Monday, July 22, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

I took time out from a typically busy Sunday yesterday to attend the gathering of Cartoonists Anonymous, the bimonthly meeting of the Chicago-Midwest area chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.

I hadn't been able to make any of the Chicago meetings before, but this time, the gathering was up north in Kenosha, so I figured I could make the meeting without having to stay up too terribly late at my drawing board Sunday night. (Well, there used to be a time when I didn't consider 1:00 a.m. too terribly late, anyway.)

It was great to rub elbows with some of my fellow cartoonists and share insights and experiences on everything from pen nibs to rapidographs to Wacom tablets; Anne Hambrock offered some valuable pointers from a cartoon editor's perspective.

I have to miss the AAEC convention again this year, which is a damned dirty shame since they're having it again in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

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Saturday's post mentioned that there is "a list of all the crap we have left" on the moon. Some of that crap is, literally, crap, and it turns out that some scientists here on earth would like to retrieve those bags of astronaut scat — and urine, and vomit — to find out whether any intestinal microbes have survived up there these past 47-50 years.

This could be the basis for the most disgusting sci-fi horror film ever.
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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Shoot for the Moon

It's the fiftieth anniversary of humankind's first steps on the moon, so Spaceback Saturday takes a look at editorial cartoonists' reaction to this amazing scientific achievement.
"Across the Threshold of Dreams..." by Bill Sanders in Milwaukee Journal, July 21, 1969
Seen against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, urban and campus unrest, and assassinations, Americans, and people the world over, latched onto the safe landing and return of the Apollo 11 astronauts as a sign that there was still cause for optimism for humankind.
"Start a Whole New Chapter" by Karl Hubenthal in Los Angeles Herald Examiner, July 20/21, 1969
Sci Fi movies and TV have made the idea of galactic space travel almost routine, but consider what a feat traveling to the moon truly was. Only fifty years earlier, man had just flown across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. The distance to the moon is almost 70 times farther. There is enough space between the Earth and our moon that all of the other planets in our solar system would fit between them with room to spare. (You'd have to angle the rings out of the way, but still...) And, as demonstrated by Apollo 13, if something goes wrong, you can't just do a U-turn and come back. Or wait for the next shuttle.
"First Time in Eternity" by Reginald Manning in Arizona Republic, July 20/21, 1969
"One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind" was the theme of a great many of the first response cartoons. Reg Manning put astronaut Neil Armstrong's name on that footstep, while John Fischetti acknowledged the second half of the quotation.
"Imprint" by John Fischetti in Chicago Daily News, July 20/21, 1969
I have to admit that my own memories of the moon landing are somewhat hazy. We watched live coverage of all the Gemini and Apollo blast-offs, usually on NBC with Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Frank McGee, on a 21" black and white TV. Where we lived, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon when the Eagle landed. The first moon walk was past my bedtime, but this was an event not to be missed, and I'm positive Dad — born in the same year as all three astronauts — let us kids stay up for it.
"Unbound" by Herbert Block in Washington Post, July 21, 1969
TV coverage showed us handheld models and fuzzy footage from the lander's camera; the better resolution film would wait until the astronauts had safely returned, and we didn't see color photos until the newsmagazines came a week later. Unfortunately, since the coverage of the moon walk was repeated several times after the live broadcast, and again and again when these anniversaries come along, I have difficulty separating the original experience from all the others.
"Yankee Tourist" by Gene Basset for Scripps-Howard Newspapers, ca. July 21, 1969
Speaking of handheld models, I do remember piecing together plastic models of the orbital craft and the lunar lander. I think they came "free inside" cereal boxes, but I'm not positive about that.

Well, since nine-year-old me has so little to say to me fifty years later, let's get back to what the adults were up to.
"Moon, June, Croon ... Armstrong?" by Thomas Darcy in New York Newsday, July, 1969
As the guy creating the first footprint on the moon, Neil Armstrong was name-checked in more cartoons than his fellow Apollo 11 crew members were.
"New Craters on the Moon" by John Collins in Montreal Gazette, July 22, 1969
This Canadian cartoonist makes me think of the Onion's Stan Kelly with his "Our Watching Nail-Biting World" in the upper corner, but it's nice that he includes Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin's lunar footprint. (That nail-biting world is kind of superfluous for this cartoon; nevertheless, you do have to appreciate that, given that nobody had ever landed on the moon before, nobody had ever lifted off from it, either.)
Illustration by Chuck Livolsi in Pittsburgh Press, July 23, 1969
This front page cartoon by the Pittsburgh Press's Chuck Livolsi is unusual for singling out astronaut Michael Collins, who was tasked with piloting the Apollo 11 spacecraft in orbit around the moon and never got to set foot on it. Ever.
Uncaptioned, by Wayne Stayskal in Chicago American-Today, July 21, 1969
Wayne Stayskal used the occasion to pay tribute to the three astronauts who died in Apollo 1.
"And a Boomerang" by Hugh Haynie in Louisville Courier Journal, ca. July 20, 1969
Leading up to the Apollo 11 moon landing, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were in a "space race" in which the Russians had a head start, having launched the first space satellite and the first man into space. They were, moreover, the first to land hardware on the moon and to fly another craft around the far side of the moon, both in 1959 as part of their unmanned Luna program.
"Upstager" by Pat Oliphant in Denver Press, ca. July 19, 1969
A day after the Apollo 11 moon landing, the U.S.S.R. announced that its Luna 15 had touched down in the Mare Crisium, about 500 miles from where the Eagle landed. Launched three days before Apollo 11, it was supposed to return samples of lunar soil to Russia; but since it didn't so much "touch down" as "crash" — a detail overlooked by official Soviet news reports — it failed in its mission.
"Eclipsed" by Bill Crawford for Newspaper Enterprise Association, ca. July 22, 1969
The Russians did have plans for manned missions to the moon, but unlike the Americans, the Soviets tended to announce their space missions only after they were successfully completed. (The U.S. and Soviet space programs did, however, share their flight plans to avoid any collision between Apollo 11 and Luna 15.) After failed attempts in 1971 and '72 to launch rockets equipped with lunar landing craft, the Russians quietly abandoned their manned landing program.

Shortly thereafter, the U.S. abandoned ours.
"I Used to Dream About Going to the Moon" by J. Stockett in Afro-American, July 26, 1969
The marvel of the moon landing didn't stop people from wondering what practical use we had on Earth for a bunch of moon rocks, considering the problems of racial discrimination, poverty, pollution, war, disease, etc., etc.
"Here Man First Set Foot..." by Paul Conrad in Los Angeles Times, ca. July 22, 1969
But the space program gave us Tang and dust busters, so there.
"Next They'll Bring Us a Polluted Atmosphere" by Bill Mauldin in Chicago Sun-Times, ca. July 22, 1969
Why, yes, there is a list of all the crap we have left up there.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Q Toon: Pecking Ordure

Last weekend, The New Republic posted a supposedly satirical op-ed about Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg by gay author and literary critic Dale Peck. The essay was so outrageous and the howls of protest against it so overwhelming that TNR took it down within hours. Editor Chris Lehman explained, “The New Republic recognizes that this post crossed a line, and while it was largely intended as satire, it was inappropriate and invasive.”

I didn't read the column while it was on line, but enough sites have posted excerpts that I can offer this synopsis: based upon Peck's memories of an irrelevant and utterly forgettable night at gay bars in 1992, Peck offers a psychosexual analysis of the man he calls "Mary Pete" and concludes that he doesn't want Buttigieg as president because Buttigieg didn't realize he was gay until he was in his thirties, he married his first date soon afterward, and he will therefore experience adolescent wanderlust in the Oval Office.

Well, bully for Mr. Peck for achieving his sexual epiphany at a more tender age than the Mayor of South Bend. Some people realize they are LGBT or Q at the age of five; others don't get it until they're 50. There are even people who feel they don't fit anywhere on the Kinsey scale, and we'd add another letter to our LGBTQIAAcronym except that some of them probably still wouldn't feel it fit them. Maybe they'll fall into one or another category someday, and maybe they won't.

We're not all cut from the same cloth any more than heterosexuals are. Teenagers often have different priorities in their relationships than 30-somethings do. Some people grow up young; others push the Peter Pan thing well into their dotage. Some people experience love at first sight; others spend a lot more time comparison shopping.

It would be nice if all First Families had marriages like the Obamas, but the nation has survived the Hardings, Roosevelts, Clintons and, with any luck, the Trumps. Pete and Chasten seem like a charming couple, and it hardly seems fair to wish their marriage ill when we already have the Religious Right to do that for us.

Usually, drawing an editorial cartoon requires a fair amount of research, but today's cartoon is an exception.

I didn't look up what Dale Peck looks like, or how old he is, or what books, articles, or letters to First Hand he wrote. I just drew my first impression of him from what I've read. Any resemblance between Mr. Peck in this cartoon and Mr. Peck in the flesh is purely coincidental.

And that's pretty much the point of the cartoon.

Monday, July 15, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek


On a weekend in which the President of the United States puts his racist piggishness out for all to see and the entirety of the Republican party is just fine with it, I'm wasting ink on this guy.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hercule Perot

in UW-Milwaukee Post, April 27, 1992
I had something else planned for this week's Sucking Soundback Saturday post; but with the passing this week of H. Ross Perot, it can wait.
in Racine Journal Times,  May 26, 1992
Diminutive in stature, billionaire Texan Perot burst upon the political scene in 1992 as a larger-than-life character. Both major party presidential nominations were pretty well decided (although Jerry Brown hadn't quite surrendered to Bill Clinton on the Democratic side) when Perot announced his intention to mount an independent campaign for the general election.

He shot to the top of national polls — in part because Republicans were associated with one set of interests and Democrats were associated with another, but potential voters could project onto Perot whatever priorities appealed to them.
in UW-M Post, September 28, 1992
Then in July, he abruptly pulled out of the race, only to change his mind again in October.

in UW-M Post, October 12, 1992
The Perot campaign concentrated primarily on buying half-hour blocks of television prime time for him to display graphs and charts illustrating his signature issues against the national debt and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He and his running mate, Admiral James Stockdale, had qualified to appear in the presidential debates; he also held a few rallies.
in UW-M Post, October 26, 1992
Come November, Perot failed to carry any states, but he did come in second in Utah and Maine. Most of his voters were male, overwhelmingly white, and just over half self-identified as moderates. With nearly 19% of the popular vote, Perot was guaranteed to be a factor in 1996, and some Republicans blame him for denying Bush 41 a second term.
in UW-M Post, November 8, 1993
He was no ally of the Democrats, however, and emerged as a primary spokesman against the Clinton administration (until he was overshadowed by Newt Gingrich). He debated NAFTA with Al Gore on the Larry King Show, on which he famously declared, "Now, when you've got a seven-to-one wage differential between the United States and Mexico, you will hear the giant sucking sound!"
in Gaze Magazine (Mpls.), January 7, 1994
Perot founded his Reform Party in 1995 and bore its standard in the 1996 election. He won only 8% of the vote the second time around, but that was still enough to guarantee the Reform Party federal matching funds next time around. He opened his party's nomination to others in 2000 (Donald Trump was one of the candidates who put his name forward) and ended up forsaking the Reform Party and endorsing George W. Bush. Pat Buchanan would be the party's presidential nominee that year and go all America First as he plunged it into obscurity, while still managing to avenge Bush 41 by denying Al Gore Florida's electoral votes.
in UW-M Post, March 28, 1996
Given the hyperpartisanship that has been the hallmark of the 21st Century, I often wonder how different the political landscape would be today if Perot's Reform Party had not gone off the rails into ugly nativism, but had instead continued as a centrist alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. Imagine how things might be different if there were a Reform Party to welcome the likes of John McCain, Jeff Flake, Joe Manchin, and Mikie Sherrill.

But the truth is that Perot's forceful opposition to NAFTA opened his party's doors to the xenophobes who have lately been taking over the Republican party under Trump. Recent experience has shown that hard-core extremists outshout and outlast moderates and pragmatists, and if you don't think so, explain to me how Susan Collins is a leader rather than a follower.

The Reform Party certainly was not immune. If it were still around today, we might well have the Reform Party for Know-Nothings, the Republican Party for Corporate Theocrats, and the Democratic Party for Urban Sophisticates.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Q Toon: Have It Your Way

Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Soccer Team for winning the 2019 World Cup!

It has been customary for the the President to invite championship sports teams to the White House. The current occupant of the office, in his infinite folly, has taken to treating Superbowl, college football, and World Series victors to vittles from fast food joints.

Team star Megan Rapinoe announced at the outset of this year's games that she had no intention of accepting any invitation from the Trump White House. Now that the women's team has powered to victory over the rest of the world, no such invitation has been forthcoming, in spite of Mr. Trump's penchant throughout his career for surrounding himself with attractive young women.

Perhaps he will instead invite the men's soccer team, who lost to Mexico 1-0 in the men's final. We know the fast food spread will not include Taco Bell.

Monday, July 8, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek


Now we know why Trump has threatened to sue anyone who ever publishes his school grade point averages.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Five Toons in Search of a Theme

Having dealt with Stonewall, the end of World War I, and the start of Prohibition over the past couple weeks, this edition of Surveyback Saturday rummages through my own cartoons from 1989 for the Racine, Wisconsin Journal Times.
in Racine (WI) Journal Times, February, 1989
Most of my cartoons for the JT were about transient local issues and local persons, but here are a handful for which I guess you didn't have to have been there. I don't remember how the furor over Health: Choosing Wellness turned out, but you can probably easily imagine how the story shaped up: educrats select a sex ed textbook that accomplishes teaching kids important information about sex, vs. religious conservatives who don't want their kids learning about sex until their wedding night.

There was sex ed in Racine before 1989; I remember my dad taking me to what was called "Sixth Grade Boys' Hygeine" one evening, where the school showed us a film strip about (among other things) how babies are made. I also remember that I came away from that evening with a completely erroneous understanding of how babies are made.
in Racine Journal Times, April 7, 1989
1989 was the year Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds was accused of gambling on games in which he played or managed. For those of you younger than us baby boomers, my cartoon riffs on a series of TV commercials for a brokerage firm.
in Racine Journal Times, June 2, 1989
I drew these last three cartoons to accompany editorials the Journal Times announced ahead of time and invited readers send in their comments to be printed on the same day as the editorials. "Training wage" was one of those Republican counter-proposals to raising the minimum wage, the idea being that employers could offer new employees a less-than-minimum wage for some set period of time.

The Democratic proposal at the time was to raise the minimum wage, then at $3.25/hour since January, 1981, to $4.35 per hour; the 60-day "training wage" was supported by President George H.W. Bush and Governor Tommy Thompson. But as one letter-writer pointed out, why wouldn't "unscrupulous employers hire unskilled people at the lower training wage, retain them for a few weeks and then fire them when they are eligible for an increased wage and fringe benefits. Then these employers hire another group of unskilled workers at the lower, training wage"?

Bush and Congress agreed to raise the minimum wage to $4.25 in stages over the next two years, with a training wage of $3.35 in 1990 and $3.61 in 1991, restricted to laborers aged 16 to 19.

in Racine Journal Times, July 20, 1989
In July, the Journal Times invited readers' opinions of Wisconsin's child support law determining what non-custodial parents are expected to provide to custodial parents in cases of divorce. Responses were numerous and strong; the JT quoted one non-custodial father who showed up at the newspaper office in person but who didn't want his name used: "All I need to do is say how I feel about it and my ex-wife will haul me back into court faster than you can imagine."
in Racine Journal Times, July 4, 1989
Since it's a long Independence Day Weekend for many of you, how better to close today's installment than by resurrecting the 1989 controversy over flag burning. The Supreme Court had ruled that burning the flag in protest was protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, so Bush and the GOP proposed adding another amendment to criminalize that form of protest.

That amendment never got very far; it was far more effective as an issue to whip up the Republican base than as actual legislative policy. And they soon found railing against gay people was more effective still.

Which is why you would be free to burn your Betsy Ross Flag shoes from Nike, but tossing them at Colin Kaepernick can get you charged with assault and battery.

And wearing them might also be illegal.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Believe Me I Can Tell You That

or, The Airports We Watched


You can expect the Fox News talking heads to spend all night explaining colonial air superiority at Fort McHendry.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Q Toon: Ain't the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview with the Financial Times last week, claimed that persistent reports of antigay repression in his country are greatly exaggerated: "We have no problem with LGBT persons. God forbid, let them live as they wish. But some things do appear excessive to us. They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles."

Singer Elton John blasted Putin in a tweet, writing "I strongly disagree with your view that pursuing policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity are obsolete in our societies. I find duplicity in your comment that you want LGBT people to 'be happy' and that 'we have no problem in that.'"
"[Elton John] is mistaken," Putin was quoted as saying by the Russian state-run news agency TASS. "We [in Russia] have a very neutral attitude to members of the LGBT community. We have a law, for which we've been slammed, a law banning propaganda of homosexuality among minors."
According to Putin, the law just aims to make sure children are "left alone" until they've grown up, and then they can make decisions regarding their sexuality.
John was particularly upset over scenes cut from his recent biopic, Rocketman, when it was shown in Russia.

Some of those scenes involved depictions of drug use and gay sex, and it's easy to see how those scenes might ruffle the feathers of younger and more sensitive viewers. But the film's distributors also cut a G-rated photo at the end of the movie showing John and his husband with their two sons, and the film was advertised as being restricted to viewers over the age of 18.

Whatever the film distributor did to the film, and whyever they did it, there is plenty of documented evidence of Russian persecution of LGBTQ persons, especially in ChechnyaElsewhere, LGBTQ Russians have to be wary of  vigilante gangs who attack LGBTQ gathering places or use dating sites to lure them into a mugging.

Since repression of LGBTQ citizens is more important to the Russian government than protecting them, the vigilantes might as well be working with Putin's blessing.

And probably are.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Monday, July 1, 2019

Independence Week's Sneak Peek

Happy Canada Day, eh!

And before I forget, Happy Independence Day to all my U.S., Venezuelan, Belorussian, Rwandan and Ghanaian readers.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Last Call: Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink


Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1919
The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was set to go into effect on July 1, 1919, prohibiting the production, sale and transportation of beer, wine, and intoxicating liquors throughout the country. As reported by Arthur Sears Henning in the Chicago Tribune that fateful Tuesday morning, alongside reports that $1.5 million was spent in 4,500 Windy City taverns Monday night:
Washington, D.C., June 30: Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, who is a Quaker and a "dry" than there is no dryer, announced tonight the determination that the department of justice [sic] "shall do its utmost to enforce wartime prohibition, which goes into effect tomorrow."
"The Vacant Chair" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, July 2, 1919
Faced with the reality of the situation, a few — very few — editorial cartoonists still thought the Noble Experiment was a good idea worth a shot.
"Its Finish" by Orville P. Williams in New York Journal, ca. June 30, 1919
And by "very few," I believe I mean "perhaps as many as two."
"Drowned in His Own Bathtub" by J. Thomas in Bend (OR) Bulletin, June 9, 1919
The rest of the lot were not looking forward to that Tuesday morning.
"It Doesn't Seem Like the Same Old 'Smile'" by Paul Plaschke in Louisville Times, ca. June/July, 1919
"Sketched on the Edge of the Desert" by Wyn Barden in Los Angeles Evening Herald, June 27, 1919
If cartoonists were apprehensive about John Barleycorn's impending doom, the nation's tavern keepers were all the more so. They would be put out of business overnight unless they could come up with some other commodity with which to attract their old clientele.
"Booming" by Kenneth R. Chamberlain in Cleveland Press, ca. July, 1919
Frank O. King devoted the top half of his "The Rectangle" on the Sunday prior to Prohibition to the spectacle of the guys down at the bar gathered to enjoy a frosty mug of soda. This originally printed at about a meter wide, so you will need to click on the image to read any of it.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King in Chicago Tribune, June 29, 1919
Many taverns did indeed become soda and ice cream fountains, but as King predicted, those treats simply were not going to cut it for many American men.
"Signs of the Times" by Shafer in Cincinnati Post, ca. June/July, 1919
"Near beer" would remain legal for the time being: pending a ruling by the courts, there would be no prosecution for the sale of beer with less than 2.75% alcohol content. In that court case, however, Attorney General Palmer contended that even 1/2 of 1% alcohol content was intoxicating, and warned that if the government won its case, it would not grant immunity from prosecution to anyone cited for selling near beer.

"It Will Be Dry By To-Morrow" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, June 30, 1919
Some of the nation's editorial cartoonists were openly skeptical of the prospects for the Noble Experiment.
"Samuel" by Daniel Fitzpatrick in St. Louis Post Dispatch, ca. July 1, 1919
Barely weeks before Prohibition went into effect, American and British pilots had successfully flown their rickety, open-cockpit aircraft across the Atlantic from North America to Europe, triumphing over fog, rain, snow and mechanical breakdowns. Nobody had yet managed to make the return trip against the prevailing winds. But where there's a will, there's a way.
"What Will the Atlantic Look Like..." by William Donahey in Cleveland Plain Dealer, June/July, 1919
In the meantime, there was still talk that "wartime Prohibition" would last only as long as the war was officially on, perhaps only a few months. Germany, after all, had finally signed the Treaty of Versailles on June 28. There were a lot of cartoons about people having stockpiles of beer, wine and liquor in the cellar to tide them over until Congress ratified the treaty, too.
"Whenever Mrs. Jones Thinks She Hears Burglars..." by Kenneth R. Chamberlain in Cleveland Press, June/July, 1919
That stockpile was going to have to last a while.