Monday, August 31, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

This has nothing to do with This Week's Sneak Peek, but have you noticed how time and time again, Trumpsters say that a primary reason that they support Donald Trump is because "he sticks it to the liberals"?

GREENE: What draws you to him? Like, if you were to talk about why you were going to cast a vote...

MARY JEAN: Well, he's a New Yorker. And he pisses people off, like, to no end. And...

GREENE: And you like that?

MARY JEAN: Yeah. I find him hysterical. My husband and I would sit here and laugh at him. They don't get his jokes. And people, like, go, oh, he said this. No. He was joking. It's like he kind of goes - he has a crassness about him that I kind of like, being a New Jersey girl (laughter). So I kind of like that.

In eight years of the Obama presidency, did you ever once hear anyone talk about how great it was to have a president who "sticks it to" conservatives? No. Barack Obama actually tried to get along with them. He came to office in a time of national crisis and named three Republicans to his cabinet (only to have Republicans decide that bipartisan cooperation was bad for the party).

You can buy "Make Liberals Cry Again" bumper stickers for your car, and a wide variety of "Fuck Liberals" t-shirts. You can even ruin the family Christmas with "Trump-Pence Snowflake Gift Wrap." And in case you want to argue that it's all harmless fun, the kid accused of murdering protesters in Kenosha is said to enjoy "Triggering the Libs." This time, he used an AR-15.

Trump l'oeilists drove through a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, Oregon last night, spewing pepper spray at peaceful protesters. Can you imagine the uproar if liberals had driven through the "Reopen" rallies doing that back in May? 

I suppose it might have gotten them to wear masks, though.

This "stick it to liberals" is by no means unique to Donald Trump. Here in Wisconsin, we remember back in the 1990's when Republican Governor Tommy Thompson campaigned for the five-county stadium surtax by telling folks outside the southeast corner of the state that the surtax was an opportunity to "stick it to 'em" in Milwaukee.

And the folks in Red Wisconsin ate it up.

But at least Thompson later apologized for his "poor choice of words."

Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue ― by mistake ― and he still would never apologize for it.

And now he's bringing his crass ass here to Kenosha tomorrow to see how his pissing people off can boost his presidential campaign. God help us.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Russo-Polish War

In spite of Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations, the years between the two World Wars were anything but peaceful. By August, 1920, hostilities between Poland and Soviet Russia had been flaring up for a year and a half; Poland sought to annex Ukraine and establish mutual defense arrangements with the Baltic states against Russia and Germany, while the Soviets wanted to push their revolution through Poland ―На Запад!  ―into Central and Western Europe.

"Another Case of the Bald-Headed Barber" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, ca. August, 1920

Polish and Ukrainian nationalist forces occupied Kiev on May 7, but were beaten back by the Soviet army thereafter. The Soviets could almost taste victory, foreseeing an easy march "over the corpse of Poland" to Berlin, Paris and London.

Detail from "Cartoons of the Day" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, ca. Aug. 19, 1920

Once Russian armies pressed into Poland, the U.S., British and French governments threatened to come to Poland's defense if Russia didn't cease fire and come to the western powers' negotiating table. The western powers, however, had no domestic support whatsoever for another war, so Russia said thanks but no thanks. Confident of defeating the Poles, Russia would negotiate only with its sure-to-be-vanquished foe.

"Die Polenschlacht" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderatatsch, Berlin, August 15, 1920

Then, in August, the tide of battle turned again.

"They Met with the First Obstacle..." by Dorman Smith in Des Moines News, Aug., 1920

Polish military intelligence cracked the code the Soviet army was using, and were able to counter the Russians' planned attacks. The surprised Russians retreated in chaos. 

"Stung" by Sam Armstrong in Tacoma News-Tribune, August, 1920

As Polish advances continued into September (and into Belarus), Lenin sued for peace. 

"Maybe I Can Get Better Terms Now" by Clifford Berryman in Washington (D.C.) Evening Star, August 21, 1920

Poland successfully defended its territory, but by the same token, the Soviets repulsed Polish advances into Russian territory. The Treaty of Riga awarded Poland territory in what is now Lithuania (including Vilnius), Belorus (within spitting distance of Minsk) and western Ukraine. In addition to souring relations with Lithuania, by reaching a separate treaty with Russia, Poland broke its military alliance with Ukraine. 

By thus alienating its neighbors, Poland in victory sowed the seeds of its own defeat at the outset of the next World War.

"The Inseparables" by David Low in The Sun, London, by August, 1920

I won't leap ahead to "Rendezvous," David Low's famous cartoon about the 1939 partition of Poland, but here's one from 1920. Low here has adopted the style for which he is best remembered.

And before I sign off for today, one note about Dorman H. Smith's cartoon. It appeared in Cartoons Magazine wrongly attributed to R. O. Evans of the Baltimore Sun. Biographical information about Smith states that he sold his first drawing at the age of 17 — that would have been in 1909 or 1910 — and that the Newspaper Enterprise Association started syndicating his cartoons in 1921. In the December, 1920 issue, the cut line under another Dorman Smith cartoon in an advertisement for the Landon Course of Cartooning (page 6) states that it appeared in the Des Moines News; The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons by Maurice Horn also states that Smith drew for the Des Moines News from 1919 to 1921.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Q Toon: Trump's Gay Outreach Around

Gay Republican operative Ric Grenell, lately on this blog for having come up with the Corrupt Trump Administration's tepid advocacy for international decriminalization of homosexuality, has quit his job as Jack McFarland of All Trades at the State Department to take on the unenviable role of LGBTQ+ Outreach for the Trump reelection campaign.

Ironically, with a straight face.

"As America's first openly-gay cabinet member, I can confidently say that President Trump has done more for gay and lesbian Americans than any other president, and it is not even close," Grenell said in a statement to Fox News.

Grenell went on to slam Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying that during his "four decades in Washington, he consistently fought against marriage equality and even threatened to cut funding for schools who taught acceptance of homosexuality."

"From President Trump's global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality to becoming the first president to support gay marriage on his first day in office, he has been a champion for our community and I am thrilled to be part of the fight to re-elect him for four more years," Grenell said.

One has to wonder who is going to continue Mr. Grinell's campaign to decriminalize homosexuality around the world now that he's no longer Ambassador to Germany, Special Envoy to Kosovo and Serbia, and Acting Director of National Intelligence. Mike Pompeo? Ha! 

There hasn't been much to show for Grinell's efforts: Chechnya continues its pogrom against LGBTQ+ Chechens; and Russia, Poland, most of the Islamic world, and most of Africa haven't lessened the persecution of their LGBTQ+ citizens, either.

Perhaps his campaign could maybe just possibly have been a factor in swaying the High Court of Botswana to his point of view last year; but I imagine the justices were more influenced by the example of the country's neighbor South Africa, which decriminalized homosexuality back in 1998.

But don't plan your wedding in Gaborone just yet. Thanks to COVID-19, Americans are barred from entering Botswana (as are non-citizens arriving from Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom).

Ah, well. At least Mr. Grinell made no pretense that the Corrupt Trump Administration has been anything other than overtly hostile to the T, Q, and + elements of our community. But if it's fair game to "slam" Joe Biden for having opposed marriage equality while in the Senate, it's also fair to note that Biden came to support marriage equality while Trump was still opposing it on the grounds that ... uh, something to do with long putters in golf.

One also has to wonder how Mr. Grinell explains the Corrupt Trump Administration's actions to remove sexual orientation and gender identity protections under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act; to ban trans girls and women from participating in sports; to deny healthcare protections to transgender Americans; to roll back protections for trans students; to ban transgender people from the military; to strip children of bi-national same-sex couples of American citizenship; etc., etc., etc.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Toon: Wisconsin Burning


Sunday afternoon, police responding to a domestic violence complaint in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times at point-blank range as he ignored their orders and started to get into the driver's seat of the SUV his children were in. Blake, 29, has been left paralyzed from the waist down, according to his family. Blake is Black; the police officers at the scene are White.

A video filmed from inside a house across the street doesn't show what, if any, danger Blake posed to the officers or the public. A police source tells me that Blake had a knife; but at this point, I have to treat that as one of the many rumors swirling about here. This was not Blake's first encounter with police, yet nobody has claimed that he had no right to have a knife on his person. Second Amendment, you know.

Officially, Kenosha Police Department has been extremely tight-lipped about the incident. They haven't even said what role, if any, Blake played in the initial complaint. Citizens at the scene claim he was breaking up a fight. The officers have not been publicly identified. Kenosha Police are not equipped with body cameras.

Kenosha officials declared a curfew Sunday night, but protests were perverted into violence anyway. Dozens of downtown businesses were vandalized, and half of the inventory of a used car lot was completely burned.

Monday evening, hoodlums from Milwaukee drove to Kenosha in a caravan of cars for the express purpose of looting and rioting. The rest of the vehicles at Car Source were burned. A business owner was beaten trying to defend his shop. At least three uptown businesses were still on fire well into Tuesday and completely destroyed. The smell of smoke filled the nearby church where I work.

Last night, rumors flew that wherever you were, the rioters were coming to your block. As law enforcement and the National Guard continued to concentrate on protecting government facilities, self-styled militias joined the rioters roaming the streets, and property owners took up arms. Three people were shot, two fatally.

(Update: 17-year-old white vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse from Antioch, Illinois has since been arrested and charged with murder in the first degree.)

We expect things to get worse before they get better. 

Pray for justice.

Work for peace.

Monday, August 24, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

 So you don't have to ask, it stands for "Make America Great Again Again."

Oh, Magaa, you've done it again!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Ink-stained Ring-side Seats

Earlier this week, I mourned the end of an era: newspapers sending their editorial cartoonists to Republican and Democratic National Conventions may soon be a thing of the past. So, in the calm between the storms of this year's conventions, let's take a look back at this by-going tradition, shall we?

"More Glimpses of the Democratic Convention" by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., ca. June 26, 1924

Sending cartoonists to these conventions grew out of newspapers in the 19th Century not being able to reproduce photographs well (and of the earliest cameras requiring everybody to hold very still for several seconds). They sent artists to capture the drama and excitement of Americans from all around the country gathering in hot, sweltering halls to decide the fate of the nation.

Harper's Weekly, May 19, 1860

Perhaps the Republicans' second national convention was as placid an affair as Harper's Weekly's artist conveyed it, but I doubt it. Before long, illustrators wanted to portray the enthusiasm, indeed, partisanship in the hall. Here's some fellow stoked to see his fellow delegates nominating William McKinley for a second term, an outcome that had never been in doubt:

E.N. Blue in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 23, 1900

Not content simply to be neutral observers, newspapers' editorial cartoonists became reporters. As the Republicans failed in ballot after ballot to settle on a candidate at their 1920 convention in Chicago, I imagine that John McCutcheon was hoping to scoop all the other Windy City cartoonists only to have to dash off this hasty oeuvre.

"It's a Boy" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, June 12, 1920

(I've already covered most of McCutcheon's cartoons for the rest of that Chicago convention.)

"And So We Say Farewell to Chicago" by Gene Basset for Scripps Howard Newspapers, Aug. 30, 1968

It would be interesting to assemble visiting cartoonists' sketches of another Chicago convention: the tumultuous Democratic convention of 1968. Did any of them witness the police riot on the streets, or were they all watching the chaos in the International Ampitheatre? Certainly what was going on outside was well-known inside; an Gene Basset cartoon earlier in the week showed Hubert Humphrey obliviously stepping over the bodies of wounded and bandaged protesters.

Pat Oliphant in Denver Post, July, 1972

For the most part, however, the stuff produced by editorial cartoonists at party conventions since I started paying attention have been fun, light-hearted observations of the passing scene, as in this mélange by Pat Oliphant at the Democrats' next convention, in Miami Beach.

"The Room Situation Out Here Is Very Tight" by Bill Sanders in Milwaukee Journal, August 19, 1976

Or this Bill Sanders missive from the Republicans' 1976 convention in Kansas City. This must have been a good opportunity to get reacquainted with old buddies for Sanders, who worked at the Kansas City Star from 1963 to 1967. He discusses other convention trips in his memoir, but not this one.

I used to have a copy of the Kansas City Star with the banner headline reporting Gerald Ford winning the nomination, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. I guess it must have been in the box of my stuff that was destroyed when our basement flooded several years ago. That's pretty much what I figure whenever I give up looking for something.

Paul Szep in Boston Globe, August, 1984

Paul Szep of the Boston Globe took one approach to covering the Republicans' 1984 recoronation of Ronald Reagan. The late, great Jeff MacNelly took another.

"The Culture Scene in 'Big D'" by Jeff MacNelly in Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1984

Just because one's editors sent one all the way to the convention and gave one an entire page of newsprint realty all to oneself — in full color no less, which was a big effing deal in 1984 — didn't mean one actually had to go to the damn convention.

"Yachting in North Texas" by Jeff MacNelly in Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1984

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Toon: Ex Post Facto

Remember this? 

Donald Trump must be terrified that he can't win the election this November. With the coronacrisis making standing in line to vote (or volunteering as a poll worker) riskier than ever this year, many voters plan to mail it in this year. So naturally, Mr. Trump wants to make that damn near impossible.

Louis DeJoy, his lackey Postmaster General, has been removing postal equipment and mandating lousy service. He has forbidden postal workers to work overtime, decreeing that when the whistle blows, all mail should be dropped to the floor. As if more mail wouldn't be coming in the door in the morning.

Reports have come in from all over the country of mail drop boxes being carted away. Once upon a time, there were plenty of these blue boxes, some of which were scheduled to be emptied several times a day; but it has been years since one could find them anywhere except right outside the Post Office building. As photos and videos of these remaining boxes being hauled to godknowswhere started filling the internet, DeJoy announced that the confiscations would stop — only to have the boxes locked up so that nobody can use them.

New York Daily News photo

There was at least some lame excuse given for the removal and sealing of the mailboxes — people were stealing from them or dumping kitty litter in them or getting their heads stuck in them — but no explanation has been given why mail sorting machines have been removed from post offices with nothing to replace them. 

And employees forbidden to work overtime to sort the mail by hand.

Once the removal of the sorting machines was made public, DeJoy announced that in order to avoid the appearance of sabotaging the U.S. mail ahead of the election, he is suspending whatever the hell he is doing to the United States Postal Service until after November 3.

So you might want to get your Christmas cards and presents mailed in October.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Q Toon: My Convention in Milwaukee

The Democratic National Convention got underway in Milwaukee this week.

My ringside seat is no closer than anybody else's, since even the stars of the show aren't in town for the shindig, thanks to Trump's clumsy handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's a tremendous disappointment to the city of Milwaukee, which had fought for the rights to host the convention in part to remedy Hillary Clinton's having neglected Wisconsin — to her detriment — in 2016. 

There has been a gradual buildup to this week, but no one anticipated the crescendo would be inverted to a major bummer drawing only a few hundred instead of 50,000 people, $200 million in spending and international exposure to the city and state. Even the presumptive nominees, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, along with dozens of other speakers, will be Zooming it in.

Last month, DNC officials announced everyone attending the convention would have to wear a face mask, consent to daily testing for COVID-19, fill out questionnaires and maintain physical distance from other attendees. Those that do attend in person have been required to self-isolate for at least 72 hours before entering the convention and are being asked to stay out of bars. ...

Even the security zone for the DNC has been significantly downsized, leaving many streets that would have been closed in the downtown now open. Protesters and security around the Wisconsin Center are likely to outnumber the official in-person attendees.

That bit about asking attendees to stay out of bars has got to smart. One of the major bones of contention in this state before COVID-19 hit was Milwaukee and the Tavern League lobbying the hostile Wisconsin legislature to relax the mandatory 2:00 a.m. closing time for bars during the convention. Madison Republicans were still refusing to budge on the issue when it became moot.

Broadcast media are covering the convention from their studios in New York; print media are able to report in their pajamas. Nobody is sending their editorial cartoonist to sketch drawings of delegates in all their wacky regalia; there are no delegates and there is no wacky regalia.

This year's non-conventional conventions have the potential to signal a change in how these overblown circuses (circi?) are held. They weren't always the technicolor extravaganzas that they have become. Once upon a time, nominees didn't even attend their national conventions; that only came about as the rise of radio turned these relatively exclusive events into national platforms. Once television became dominant, both parties turned their conventions into flashy, heavily scripted infomercials.

If we make it through the pandemic by 2024, will the parties simply revert back to that sort of thing, or will the parties take this opportunity to change with the times?

Meanwhile, can we please do something about these godawful State of the Union addresses, too?

P.S.: Check back here tomorrow for another cartoon.

Monday, August 17, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

  This is only the third cartoon I've drawn Joe Biden in this year. He really should get out more. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

I'm Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good

Earlier this month, I chimed in on a conversation about someone else's cartoon that was widely misunderstood. For that post, I redrew one of my own cartoons in a way that intentionally defeated its own point. For SayWhatBack Saturday, I dredge up a few of my own cartoons that, at least as far as some readers were concerned, missed the mark unintentionally.
I drew the above cartoon for the parody edition of the University of Wisconsin at Parkside student newspaper as a follow-up to an earlier cartoon that, I was told, many readers didn't understand.
UW-Parkside Ranger, January 17, 1985
The cartoon was about the New York "subway vigilante" Bernard Goetz, who had shot some African-American youths on the subway because he had felt threatened by them. There are many reasons, however, that this cartoon didn't work. The guns, for one thing, were terribly drawn and barely recognizable as such. Some cartoonists can get away with oversimplifying objects, but things still have to be drawn so that the reader can't mistake them for something else.

The composition of the cartoon risks confusing the reader as to whether there are two separate panels or four. 

Perhaps most importantly, the racist imagery in the thought balloons is likely to offend readers before they get around to seeing the men below them. While intended to be grossly exaggerated misconceptions of whatever the facts of the subway incident were, they could have left the false impression that I was advocating one or the other.
UW-Milwaukee Post, April 16, 1991
I remember worrying that this 1991 cartoon (I must have been still writing 1990 on my checks) featuring two Republican Congressmen from Wisconsin would be taken the wrong way, but I never did hear any feedback about it. When I went to the UW-M Post office with the the cartoon for the next issue, nobody could find the original of this one — the only cartoon original I never got back in several years drawing for the Post — so I guess somebody did take it, the wrong way, after all.
Manitou Messenger, Oct. 4, 1979
Way back in 1979, I drew a cartoon for my college newspaper about John Paul II's first visit to the United States as pope. In it, I likened his crowds to those surrounding the title character in Monty Python's Life of Brian― to which end I had people quoting lines from the film.

I thought that the film reference made the cartoon funny, but somebody wrote the paper the next week to accuse me of plagiarism. I suppose I should have written "Apologies to Monty Python" on the cartoon to explain that I was making a cultural reference. (And to Playboy for the reference to their 1976 Jimmy Carter interview.) 
Cartooning rules on plagiarism and cultural references are somewhat hazy. Perhaps I should also have added an apology to DC Comics or Todd Phillips or Joaquin Phoenix to this past week's cartoon just in case Brad Hendricks is still monitoring me for plagiarism.

Anyway, my response to Mr. Hendricks's letter included 17 reference footnotes and hardly a single original thought in it.

Just to be clear about one thing, I didn't remember Mr. Hendricks's name after all these years. I no longer have the original of this cartoon, so I had to hunt it up in the Messenger's on-line archives, and Hendricks's letter to the editor came up in the search first.
UW-Milwaukee Post, Dec. 8, 1994
We cartoonists don't mind people writing in to voice their disagreement with a cartoon ― we invite it. What really hurts is when someone tells us they didn't "get" the cartoon. Readers tend not to write "I don't get it" letters to the editor, though, probably for fear of appearing stupid in case everyone else thought the cartoon was hilarious.

I did hear from readers, however, including staffers at the Post, who didn't get this cartoon about House Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich claiming to have the names of drug users among Bill Clinton's White House staff.
UW-Milwaukee Post, Dec. 12, 1994
So I followed up in the next issue with this cartoon explaining the Gingrich cartoon point by tedious point.
Q Syndicate, April, 2009
Here's another example of bad execution. Acting New York Governor David Paterson took marriage equality advocates by surprise when he proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in his state. I wanted to point out how unprepared for this marriage equality advocates were; but by my featuring not them but Gov. Paterson in the cartoon, several readers were rightly outraged by an apparent joke knocking Paterson for being legally blind. I lost some newspapers over this one, and it was my bad.
Q Syndicate, December, 2012

Finally, returning to the topic of appropriating cultural references: please note that I was careful to include the proper apologies to all the original creators of the characters in this 2012 Christmastime cartoon. 
There used to be a weblog called "Editorial Explanations" whose author, Andrew Wheeler, called out confusing and snarkworthy editorial cartoons, and this was one of nearly a dozen of my cartoons that had him befuddled. Well, no wonder. Christmas and marriage equality have nothing to do with each other; but it was December, so I forced them into an unhappy marriage anyway. For that matter, all of the folks in the cartoon happen to be single, adding another layer of non-sequiturity.

There's a good chance of Hermey the Elf being gay, though.

By the way, even though I can recite just about any Monty Python routine verbatim, I have somehow still not actually seen Life of Brian. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Q Toon: Dancing with DeGeneres in the Pale Moonlight

You were expecting maybe Kamala Harris? All in good time, children. This week's cartoon had a deadline before Joe Biden announced his running mate pick, so I've drawn about some entertainment news instead.

Celebrities are tweeting out about allegations that there is a toxic work environment behind the scenes at Ellen DeGeneres's daytime talk show.

Actors Brad Garrett and Lea Thompson are among the few big-name celebrities vouching for the accusations. By and large, other recognizable names are tweeting up in defense of DeGeneres: actors Jerry O'Connell and Diane Keaton, singer Katy Perry and comedians Kevin Hart and Jay Leno, for example.

For her part, DeGeneres has expressed disappointment that some entity involved in her show has failed to live up to the "Be Kind" ethos she proclaims.

And if she ever finds out who is responsible, heads will roll!

Look, I realize that people generally don't rise to the top in the entertainment industry without stepping on some fingers and toes on the way up. I've seen "All About Eve" too many times to think that every star's public persona is mirrored in their personal behavior.

Is this a case where judging someone at their worst is justified?

I'm reminded of the time that my better half and I went to see a live performance by a comedian host of a popular talk show. We were seated up in the balcony area; up in the front row, there was someone with a very loud laugh. Sort of.

I mean, it seemed to be a laugh, but didn't quite sound like a normal laugh. I've known people who laugh loud and uncontrollably, like a deranged donkey, and this was kind of like that. But it also sounded like it was a wail of grief of pain. It was very weird.

The laugh didn't always start up promptly with the punch line of the comedian's jokes, and at times blared out of proportion to some set-up line. And it was throwing the comedian off his rhythm. So he started making cracks about it. Engaging the fellow as if he were a heckler. Making jokes at the fellow's expense. And people laughed along.

Then the comedian broke from his routine entirely to confront the fellow head-on.

At which point the woman the fellow was with — his mother — explained that her son, a lifelong fan of the comedian, had suffered permanent traumatic brain injury in a vehicular accident some years before.

Well, that sucked all the air out of the room. The comedian suddenly looked like the world's most insensitive asshole. He put his routine aside and desperately worked to win back the fan, his mother, and the rest of the audience.

The comedian eventually found his way back to his act, but the show was never quite the same after that.

Ask most people for their impressions of that comedian, and, after they've tried mimicking his distinctive voice for you, they'll probably tell you they think he's a nice person. And he probably is. But talk to enough of his peers, and you'll probably come across somebody who thinks he isn't funny, or didn't deserve his talk show, or was rude that one time, or cut them off in traffic, or whatever.

We got to see him at an inopportune moment. Everybody has them. 

What's important is how many inopportune moments someone has, and how often. Is it a moment, or a habit? 

The truth will generally out.

Monday, August 10, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek


Coming across one of my recent cartoons in someone else's on-line forum the other day, I was somewhat flattered to read among the pro, con and off-topic comments, "Gay boomer comic ? That aren’t shitty I love it"

But then I remembered that just about all of my favorite gay (and lesbian) boomer cartoonists have laid down their pens at this point. Some have moved on to other projects. Others are no longer with us.
I start to feel like a dinosaur now.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

V-J Semisesquicentennial

Surrenderback Saturday marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and I'll warn you right up front that there are going to be a lot of racist depictions of the Japanese in this cartoons. Depictions of Germans in American cartoons were nowhere near as grotesque as those of the Japanese, even by such progressive liberals as Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss, about which there has been plenty written already, so I don't need to add to it).

Coming into August, the American point of view was that Allied victory over Japan was inevitable but that the Japanese government and military refused to admit it.

"'Last Report from the Front' Honorable Sir" by Corte Madera (?), ca. August 9, 1945

Most of the cartoons in this post will be from a handful of U.S. cartoonists, and I'm curious about this first one. It, and some other cartoons I came across, appear to be signed "Corte Madera," which, as far as I have been able to tell, is a small town north of the bay from San Francisco, a command in Spanish to chop wood, and a peculiar name for a parent to have given a child. He (or she) may have been based in Texas, but that's just a guess.

"Is This Trip Necessary?" by Jesse Cargill for King Features, ca. August 9, 1945

The American caricature of the Japanese had him buck-toothed, nearsighted, and addressing others or being labeled as "honorable [such-and-such]" — whether warlord, ancestor, or even earthquake.

"Okay, You Win, in a Blast" by Dorman H. Smith for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. Aug. 10, 1945

Dorman Smith was the conservative cartoonist hired by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) to replace Herbert Block when the latter moved to the Washington Post. Smith was a much better fit for his right-wing NEA editors, and you won't find any of his cartoons offering any credit to President Truman for bringing the war to an end.

"It Won't Be Long Now" by Cy Hungerford in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 7, 1945

Cyrus Hungerford had been drawing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since World War I, and would continue there through the Watergate years. This cavalier attitude toward the killing of 80,000 civilians in Hiroshima (to which 40,000 would soon be added in Nagasaki) is by no means unique to Mr. Hungerford or his cartoons.

"The 64-Yen Question" by Harold Talburt in Washington Daily News, Aug. 6, 1945

Had the Axis Powers exploded a nuclear bomb over an Allied city, it would have been proof of German or Japanese barbarism. One American cartoon after another, however, proclaims that however horrific this new bomb was, the carnage was all the fault of Japan's leaders for, as Harold Talburt put it, continued resistance.

"Coffin Nails" by Harold Talburt in Washington Daily News, Aug. 7, 1945

As anyone who lived through the war will tell you, pursuing a conventional conclusion to the war instead of bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides. 

"The Old One-Two" by Melville Bernstein in PM, New York NY, Aug. 9, 1945

A more sanguine reason was that the Soviet Union had just entered the war against Japan, and the Truman administration was loath to allow a Russian occupation zone in Japan as it had accepted in Germany.

"There's Not Room for This and You..." by Jim Berryman in Washington Evening Star, Aug. 7 1945

None of which is to say that cartoonists were oblivious to the long-term implications of such a weapon of mass destruction. The atomic bomb is held by Peace in Jim Berryman's cartoon, forcing War to think twice about intruding into her laboratory ever again.

"It May Do What Nothing Else Could Do" by Dorman Smith for NEA, ca. Aug. 11, 1945

Dorman Smith draws the A-bomb no bigger than a bottle of wine, yet it seems to be enough to get Mr. Globe-head to swear off war for good. Perhaps the bottle of wine is an apt metaphor; "Never again" is a familiar vow on many a morning after the night before.

"Rather Terrifying, Isn't It?" by Cy Hungerford in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 8, 1945

Cy Hungerford's nuclear genie is more fearsome than Dorman Smith's wine bottle; he also acknowledges that our allies may have been impressed, but not altogether favorably.

"God's Atomic Power" by Cy Hungerford in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 15, 1945

Nevertheless, with the announcement of Japan's acceptance of Allied surrender terms on August 15, Hungerford returned to the optimistic jingoism that has long proclaimed the U.S. as God's divine instrument on Earth.

"After Effect of the Atomic Bomb" by Jim Berryman in Washington Evening Star, Aug. 11, 1945

The just and lasting peace would last for just five years.

"We Are Going to Win the Peace, Too" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Sunday Star, Aug. 12, 1945

Jim Berryman's father, Clifford Berryman, continued drawing front-page editorial cartoons for the Sunday edition of the Washington Star until 1949; the son held forth on the front page the rest of the week.

Jim Berryman in Washington Evening Star, Aug. 15, 1945

"And so, unavoidably, came peace, putting an end to organized war as we'd come to know it." ― Beyond the Fringe

"A New Experience for the All Highest" by Dorman Smith for NEA, ca. Aug. 17, 1945

Uncaptioned, by Melville Bernstein in PM, NY, Aug. 15, 1945