Monday, June 28, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Here are a few rough sketches from my notebook before drawing this week's cartoon:


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Men's Summer Fashions

Summer is here time for lighter subjects and lighter clothing; so, for no particular reason, Sweatback Saturday takes a thoroughly unscientific look at menswear in Germany and the U.S. in 1921.

"Zurück zur Natur" by F. Huebner in Simplicissimus, Munich, July 1, 1921

I'm going to go out on a limb here and presume that there was a significant heat wave across Germany that year. At the very least, the temperature was rising in a number of German cartoons. Here Michel, the German equivalent of John Bull or Uncle Sam, stripped of his clothes by the Entente powers, decides that that it was just as well anyway.

Detail of "Miscellany" by Werner Hamann in Kladderadatsch, July, 1921

The sign reads "outdoor pool." That looks to me like a mighty large pool back there.

One thing I've noticed is that, no matter how beastly hot the weather, German cartoon men maintained some degree of modesty...

"Berliner Pressebericht" by Karl Arnold in Simplicissimus, Munich, July 6, 1921
...Three out of four of them kept their hats on. (Cue Joe Cocker!)

Perhaps it came from our forebears' Puritan roots, or just from being on the winning side of the Great War, but American cartoon characters, despite the heat, dressed more modestly than their German counterparts.

Donahey in Cleveland Plain Dealer, ca. Aug., 1921

Most cartoon characters today would choose to wear something easier to wring out than a pair of overalls if they intend to sit under a shower. 

Even when heading out to the freibad, American cartoon men kept themselves covered — perhaps with some help.

"Did We Put Enough Sand on Yuh" by R. B. Fuller in Wayside Tales / Cartoons Magazine, July, 1921
Even in a cartoon set in the heat of the Great American Desert, here's a guy fully dressed, hat and all — okay, he has taken off his overcoat.
J. N. "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, July, 1921

I suspect, however, from the context of the cartoon that this fellow does not make his own clothing choices.

All this is not to say that American cartoonists weren't any good at figure drawing. But if a cartoonist wanted in 1921 to show off his chops at drawing the male form, he had probably best stick to cartoons about Biblical topics.

"Djer Moi..." in Life, June 9, 1921

"If There Had Been Movies in Bible Times" by Thomas S. Sullivant in Life, June 23, 1921

"Yez Kin Put Me Down As Sayin'..." in Life, July 14, 1921
(Who knew that the Garden of Eden was in France?)

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Q Toon: On Luca

In case you haven't seen the ads, it's an animated flick in which the titular character is a boy sea-monster — a merboy, I guess — who hops up on land and assumes the form of a human boy. He meets up with Alberto, a fellow disguised merboy, and they become best friends. They have to hide their true identity from the other residents of the small Italian town where they hang out, because everyone there is afraid of sea monsters. On top of that, Luca's parents think this other boy is a bad influence on Luca and forbid their son from seeing Alberto any more.

I hope it isn't spoiling the ending too much (and you can skip to the next paragraph if you think it will be) to add that the climax involves coming out to the townspeople.

The film's director, Enrico Casarosa, who is straight, denies that there is a gay subtext, saying that the story is based on his own childhood in Genoa. I guess he's letting us know that underneath it all, he's really a sea monster.

Before the days of "In & Out" and "La Cage au Folles," LGBTQ+ movie-goers had to settle for reading gay subtext into straight-based movies, whether it was there or not. Or focusing our attention on the central character's Gay Best Friend. Or subjecting ourselves to LGBTQ+ dramas in which somebody always dies in the end.

So anyway, many of us set our gaydar on high beam when it comes to Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Laverne and Shirley, or Marcie and Peppermint Patty. It hardly matters whether or not a deeper relationship was intended than their creators had in mind. The deeper relationship is possible, and if it helps someone identify with the characters, isn't that to the creator's credit?
P.S.: I made sure that nobody was actually using the URL on the back of that dotcomtaxi. It better not have been registered to a porn site since Sunday!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Pulitzers Draw a Blank

We editorial cartoonists have had our collective nose out of joint all week over a snub by the Pulitzer Prize Board, which announced that it would not award a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning this year. They named a three-way tie for Honorable Mention among Ken "Tom the Dancing Bug" Fisher, Lalo Alcaraz, and Marty Two Bulls Sr., but no winner.

The first Pulitzer for editorial cartooning was given to Rollin Kirby in 1922. That might have been a one-time thing, if they hadn't revived the editorial cartooning award in 1924. The Pulitzer board skipped us over four more times before this year, most recently in 1973.

Like 2020, 1972 was a very eventful year, with plenty of excellent cartoons the Pulitzer board might have considered. I was only just beginning to appreciate editorial cartoons myself in 1972, but I offer here a sampling of what the judges might have had before them when considering the Best Editorial cartoon award for that year.

These cartoons don't include all of the best cartoons, or certainly best cartoonists, of the day; I've tried to approach this with the mindset of a theoretical Pulitzer judge, so the emphasis is on Most Important Issues rather than Funniest Gags. I therefore offer apologies up front to the cartoonists I have included and to those I have not.

"We Must Not Falter..." by Bill Sanders in Milwaukee Journal, April 28, 1972

The war in Vietnam was perhaps the biggest news story in American media throughout 1972, so there were plenty of very good cartoons about it. Take for example this Bill Sanders cartoon, quoting Richard Nixon announcing U.S. escalation of bombing North Vietnam.

Pat Oliphant won a Pulitzer in 1967 for a cartoon drawn specifically with the Pulitzer committee in mind, and which he considered then and now one of the worst cartoons he has ever drawn. From that point forward, he has boycotted the Pulitzer Award Game; but if he hadn't, the committee might have considered this excellent cartoon:

"Greetings, French Liberators" by Pat Oliphant in Denver Post, April 17, 1972

In Oliphant's absence, the committee might have considered this cartoon in a similar vein by Jules Feiffer:

"The South Vietnamese Have Made Great Progress..." by Jules Feiffer in Village Voice, New York, 1972

The war wasn't the only major event of the year, of course. President Nixon's state visit to the People's Republic of China was a game changer in geopolitics.

No caption, by Mike Peters in Dayton Daily News, February, 1972

And, of course, there was a presidential election, and a third-degree burglary at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. 49 years ago this week that ended up making a bit of news.

"The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" by Herbert Block in Washington Post, August 28, 1972

It's almost unfair to include Herblock for consideration. By 1972 the Dean of American Editorial Cartoonists, Herblock had already won two Pulitzers, in 1942 and 1954. Likewise, it's probably unfair to include John Fischetti, the 1969 honoree.

"...Halt the Erosion of Moral Fiber..." by John Fischetti in Chicago Daily News, October, 1972

The Pulitzer committee has lately shied away from cartoons about individual U.S. politicians (which disqualifies all the above cartoons), but there were more general observations about the election which might have caught their attention.

"My Fellow Americans..." by Bill Canfield in Newark Daily News, May, 1972

Democratic candidate George Wallace of Alabama was shot while campaigning for the presidency. While his injuries would not prove fatal, the attempted assassination was less than a decade after the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., seeming to augur political murder as becoming the norm. Thankfully, it has remained the exception, not the rule.

"Remember the Good Ol' Chicago Days..." by Hugh Haynie in Louisville Courier-Journal, July, 1972
On a lighter note, perhaps Hugh Haynie's observation of a generational shift in political involvement would have swayed more optimistic judges.
"Second and Third Will Not Be Awarded" by Pat Oliphant in Denver Post, October, 1972

But when one turns to global issues, any rose-colored glasses again turn blood red. Terrorism on behalf of the Palestinian cause spilled out from the Middle East, as eleven Israeli athletes were murdered by Black Septembrists at the Munich Olympics. Earlier in the year, thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators were shot dead by British Army paratroopers on "Bloody Sunday" in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Other, more generalized issues of the day which might have interested the Pulitzer folks included pollution, drug use, the cost of living, or, for the same reason that the Oscars love films about movie making, freedom of the press.

No caption, by Bill Mauldin in Chicago Sun-Times, 1972

I'm obliged to point out that the Pulitzer committee stopped giving awards for specific cartoons in 1976, having begun in 1964 awarding a cartoonist for his or her entire output for the year. (Tony Auth's 1975 cartoon is somewhat of an outlier; otherwise the last award given to a specific cartoon was that given in 1967 to Pat Oliphant. In 1990, the award to Tom Toles did cite a specific cartoon, but only as "exemplifying" his body of work.)

I must also note that just because the Pulitzer committee doesn't give out an award in a particular year does not necessarily mean that the judges didn't find any work worthy of their consideration. It can also mean that there was a hung jury — that none of the pieces under consideration could garner support of over half of the Pulitzer board.

And, as Poynter points out, it doesn't just happen to us cartoonists.

It is fairly unusual — but not unprecedented — for the Pulitzer Board to decide not to name a winner in one of its journalism categories. Since 2000, the board has chosen not to give an award five times. No awards were given in Feature Writing in 2014, Editorial Writing in 2012, Breaking News Reporting in 2011, Editorial Writing in 2008 and Feature Writing in 2004.

I'm not an insider, so I don't really know how the Pulitzer committee works when there isn't a majority vote winner. With so many categories, they obviously don't fight it out for hours like Twelve Angry Men; and I hope they don't operate like the U.S. Senate, allowing one person to thwart a vote by merely threatening to filibuster everybody else.

Yet somehow, the committee managed last year to ignore the three editorial cartoonists nominated by a jury of their peers, coming up with New Yorker cartoonist Barry Blitt instead. The committee similarly passed over finalists to award non-finalists in 1979, 1987, 1990, 1996, and 1998. Apparently there must be some degree of back and forth negotiating behind those Pulitzer doors. 

In view of all this, I guess this year's Pulitzer decision isn't as insulting to our profession as many of us initially took it to be. At least, that is, compared to those occasions when the Pulitzer folks passed over the finalists to give Best Editorial Cartoonist to a non-editorial-cartoonist.

Do you think Barry Blitt or Berkeley Breathed even paid that $75.00 entrance fee?

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Q Toon: It Was On His To-do List for the Second Term

Even though I've already drawn two cartoons about LGBTQ+ Pride this year, acknowledgement had to be made of Vice President Kamala Harris marching in Washington D.C.'s parade over the weekend. Participating in a Pride parade adds to Harris's ever-growing list of vice presidential Firsts.

It had to be orders of magnitude more fun than meeting with Presidents of Guatemala and Mexico to discuss our problem with Latin American immigration, then being harangued on right-wing media for not having tossed in a photo op with Trump's Ugly Border Wall.

As we know from Veep and The West Wing, Vice Presidents get stuck doing all the sh¡tty jobs that the guy behind the Oval Office desk would rather not handle himself. Biden has been there and knows the drill. So, too, has Mike Pence, who had to suffer the added indignity of dodging a lynch mob sent by his president.

Pence probably wouldn't have wanted to walk in an LGBTQ+ Pride parade, but he would have gone if Trumplgruber had told him to. As it was, the most enjoyable thing he ever got to do as vice president for four years was attend a Colts-49ers game just so he could stalk out before the coin toss.

Monday, June 14, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

These roughs from my sketchbook aren't likely to give away anything at all about this week's cartoon.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

This Makes Doesn't More Sense, It?

In re yesterday's H.T. Webster cartoon, doesn't putting the panels in this order make more sense?

"Some Doctors Have No Intelligence Whatsoever" by H.T. Webster in Chicago Journal, ca. June, 1921

The second, third, and fourth frames could be in almost any order; but Mr. Patient there would have no reason to put his shirt, tie and suit back on until panel five. Certainly not in panel three.

Now you know why so many cartoonists of the early days of newspaper cartooning numbered the panels of their work.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Belly Up to the Pharmacy, Boys

Can you believe it? Here we are in the middle of 1921, three years into Prohibition, and it turns out that the alcohol racket is being run by organized medicine!

"Oh, Doctor, Doctor" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, ca. June, 1921

In the year before Prohibition, the American Medical Association passed a resolution stating firmly that alcohol had no nutritional or therapeutic value:

Whereas, We believe that the use of alcohol is detrimental to the human economy and,

Whereas, its use in therapeutics as a tonic or stimulant or for food has no scientific value; therefore,

Be it Resolved, That the American Medical Association is opposed to the use of alcohol as a beverage; and

Be it Further Resolved, That the use of alcohol as a therapeutic agent should be further discouraged.

But since the National Prohibition Act of 1919 offered tipplers a loophole, providing permits for physicians to prescribe alcohol as they saw fit, guess what! The AMA came up with a list of 27 different ailments, from snakebites, asthma, diabetes, and cancer to lactation issues, that could be treated with alcohol.

"Well, What'll You Have..." by Gene Carr in New York World, June, 1921

Heck, your doctor could prescribe you an old fashioned for old age. And by golly, I think that's worth a shot.

"A Liberal Interpretation of the Ruling" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, ca. June, 1921

Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, relates the story of lawyer cum bootlegger George Remus, who 

"bought up a bunch of distilleries within 100 miles of Cincinnati and even further, including the Jack Daniel's distillery that was in St. Louis at the time. He also started something called the Kentucky Drug Company, and he would legally move the stuff in the company trucks to pharmacies all over the lower Midwest and upper South. Then, he would have his own men hijack his own trucks, so that they could move it into the speakeasy trade as well."

"Some Doctors Have No Intelligence Whatsoever" by Harold T. Webster in Chicago Journal, ca. June, 1921

(Side note: I think somebody got Webster's panels out of order, don't you?)

To the extent that medicinal alcohol provided fodder for cartoonists, it was also true that it couldn't escape the attention of congressional busy-bodies with no compunction against meddling in everybody else's health care.

"Tying His Hands" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, June 29, 1921

The House passed the Willis-Campbell Act, on June 27, 1921, and the Senate followed suit on August 8; President Harding signed it into law on November 23. Under the "Beer Emergency Bill" as it was nicknamed, doctors could still prescribe wine or liquor, but not beer. The maximum amount of alcohol per prescription was limited to half a pint, and a doctor could only authorize 100 prescriptions for alcohol per 90-day period.

Well, I apologize for having only five cartoons to resurrect today, but I'm starting to feel a touch of old age flaring up again.

Or maybe it's snakebite.


Thursday, June 10, 2021



I've quoted GQP Chair Ronna McDonald's Pride Month tweet directly in the first panel of this week's cartoon. She concluded her tweet by explaining that "we will continue to grow our big tent by supporting measures that promote fairness and balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs."

There has been plenty of pushback to McDonald's tweet, starting with Chasten Buttigieg challenging her to read her own party's platform on LGBTQ rights. The GQP didn't produce a national platform in 2020, but its 2016 platform and its various state party platforms came out resoundingly against LGBTQ rights.

The Transportation Secretary's husband, a Chicago area teacher, also noted that "Those with 'deeply held religious beliefs' are often the parents who force their LGBTQ children out of the home and onto the street. I've met with those kids. 40% of homeless youth in this country are LGBTQ."

Other tweeters have scoffed that doubling LGBTQ support comes from having such low number to start with; but let's be honest. We can be found in every walk of life. Even this guy:

There are more Ric Grenells, Caitlyn Jenners, Tammy Bruces and Milo Yiannopouloi out there than more mainstream LGBTQ+ folk might care to admit. Not enough to have any great influence in their party's platforms, surely, but they exist.

Right-wingers have their own problems with McDaniel's tweet

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins tweeted: "Sounds good in a tweet, but the reality is religious freedom is being endangered by those demanding forced acceptance of the LGBTQ agenda from the elementary classroom to the corporate board room and everything in between. There can be no compromise on our First Freedom."

"Stop," said Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, a Republican. "We don't want men to play on girls' sports teams and castration of children. Ronna needs to adjust this horrible wrong-headed messaging or resign."

Who is the real Requblican Party any more? McDaniel and Grinell, or Perkins and Rogers? Those new Requblican converts deserve to know what they're getting into. Check out another tweet in response to the GQP Chair:

Say, Tom, that wouldn't have been you blending in at the Capitol, was it?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Republican Response

In statehouses across the nation, Republicans respond to Senator Joe Manchin's insistence that federal voting rights legislation be bipartisan.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Loose Cannon on Deck

Former Lt. General Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn planted his fascist foot in his mouth this week at a QAnonference in Texas, seeming to agree with a question from the floor that a Myanmar-inspired coup would be a great idea in the U.S. this year. (Donald Trump seems to expect one in August.)

100 years ago this month, another loose cannon in the U.S. Armed Services drew heavy criticism for some ill-considered remarks. Rear Admiral William S. Sims was the guest at a luncheon in London, telling the gathering:

"I do not want to touch on the Irish question, for I know nothing about it. But there are many in our country who technically are Americans, some of them naturalized and some of them born there, but none of them Americans at all.

"They are American when they want money, but Sinn Feiners when on the platform. They are making war on America today.

"The simple truth of it is that they have the blood of British and American boys on their hands for the obstructions they have placed in the way of the most effective operation of the Allied naval forces during the War. They are like zebras, either black horses with white stripes, or white horses with black stripes. But we know they are not horses ― they are asses. But each of these asses has a vote."

The Rear Admiral was no stranger to controversy; during the Wilson administration, he had publicly quarreled with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. His 1919 criticism of what he saw as deficiencies of American naval strategy, tactics, policy, and administration in the Great War was a major embarrassment to the Department of the Navy, already reeling from the Newport sex scandal.

"At It Again" by Roy Harrison James in St. Louis Star, June, 1921

In 1910, President William Howard Taft was obliged to rebuke Sims for promising Great Britain aid from the U.S. in the event its empire were "seriously menaced by an external enemy." At the time, the idea of sending American soldiers to defend the British Empire was rather farfetched politically; but in the 1921 speech, Sims patted himself on the back for his clairvoyance. Taft, now busy lobbying behind the scenes for appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was in no position to reply to Admiral Sims. But Sims would have to answer to Secretary Daniel's successor, Edwin Denby.

"Well, Here We Are Again" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, June 11, 1921
"Best Wishes, Ol' Top" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, June 10, 1921

Admiral Sims wasn't the only American official speaking out of school in London in the spring of 1921. U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain George Brinton McClellan Harvey (whom we saw in typographic portrayal last Saturday) was another.

"Advice from an Expert" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, June, 1921

According to "Ding" Darling, so was at least one U.S. Senator.

"Maybe We Ought to Do Something..." by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, June 14, 1921

Rear Admiral Sims retired from the Navy in 1922, and won a Pulitzer for his memoir of the War, The Victory at Sea.  

I don't anticipate Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn earning any Pulitzers for his body of work. He'll just have to be content with his pardon from Trump.

Unless that August putsch works out in his favor.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Q Toon: Whomit Macon Cern

Back when I lived in an apartment with mail slots a lot like this in the entryway, I once tried adding an unnecessary directional "S" in front of the street name on a magazine subscription just to see what junk mail lists that magazine would sell my information to. 

That worked, but too well. I ended up getting multiple copies of some junk mailings, some addressed to me at Fakename Ave., and duplicates sent to S. Fakename Ave.

That was back in the 20th Century, but whoever lives there now probably still gets them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Tulsa Revisited

As I wrote in my post two Saturdays ago, I am sure that there were more editorial cartoons to be found about the 1921 Tulsa Pogrom than the two I had managed to locate at the time. Sure enough, cartooning blogger Mike Peterson has come up with a third:

"This Happened in America" by James in St. Louis Star, ca. June 2, 1921

It occurs to me that this incident may have created some cracks in the political alliance Black American leaders had had with the Republican Party since the Civil War.

The Republican Party was founded in the 1850s on an anti-slavery platform, and the election of its first successful presidential candidate resulted in southern secession and the Civil War. Radical Republicans instituted Reconstruction after the war, only to lift it in 1876 in order to finagle Rutherford Hayes into the White House. Reactionary Democrats then took back control of southern governments, and the "Solid South" became a major force in Democratic Party politics for generations.

With a few exceptions, post-Reconstruction Republican politicians had little to say about Black Americans' civil rights. Then Tulsa launched the genocidal attack on its Black citizens.

Less than a week later, President Warren Harding mentioned the Tulsa Holocaust at the graduation ceremony at Lincoln University Theological Seminary, a Black institution in Pennsylvania. As I noted in my earlier post, Harding lamented the violence, but promised to do nothing about it. 

"Much is said about the problem of the races. There is nothing that the government can do which is akin to educational work in value. One of the great difficulties of popular government is that citizenship expects government to do what it ought to do for itself. No government can wave a magic wand. The colored race, to come into its own, must do the great work itself. The government can only offer the opportunity."

Imagine yourself sitting there as a member of the graduating class of 1921, and this is all that the President of the United States has to say about the worst peacetime slaughter of men, women and children in the nation's history — only six days after the fact. That Republican president, with Republicans in complete control of both houses of Congress, did absolutely nothing to investigate, prosecute, remedy, or redress the situation.

Those graduating seminarians knew that no good would come from the local officials in Tulsa, or Democrat-majority state government in Oklahoma. That was to be expected. But the Republican response, presaging 21st Century thoughts and prayers alone, had to be a grave disappointment.

That graduating class were community leaders in their 30's when Democrat Franklin Roosevelt became president, turning 40 when Roosevelt created the Fair Employment Practice Committee, and nearing 50 when Harry Truman's President's Committee on Civil Rights prompted the Dixiecrats to bolt the party.  Dwight Eisenhower may have been the GOP's last chance to win back the Black vote; Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon were more interested in currying favor with racist southern Whites. 

I haven't been able to come up with background on "James," the cartoonist at the top of today's post. I had already seen some of his other work reprinted in Independent Magazine and consistently credited to St. Louis Star, but Googling such a common name isn't very helpful. James must have replaced Archibald Chapin, who left the Star effective May 1, 1921 to draw for Country Gentleman in Philadelphia. In 1925, the St. Louis Star Times hired Daniel Bishop as its editorial cartoonist, so unless the Star Times could afford two editorial cartoonists, James's career there may have been quite short.


Update: The St. Louis Star cartoonist was Roy Harrison James, born 1889 in Zalma, Missouri; cartoonist at the Star from 1920 to 1929. From St. Louis, he moved to Malibu, California to write comedy. It is possible that he died in 1949, but I haven't located an obituary.