Monday, August 30, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Well, It's one pound for a five minute argument, but only eight pounds for a course of ten.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Yet Another Luxembourg-Themed Post?

Having devoted three posts this month to the late U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg James C. Hormel, imagine my surprise when President Joe Biden named Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to that same post this week.

Why, I just happen to have drawn a bunch of cartoons featuring Tom Barrett, mostly for the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee back in the early 'aughts. I also wrote a school report on Luxembourg in the sixth grade for which I got somebody in the Grand Duchy to send me a very nice package of informational materials. But I don't know where that school report is any more, so let's take a look at the cartoons, shall we?

in Journal Times, Racine, Wis. Oct. 20, 1992

I thought I might have drawn at least one cartoon featuring Barrett while he was a member of Congress, but I'm only finding two in which he appears, and only as an extra. He had not yet been elected (although he was a shoo-in) in this first cartoon, in which Wisconsin's incumbent Republican Senator horns in on an imagined Democratic campaign event.

in Business Journal, Milwaukee, February, 1997
Here, Barrett is standing behind Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Milwaukee Brewers' new stadium.

(Clearly, I had no pictures handy showing what the Brewers' new baseball stadium looked like. I later drew a pencil sketch in the margin of this cartoon so I would know how to properly cartoon the building and Miller Park logo.)

in Business Journal, Milwaukee, June 4, 2004

Once Barrett left Congress and was elected Mayor of Milwaukee in 2004, I naturally had many more opportunities to draw him. These are only a few of them.

in Business Journal, Milwaukee, August 13, 2004
A politician can throw cartoonists a curve by changing their look; Barrett wore a more business-like hairdo as Mayor than he had as Congressman...
in Business Journal, Milwaukee, August 27, 2004

...And then he went and shaved off his moustache, which changed his look dramatically. Removal of his most noticeable facial feature meant having to rethink how to represent him in two-dimensional black and white.

Before long, however, I hit upon what would become my go-to caricature of him. Except for the nose. The nose is wrong here.

in Business Journal, Milwaukee, July 1, 2005
It's a good thing that it didn't take long to settle on my mayoral caricature, because by the end of the year, the Business Journal had decided that it didn't need an editorial cartoonist any more. Milwaukee's mayoral politics hasn't impacted LGBTQ+ news a whole lot in the meantime, so I haven't drawn Mr. Barrett for Q Syndicate.

But I did put him in a cartoon for the on-line Racine Post when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010.
for Racine Post, July, 2010
The cartoon is based on a campaign commercial from the Republican Party that told voters that Milwaukee was going down the toilet. Of course, the Milwaukee County Executive running for governor on the Republican ticket, or the national Great Recession, had nothing to do with it.

By the way, the original GOP ad didn't portray outgoing Governor Jim Doyle and Mayor Barrett as Nosferatu and the Joker. It just ain't easy to depict the grainy black-and-white images of television/video political attack ads in a cartoon that's in grayscale to begin with, so I had to come up with something else.

Creating the third and fourth panels in color would have been a good choice; I didn't start using color until some months later, though. A missed opportunity, really.

So anyway, if there are any Luxembourger cartoonists looking for tips on how to draw the new ambassador from the United States, here you go. Check out whether Stuart Carlson or Phil Hands have any Qwantable examples out there, and have fun.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Q Toon: A Tucker Born Every Minute

I developed this week's cartoon in response to Tucker Carlson's fawning interview with Hungarian fascist homophobe President Orbán. Surely my "Any Day Now" scenario in which Mr. Carlson would be equally infatuated with the family, faith, and heritage clan's conquest of Afghanistan is utterly ridiculous.

Or maybe not so much.

It turns out that Carlson is already warming up to the Taliban proud boys' club in Afghanistan.

“Thanks to American-imposed gender quotas, dozens of women ultimately were installed as representatives in Afghan’s parliament,” Carlson complains. “How did that work? Well, the whole thing was a sham, as always.”

“It caused revolts, but officials kept doing it, they kept pushing radical gender politics anyway, because they could, because they were in charge of these Stone Age people they were going to educate. This is the face of the late American empire, gender studies seminars at gunpoint,” he claim[s]. ...

“It turns out that the people of Afghanistan don’t actually want gender studies symposia. They didn’t actually buy the idea that men can become pregnant. They thought that was ridiculous,” he continues. ...

He claims the Taliban rejects that because “They don’t hate their own masculinity. They don’t think it’s toxic, they like the patriarchy, some of their women like it too, so now they’re getting it all back. So maybe it’s possible that we failed in Afghanistan because the entire neoliberal program is grotesque.”

Once upon a time, it was conservatives who were all in favor of cultural imperialism — onward Christian soldiers and all that —; but when it comes to equal rights for women and the LGBTQ+, the right-wingers have suddenly discovered the virtues of medievalism and the divine right of the biggest psychopath in the land. If the local warlords want to imprison women in their homes and force them to wear burlap tents, if they believe in crushing innocent LGBTQ+ people under stone walls, well, you just have to respect local customs.

And sigh that those were the days.

Monday, August 23, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

So I was honored and flattered to have one of last week's cartoons leading off last Tuesday's Comic Strip of the Day and in the Politico cartoonists' round-up over the weekend (this one, in the event those links expire). 

Being an in-house joke, it was inevitable that that cartoon would appeal to others in and around the cartooning biz. But considering that I spent a mere fraction of the time on it than on the cartoons I regularly put out there that are here and gone, little noticed nor long remembered (but usually paid for), I can't help thinking that I must be going about this all wrong.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

¡Cuidado! ¡El Español!

Checking GoComics this morning, I found a new item in the editorial cartoons section: Lalo Alcaraz en Español.

Lalo Alcaraz (en inglés) has been a GoComics feature for years; GoComics appears to have populated the version en español with a bunch of his old cartoons in anticipation of bona fide Spanish cartoonage yet to come. The supposedly current page today sports a cartoon from May, 2020 with no dialogue in any language.

Predictably, the mere existence of a Lalo Alcaraz en Español page, even one without a word of Spanish below the title, prompted some troglodyte to complain. "If I wanted comics in Spanish I’d move to South of the border, is this trying to force us to learn ? be politically correct. leave the comics alone. English is the language of the USA" whines somebody with the English skills of a three-year-old.

I wonder if wmchere lives in any part of the United States where Spanish was spoken well before the English-speakers arrived and made no effort to learn Spanish — or any of the indigenous languages that predated it.

Or if wmchere's immigrant forebears went to church, shopped at stores, and settled in neighborhoods where they could converse all day in Italian, Polish, Swedish, German, or whatever language the Wmchere Family hailed from.

And for Pedro's sake, if reading something in Spanish is going to ruin your whole day, don't click on the "Lalo Alcaraz en Español" link! ¡Ay caramba!

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Hormel, Hormel, Hormel, Eggs, Bacon and Hormel

Why another post about Ambassador James Catherwood Hormel?

He wasn't the first public figure to ask for an original of one of my cartoons about him, but he is the first one to publish that cartoon in a book, so he holds a special place in my career. The book is his memoir, Fit to Serve, much of which relates what it took for him to get himself appointed by President Bill Clinton as U.S. Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg — America's first openly gay ambassador to a foreign country (not counting James Buchanan).

Hormel and the Clinton State Department initially expected trouble from vociferous homophobe Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), but were surprised when Helms was satisfied with Hormel's promise that his boyfriend would not live with him in the ambassador's residence. There being no possible legal relationship between Hormel and his boyfriend in 1998, any sort of spousal benefits involved was completely out of the question to begin with.

Q Syndicate, May, 1998

Instead, it was Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) who put holds on Hormel's nomination, joined after the holds became public by Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH). Their holds came in response to a right-wing smear campaign; someone had dug up video from KOFY-TV's coverage of the 1996 Pride Parade in San Francisco in which Hormel was chatting with the television hosts as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence passed by. 

As Hormel described the incident in Fit to Serve,

"We can't miss these girls!" [reporter] Ginger [Casey] said. From background notes, Ginger read: "They acquired those genuine habits from a convent in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Legend has it that they told the Mother Superior that they needed them because they were putting on The Sound of Music."

I laughed, as did [station owner] Jim [Gabbert].

She followed up, spontaneously: "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

I continued laughing, heartily. That's what I did. Not a single word, just a few laughs. It all seemed like good fun.

The vast right-wing conspiracy, the Family Research Council, and their Republican cohorts painted the episode as proof that Hormel was anti-Catholic, bound to offend the sensibilities of the devoutly Catholic Luxembourgoisie (Luxembourg governmental assurances that Hormel would be welcome notwithstanding).

Q Syndicate, January, 1999
This is the cartoon in Hormel's book, drawn when the Senate returned from its December recess to find that Hormel's appointment was still on the docket. I'm somewhat curious why the book describes the cartoon as having appeared in the Seattle Gay News when Mr. Hormel might have been more likely to have seen it in the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter or Washington D.C. Metro Weekly, both of which ran my cartoons in those days.

It may have been a good thing that Hormel (or whatever staffer contacted me through Q Syndicate) hadn't asked for the original of the cartoon at the top of this post; instead of the usual bristol board, I had drawn it on a less firm type of artists paper. At some point, it got crumpled and torn by a rubber band I was using to hold that year's cartoons together. On the other hand, if I had received the request before the cartoon was damaged, it was on paper that, unlike bristol board, would have rolled up easily into a mail tube.

Q Syndicate, June, 1999

So anyway, James Hormel made it to Luxembourg by virtue of a recess appointment when the Senate adjourned for the summer, and I drew a third cartoon about the new ambassador. The embassy did not request the original of this cartoon.

Ambassador Hormel served out the remaining months of the Clinton administration representing American interests in Luxembourg. 

Q Syndicate, January, 2001

Surprisingly, even after that short tenure, one of the next administration's cabinet appointees, former Senator John Ashcroft, had to defend his opposition to Hormel's appointment on his way to becoming Attorney General.

Q Syndicate, January, 2013 (drawn in December)
By the time President Barack Obama nominated Republican another former Republican Senator, Chuck Hagel, to be Secretary of Defense in his second term, keeping Luxembourg safe for heterosexual privilege was no longer quite the guaranteed safe issue in Washington, D.C. that it was in Nebraska in 1998.

Hagel's 1998 comments weren't enough to derail his nomination in 2013; they presented only a minor hiccup on his way to the Pentagon. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" had been repealed in December of 2010, allowing LGBTQ+ military personnel to serve openly, and was by 2013 a settled issue.

And Hagel did apologize to Mr. Hormel during the course of Hagel's confirmation process, an apology Mr. Hormel accepted.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Q Toon: In Memory of James Hormel

Today's cartoon is based upon one of the photographs in the late Ambassador James Hormel's memoir, Fit to Serve, and a quotation which sums up the main point of the book written with Erin Martin.

While much of the book focuses on what Hormel went through to become U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg from 1999 to 2000, the lead-up to that point describes his process of coming out as gay — first to himself, then to his family, and finally as a public activist and philanthropist.

When Fit to Serve was published in 2011, marriage discrimination (DOMA) was still the law of the land, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act couldn't get through the newly Republican Congress. The literal  LGBTQ-bashing that he also cites is still going on. Hormel concludes that progress only becomes possible when one is out and true to oneself.

"We have to be out. If not, we are complicit with the old order, the one that would have us remain invisible."


Monday, August 16, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

Last week at this time, I was racking my brain wondering what the hell I was going to write Saturday's history spiel about. By Friday night, I had one all written and ready to publish when another topic landed in my lap.

August has a reputation for being a slow news month, but events, current or historical, never really take a summer vacation.

Meanwhile, here's a cartoon from Kladderadatsch dating from 100 years before America's decision to go into Afghanistan that seems a propos in light of its collapse around us as we depart.

"Latest English Plaques" by L. Sautz (?) in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, Oct. 20, 1901

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Unique New York

Since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo abruptly announced his resignation this week, I decided I would dig up some of my old cartoons about New York politics for today. 

They say if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. But try telling that to Thomas E. Dewey, Nelson Rockefeller, or this lady from one of Gotham's outer boroughs:

February, 1999

Or, for that matter, this gal from Flatbush:
Q Syndicate, May, 1999

New York politics can be pretty colorful, being so close under the bright lights of the national media as they are. Politicians from Brooklyn to Corning to Hyannisport to Little Rock are all drawn there, like moths to a flame.

in Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, Nov. 23, 2003

Somehow, I never drew any cartoons about Eliot Spitzer while he was governor of New York, in spite of his failed 2007 proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in the Empire State, or the sex scandal the following year which linked him to a high-priced prostitution organization and brought about his downfall.

The Business Journal, however, enlisted me to illustrate an editorial critical of him when he was New York Attorney General. The Beej had no love for the Democrat investigating Wall Street securities fraud cases that had been dropped by the federal Securities Exchange Commission.

Q Syndicate, April, 2009

This is an example of a cartoon that misfired badly.

Spitzer's successor, David Paterson, also took up the cause of marriage equality; but his proposal to legalize same-sex marriage caught marriage equality advocates unprepared. My cartoon to illustrate that could have used a second panel showing those advocates "scrambling to get into their tuxedoes"; as drawn, however, some readers understandably read it as a knock on the legally blind Paterson.

Marriage equality failed in the New York State Senate that year, eight Democrats joining all 30 Republicans to vote nay.

Q Syndicate, March, 2010
This cartoon came to mind last week when Steve Brodner noted on Facebook that Andrew Cuomo still has a $5.1 million book deal pending; Brodner invited his followers to submit possible book titles, saying that he would illustrate the best one. If I hadn't already drawn this cartoon about New York Congressman Eric Massa, forced to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed male staffers, I might be waiting to see if it would get the Brodner treatment.

Q Syndicate, June, 2011
You may have forgotten Eric Massa, but I'll bet most of you remember fellow Congresscritter Anthony "What's In A Name" Weiner. You might also sense a theme on what it takes to bring a New York politician down.

Q Syndicate, June, 2011
Before my cartoon in last Saturday's post, this was the only cartoon I had ever drawn of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Soon after taking office as Governor, Cuomo was able to succeed where Spitzer and Paterson had failed, signing the Marriage Equality Act into law on June 24, 2011. A certain President of the United States at the time was still reluctant to come that far.

Which would bring us to another recent President of the United States... you know... the one who expected to be reinaugurated yesterday...

But he was never actually a New York politician.

And the less said about him, the better.

Friday, August 13, 2021

R.I.P. James Hormel

James Catherwood Hormel passed away today, August 13, 2021, age 88. Mr. Hormel was the United States' first openly gay ambassador, serving under the Clinton administration as Ambassador to Luxembourg.

I am proud to have a cartoon of mine included in Ambassador Hormel's memoir, Fit to Serve.

I have a Saturday history post all set to go tomorrow on a completely different topic, so I'll have to come back next Saturday with the other cartoons I drew about Mr. Hormel's nomination ordeal.

This Just In

 Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Q Toon: School Safety Drill

Faced with a fourth surge of the coronavirus sweeping the nation, Republican governors and legislators have been falling over each other to see which of them can do the best job of channeling Amity Island Mayor Larry Vaughn.

A number of them have acted to forbid school districts and state universities from taking the simplest measures to ensure the health and safety of students and staff. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to cut funding to any school district that requires students to wear masks in the classroom. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued his own executive order to the same effect. Republicans running the Wisconsin state legislature want the University of Wisconsin to beg for the politicians' permission before making any COVID-19-related decisions whatsoever.

Even Alabama Governor Kay "Start Blaming the Unvaccinated Folks" Ivey says there's no reason why a couple dozen children too young to be vaccinated should be required to mask up just because they are cooped up in a classroom together for hours at a time five days a week for months on end. It's Alabama. They can open a window.

I suppose Tennessee teachers and students should be grateful that Governor Bill Lee is willing to leave responding to the COVID-19 crisis up to individual school systems. Tennessee Republicans have their hands full trying to keep transgender students out of school bathrooms and locker rooms, and are too busy to play Doctor like the other legislatures.

And South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is probably preoccupied making sure that the Sturgis Bike Week Superspreader Rally goes off without a hitch. And maybe running for president, or at least to fill Sarah Palin's shoes. She's kind of tired of all this coronavirus stuff, and she thinks you are, too.

So let's all go swimming! Statistically, your chances of being attacked by a shark are actually very small. And most people who are attacked by sharks survive, don't they?

Monday, August 9, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek

 All I’m trying to find out is what’s the guy’s name on first base.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

August on the Ones

To follow last Saturday's post of cartoons published on August 1, 1921, here are some of my cartoons from August 1991, 2001, and 2011.

I would have liked to start this post with cartoons from August of 1981, but it looks like I didn't draw any. That's probably not entirely true; my best friend and I used to have a game called "Kill the Character" in those days. One of us would draw a person, either a caricature of a real person, comic character, or just some random anybody, and then we would take turns adding bad things happening to him/her on the page.

But I didn't keep any of those sketches, so I'll have to start with a cartoon from August of 1991 instead.

in Journal Times, Racine Wis., August 23, 1991
I've re-run this cartoon before linking the failed Soviet coup against President Mikhail Gorbachev with Milwaukee Police Union displeasure with Police Chief Philip Arreola. The first Latino-American to hold his position, his firing of the three officers who returned a wounded 14-year-old boy, Konerak Sinphantomphone, to Jeffrey Dahmer to finish killing him (and who failed to notice the rotting corpse in the bedroom) rankled the rank and file. Arreola did, however, last five more years as head of the department.

Thirty years later, Milwaukee is just now resolving the demotion of another Latino Chief of Police, Alfonso Morales. I've never quite understood what the Common Council's reasoning was for demoting him to Captain last August; apparently, the courts couldn't understand it, either, and ordered the City to reinstate him as Chief. After a week or so of pushing back the effective date of his reinstatement, Milwaukee agreed to pay him a $627,000 settlement and Morales agreed to move on.

for Q Syndicate, August, 2001

Jumping ahead ten years, I've re-run this cartoon before, too — if not in the current blog, then on my old GeoCities page. It upset some Michigan readers who came to the defense of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, an annual event hystorically limited to womyn-born-womyn.

I don't recall anyone objecting to my use of the word "transgendered" twice in the cartoon, however. That word is officially frowned upon, "transgender" being a noun or an adjective but not a verb.

Once upon a time, "lesbigay" was the term of art for the community; transgender people gradually got the "T" appended to LGBT. But even though more and more letters keep getting added onto our increasingly awkward acronym, the transgender community still finds itself unwelcome in some LGBT-IAA2SQQ+ circles. 

Part of the womyn-born-womyn's objection to having transgender persons at this particular festival is, as I understand it, that people there enjoy the freedom to wear as little clothing and as much body paint as they please. (So I've heard.) What they don't enjoy is having non-womyn-born-womyn genitalia anywhere on display.

I can respect that; yet I have to wonder whether the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival Board is comfortable with the Republican social injustice warriors taking their exclusionary policy cues from them.

August, 2011

Leaping ahead another ten years, we find gaffe-prone Minnesota Congresscritter Michele Bachmann exhorting attendees at a campaign rally to wish Elvis Pressley a happy birthday. It happened to be the anniversary of his death.

The King could not be reached for comment.

Well, since I couldn't dig up anything from August of 1981, here's a cartoon from all the way back on the day before yesterday.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Q Toon: Olympians, Out or Not

The list of out athletes competing at the Tokyo Olympics keeps growing. The first article I read about them knew of 168; by last weekend, the number was up to 180. (Some athletes who were out to their friends and families had never had a reason to come out to the rest of the world before the games.) Outsports, the authority on such things, knew of only 56 out athletes at the 2016 Rio games, and 23 at the 2012 London Olympics.

A nosy reporter drew condemnation during the Rio games by writing a racy story about tracking down LGBTQ athletes on Grindr, heedless of their outness or the safety of being out in their home countries. He didn't include their names in his story for Daily Beast, but wrote enough details about the athletes that others could identify some of them. Accordingly, any resemblance between the people in panels 2 and 3 of this week's cartoon and any persons living or dead is, as the legal saying goes, purely coincidental.

And to anyone left out of panel 1, my apologies for not managing to squeeze all 180+ of you in there.


Update: Someone has been at it again, outing Olympic athletes without their permission.

[Insider] discovered at least 10 Twitter posts and four TikTok videos, one of which was seen over 140,000 times and revealed 30 users’ full faces before the platforms removed them for violating community guidelines.

At least one male user reportedly signaled on his profile that he was from a country known for discriminating against LGBTQ people. (The posts have since been removed and could not be verified by Yahoo Life.)

Grindr later issued a statement condemning those who created the videos, acknowledging that they breached the app’s terms and conditions, which “prohibit them from publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information that are part of the Grindr services.”

That’s especially important at this year’s Games, as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is hosting 11 nations where being LGBTQ is criminalized, according to Human Dignity Trust: Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Pakistan.

In some of those countries, being LGBTQ is punishable by death.

Monday, August 2, 2021

This Week's Sneak Peek Bait and Switch

Having seen memes and cartoons on the topic, I was all set last week to draw a cartoon about the International Olympic Committee punishing some country's women's beach volleyball team for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

But when I tried to find news reporting so I would know which nation's Olympic team had run afoul of the IOC, I eventually found that the incident had nothing to do with the Olympics at all. Or, for that matter, volleyball. It was the European Handball Association that fined the Norwegian Women's Beach Handball team $1,764.

Some commentator authoritatively opined that the bikini bottoms regulation wasn't some sexist relic, but had something to do with sand getting underneath shorts. Seems to me that sand can get underneath bikini bottoms, too, and would be that much more irritating closer to sensitive areas of the skin.

Besides, wouldn't the men want the same advantages women are supposedly getting from bikinis?

Well, anyway, some Olympic beach volleyball players (there is no Olympic beach handball) do play in bikinis, and others, such as the Egyptian women's team, play in long sleeves, loose-fitting tops, full-length pant legs and hijabs to cover their heads.

While you're waiting to see men's beach volley- or hand-ball played in Speedos, you can always watch the men's diving competition, where the guys wear just about as little as possible. You're welcome.

So anyway, more reputable cartoonists than I (with more immediate deadlines) fell into the trap of conflating the European Handball Association with the International Olympic Committee, and beach handball with beach volleyball, and had to retract or revise their cartoons. I caught the mistake before going any further with the cartoon than a pencil sketch of one panel, so you will not see today's sketch become a finished cartoon.

Unless I can build a better gag around it someday.