Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 in Headlines

I've been taking photos of the year in newspaper front pages and magazine covers every December 31 for some 45 years now. These days, it's harder to get a comprehensive sampling, now that the local papers have ceded national news to the internet and hardly any newspapers play up international events.

So I have no banner headlines reporting the deadly tsunami in Indonesia, fascist victories in Brazil and elsewhere, the cock-up of Brexit, or the Saudi-Iranian proxy war in Yemen. There were devastating hurricanes, typhoons, and fires; was any one of them more important than the others?

Instead, this year's photo is dominated by the mercurial president of the United States and those "I hire the best people" in his cabinet discovering that he can't hear their advice over the rumblings of his gut.

Here, too, is a collage of my favorites of the cartoons I drew this year. I don't pretend for them to be a comprehensive review of the year, either. They're just the ones I happen to like right now. And since I didn't put them in a slide show, embiggenation is necessitatified.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

Oh, look! It's Old Man 2018 on his way out the door!

The week between Christmas and New Year's always brings out an avalanche of political cartoons featuring a.) someone in line bringing an elected official to the exchange window, and b.) Old Man Time turning the world over to Baby New Year. All the newsmakers have gone home for the holiday, and all the editors have gone on holiday as well, greenlighting a week of The Year In Review articles. And heck, we cartoonists enjoy some time off this time of year as much as anybody else.

That was before a minority of American voters elected a president who doesn't respect the time-honored tradition of the Slow News Week.

Nevertheless, I promise that the cartoon I drew last Thursday night has none of that tired old crap in it. But since predicting what our mercurial president might do a week ahead of time is a fool's errand, I think I might have found something else that would still be relevant a week later.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Church Work

Supralapsarianismback Saturday begs your pardon for wallowing in my juvenalia again this week.

My mother is at the point in life where she has been going through her things to separate out the things she needs from those she no longer does, giving away the stuff she thinks someone else might want, and throwing out the rest. Among the things she has given to me so far is a big folder stuffed with clippings of my cartoons.

I have the originals of most of them, but there are a few pages of cartoons I had completely forgotten about, drawn for the church where I grew up. I kind of remember drawing the above cartoon for the monthly newsletter — at least I remember the time spent laboriously drawing all those straight lines with a Bic pen and a ruler. (It's hard to see in the scan, but the missile farthest to the left is full of cross-hatched lines.)

The church's copying equipment wasn't kind to all that meticulous shading and thus to the hand-drawn lettering. Some of the voided areas appear to be fingerprints, which, from my subsequent experience with church copiers, I take it to mean that there were a lot of paper jams running that page.

The next two must have been drawn for a fund-raising drive. Obviously, the Sunday School wanted to buy a VCR, although I suppose they could have wanted to enroll the Sunday School teachers at the local technical college to learn how to work the new-fangled things. (I kid.)
I do remember how the basement room where the senior citizens' group met would flood would flood during a heavy rain. It didn't flood bad enough to float the piano, but it certainly made the room unusable for a week or two. Mom was the coordinator of the group in those days, and she would occasionally enlist my help if she needed a program during a school vacation.

That piano was beyond the point where floating in water could do it any further harm.

Mom's note on the page with this last clipping identifies it as accompanying Hunger Sunday in 1985. I've abandoned the Bic pen and ruler technique and gone over entirely to shading with a quill pen and india ink by this time. There's an allusion here to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:
 "Now there was a rich man and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, making good cheer in splendour every day. And [there was] a poor man, by name Lazarus, [who] was laid at his gateway full of sores, and desiring to be filled with the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man .... "(DARBY)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Q Toon: Down for the Count

Bergetoons, and a cartoon full of partying auctioneers wish all my readers a very happy, healthy, and humor-filled new year in 2019!

Monday, December 24, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

Not meaning to rush the holidays or anything, but this week's cartoon doesn't go on the newsstands until later this week. Sure, it'll still be Christmas until a week from Saturday, but even the folks who rhapsodize about celebrating Christmas 365 days a year are tired of it before the calling birds and French hens show up.

Happy Holidays to you!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Dry Humor

The bartender in my syndicated cartoon this week would be out of a job if the politicians of a century ago had anything to say about it.

Which they did. 100 years and a month ago, Congress passed the Food Production Stimulation Act, ostensibly to further the war effort, even though the armistice had been declared ten days earlier.
"And I Thought It Was Only a 'Dud'" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, November, 1918,
recaptioned by Cartoons Magazine, Chicago, February, 1919
After some provisions authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to act on combating diseases and pests among livestock and produce and to stockpile seeds, the Act prohibited the production of alcoholic beverages of all kinds after May 1 and their import, export, and sale after June 30 "until the conclusion of the present war and thereafter until the termination of demobilization, the date of which shall be determined and proclaimed by the President of the United States." Exception was made only for wine for "sacramental, medicinal, or other than beverage purposes."
"The Latest Autocrat" by R.A. Evans in Baltimore American, November, 1918
The Prohibition movement cobbled together a peculiar coalition of progressives, puritans, suffragists, nativists and racists: Women's Christian Temperance Union president Frances Willard told the New York Voice in 1890 that "'Better whiskey and more of it' is the rallying cry of great, dark-faced mobs." Irish, Russian, Italian, and especially during the war, German immigrants were popularly depicted as habitual drunkards wasting valuable resources and contributing to the downfall of American society.  Prohibitionists promised that banning alcohol would save families from the scourge of abusive fathers, boost industrial production, and fill the pews on Sunday morning.
"Didn't Even Get an Armistice" by Sydney J. Greene in New York Evening Telegram, November 23, 1918
Not everybody was on board, but the prohibition movement had bipartisan support in Congress and around the country. 
"The Last Hope Is Gone" by William Hanny in St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, November 23, 1918
The 1910's and 20's were fertile ground for amending the U.S. Constitution, and prohibition would not be limited to this single bill,  or subject to some future president declaring peace to have broken out. Fifteen states — including nine in which liquor was legal — had already voted to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution by the time the Congress voted for it in December. Ratification would need approval by 21 more state legislatures; 46 voted aye by February. Only Connecticut and Rhode Island voted against it.

"Scuttling the Good Ship Victory" by Frank A. Nankivell in New York Journal, November 23, 1918
Moving on to another subject entirely, Congress instigated a postwar investigation into subversive activities at home during the conflict. As far as the editors of the New York Journal were concerned, the chief focus of the investigation was William Randolph Hearst's media empire, headquartered at the New York American. The Journal's editorial page cartoonist, Australian-born Frank A. Nankivell, drew cartoons exclusively attacking Mr. Hearst for the last six weeks of 1918.

On December 3, the Journal splashed three supposedly damning telegrams by Hearst unearthed by the congressional investigation. In one from March 3, 1917, Hearst dictates a cartoon he wanted his New York cartoonist, Winsor McCay, to draw.
According to the Journal, McCay did indeed draw that cartoon to his publisher's specifications. If I am ever able to find that cartoon, I'll be sure to come back and repost it here. Suffice it to say that other cartoonists in Hearst's media empire cranked out "yellow peril" cartoons in the months before U.S. entry into the Great War (see Chicago Examiner cartoonist Harry Murphy's cartoon in this post), with or without Hearst's active direction.
"So Simple—It Sells Papers" by Frank A. Nankivell in New York Journal, December 13, 1918
Surely Journal president Ogden Reid couldn't have been dictating Mr. Nankivell's cartoons!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Q Toon: Shelved

It's time for the obligatory Merry Christmas cartoon!

Carolyn Aebersold popularized her family tradition of Elf on the Shelf in a 2005 children's picture book, telling the chilling story of how elves would steal into households around the world to spy on children and report their behavior back to Santa Claus.

Little did Ms. Aebersold realize that Mark Zuckerberg had already released his Facebook into the world, harnessing people's eagerness to talk about themselves in order for him to harvest information on the behavior of kids from one to 92. It's not only the stuff you post on Facebook, but anything else you do on your computer when you foolishly think Facebook isn't looking. The data is then sold to the highest bidder, the lowest bidder, and all the myriad bidders inbetween.

Then Google and Twitter came along to fill in whatever blanks in our on-line behavior Facebook might have overlooked, but at least they only captured what we were doing on our computer, tablet, phone, or FitBit.

So, to make the spy network of things complete, every room in the house now has Siri, Alexa, Hey Google, and whatever dumbed-down gadget Cricket Wireless is going to come up with for us old fogeys, reporting to the Valley of the Shadow of Silicon what's in our refrigerators, how long we leave the lights on, who rang our doorbells, and whatever the Roomba found on the floor. They're willing to testify in court against us, and we've already signed away our Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights somewhere in volume 87 of the Terms of Service Agreement.

So you better look out; you better not cry; you better not pout. I'm telling you why:

Watson's taking everything down.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

Why, it could drive a man to drink, if there weren't already so much liquor at home!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

EnviroStewardship: Bonhoeffer of the Vanities

Once a month, I turn the blog over to my dad, who writes an "Environmental Stewardship" column for his church's newsletter. Anyone citing or borrowing today's post is asked to credit John Berge.
Golden snub-nosed monkey
Not everybody agrees with the positions I expressed in last month’s essay on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a last ditch effort to fight man-made extinctions of endangered and threatened species. That certainly is to be expected. If everyone agreed with me, there would be little reason for me to write these essays. Some people apparently believe that no threatened or endangered species should limit one’s ability to make a profit. Others oppose the ESA with apathy.

So, with sincere apologies to the German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote something similar to this from a Nazi prison cell, I dare to paraphrase or parody one of his more famous quotes:

When the Passenger Pigeon went extinct, I said I wasn’t a pigeon and so I did not speak out.

When the Western Black Rhinoceros went extinct, I said I not only wasn’t a rhinoceros but I don’t live in Africa, so I did not speak out.

When the Rocky Mountain Locust went extinct, I said that might be a good thing, so I did not speak out.

When the Orange Roughy was going extinct, I said I don’t eat that many, so I did not speak out…

…Sometime later, when the human species went extinct, there was no-one left to speak out.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Bring the Boys Back Home

Its centennial may be over, but here at Safelyback Saturday, we haven't forgotten about World War I. Since it has been somewhat busy chez nous, and I haven't gotten quite as far in my yuletide errands as I would like, here's a cursory look at American editorial cartoons as the country returned to a peacetime footing.
"Her Christmas Present" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, December 22, 1918
Mother was certainly happy to see her boy back home in time for Christmas. The United States' role in world affairs, however, had been irrevocably changed. The country had been unprepared for the war at its outset, and vowed not to be caught flat-footed in the future.
"His Death Warrant" by Sidney J. Greene in New York Evening Telegram, December 13, 1918
We have just passed the 100th anniversary of Frank O. King's "Gasoline Alley," as has been well celebrated elsewhere. Not yet a comic strip standing on its own, "Gasoline Alley" appeared as one dialogue-cluttered panel in King's full-page "Rectangle" feature on Sundays. Here is the fifth appearance of the denizens of the Alley — Walt is the guy in short sleeves — abutted by a discussion of freedom of the seas (in which the fellow worries about our erstwhile ally Japan declaring war on the U.S. someday) and the impact of peace on doughnut holes.
Detail of "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King in Chicago Tribune, December 22, 1918
If Americans were at all worried about future enemies, the greater concern for the moment was over their most recent one.
"All That Could Be Expected" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 23, 1918
The European Entente powers demanded harsh reparations from Germany, even though the allied embargo against the Central Powers had seriously depleted the defeated nations' resources.
"The Second Table" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, December, 1918
President Woodrow Wilson's idealistic dream of a League of Nations to prevent future wars was met with skepticism by our allies, and with a return of partisan politics at home.
"Back Seat Drivers" by Burt Thomas in Detroit News, November/December, 1918
How Mr. Wilson was driving depended upon where one sat.
"Gangway!" by Elmer A. Bushnell in Cincinnati Times Star, ca. December 23, 1918 
Aren't you glad political divisions are a thing of the forgotten past?
"Already Taken His Position" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, ca. December 26, 1918

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Q Toon: There's Bound to Be Talk Tomorrow

The Ghost of Twitter Past has been haunting the celebrity set again.

Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray apologized for using the word "queer" in a derogatory way in tweets when he was 14 and 15, saying "I used a poor choice of word that doesn't reflect who I am or what I believe."

Kevin Hart pulled out of hosting next year's Oscars ceremony after demands that he repent of old tweets and stand-up routines disparaging gays. At first, he refused to apologize, only to give in, grudgingly, after having quit the MC job.

In young Mr. Murray's case, it hardly seems fair to hold him responsible for every irresponsible thing he blurted onto the internets in his teenage years, but it does demonstrate to those still in that age group that yes, Virginia, there is a permanent record. Twitter never forgets.

As someone who fancies himself somewhat of a humorist, I find I have some sympathy for Mr. Hart as well. All humor is transgressive to some degree, and may become moreso over time. For example, in researching 100-year-old cartoons, I find many involving African-Americans and other ethnicities that I wouldn't dare repost today. Some people thought last Saturday's post of old Bush 41 cartoons was out of line; well, you should see the stuff I didn't include.

On the other hand, Mr. Hart's tweets and jokes didn't come from another century. President Barack Obama was ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Ellen DeGeneres had won over two dozen Emmys for her talk show. Same-sex couples could marry in Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia.

Moreover, a leading cause of suicide among LGBTQ youth, and a substantial factor in the higher rate of suicide among LGBTQ youth over their peers, is the fear of rejection by one's parents. Accordingly, the LGBTQ community just doesn't find jokes about how horrible it might be to have a gay son particularly funny.

It is a steep challenge in cartooning to get these song parodies to both scan and rhyme. In audio, one can get away with eliding a couple syllables or fudging a consonant or two; but in print, we cartoonists are at the mercy of how the reader happens to hear the words inside his/her/their head.

Even steeper is the challenge of reducing a five-minute song to thirty seconds, so I apologize for jumping ahead to the end of the song in panel four.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ripping GHWB

As promised, I'm rehashing cartoons of George H.W. Bush's political career for Desert Stormback Saturday today. I've posted some of these before, but I've made sure to dig up some previously unrereleased material.

And in case you thought Thursday's memorial cartoon whitewashed the Bush record, it shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with my work to discover that I was not much of a Bush fan in the 1980's.
Bush skipped from one government post to another throughout the 1960's and 70's, but most Americans only became acquainted with him when he ran for president in 1980. When he was vying against Ronald Reagan for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, Bush famously labeled Reagan's promises to cut taxes yet balance the federal budget "voodoo economics." That all changed once Bush accepted the understudy spot on the GOP ticket, however.

For those of you too young to recognize 1980's technology, that's a reel-to-reel tape player hurriedly erasing in Bush's head. They didn't have a big "Erase" light, but one was necessary in the cartoon to show that he wasn't rewinding or fast forwarding.

Bush ended up sticking with the post of Vice President for longer than any other job in his career. Skipping ahead to the end of the Reagan administration, I drew this January, 1988 cartoon about Bush's role in Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal. In spite of his wide-ranging foreign policy experience, Bush was never directly connected to the complicated scheme of arms sales, pay-offs and funding of right-wing rebels, involving under-the-table dealings in Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Nicaragua.

When it came time for Bush to name his own running mate, his choice of boyish Indiana Senator J. Danforth Quayle met with considerable derision. Quayle had a way to go, however, before he would catch up with some of George Bush's gaffes and malapropisms. In a speech to the American Legion on September 7, Bush mistakenly told the audience, "Today is Pearl Harbor Day — 47 years ago from this very day we were hit and hit hard at Pearl Harbor." His praise of the incumbent Governor of California overlooked the résumé of the incumbent President of the United States.

Fortunately for the Bush-Quayle ticket, their Democratic rival was Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, whose drab, wonkish demeanor just wasn't up to the slickly packaged Republican campaign. Dukakis's awkward photo op in an army tank stuck with voters longer than any harmless misstatements by Mr. Bush.

Again, you younger readers will be too young to remember "generic" grocery store products, which were a thing in the 1980's: cheaper versions of name-brand products sold in pointedly plain packaging. The ones where my mother shopped boasted feebly that while they might "vary in quality," they were "generally acceptable for household use."

As president, Bush had to deal domestically with a slowing economy. His campaign promise, "Read my lips: No new taxes," soon ran up against political and economic reality and broke. The pledge was the sort of thing that sounded good at the time; he needed to establish some bona fides with the ascendant wing of the party still suspicious that he wasn't sold on "voodoo economics."

Bush enjoyed greater success on the international front. The break-up of the Soviet Union left the United States as the world's only superpower. Quick and victorious U.S. military intervention in Panama established Bush's reputation as a bold, decisive leader.

Then Iraq invaded Kuwait, and Bush had to weigh the costs and benefits of going to war against one of the Middle East's most formidable (on paper, anyway) military powers, whose previous malfeasance the Reagan and Bush administrations had overlooked because Iraq served as a check against Iran. (For that matter, the Bush administration had sent conflicting signals about whether it had any interest in Iraqi designs on the emirate.)

Do I have to explain references from the 1930's and 60's to any young whippersnappers out there? I do hope not.
For a time, it appeared that all other issues would take a back seat to the war in Iraq, but as it happened, Iraq's army quickly turned tail and skedaddled out of Kuwait. The Bush administration chose not to press on for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, even as the Iraqi military turned its attention to foes less able to stand up to it.

Were we going to go back in to stop Saddam from gassing the Kurds? And meanwhile, did some skittishness in the stock markets signal that the economy wasn't recovering from recession after all?
I've run the Double Dip cartoon before because, in spite of the stupid wordplay, it has always been one of my favorites. My husband thought it heartless of me to make it my Facebook ID photo on Sunday morning, but I think that Bush had enough of a sense of humor that he might have gotten a wry chuckle over it.

Now, anyone who thinks that kinder and gentler days prevailed during the administration of Bush père clearly doesn't remember his nomination of Clarence Thomas to succeed Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court. Out of some modicum of deference to the memory of President Bush (and because it's not the tone I want to close with), I'm choosing not to rerun my cartoons about that episode. I've run all the good ones before, and you're free to look them up.

I've also decided to skip the cartoons about the 1992 presidential campaign; again, I've dredged up most of the better ones before. Instead, I'll close with this cartoon from December, 1992, as Bush prepared to turn the White House over to a young upstart from Arkansas.

Friday, December 7, 2018

WisToon: That First Step Is a Doozy

In the wee hours of the morning, Republicans in an extraordinary session of the Wisconsin legislature approved hastily drawn-up bills to curtail the authority of the Democratic Governor-elect and Attorney General-elect. It's a blatant power grab by a legislature determined to safeguard minority rule in the state: Democrats consistently outvote Republicans in legislative races here, but 2011 gerrymandering has guaranteed lopsided Republican majorities in both the Assembly and Senate as well as our congressional delegation.

Assembly leader Robin Vos and Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald and their minions claim that the legislature has been considering these moves for a long time, and they probably have — at least since predictions of a "blue wave" began to cast its shadow over the un-gerrymander-able statewide races. As long as there was a Republican in the governor's office, they were happy to grant  him as much power as he could keep track of. Likewise with the past two Republican Attorneys General, J.B. Van Hollen and Brad Schimel.

But with Democrats due to assume those offices in January, Republicans rushed to make sure the new Governor and A.G. would have no power to shape the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (created by the GOP as a replacement for the Commerce Department), 2021 redistricting, or the Republican lawsuit against Obamacare.

Another of the bills they passed will move the state's 2020 presidential primary from April to March, between the nominally non-partisan February primary and April general election. Those bracketing elections will be for such positions as school boards, local sheriffs, and mayors; but most importantly to Republicans in Madison, for the state Supreme Court.

Republicans claim concern that it would be confusing, or unseemly, or gauche to have those non-partisan races on the same ballot as the partisan presidential primary.

Once upon a time, Wisconsin's Supreme Court was filled with respected, non-partisan legal judges; but in the past few decades it has become dominated by partisan stooges bought and paid for by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce lobby and the Koch brothers. A Scott Walker appointee is up for election to a full ten-year term next spring, and Republicans don't want him to have to run in an election likely to attract lots of Democratic voters eager to have a say in whom their party should nominate for President.

It's not as if the Republicans don't already hold a majority on the state Supreme Court. But with their latest power grab likely to come up before the Court next year, they don't want to take any chances.

Update: Facing unanimous opposition from local election officials, the primary date change didn't pass the legislature after all.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


The first reports of the death of former President George H.W. Bush came late Friday night, interrupting Stephen Colbert's interview of Michelle Obama; so it might have been surprising that had memorial cartoons on line first thing Saturday morning. Those cartoons were all of Barbara Bush greeting her husband on his arrival in heaven, suggesting that they were drawn a couple months ago, around the time of Mrs. Bush's funeral.

Nick Anderson, former cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, had drawn a full-page memorial cartoon for Mr. Bush years ago during one of the former president's health crises, leaving a corner open for any final details. The Chronicle terminated his position last year, but he contacted the current editors to let them know of the cartoon's existence. The Chronicle has run the finished cartoon, which is best viewed on Anderson's Patreon page.

Since I draw for the LGBTQ press, I wasn't sure that I would add to the abundant collection of memorial cartoons out there. As president, Mr. Bush did not have a remarkable record on LGBTQ issues. He made no move to lift the ban on the military service by LGBTQ personnel — this was before Bill Clinton's botched attempt to do so — and was against marriage equality. (In 2013, he was an official witness to the wedding of the lesbian owners of a Kennebunkport general store, however.)

I decided to go ahead with a memorial cartoon for Mr. Bush after coming across this speech of his from March 30, 1990 at a conference sponsored by the National Leadership Coalition on AIDS. They are nice words, even if funding for AIDS drugs was cut from his next budget. Still, some protections for People With AIDS were included in the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

In addition to the more traditional cartoon eulogies, there have been a few editorial cartoons this week lambasting the late Mr. Bush for the invasion of Panama, Iraq War I, the Willie Horton ad, the 1990-91 recession, and yes, his record on HIV/AIDS. If you are disappointed that I've been kinder and gentler than you think Mr. Bush deserves, all I can do is to welcome you to revisit this blog on Saturday, when I'll republish some of my cartoons from his presidency.

They were ruder and rougher than today's cartoon.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Toons for World AIDS Day

Seroback Saturday observes World AIDS Day with a look back at a rather limited selection of cartoons about HIV/AIDS drawn for the LGBTQ press.

This is by no means a comprehensive look at the complete selection of LGBTQ cartoonists. I'm not including the work of any of the character-driven comic strips, many of whom have introduced HIV+ characters either on a regular, occasional, or cameo appearance basis. Nor do I have any idea what was the first published cartoon about AIDS (although that might be interesting to find out someday).

I believe this cartoon from September, 1985 is the first one I ever drew about the AIDS epidemic; it's at a point when I felt it necessary to spell it out in the first panel and to put quotation marks around the acronym afterward. This was well before I began drawing for the LGBT press, however; this appeared in the student newspaper at UW-Parkside.

(Had the Homosexual Agenda added the "T" yet in 1985? I forget. I think folks were still squabbling about what order the first three letters should be in.)

There were other cartoonists contributing to LGBTQetc. media in the early 1980's, although few were tackling political subjects. But the advent of the AIDS crisis galvanized our community like nothing before. That is not to dismiss the Mattachine Society or Stonewall, or the fundamental first step of decriminalizing our relationships. But the issues up to the 1980's were predominantly lifestyle matters; the AIDS crisis presented us with a literal life-or-death issue.

And even the gag cartoonists couldn't avoid the subject.
"The Gay Side" by Tom Rezza in Wisconsin In Step, Milwaukee WI, January 23, 1986
Within the LGBT community, there was great resentment of President Ronald Reagan for not speaking about the AIDS crisis; he was not the only one guilty of silence (=death).
"Life at the Closet Door" by David Brady (freelance), ca. February. 1987
Even though consistent condom use has been proven as the best method for sexually active persons to avoid contracting the AIDS virus, network and cable television wasted years refusing to air condom advertising on the grounds that it would offend what they call "more sensitive viewers." But when Viagra and Cialis came along, the pharmaceutical companies' deep pockets helped the networks overcome whatever squeamishness they had about discussing sex during their commercial breaks.

"I'll Only Have to Rob Small Banks" by Angela Bocage in Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco CA, February 26, 1993
Speaking of the pharmaceutical companies: once treatments were discovered for HIV and AIDS, the issue became one of cost, as expressed in this Angela Bocage cartoon featuring Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Senator David Pryor (D-AR). Pryor's interest in controlling the escalating cost of prescription drugs came as chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Waxman's district included West Hollywood and parts of Los Angeles, so he had constituents vocal on the issue; his legacy includes the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 ("Hatch-Waxman Act"), and the Ryan White CARE Act of 1990.
"AIDS: Bearing Angry Witness" by Jennifer Camper (freelance), August/September, 1993
The death toll from AIDS devastated a generation in our community — as Camper's 1993 cartoon observes, in ways large and small. LGBTQ newspapers across the country, from the serious news outlets to the "bar rags," found that they needed to add obituary notices to report the loss of so many in their 50's, 40's, 30's and 20's. These obituaries often included pertinent details omitted from obituaries in mainstream newspapers: their life partners, their chosen families, or preferred or performance names by which they might be better known.
Uncaptioned cartoon by Ben Carlson in Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco CA, August 13, 1998
Ben Carlson's cartoon above appeared in the Bay Area Reporter's "No Obits" edition of August 13, 1998. A brightly colored banner headline on page one heralded the fact that for the first time in years, the San Francisco weekly newspaper did not have a single obituary in it.
"That doesn't mean that there were no AIDS deaths in the past week; next week's issue may have more obits than usual... After more than 17 years of struggle and death, and some weeks with as many as 31 obituaries printed in the B.A.R., it seems a new reality may be taking hold, and the community may be on the verge of a new era of the epidemic ... Perhaps."

By 1998, my cartoons were syndicated to the LGBTQ press, I'll close with a couple of my own scribblings from the past 20 years. The sketch above was commissioned in October, 1998 for AIDS Action's project AIDSWatch.

I didn't draw a World AIDS Day cartoon this year. It used to be that with newsmakers often on Thanksgiving holiday immediately beforehand, there frequently would be no distraction from the topic when I sat down at my drawing board. Thanks to presidential twitterrhea, that hasn't been the case lately.

Given the Corrupt Trump Administration's record on HIV/AIDS, I could simply have reissued this cartoon from January.