Monday, October 18, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Can I just say here how much I love having a "beat" frame in a multi-panel cartoon?

That's the panel — usually the second-to-last one — in which the characters pause to take in what happened or was said in the previous panel. There's no dialogue, corresponding to the "beat" taken in comedy before springing the punch line on the audience.

Being left-handed, I almost always ink the penultimate panel, down there on the left side of the bottom row of a four-panel cartoon, last.

Gosh, I love not having to do any more lettering by the time I get down there.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

October Affairs: Domestic

Hey, kids! It's time to catch up on all the domestic national news from October, 1921!

We'll start with something that seems as relevant today as ever, because, like the weather, everybody talks about it but nobody ever does anything about it.

"Rather Late Canning Time..." by Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Evening Star, Oct. 13, 1921

It was Republicans who had complete control of the White House and both houses of Congress in 1921. But the filibuster was a favorite tactic of senators from southern states — Democrats in those days — who would thwart an anti-lynching bill throughout the entire 67th Congress. 

Other legislation killed by filibusters from both parties during that congressional session included the Harding administration's ship subsidy bill, a Railroad Refunding bill, the Rogers Foreign Service bill, the "Blue Sky" securities regulation bill, the Radio Regulation bill, and a Statute Codification bill.

"So Near, And Yet" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, Oct. 10, 1921

If getting legislation passed was easier said than done, so was breaking Americans' alcohol habit. Prohibition was in its second year, and not only were folks learning how to brew hooch in their private basements, but since not every home has its own basement, a thriving black market in liquor had sprouted up across the country in major cities and small towns.

"Autumn Leaves..." by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, by Oct. 27, 1921

Ted Brown's consumers look mighty happy with their crop, for now. Who that fellow is back there saying "Never again," I'm afraid I can't tell.

"Is He Worth It?" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, Oct. 19, 1921

The major national story of October was a threatened strike by railroad workers for better pay and working conditions. This was three decades before the interstate highway system; trains, not trucks, were primarily responsible for transporting goods across the country, as well as for passenger travel and mail delivery.  

"There's a Limit to All Things" by Albert Levering in New York Tribune, Oct. 23, 1921

Railroad corporations demanded significant cuts in wages and benefits to their workers in 1921, and also increased farming out work to non-union sub-contractors. Five major unions indicated they were all set to go out on strike, but the Railroad Labor Board ordered union leaders to keep their workers on the job. After the Board consented to delay Interstate Commerce Commission orders to slash half of the increases workers had enjoyed during World War I, union members voted to cancel the strike.

It was only a temporary peace, kicking the can down the railroad; the unions would go on strike within a year when that pay cut delay ended.

"Ford Shows the Way" by John Baer in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo ND, Oct. 31, 1921

As peculiar bedfellows as they may have been, leftist former Congressman John Baer (Nonpartisan League-ND) here holds up right-wing Republican Henry Ford as an example for how to run a railroad. Baer cartooned for the National Railroad Union newspaper Labor as well as the Nonpartisan League's official paper (which was published in Minneapolis as the National Leader after the October 31, 1921 issue).

Looking to improve supply and distribution lines for his auto plant in Dearborn, Ford bought the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad in 1920, modernizing and transforming it, in the words of railroad historian William Pletz, "from a streak of rust into an extremely efficient and profitable operation, the likes of which has or will seldom be seen in this country." 

Under Ford, DT&I employees made higher wages than others in the industry. He also launched an electrification program for the railway, which was, however, abandoned after he sold the DT&I (at a hefty profit) to a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1929.

John Baer in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, Oct. 31, 1921
Baer (not William Morris) here accuses President Harding of trying to break up the Nonpartisan League's alliance between farmers and laborers, Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party being the last vestige of the movement. Republican efforts to gin up farmers' resentment of organized labor have been remarkably successful, even in ostensibly Democratic Minnesota.

"Th' Hog" by William Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, Oct. 3, 1921

Oh, and the World Series was held in October, but it was the New York Yankees vs. the New York Giants, so nobody beyond the outer boroughs really cared all that much.

(Just kidding. Even game 4 getting rained out made banner headlines across the country. And the Giants took the series five games to three.) 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Q Toon: Filth!


Jon Gruden may be gone, but Mark Robinson, the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, is not backing down from incendiary remarks against the LGBTQ+ community. Last Tuesday, People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch Project posted video of a political sermon Robinson had delivered at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove back in June:

“There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson says. “Yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you.”

Continuing his tirade at Upper Room COGIC in Raleigh in August, Robinson called transgender rights "demonic," and that any discussion of it in schools is "dragging our kids down into the pit of Hell."

If anti-LGBTQ bigotry were Robinson's only fault, the Charlotte Observer might not have described his views as "cringeworthy" and "an embarrassment." On other subjects, he has claimed that the movie Black Panther was "created by an agnostic Jew and put to film by [a] satanic Marxist" that was "only created to pull the shekels out of your Schvartze pockets"; called former President Obama "a worthless, anti-American atheist"; and charged that COVID-19 was a "globalist" conspiracy to defeat Donald Trump.

Robinson is a Republican, which, if you've read this far, should hardly come as a surprise. The Governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat, which would make for some strained relations between their offices even if Robinson weren't such a crazed demagogue. Republicans criticized Cooper earlier this year for not mentioning newly elected Robinson, the state's first African-American Lt. Governor, in his State of the State address.

The recent shenanigans in Idaho demonstrate why our country's founding fathers quickly switched to having President and Vice President run together on the same ticket (originally, the presidential candidate who came in second got to be Veep as a consolation prize). Having the top two executive officers working at cross purposes is a recipe for mischief and instability.

According to the state website, North Carolina's Lt. Governor does get to take over the Governor's duties in the event of the Governor's "absence, death or incapacitation."

One hopes that Governor Cooper keeps his executive order stationery locked up, and a very secure computer password set up, whenever he ventures across state lines.

Monday, October 11, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Happy Canadian Thankscoming Indigenous National Pope Columbus Out John Giving XXIII Day, Peoples! Here's a bit of the preliminary pencil roughs from my sketchbook over the weekend.


The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists held our annual convention by Zoom on Friday and Saturday, and I was able to take in a bit of it for a change. It was good to have exchange with others in the Opinionated Toon Biz.

In one forum I attended, "Cartooning in the Age of Doom," panelists shared their experiences of working amid coronavirus constraints and constrictions of the newspaper industry. As someone who has had very minimal conversation with fellow editorial staff for a decade and a half, I was interested to know how others are getting along with the new work-from-home standard.

For the free-lancers, the advent of COVID-19 didn't change their work habits greatly. Kevin Necessary had just moved into an office at the Cincinnati Enquirer when suddenly everyone had to work from home. Scott Stantis had already accepted a buy-out from the Chicago Tribune, but keeps in touch with select trusted colleagues as a sounding board. 

What everyone seemed to agree on was that the Ground Hog's Day nature of the coronavirus pandemic (and the intransigence of Republicans who aid and abet its spread) has been a real strain on finding anything new to say about it. (And when Stantis was seriously ill with the virus himself, he had an assistant who was able to keep Prickly City going for him.)

Well, happily, my cartoon this week is about something else.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

October on the Ones


I lead this Saturday Flashback with an unpublished cartoon I drew after Herblock died 20 years ago this past Thursday. The cartoon references several Herblock cartoons and recurring characters. I was tempted to put together a retrospective of his over 70-year career today — the man published cartoons almost up to the day he died — but you can visit the Library of Congress's exhibit of his work, or buy the book.

So rather than incur the wrath of the Herblock Foundation, I herewith present a smattering of the other cartoons Little Ol' I drew in Octobers of 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011. Let's start with the little oldest:

in UW-Parkside Ranger, Oct. 1, 1981

President Reagan had an advertisement on TV, if I remember correctly, urging viewers to call their congressional representatives to express their belief in Reagan's "bipartisan economic recovery plan" —i.e., tax cuts. (Finding a few Democrats willing to sign on to a Republican bill was an easier lift than the opposite is nowadays, especially since there were Democrats to choose from who would soon start calling themselves Republicans.) For the moment, however, the stock market appeared shaky, and a recession was indeed around the corner.

There must be over 100 horizontal lines in that cartoon, all painstakingly drawn by hand. The thick ones behind the window were the most challenging.—

in UW-Parkside Ranger, Oct. 22, 1981

Somewhere along the line, all of my cartoons from the fall of 1981 have somehow gotten mislaid. I still had them a few years ago when I posted one I drew in October, 1981 about the situation in Poland; I had certainly scanned that from the original. The originals aren't where they belong now, so unless Mom or I clipped them for our respective scrapbooks, I have to resort to copying them from the University of Wisconsin Ranger on-line archives, like this one above.

Continuing along to 1991...

in UW-Milwaukee Post, Oct. 3, 1991

Members of the Supreme Court have been at pains lately to deny that they are "partisan hacks." What they cannot deny is that for over half a century, the selection process by which most of them made it onto the Court has been overtly partisan. 

Reacting to civil rights rulings of the 1950's and '60's, conservative partisan hacks have been determined to remake the Court in their own image. Liberal Congresses were able to block the most egregious nominees — Clement Haynsworth, G. Harrold Carswell, Robert Bork — but not right-wingers William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, or, in spite of allegations of sexual harassment, Clarence Thomas, now the most senior Justice on the Court.

in Racine, WI Journal Times, Oct. 17, 1991

Conservatives, for their part, have "Borked" Abe Fortas, Homer Thornberry and Merrick Garland, and pressured presidents of their party to name "No More Souters." Thus we have six currently serving Republican appointees who are all products of the right-wing Federalist Society. I was startled to hear it put this way on NPR this week, but the center of today's Court is no longer Chief Justice John Roberts (himself a conservative George W. Bush pick), but Kevin-Boofing-Kavanaugh!

in Milwaukee WI Business Journal, Oct. 5, 2001

Moving right along to 2001, the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee wrote an editorial critical of labor lawyers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I drew a silly cartoon to go along with it.

for Q Syndicate, October, 2001

Of course, there were weightier issues in the fall of 2001 than genii safety. The Bush II administration was about to launch a 20-year war in Afghanistan, so naturally, the Christian Right weighed in with their reservations... about the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Romania.

As with Bill Clinton's appointment of James Hormel to be Ambassador to Luxembourg, antigay groups such as the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America opposed Bush The Younger's appointment of Michael E. Guest as Ambassador to Romania. But unlike with Hormel, the Senate approved Guest's appointment. Also unlike Hormel, who was pressured into promising not to bring his then partner to Luxembourg, Guest's partner, Alex Nevarez, moved into the ambassador's residence with him — with Secretary of State Colin Powell's explicit blessing.

“It put the Secretary of State on record as supporting homosexuality as if it were as normal, healthy and morally sound as marriage," sniffed Concerned Women for America's Robert Knight. "This means that America will be represented to the Romanian people by an openly homosexual couple. How trendy. How decadent.”

for Q Syndicate, October, 2011

Ten years later, when antigay activists were pushing an amendment to enshrine marriage discrimination in the Minnesota state constitution, it only seemed natural to set a cartoon in the Mall of America.

Besides, I enjoy giving odd and punning names to imaginary specialty shops.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Q Toon: Sinema Viditée

 



Democrats rejoiced in 2018 when Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema narrowly won the Senate seat vacated by Republican Jeff Flake to become the first openly bisexual senator in the United States. 

Now Sinema is one of two nominally Democratic senators double-handedly blocking President Biden's Build Back Better Bill. The other 48 Democratic senators, the Biden administration, and everyone in the press are struggling to figure out exactly what it would take to get her and West Virginia's Joe Manchin on board. 

In Manchin's case, we've pretty much figured out that he wants a bill that some theoretical Republican might vote for; which is akin to finding a steakhouse a vegan might agree to eat at, or a classical opera your four-year-old would like to sit through.

If there is something that Kyrsten Sinema would like to see stricken from or added to the bill, she is being extremely coy about making everyone else guess what it might be. A reporter in the Capitol attempted to get her to explain her position:

Q: What do you say to progressives who are frustrated they don’t know where you are?

SINEMA: “I’m in the Senate.”

Q: There are progressives in the Senate that are also frustrated they don’t know where you are either.

SINEMA: “I’m clearly right in front of the elevator.”
It's dickishness like that that gets you harassed in the rest room by frustrated former supporters.
 
Q: No, I mean, what is your position on negotiations?
SINEMA: Sitting down, usually.
Q: What is your position now?
SINEMA: I'm standing, silly. 
Q: Is there anything you would like to see in the bill?
SINEMA: Words and numbers. Charts.
Q: Can't you be serious for a moment?
SINEMA: No, I'm Kyrsten Sinema.
Q: Hold on — I'm just getting word that Susan Collins has announced that she might be persuaded to vote for the bill. I'm gonna go talk to her.
SINEMA: Wait, what? No! She can't — she can't do that!
Q: Of course she didn't. Gotcha!

Monday, October 4, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Pencil roughs from my sketchbook... trying to figure out how the person on the left should look with the facial expression on the right.
 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Checking Under the Hood

Ready or not, we're going to look at some Critical Race Praxis today.

In October, 1921, Congress summoned several Ku Klux Klan officials to testify before the House Rules Committee. Republicans running the committee were concerned by reports that the Klan was not only a terrorist organization, but also a highly lucrative one. The witness list included Imperial Wizard Col. William J. Simmons, who begged off testifying on the first day of hearings, citing "a temporary indisposition," a.k.a. "the vapors."

When he finally showed up the next day, Simmons's testimony was interrupted when Senator Thomas Watson (D-GA) stepped in to shake his hand. "I am a United States Senator, and I am going to see that the witness gets fair play," Watson bellowed over the resulting uproar. "When this thing gets to the Senate, I want to ask this witness, to whose order I do not belong, but which I propose to defend, if he does not know that Congress is creating dozens of officers and employing officers at $15,000 and $35,000 salary, all of which comes out of the pockets of taxpayers!"

"The Auxiliary Government" by Grover Page in Louisville Courier-Journal, by Oct. 16, 1921

Senator Watson was probably upset by earlier testimony by civil rights leaders, some of whom (gasp!) were Black. William Monroe Trotter, representing the National Equal Rights League, testified that the Klan intimidated non-Klan Americans "by sending threatening letters to persons to cease doing certain things," and by riding through towns in their hooded gowns.

Rev. S.E.J. Watson of Chicago went further, testifying that "Many negroes have been driven from humble homes held since slavery." Rev. David Simpson Klugh of Boston added:

that the Rev. Philip S. Erwin of Florida had been tarred and feathered in Miami "only because he gave negroes good information as a preacher." Citing the case of the alleged forehead branding of a negro bell boy in Texas, Mr. Klugh said it was necessary to show by investigation whether the Klan was guilty of the act. ― Washington Evening Star, October 12, 1921
The committee also heard from a former Klansman, C. Anderson Wright, who had written an exposé of the Klan for Hearst newspapers. What committee member Rep. Edward W. Pou (D-NC) wanted to know from him was whether, by selling his story to Hearst, Wright had violated the oath he had taken upon joining the Klan.

So, what did the cartoonists have to say about all this?

"They Flee the Light" by Harry Murphy for Star Company, by Oct. 4, 1921

Conversion from newsprint to microfiche to internet has treated Harry Murphy's exquisite detail work harshly; so I'll point out that "Masked Terrorism" is accompanied in flight by rats labeled "Intolerance" and "Hate," an owl labeled "Ignorance," and a bat labeled "Bigotry."

"A Little Needed Housecleaning" by O.P. Williams for Star Company, by Oct. 6, 1921

Likewise O. Williams's cartoon here — although the labels are clear, it's the critters that are difficult to distinguish. Furthermore, I'm not entirely sure that Uncle Sam isn't somehow using the robe to scare those ills away. While "race hatred" and "bigotry" are intimately associated with the KKK, the Klan claimed to be working against "unAmericanisms."

"The Answer" by Wm. Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, by Oct. 9, 1921

William Sykes, on the other hand, makes his point clearly and unmistakably.

"Potent Publicity Possibilities" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, Oct. 12, 1921

Following the rule of "Two things make a cartoon," a few cartoonists tried tying in the Klan with completely unrelated news topics.

"Ku Kluxers" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 7, 1921

World powers were holding a conference on reducing arms levels after the Great War; this disarmament conference had absolutely nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan. I guess you have to forgive a New York cartoonist who may have been preoccupied with the World Series between New York's Giants and Yankees, and the upcoming New York City mayoral election. At least this one New York cartoonist reserved this one cartoon about two issues very important to folks in other parts of the country.

"One Every Minute" by T.E. Powers for Star Co., by Oct. 17, 1921

T.E. Powers's linking of the Klan with bootleggers, on the other hand, isn't quite as far-fetched as Nelson Harding's linking of the Klan and international disarmament. As I mentioned at the top of this post, one of Congress's concerns was over how much money the Klan was making. Memberships were reportedly $10, but one could buy an exalted title within the Klub just by paying a little extra. The Klan resembled a pyramid scheme, enriching those at the top, but Imp Wiz Simmons protested that his was a benevolent, non-profit society, from which he earned a mere $1,000 per month.

"Somebody Is Always Taking the Joy Out of Life" by Wm. Hanny in St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, Oct. 13, 1921

Even this spare drawing by William Hanny suffers as much from microfiche-to-internet translation as Murphy's and Williams's cartoons above, so here's what is difficult to read. Crediting Clare Briggs, Hanny shows Mr. Congress tossing a rock labeled "Investigation" into the water, from which the Klan fisherman has a hefty harvest of $10 bills. 

Do I sense a hint of sympathy for the Klansman?

"Terrorism!" by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Association, ca. Oct. 6, 1921

And how does one look back on this cartoon by Leo Bushnell, drawing for the Central Press Association of Cleveland, Ohio's predominantly rural market, and making light of the charge against the Klan of terrorism?

"The Unmasking" by Dorman H. Smith for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. Oct. 19, 1921

Dorman Smith was featured in a great many newspapers around the country. But I have observed that a few of the papers that ran Smith's cartoon daily and exclusively skipped this one.

Perhaps the editors were afraid of upsetting members of the benevolent non-profit society's local chapters.

Who could be sure that the publisher hadn't chipped in his ten bucks?

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Waiving the Flag




This week's cartoon isn't about any particular Condo Owners' Association out there; I'm mixing together a couple items which may or may not have come into conflict somewhere.

It seems as if there is some Condo or Home Owners' Association every year that objects to a resident hoisting a rainbow flag; there was just such a story in my hometown this past spring. Told that they couldn't fly the rainbow flag that they had flown for the past five Pride Months, Memo Fachino and Lance Meir lit rainbow floodlights instead.


Nothing in the HOA rules against it.

Meanwhile, although some of you securely ensconced in our larger urban settlements may never have seen this, there are some areas in this country where you can see a lot of flagpoles sporting Trump 2020 flags — even now. My better half and I didn't have to drive through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to see them (which we just did a couple weeks ago); we can drive through any rural area in any direction from home to find them.

Not only are there no Biden 2020 flags waving in the breeze these days, I don't recall ever seeing one anywhere last year. Lawn signs, yes, but not flags. And the Biden lawn signs were put away before the snow fell last year. Even at that one house I pass every day on my way to work, where someone was keeping a Bernie for President sign out front ever since the 2016 Wisconsin primary, the Bro has finally taken it down.

But those Trump flags keep flapping in the breeze. Those Trump cultists worship a tremendously needy god. He desperately craves their adoration and validation. And they are happy to give it to him.

Which is why there's going to be a recount in Texas. Just to give him a Win.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Distracted Boyfriend Meme

Cartoonist Kevin Huizenga recently credited the "distracted boyfriend" meme — you know the one: a young man turns around to admire a shapely young woman in the foreground who has just walked past him and his none-too-pleased girlfriend — to Frank King, who included just such a situation in his "The Rectangle" feature in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, April 2, 1916.

Here's another, from 1921, by St. Joseph News-Press editorial cartoonist William Hanny:

"You Just Can't Help It, That's All" by William Hanny in St. Joseph (MO) News Press, Oct. 7, 1921

Now, granted, this cartoon comes five years after King's; but it's the sole focus of the cartoon, whereas King's distracted boyfriend is just one vignette among many. King drew a bird's-eye view of an entire neighborhood, taking up the top half of a page of a broadsheet newspaper, back when broadsheets were printed on broad sheets.

Furthermore, as the caption for Hanny's cartoon makes clear, distracted boyfriends were familiar and relatable enough. I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't some even older versions of this gag to be found. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek


This week's cartoon is a four-panel oeuvre, which involved figuring out how to draw that fellow in the far right of this panel in profile. In other panels, he is shown from the front.

The pencil rough looked okay to me, but he looked utterly wrong when I inked him; so I had to white him out completely and draw him over again. It is nearly impossible to erase pencil from white-out without pulling up some of the white-out or staining it with the graphite off the eraser. So I re-inked him without pencil, trying to copy the best drawing from my sketchbook.

It would have been easier if I had just drawn everybody wearing masks.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Back in the U.S.S.R.

I was looking through the cartoons I drew 30 Septembers ago to see if there were any that were worth a Saturday History Tour for today. There was so much in the news just then: 

  • the U.S. Senate was considering Clarence Thomas's appointment to the Supreme Court; 
  • the George H.W. Bush administration continued granting China "most favored nation" trading status in spite of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June; 
  • the possibility arose that our war with Iraq might not be over after all; 
  • and the U.S.S.R. was dealing with the aftermath of the attempted coup in August by Soviet hardliners against President Mikhail Gorbachev.

But I've already re-posted in This Humble Blog just about every cartoon I drew that month — in most cases, just five years ago. It hardly seems right to dredge them up again, unless I can find something new to say about any of them.

in UW-M Post, Milwaukee WI, Sept. 9, 1991
 
This 30-year anniversary, however, the attempted coup in the Soviet Union can be considered in light of the attempted coup here in the States last January 6.

Perestroika and glasnost notwithstanding, the U.S.S.R. was still a single-party dictatorship — albeit only for the next few months — so President Gorbachev (and more to the point, Boris Yeltsin, President of the Russian Soviet Federalist Socialist Republic) was still able quickly to purge the politburo of coup supporters. We're not talking about a Stalinesque purge here, but the likes of Josh Hawley or Lauren Boebert would certainly not have continued in office.

And nobody, by the way, mistook the coup conspirators for a bunch of tourists.

By the time I drew my cartoon, Gorbachev had resigned from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. had suspended all party activities.

But by the end of the decade, Yeltsin handed power over to a former KGB agent named Vladimir Putin, who has since then adopted a style and ironfistedness of power of which the 1991 coup plotters would certainly have approved.

You might want to keep that in mind if you thought that January 6 will remain a thing of the past.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Q Toon: Cot in the Act

Hong Kong was selected in 2017 as the host city for next year's Gay Games, the LGBTQ+ version of the Olympics complete with all the hoopla of opening ceremonies and at least three dozen sporting competitions. Founded in 1982 as the Gay Olympics (but immediately forced to change its name by the IOC), the Gay Games have been held every four years since, featuring LGBTQ+ athletes from around the world — including from countries where it would be dangerous for them to be out.

This will be the first time the Gay Games will have been held in Asia, but there are rumblings that the Games — and the athletes — may not be officially welcome.

Now, attacks on the Gay Games from local lawmakers aligned with Beijing are revealing bigotry in the financial hub, where space for promoting ideas such as equality and diversity has shrunk under China’s tightening control. Amid a crackdown enabled by a national security law introduced last year, the Hong Kong activists who would typically push back against such attacks are either behind bars or in exile.

Leading the crusade is Junius Ho, a pro-Beijing lawmaker who has called the Gay Games “disgraceful” and a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” that could violate the security law. Another lawmaker, Priscilla Leung, said activists could use the sports and cultural event to promote political causes. Peter Shiu, a member of a center-right party, said Hong Kong can “tolerate” but not promote homosexuality. ...

Attacks on the event started in June during a legislative session, when Ho said the Games would yield “dirty money.” He upped the ante last week when he cited Article 23 of China’s national security law, which states that the country should “guard against the impact of harmful culture.” Previously, Ho, who did not respond to requests for comment, had called a TV show that featured homosexual relationships “marijuana coated in sugar.” 

This comes at the same time that Chinese officials have launched a campaign against "sissy culture," trying to convince Chinese youth that heretofore popular "boy bands" are a dangerously androgynous threat to the future of godlessness, ginseng, and moo goo gai pan. Having survived the fall of the Berlin Wall, Beijing has no intention of succumbing to BTS.

In July, the Chinese messaging app WeChat blocked accounts of LGBT student clubs and university organizations in China. A month later, Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, banned a male video blogger after receiving complaints about his “feminine” behavior. A leaked document reported by SupChina, a New York-based news outlet that focuses on China, separately revealed that Shanghai University has been collecting names of LGBT students for an unclear purpose.

Why do I suspect that it's not for assembling Shanghai U's Queer Ping Pong League?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Major Make-over

I've just returned from a week away from home visiting family, so the last several posts here were written in the weeks before I left, and set to publish automatically in my absence.

That includes Monday's "Sneak Peek" in which I made reference to the single-panel newspaper comic "Our Boarding House with Major Hoople." Unbeknownst to me, last weekend happened to be the centennial of the very first publication of "Our Boarding House." (Major Hoople didn't make his appearance in the panel, originated by Gene Ahern, until January, 1922.)

D.D. Degg's post marking the centennial includes several examples of the comic; I had forgotten that there was a Sunday color comic version. I think I had been surprised to see it somewhere during a family vacation out west in 1973.

Most of the characters are easily recognizable even as the comic was passed down from Gene Ahern through a series of younger artists. But I got to wondering how Ahern — or his successors — accomplished the Major's transition from his original appearance...

"Our Boarding House" by Gene Ahern, ca. 1922

...to the Major I used to know, whose mouth always appeared to be sewn shut.

"Our Boarding House" by Jim Branagen & Tom McCormick, February 5, 1971

Was it sudden, when Hearst hired Ahern away in 1936, or was it more gradual?

Monday, September 20, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek


This is going to be another one of those cartoons which reminds me of "Our Boarding House with Major Hoople."
"Our Boarding House..." by Bill Freyse & Tom McCormick, March 11, 1969

No action, but plenty of dialogue.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday Sports Report

I was preparing this review of century-old cartoons a few weeks ago, only to shelve it when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. I figured that such a momentous event was of more immediate import; these 100-year-old cartoons could stand to wait a few weeks longer.

"The Pep and Vigor of Their Grandparents" by Gaar Williams in Indianapolis News, ca. Aug./Sept. 1921

When I had originally planned to publish this post, the U.S. Open was about to start, which is a big thing in our house. I had always assumed that tennis had remained a genteel sport until, oh, I don't know, John McEnroe showed up; but Gaar Williams here shows that genteelity on the court went out of fashion along with the bustle. I can't tell, however, whether the players in the lower panel had yet adopted the habit of loudly grunting, groaning, and shrieking with every shot.

"What We May Come to..." by Herbert S. Thomas in London Opinion, by Sept. 1921

Shrieking aside, if Bert Thomas's cartoon from London Opinion is to be believed, Messrs. MacEnroe, Connors, Borg, et al. had some catching up to do before they achieved the athleticism of their female forebears. 

"Man, the Master" by Alfred G. "Zere" Ablitzere in New York Post, September 12, 1921

Turning to other popular summertime sports (we do still have a couple more days of summer, don't we?), there's baseball — of that storied American trilogy with motherhood and apple pie.

"Dad Rushes Out..." by Fontaine Fox in Providence Journal, Aug./Sept., 1921

Meanwhile, the grown-up Boys of Summer were closing in on the World Series; New York's Giants and Yankees were in hot pursuit, respectively, of the American League Pittsburgh Pirates and National League Cleveland Indians.
"The Baseball Stage" by Thornton Fisher in New York Evening World, August 30, 1921

Thornton Fisher's complaint about the National League centered on a number of rules changes, described by Evening World sports reporter Robert Boyd thusly:
"Rules makers introducing drastic measures, the livelier ball and reducing the size of the parks to increase the revenue of the club by avaricious magnates, has changed the game. Where close games and a touch of the dramatic atmosphere once prevailed, wild batting orgies now predominate. Loose fielding, pitching that once would have turned the rawest 'busher' to shame, has now robbed the great national institution of much of its former grandeur."
"In the Sportlight" by Daniel "Bud" Counihan in New York Evening World, September 30, 1921

A month later, the New York ball clubs were riding high, having just drubbed the Indians and the Philadelphia Athletix.

Sports page cartoonist Bud Counihan would later go on to pen the comic strip version of Betty Boop. (An earlier strip of his, "The Big Little Family" showed up in this here blog back in May.) 
"Outdoor Sports" by Thomas A. "Tad" Dorgan in New York Journal, ca. Sept. 16, 1921

And finally, let's check out the action on the links, where we find "Tad" Dorgan, taking his New York Journal comic panel "Indoor Sports" outside from its usual office milieu.

Whether you know it or not, you are familiar with several phrases Dorgan contributed to American slang as cartoonist and as a sports reporter: he is responsible for dumbbell (meaning idiot), cat's pajamas/whiskers, for crying out loud, cheaters (meaning eyeglasses), hard-boiled (meaning tough and unsentimental), 23 skiddoo, dumb Dora, and —earworm alert!— "Yes, we have no bananas."
"He Got Madder and Madder..." by A.B. Frost in Life, September 29, 1921
Perhaps we had best leave these duffers alone. I'd hate to see how this guy handles a sand trap.