Extending 2020? Doesn't everybody think it was more than long enough?
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Extending 2020? Doesn't everybody think it was more than long enough?
Monday, December 28, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
|"A Rare Bird" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, Dec. 25, 1920|
St. Stephenback Saturday wishes you a merry Second Day of Christmas; and as my gift to you today instead of a couple of lousy turtledoves, I bring you a collection of cartoons from the newspapers on December 24 and 25, 100 years ago. We'll start off with a rather bizarre holiday offering from the great Jay N. Darling, capturing the Spirit of Christmas in a bear leg trap.
|"Just What We Wanted" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 24, 1920|
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle's front pages in December were full of reports of a crime wave plaguing New York, but I am just going to assume that Nelson Harding is being facetious in this cartoon of New York Mayor John F. Hylan.
|"To All Evening World Readers" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, Dec. 24, 1920|
Other editorial cartoonists took a holiday from grave matters of politics. John Cassel wished his readers a merry Christmas...
|John M. Baer, The Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, ND, Dec. 27, 1920|
|"A Couple of Wiseacres" by Magnus Kettner for Western Newspaper Union, Dec., 1920|
Magnus Kettner's cartoons generally steered clear of politics and were relatively gentle when they didn't. His cartoons were targeted to a rural readership, where it appears the horseless carriage was still a thing for future generations.
|"Poker Portraits" by Harold T. Webster in New York Tribune, Dec., 1920|
Guys get their share of ribbing in the humor panels for Christmas. A charitable explanation here might be that this fellow isn't as clueless as he looks. Perhaps he's Jewish or Sikh, and new to this country. And if he's Sikh, it's cartoonist Harold Webster who is the clueless one, having forgotten to draw him wearing his turban.
Be that as it may, cluelessness survives from bachelorhood to married bliss...
|"Oh, Man" by Clare Briggs in New York Tribune, Dec. 25, 1920|
I'm sure that Alice got a nice bathrobe, at any rate.
|"You Send an Answer" by Robert Ripley in Washington Evening Star, Dec. 24, 1920|
Robert Ripley (yes, he of "Believe It Or Not" fame) leads our selection of cartoonists pushing Christmas commercialization. What heartless bastard could possibly let down this little girl praying to Santa for a doll?
|"Can You Beat It" by Maurice Ketten in New York Evening World, Dec. 24, 1920|
|"We're Out of 'Em" by Gaar Williams in Indianapolis News, Dec. 1920|
Hey! Put the newspaper down and get that little girl her doll! Right now! Before they're all gone!
|"Has She Forgotten Anybody" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, Dec., 1920|
If consumerism isn't your yuletide thing, there's also plenty of Christmas Charity guilt tripping to go around.
|"I Wish My Mamma and Me Was Dogs" by Albert Wallen for Federated Press, Dec., 1920|
Albert Wallen offers up a "Bah, humbug!" to the dogs of the late Mrs. Louise B. Pams, proving that there was nothing strikingly original about Leona Helmsley. Yet who knows but that Mrs. Pams was a loving and kind soul, forsaken by the grasping wretches of her ungrateful family, all except for Fido and Fifi. And seeing as all her children were deathly allergic to canines, wasn't this the charitable and thoughtful thing to do, all things considered?
|"Same Old Knockout" by "Jim Nasium" in Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 25, 1920|
Striking a blow against commercialization of the holiday, "Jim Nasium" was the pen name of Philadelphia Inquirer sports cartoonist Edgar Forrest Wolfe (1874-1958). Yes, Virginia, there used to be sports cartoonists as well as editorial cartoonists at any newspaper able to brag about its circulation figures.
|"No Hold-up Here" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, Dec. 24, 1920|
Man, you really do not want to get on Santa's bad side in Philadelphia. That guy has a wicked temper!
Well, that's enough violence for one holiday. I'll close today's trip beyond Memory Lane with a gentle wish to you and yours from the nation's capital.
|Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, Dec. 24, 1920|
And to all a good night.
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
President-Elect Joe Biden is busy assembling his cabinet, and there are some interesting choices. They are a remarkably diverse bunch, racially, ethnically, and LGBTQ+ly, for one thing. One of them is on record saying nasty things about Republicans, which has shocked, shocked! a party where such behavior is completely unknown.
There might be more significant resistance to Biden's choice for Defense, Lloyd Austin II, a retired U.S. Army four-star general, commander of U.S. Central Command until April, 2016. The National Security Act of 1947, which began the process of replacing the Department of War with the Department of Defense, requires that the head of the department not have served in the U.S. military for seven years before assuming the job. Congress waived that provision for Gen. George Marshall in 1950 and Gen. James Mattis in 2017, but members on both sides of the aisle have expressed reservations about yet another waiver.
So some of Biden's other cabinet choices seem more at random. For Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Biden wants former Chief of Staff in the Obama administration Denis McDonough, who has some experience in foreign policy, but not in the military or in health care. Former Gary, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of Biden's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination last winter and one of his best spokesmen on TV in the fall, has been tagged for the Department of Transportation.
Secretary of Transportation is something of a dead-end job as far as political aspirations go. Oh, sure, Liddy Dole tried running for president in 2000 with Transportation Secretary on her résumé, and Andrew Card shows up on cable news now and again. But can you name any others? If you can think of the name of Donald Trump's Secretary of Transportation before reading past this comma, you are probably her husband, Mitch McConnell.
So will my LGBTQ+ continue to be interested in Mayor Pete? Will we ever hear from him again?
Ah, well. The President-Elect is an Amtrak aficionado, so maybe there's still a chance for the Department of Transportation to make news after all.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Saturday, December 19, 2020
And we did indeed come again; Voyager 2 made a more extensive visit the following August, and the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft reached Saturn in 2004
|in Manitou Messenger, St. Olaf College, MN, Dec. 5, 1980|
|in UW-Parkside Ranger, WI, Dec. 6, 1990|
|in UWM Post, Milwaukee, WI, December 13, 1990|
Having only two colors to work with, black and blue, simplified matters a bit; but unlike today, I didn't have a graphics program and computer to work with. The specific shades of black and blue were accomplished with halftone sheets, very thin plastic with a dot pattern on one side and adhesive on the other. Placing the larger pieces onto the drawing without any folds or wrinkles was one of the more challenging aspects of this drawing.
An advantage of this process over the easier Duoshade is that the originals created with their chemical process discolor over time. I still have the original drawing with the black halftone sheets on it (but not the separate blue overlay), and it hasn't discolored at all.
I suppose if its artist portfolio were more heavily trafficked, the halftone plastic could have torn or come loose — and who knows what might have happened if I had hung this on a wall and exposed it to light for 30 years.
Okay, let's jump ahead another decade.
|Q Syndicate, December, 2000|
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Rep. Jim Kolbe was asked not to volunteer at a Tucson homeless shelter's Thanksgiving dinner because he's a homosexual.
"This decision is based on your publicly announced sexual orientation that is diametrically opposite to admonitions in the Bible,'' Gospel Rescue Mission board member Evelyn H. Haugh wrote in a faxed memo. ``This mission is founded on biblical principles, and we cannot give a public forum to a public official who is blatantly flaunting those principles."
Kolbe, the only openly homosexual Republican congressman, downplayed the snub but said biblical teaching "tells us that no people should be made to feel smaller than others.''
"It would undermine the very essence of Thanksgiving if the good works of the Gospel Rescue Mission and others were eclipsed in controversy,'' Kolbe said. ``The mission has provided noble service to (the) community and I wish it only the best in its efforts to feed and clothe the downtrodden.''
Kolbe, a seven-term congressman who acknowledged his sexual orientation in 1996, helped serve meals at the shelter's Thanksgiving dinner last year.
Skip Woodward, board vice president, said Kolbe had been allowed to serve because "he just showed up and took us by surprise.''
"Kolbe's very public stand on homosexuality is inconsistent with our beliefs,'' Woodward said. ``We wouldn't want anyone who advocated adultery to serve either.''
Arizona Gov. Jane Hull expressed disappointment at the mission's revoked invitation to Kolbe, saying "hunger sees no sexual preference.''
|in Milwaukee Business Journal, Dec. 14, 2000|
Which was pretty much the point, wasn't it? You could go shopping secure in the knowledge that there would be a Nordstroms, an Orange Julius, a WaldenBooks, a J. Crew, a Kay Jeweler, and a Sam Goody in whatever mall you went to, in whatever town you lived in. All in the comfort of the great indoors! What could possibly be more convenient?
Alas, the only constant is change. Adapt or die. Evolution is inevitable.
|Q Syndicate, December, 2010|
Which brings us to a cartoon from the waning days of 2010. Say, I hear this fellow has been back in the news again lately.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Have yourself a merry little Christmas:It may be your last.Next year, we all may be living in the past...
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Monday, December 14, 2020
Saturday, December 12, 2020
|"If It Isn't the Corn Borer, It's Something Else" by Frank Miller in Des Moines Register, May 23, 1975|
Last month, I mentioned having bought a book of cartoons by Des Moines Register editorial cartoonist Frank Miller in a resale store. (I should clarify that if you came here by googling for the Frank Miller who drew Batman, Sin City, and Daredevil cartoons, that's someone else entirely. But you're welcome to read on.)
I first encountered Miller's cartoons in the Milwaukee Journal, which used to run three portrait-oriented, syndicated editorial cartoons side by side on its Saturday editorial page. The newspaper racks in library where I went to college had the Des Moines Register, which was one of the last U.S. newspapers running its editorial cartoonist on the front page, so I got to see his work much more often in those years.
|"A Low Opinion" by Frank Miller in Des Moines Register, June 28, 1956|
Over the course of the book, you watch Miller develop his curious pen-and-ink style with copious shading that appeared hastily scribbled. But not haphazard; the earliest drawings in the book are drawn in charcoal, and this shading appears to be Miller's way of emulating charcoal with pen and ink. Sometimes, as in the cartoon at the top of this post, characters' faces would be entirely in shadow — not something you see in most cartoons.
The editorial cartoons section of the book opens with Miller's first cartoon for the Des Moines Register in 1954, and ends with the cartoon he had not quite finished drawing when he died in 1983.
Since it was Miller's editors at the Register who chose the cartoons for the book, they may not have been the ones Miller would have chosen himself. They tend to be on the gentler side, particularly where individual Iowa politicians are involved. (An exception is a cartoon showing Senator Roger Jepsen, who had switched his vote on a military sale to Saudi Arabia, carrying his own head under his arm.)
By way of illustration, this cartoon by Miller, a Korean War veteran, probably didn't raise a lot of Iowans' hackles in 1965:
|"Some of Us Are, Fella" by Frank Miller in Des Moines Register, Nov. 30 1965|
Ten years later, as the South Vietnamese military collapsed, this cartoon might have been a little more controversial. It's not in the book; nor is any other cartoon about Saigon's defeat.
|"American Monument in Southeast Asia" by Frank Miller in Des Moines Register, ca. March 29, 1975|
What you will find are every president from Truman to Reagan, a couple of Iowa governors, lots of lovingly rendered Iowa scenery, and one famous visitor to the state.
|No caption, by Frank Miller in Des Moines Register, Oct. 4, 1979|
Thursday, December 10, 2020
You may have seen news reports about József Szájer, 59, Hungary's representative to the European Union Parliament in Brussels, getting himself arrested after police broke up a 25-man sex party above a gay bar. It wasn't the orgy per se that broke the law; the problem was that the number of men gathered exceeded COVID-19 restrictions.
I have no idea how many guys one is allowed to have at an orgy in Brussels. I suppose that's one of the things one is expected to check before traveling abroad.
The gay sex stuff is somewhat more at issue for Szájer back home in Budapest, however. Szajer is one of the founders of the ruling Fidesz Party, originally a liberal anti-communist organization, but which has veered hard to the right under the leadership of Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister since 2010. Criminalization of homosexuality is prominent among Orbán's policies.
Szájer has resigned from the EU Parliament and from Fidesz. He doesn't deny being at the orgy, but does say that the ecstasy police found on him didn't belong to him. Expect him to revise and extend his remarks in order to join a long line of disgraced preachers and politicians from Ted Haggard to Andrew Gillum blaming drugs for their walk on the wild side.
Orbán wasted no time accepting Szájer's resignation, telling Magyar Nemzet, "What our fellow member József Szájer has done does not fit into the values of our political community. We will not forget and refuse his thirty years of work, but his actions are unacceptable and indefensible."
Monday, December 7, 2020
Saturday, December 5, 2020
|Uncaptioned, by Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Evening Star, Dec. 3, 1920|
The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas during a presidential transition can be a slow news period as far as political cartoonists are concerned. The incoming president is busy filling his cabinet with people the cartoonist hasn't learned to draw yet, and the outgoing president is not desperately trying to stage a coup to overturn the popular vote. Well, not normally.
1920 was a pretty normal year as presidential transitions go, so editorial cartoonists had plenty of opportunity to address topics of general interest. Some of them, as illustrated by Clifford Berryman's complaint against unregulated gun sales above, are if you'll pardon the yuletide expression, evergreen.
|"Big Flap Jack Contest" by Frederick Opper for International Feature Service Inc., ca. Dec. 3, 1920|
Fred Opper's complaint about high prices never gets old, either, although it would be hard to find a mainstream cartoonist today blaming "grocery profiteers" and "rent gougers." What went up, however, must have come cheap; those "pick pocket prices" are the same ones my generation's grandparents used to remember fondly in the '60's and '70's.
|"Out" by Bob Satterfield for NEA, ca. Dec. 1, 1920|
|"Tormentors" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 3, 1920|
|"Broken Idols" by Magnus Kettner for Western Newspaper Union, ca. Dec. 3, 1920|
|"An Ounce of Prevention" by J. N. "Ding" Darling in Colliers, Dec. 11, 1920|
|"Ireland, 1920" by David Low in London Star, ca. Dec., 1920|
|John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, ca. Dec. 4, 1920|
|"A Peaceful Change" by Bob Satterfield for NEA, ca. Dec. 2, 1920|
|"Can They Untangle It?" by Wm. C. Morris for George Matthew Adams Service, ca. Dec. 2, 1920|