in truth, many clung to the comfort and familiarity of their home tongue. Ethnic newspapers thrived in many cities and towns throughout the U.S. a century ago, and even some English language papers in major cities would have foreign-language pages. (The New York Evening Telegram, for example, had a regular page of news in Italian.)

In any city associated with beer brewing, one would find two to five competing German language newspapers, in which German immigrants could catch up on all the news from back home. Since the outbreak of war in 1914, that news from home had to be cleared through German government censors, who obviously wanted to put out a completely different message than did the Entente governments — now including the United States.
"His Adopted Son" by Jay "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, August, 1917
While the German-American press could hardly go so far as to advocate for Central Powers' victory over the Entente, the Milwaukee Herold, Westliche Post of St. Louis, or Illinois Staats-Zeitung might enthusiastically report peace proposals from the Kaiser that were, according to the official U.S. government line, utterly unworthy of consideration.

Outside the Hearst newspaper chain, quite a few journalists actually joined in the calls for countermeasures that would clearly be in direct violation of the First Amendment. Most cartoonists characterized the German-American press as a bothersome but relatively harmless dachshund, yet "Kin" Hubbard of the Indianapolis News here goes so far as to portray it as a vicious German shepherd that has treed Uncle Sam, who wishes for a gun.
"He Needs One" by Frank "Kin" Hubbard in Indianapolis News, September, 1917
John Lenz, drawing for Vorbote ("Harbinger"), a German language socialist workers weekly newspaper in Chicago, drew several cartoons in the fall of 1917 lamenting high prices, which I'm sure didn't bother the censors or his fellow cartoonists one little bit. Vorbote did, however, publish one Lenz cartoon criticizing congressional measures to clamp down on dissent.
"Wenn Uns Jetzt Unsere Vorväter Sehen Konnten" by John Lenz in Vorbote, Chicago, October 31, 1917
I apologize that I can't clean up the image any better than this. The figure in the top hat is Congress, blindfolding, binding and gagging "the People." The banner behind Congress reads "Freedom of Speech, Press Freedom, Right of Assembly." The rolled parchments beneath George Washington represent the Constitution and First Amendment.

In addition to the German press, the socialistic International Workers of the World union was targeted as a threat to the national war effort. As discussed before, the U.S. government went after the I.W.W. "wobblies," arresting hundreds of the union leaders in Chicago and elsewhere. By and large, the American press gave the crackdown its seal of approval.
"The Masked Batteries" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, September 14, 1917
Bill Sykes below shows Uncle Sam in a wholly different light than did Frank Hubbard. The German press can do little more than yap and nip at Uncle Sam's heels, while the I.W.W. is stunned by a quick jab from the butt end of Sam's bayonet. The dog skedaddling with its tail between its legs is labeled "slackers," the common term for draft dodgers of any kind.
"Dog Days" by Charles H. "Bill" Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger,  August 17, 1917
When Chicago Mayor "Big Bill" Thompson allowed the People's Council of America for Democracy and Terms of Peace to hold its hurriedly conducted convention in his town, he came under withering attack even from his fellow Republicans at the Chicago Tribune, including its front page editorial cartoonist, John T. McCutcheon.
"Going Against the Current" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, September 5, 1917
James P. Alley, father of Cal, links "conscientious objectors" (in scare quotes) with foreign agents who had blown up munitions factories and storage facilities in several notorious attacks.
"Brothers-In-Arms!" by James Pinckney Alley in Memphis Commercial Appeal, September, 1917
Conscientious objectors, malignant pacifists and Kaiser boosters appear together in "Is This Your Little Pet Peeve?", a regular feature of Frank King's full-page "The Rectangle" in the Sunday Chicago Tribune.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1917
"Slackers" were an easy target for cartoons, and there are far too many editorial cartoons to choose from condemning them. Just as many exhorted Mom and Dad to be proud that their son was heeding the call to risk life and limb on some foreign field. By the same token, a patriotic bride supposedly should want to see her groom not in a tux and tails, but in a khaki green army uniform.
"You Can't Hide Behind That" by Rollin Kirby in New York World, August, 1917
Although I'm not sure that Frank King was really helping sell the point here.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1917

Friday, September 22, 2017

Environmental Stewardship

My dad has been writing a monthly column called "Environmental Stewardship" for the local Lutheran churches for the past few years. But as various congregations have merged with each other, sold their buildings, or turned Latino, the only church still running the column as far as I know is the one he attends.

I had been printing it in the newsletter of the church where I used to work, until the decision was made to keep articles down to a single paragraph or two in the interest of bilingualism and an arbitrary six-page limit. After that, I posted it on the church weblog; but since I'm no longer there, the weblog hasn't been updated.*

Dad doesn't have his own weblog, but I do. So here is his October column. 

Are you practicing good environmental stewardship in the yard around your house? Or as one national organization would put it: Is your yard humane? Fall is an excellent time to make some of these changes to improve the environment that primarily you control.

Do you provide water and natural food sources for the creatures with which you share this environment? Birdbaths and ground level sources of water are important for just about every animal, not just birds. I see many squirrels up on our birdbaths and the bees so necessary for pollination also need a drink. A wetland behind our house is another source of water for much of the year. Native plants, bushes and trees are often the best, or only, foods that native animals will eat. The larva for the monarch butterfly only eat the several varieties of milkweed native to our area. Fall is one of the best times for planting trees, shrubs and perennial plants.

Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides on lawn and garden beds; insecticides frequently kill all insects, including the harmless and beneficial ones. Do you really want to get rid of those beautiful butterflies and moths? Many pesticides are also harmful to your pets if they are allowed out in the yard. Bees are some of the most beneficial insects that have been severely attacked by pesticides in the yard and on some plants as they come from the nursery. Check how the latter have been treated before you buy. I have never been an advocate of bee and butterfly houses, but many like them as decorations that may also be useful.

A major killer of birds is glass windows in homes as well as high-rise buildings. If you, like us, receive a number of window stickers from various organizations, sticking them on windows that birds may run into can be a major avian lifesaver. Birds either see a free pathway through the windows to the other side of the house or their own reflection which they may attack in mating season. Breaking up the space of clear glass with such decals is most important near bird feeders or bird baths.

That leads me to urging all cat owners to keep them in the house. Cats may be the top killers of song birds in this country. As President of the City of Racine Board of Health, let me remind you to license all your cats and dogs; it is the law in Racine and many other jurisdictions, even if they stay inside.

Native fauna need places to hide or rest. Therefore, it is generally good stewardship or humane to reduce the size of the mown lawn whenever possible. This might be with a rain garden accepting the water from the downspouts, an area of native ground cover, a small woods or copse of (native) trees. Another possibility, if you have the room as we do in the far back of our yard, is a brush pile. Fallen branches and trimming from trees and shrubs will quickly provide this extra cover for native fauna.

Another shelter that you may wish to include is a bat house. Bats have a bad reputation that they do not deserve. You may not need as much mosquito repellent if you attract bats to your yard to hold down the mosquito population.

If you have a swimming pool, take the necessary precautions to keep animals from falling in; presumably you have already taken the precautions necessary to keep those wild creatures called children and partying adults from doing the same. This too is good environmental stewardship.

John Berge
* They did eventually get around to getting someone to update their site.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Q Toon: Offer and Honor On and Off

CIA Director Mike Pompeo abruptly and at the last minute cancelled an address at Harvard, telling the university that he did so because classified documents leaker Chelsea Manning would also be a speaker this year. Manning, along with former Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and seven others, had been named a Visiting Fellow of Harvard's Kennedy School, which is a fancy way of saying that she would show up to spend a day meeting students and giving a speech.

The former Bradley Manning was convicted in 2013 of releasing confidential military and State Department documents and sentenced to 35 years in prison. President Obama commuted her sentence to seven years dating from the beginning of her confinement in 2010, and she was released from prison this past May.

Prefacing that his actions had nothing to do with Manning's status as transgender, Pompeo told the university, "I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions."

Douglas W. Elmendorf, Dean of the Kennedy School, quickly knuckled under to pressure from Pompeo and the right-wing snowflake squad. After protesting that the title of Visiting Fellow isn't technically an honor, Dr. Elmendorf announced that Harvard was withdrawing the implied honor anyway:
I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a Visiting Fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility. I still think that having her speak in the Forum and talk with students is consistent with our longstanding approach, which puts great emphasis on the value of hearing from a diverse collection of people. But I see more clearly now that many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations. ...Therefore, we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow—and the perceived honor that it implies to some people—while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum. 
So Manning is still invited to come to Harvard and do what Visiting Fellows do; she just won't be a Visiting Fellow if she does.

For her part, Manning has turned down Harvard's invitation to be an Itinerant Person:
Manning said Harvard's decision signaled to her that it's a "police state" and it's not possible to engage in actual political discourse in academic institutions.
"I'm not ashamed of being disinvited," she said. "I view that just as much of an honored distinction as the fellowship itself."

Monday, September 18, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

You come in here with a skull full of mush;
you leave thinking like a p.r. flack.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

German Cartoonists and the War

After last week's display of Louis Raemaekers cartoons, Spottenback Saturday now grants a few German cartoonists of World War I a chance to give their say. Except for the Gulbransson cartoon, these cartoons were reprinted in contemporary issues of Cartoons Magazine, published out of Chicago, which means they must have had to get past both German and U.S. wartime censors. As such, it is possible that they may not necessarily be the best examples of German wartime satire.
"The Blood Bath," From Der Brummer, Berlin, 1917
American troops joined the fighting in Europe in August of 1917, and patriotic fervor in the U.S. was at a peak, so the above cartoon very much misrepresents American popular feeling. The nations wading in the blood bath do not include Germany or its allies, which would have gotten this cartoon (and possibly its cartoonist) spiked.

German government dismissed "America's worthless assistance" to the Entente powers. Gustav Brandt here offers one idea to buttress the official government line, a fine example of the jugendstil of bold, flat areas of solid color that became popular among German cartoonists of the early 20th Century.
by Gustav Brandt in Kladderadatsch, Berlin
Better known west of the Maginot Line as art nouveau, jugendstil gets its name from Jugend, a cultural magazine published in Munich. Brandt himself (1861-1919) was at this time a long-established cartoonist whose earlier cartoons conformed to 19th Century tastes for greater detail and verisimilitude.

Here's another example of jugendstil, with a similar jab at Wilson as a money-grubbing capitalist, this time from a Simplicissimus cartoonist about Pope Benedict XV's peace proposal.
"Wilson's Answer" by Olaf Gulbransson in Simplicissimus, Munich, September 18, 1917
Another Kladderadatsich cartoonist lampoons the refusal of England's Lloyd George, the U.S.'s Wilson and France's Poincaré to consider German armistice proposals; each had declared that an end to Hohenzollern rule of Germany was a prerequisite condition for peace.
"We Will Never Negotiate" by unidentified cartoonist (Arthur Johnson?) in Kladderadatsch, Berlin
Speaking of Russia, Wilhelm Schulz in the brash satirical magazine Simplicissimus portrays Germany proffering a helping hand to its eastern neighbor. Russia, however, is threatened by its erstwhile allies.
"Helpless Russia" by Wilhelm Schulz in Simplicissimus, Munich, July 17, 1917
The U.S. was not the only Johnny-come-marching-lately into the Great War. In spite of its recent history with England and Russia, and the fact that its rival Japan had also sided with the Entente, China declared war on Germany in August, 1917.
"China" by W. A. Wellner in Lustige Blätter,  Berlin, January 1917

Given British and Russian imperialist designs on China, there was significant support in military and government circles for an alliance with Germany; one such supporter was former President/future Premier Sun Yat-sen. But the government of Duan Qirui viewed an Entente victory as more likely than a victory by the Central powers and hoped to gain territory at any post-war bargaining table. (They would be bitterly disappointed.)
"Tremble, Germania!" by Carl Olof Petersen in Lustige Blätter, Berlin, July 23, 1917
The sinking of the Athos I with 900 Chinese workers aboard by a German U-boat off the coast of Malta in February, 1917, furthermore, served as China's Lusitania moment. Yet if Germany was officially unconcerned with America's entry into the war, it was hardly any more worried about the Chinese navy.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Toon: Yesterday's Gone, Yesterday's Gone

I confess: I still haven't made my way through my copy of Making History yet. So I'm not rushing out to buy Hillary Clinton's latest book, which joins a very short list of best sellers by electoral college also-rans explaining why they aren't living in the White House.

If Mitt Romney, John McCain and John Kerry have unsold manuscripts tucked away in a drawer about how they were mistreated by the media, the stock market, and the FBI, we've been graciously spared the spectacle of them hawking their excuses.

Al Gore, the last presidential candidate to come in first in votes but second in the race, wisely chose to write about Things That Matter when he decided to retire to the authors' studio. Bob Dole surely had a lot to say about the forces that kept him from reciting the presidential oath, but he chose to expose himself to ridicule by hawking erectile dysfunction remedies instead.

So, Mrs. Clinton, I'm really very sorry that you're not President of the United States. Believe me, I'm really, really, really sorry about that. But you've got a Clinton Foundation all set up that you could be running, and I'm sure the experience will give you lots and lots of material for a much more worthwhile book.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Q Toon: WeatherProphecy with Lauryl Sulfate

Rain falls on the just and the unjust, as the Good Book says; but there's always some holy roller assuring us that the rain was intended for the unjust all along. It's just that God has crappy aim.

The crack about Hurricane Harvey pummeling Houston because of its lesbian mayor (who left office last year) came from Ghostface look-alike Ann Coulter, who was, no doubt, merely making a desperate effort to tweet something —anything— more outrageous than Donald Trump does.

But her tweet that former Mayor Annise Parker was a more credible explanation for Hurricane Harvey than climate change provides the launching pad for this week's cartoon.

I woke up the morning after drawing this cartoon to find that nearly every other editorial cartoonist on the AAEC site had drawn cartoons about hurricanes and climate change, but it's important to note that the destruction we've witnessed from Harvey and Irma cannot be blamed on one factor alone.  Nick Anderson penned an excellent long-form cartoon for the Texas Tribune on unfettered development contributing to flooding in and around Houston, and while 600 trillion gallons of water is going to wreak havoc on the best of ecosystems, I highly recommend Anderson's well-researched opus.

Houston isn't the only place where developers regard the wetlands in particular and the environment generally as a nuisance getting in the way of their profits. Here in Wisconsin, the Republican governor and his Republican-run legislature are greasing the skids for the building of a huge Foxxcon plant, legislating that any legal challenges from environmentalists must go straight to the Republican-run State Supreme Court for judgment. Since Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has successfully packed that court with their paid stooges, the outcome of any environmental lawsuit is a foregone conclusion in favor of whatever degradation Foxxcon might have wrought.


Incidentally, I have no idea where Hurricane Jose plans to go. I had been checking storm predictions on daily as Florida braced for Irma's assault, and the precise tracks predicted for the two hurricanes changed from day to day. The site originally had Irma blustering up Florida's east coast and crashing into the U.S. again where Georgia meets South Carolina, but it moved her path westward a little bit each day. As of this morning, has Jose brushing against North Carolina's outer banks, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, but mostly staying out to sea.

I think the good citizens of the landlocked state of Vermont may rest easy. Until the snows fall, anyway.


Tune in again tomorrow for a bonus cartoon on another topic about which all the other members of the AAEC site have already picked the bones clean.

Monday, September 11, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

 To help with storm relief, I suggest Lutheran Disaster Response. 100% of donations go directly to helping survivors.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Raemaekers in America

In the summer of 1917, the famed Dutch cartoonist Louis Raemaekers took up temporary residence on Long Island, New York. As part of his tour of America, he granted an interview to Harold M. Harvey, who wrote a feature article in the September issue of Cartoons Magazine.
"Three years ago, Louis Raemaekers was practically unknown, a painter of portraits and landscapes like his illustrious forefathers and a contributor of an occasional cartoon to an Amsterdam newspaper. Today he is hailed as the greatest cartoonist of the world war. Millions of women have wept over his vivid pictures of devastated Belgium's sufferings; millions of men, fired by his graphic tirades against German cruelty, have sprung to arms with vengeance in their hearts."
"How I Deal with the Small Fry" by Louis Raemaekers, distributed by Land and Water, London, 1917.
There is nothing subtle about Raemaekers's work. Kaiser Wilhelm was typically depicted as the murderer of children in their beds, strangler of Belgian girls, and slaughterer of martyrs. At first, these shocking images were too much for his editors in the officially neutral Netherlands, but they proved immensely popular, and were republished in international newspapers and sold on post cards. "I would not be held in check by an editor," Raemaekers told Harvey. "I will not now. I draw what appeals to me. I will not draw what another man tells me I must draw if I do not believe the idea will bring results."

Because of his inflammatory cartoons, the German government is said to have put a price on his head, prompting him to leave Amsterdam for Paris, and thence to New York.
"This Is For the Hospitals" by Louis Raemaekers in Chicago Examiner, August 24, 1917
Raemaekers resorted again and again to cartoons of skeletons representing Germany, as with the above cartoon drawn to amplify reports that German planes over Verdun had bombed a hospital, then strafed doctors, nurses, and patients as they fled the burning building.
"The German Tango" by Raemaekers, in the Chicago Examiner September 5, 1917
Religious imagery and derisive references to German "Kultur" were two more leitmotifs, coming together in this example.
"Kultur at Wittenburg," by Louis Raemaekers, distributed by Land and Water, London
America favorably impressed Raemaekers, who marveled at the powerful lines of New York City architecture. He found Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt eager to meet with him, and shared this observation of the incumbent president with Mr. Harvey:
"Mr. Wilson, your president, is a remarkable man. A year and a half ago, I did not admire him. I could not understand his delay in entering the war. Today, I admire him all the more for his hesitancy. He was studying his people. He was acting for their best interests. When the psychological moment came, when he knew that the people would support him, he seized the sword and the nation followed. Only the greatest of men could do a thing like that in the face of world-wide criticism."
"Wait and See" by Louis Raemaekers in Chicago Examiner,  August 13, 1917
The promotional cut line below Raemaekers's cartoon of Kaiser Wilhelm and Woodrow Wilson may give the false impression that the Dutch cartoonist came to work in Chicago; he had contracted with William Randolph Hearst's International News Service out of New York — in spite of, or even because of Hearst's reputation as having pro-German sympathies. But as Raemaekers told it, he considered Hearst's subscribers to be "the most important target group because the readers are poisoned daily by tendentious articles."

Whatever Hearst's leanings, his Chicago newspaper proudly displayed Raemaekers's cartoons on its front page, while its own cartoonist, Harry Murphy, remained on his customary spot on the editorial — that is, the back — page.
"A Fair Return" by Louis Raemaekers in Chicago Examiner, August 15, 1917
One issue Raemaekers took on in September came right to Chicago. There were still Americans against the war, even though they risked arrest for taking what had become a very unpopular stand. The International Workers of the World trade union, which reached a peak of 150,000 members in August of 1917, declared that it would fight against, not for, American capitalism. In response, the Department of Justice raided their headquarters in several cities, and a Chicago federal Grand Jury indicted 166 I.W.W. members for conspiring to hinder the draft and encourage desertion.

Another officially suspect organization was the "People's Council of America for Democracy and Terms of Peace."

"As Thou Sowest" by Louis Raemaekers in Chicago Examiner, September 16, 1917
When Chicago Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson allowed the People's Council to hold a convention in the Windy City, the Examiner's headlines joined Raemaekers in condemnation. The People's Council  had been denied permission to hold its convention in several other cities, states, and the District of Columbia. Milwaukee's Socialist Mayor Daniel Hoan had put out the welcome mat only to have it revoked by Republican Wisconsin Governor Emanuel Philipp.

Illinois Governor Frank Lowden similarly ordered Chicago Police to prevent the convention; and when that failed, he sent in the state militia and troops at Fort Sheridan. But by then, the People's Council had wrapped up its meeting and departed.

"How Can They Think Anything Wrong of You, William?" by Louis Raemaekers in Chicago Examiner, September 14, 1917
In the aftermath, members of the city council demanded that Mayor Thompson resign or that the courts move toward his impeachment. Alderman Albert J. Fisher told the Chicago Examiner, "It is the duty of all those in authority — from the Governor down and from the Mayor up — to see that no aid or comfort is given to the common enemy. It was treasonable to allow the pacifist meeting to be held."

"There's no law against free speech here," said Mayor Thompson. "Thank the Lord some folks haven't the power to change the Constitution every half hour or so."

The Examiner blared triumphant banner headlines of a subsequent pro-war rally at the Coliseum, at which an estimated 18,000-20,000 heard Elihu Root brand peaceniks as "traitors," and American Federation of Labor president Samuel Gompers swore that "there can be no peace" while a single "Teuton" remained in France or Belgium. According to reports in the Examiner and Chicago Tribune, people in the crowd derided Thompson as "Yellow Bill."

And although Thompson would be reelected Mayor two years later, the incident undoubtedly doomed his planned run for the U.S. Senate in 1918 and thus his dreams of the Presidency.

Incidentally, while the Dutch Raemaekers saw fit to draw the above cartoon about the Chicago Mayor's role in this controversy, the Examiner's Murphy, who otherwise drew plenty of cartoons about state and local politics, left the topic alone.
"The Helping Hand" by Louis Raemaekers in Chicago Examiner, September 15, 1917
Also in the headlines in September, 1917 was the accusation that despite being officially neutral, Sweden was allowing Germany and its embassies in Latin America to communicate using Swedish code systems. Sweden had promised in 1915 to end the practice, but in September, Britain revealed that facilities of the Swedish foreign ministry had been used to send a telegram from the German embassy in Buenos Aires to Berlin proposing that certain Argentine ships be "sunk without trace."

I bring this story up because it allows me to close this post with one of the very, very few exercises in levity in Raemaekers's wartime cartoons:
"That Conference" by Louis Raemaekers in Chicago Examiner, September 17, 1917

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Q Toon: The Gnashville Sound

With most Americans' attention fixed on the devastation of Hurricane Harvey down in the Houston area, a meeting of conservative evangelicals (including many members of Donald Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board) met in Nashville, Tennessee and published a statement condemning LGBTQs.

Article 10 of the "Nashville Statement" tells LGBTQ persons that they are not Christian, and neither is anyone who supports them:
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.
The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), which produced the statement, was founded in 1987 to protect the "It's A Man's World, And By That We Mean A Straight Man" view of conservative Christianity. For them, a woman's place is in the home, standing by her man, because Father Knows Best. It's a doctrine called "complementarianism," as opposed to egalitarianism, in which men and women are viewed as equals.
Complementarians are Biblical literalists, and according to their interpretation of the Scriptures, women and men are to have distinct roles at home and in church. In essence and in practice, women are to submit to men, who are to be spiritual leaders.
Women cannot preach or hold any kind of spiritual authority over men. Men exercise “headship” over their wives, establishing a hierarchy whose basic mechanics differ from denomination to denomination.
As far as these people are concerned, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and especially transgender people present a direct threat to their patriarchal worldview. One cannot reconcile complementarianism with any relationship that does not involve someone with a vagina submitting herself to someone with a penis; and the doctrine certainly cannot account for the possibility of someone born with one but feeling compelled to live as someone born with the other.

If this were strictly a matter of who is welcome in a CBMW church on Sunday morning and who isn't, this would be a tempest in an easily avoided teapot. But because these people have worked long and hard to establish a right-wing Christian Theocracy in this country, even to the point of banding together to give slavish support to a materialistic, hedonistic, unrepentant, biblical illiterate as President of the United States (but hey, at least he's got the male dominance thing down pat), their anti-LGBTQ dogma has consequences far outside their church doors.
[T]he type of theology underlying the Nashville Statement is used to defend the denial of goods and services to same-sex couples. The political power evangelicals hold in the United States allows them to codify their beliefs in law. Dozens of “religious freedom restoration acts,” primarily in the form of so-called bathroom bills, have focused on policing the lives of L.G.B.T. people. Since the 2014 decision by the Department of Education to include gender identity under Title IX protections, more than 60 Christian colleges have requested — and many have received — waivers to discriminate against L.G.B.T. students.
Even worse is their promotion of quack "reparative therapy" in which psychological torture is used to "cure" same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. So too their active promotion of a culture in which LGBTQ lives are devalued to the point where some people still believe they have moral justification to murder us on sight.

So enjoy this week's cartoon. It's more light-hearted than I truly feel about this topic, but in parody, you have to go where the song takes you.

And in case there's some reader out there who has never been exposed to country 'n' western music, the song is "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys" by Ed and Patsy Bruce (although if it's giving you an earworm for the rest of the day, you're probably hearing Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson's cover of the tune).

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

2017 Locher Award Winner: Damian Alexander

This year's AAEC/John Locher Award for best aspiring college-age cartoonist has been awarded to Damian Alexander, a graduate student at Boston's Simmons College. The award was founded in 1986 by members of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists as a memorial to the late son of Dick and Mary Locher. (Dick Locher, an editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune and cartoonist of Dick Tracy, died this last month.)

Alexander's illustrations highlight personal experiences with social equality, LGBTQ issues, and mental health. "Through compelling and brutally honest storytelling, Damian's entries successfully make the personal political. His comic about his teenage self thinking he had AIDS simply because he was gay speaks to the importance of media representation. His meditations on technology and suicide are also thoughtful and socially-relevant."
Excerpt from "I'm Gay. That Means I Have AIDS, Right?" by Damian Alexander in Narratively
See the rest of this comic at the Locher Award site or in scrollable format at

I hope he's seen "Jeffrey," "The Broken Hearts Club," or "To Wong Foo" by now.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Funny Paper Caper: Denouement

I've spent much of this summer rehashing a 34-year-old parody I drew for the UW-Parkside Ranger, and today the time has finally come to post the final chapters. The plot is too far along to give a synopsis here; suffice it to say that our nameless police lieutenant is being held at gunpoint by the suspect in the murder investigation that has been underway, but has managed to slip a coded message to a co-worker.

What follows will be familiar to any fan of "Fearless Fosdick."

As Lt. No-name observed of Dick Thelma, very few of Dick Tracy's villains survived long enough to be tried for their crimes under Chester Gould's story-writing. It saved the cartoonist from having to spend long, tedious months watching Tracy fill out the paperwork and sending Tracy to testify in court. The drawback was that memorable characters such as the Brow and Flattop weren't available to become recurring characters — except on the rather silly Saturday morning TV cartoon version.

In a real continuity strip, this would have been the launch of a new story line, but that was never my intent. I doubt I could have gone thirty more episodes without somebody needing to call the Lieutenant by name.

Monday, September 4, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

It looks like them boys got the band together agin.

And the beat goes on.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Comic Caper: Back to School Edition

I was thinking of putting together a collection of back-to-school cartoons for today's Studentbacker Saturday, just so I could show off this cartoon by Chicago Daily News editorial cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker, featuring my Dad:
"Education" by Vaughn Shoemaker for Chicago Daily News, September, 1935
Dad says he was actually five years old when this was drawn, not six. He has the autographed original framed and hanging in his office; the image above is from a photograph rather than a scan because removing the cartoon from the frame would probably ruin it. I've tweaked the photo considerably in Photoshop to minimize the effects from decades of yellowing.

But I haven't come across any inspiring vintage back-to-school cartoons yet, so a full blog post on that topic will have to wait for another day. Not that there aren't any old cartoons on education; I included one by Winsor McCay in a post for Labor Day weekend last year. But I do wonder whether the Katzenjammer Kids ever went to school at all. I read through their entire escapades for the month of September, 1917 without finding one mention of them attending classes — although they did go to the zoo once or twice a week.


So instead, here's more of my Funny Paper Caper series, drawn for the UW-Parkside Ranger in 1983-84 that I've been running here since July.

Looking back, the inconsistency in how much space my cartoon required from week to week must have really cheesed off the lay-out editor. This was the second time that an episode took up three rows of panels instead of one.

And here, ferschitzengiggels, is one more episode, standard length, for today.