Tuesday, March 27, 2007
This one began as a cartoon about the "new" scientific method employed by the GOP -- 1. Decide the results you want; 2. Fudge the data; 3. Announce conclusions (see step one) -- and then it morphed into a science fair which put that method into practice. I thought about including a public service announcement for kids saying, "This is your brain. This is your brain on empiricism" with the visual of Satan twirling a brain-kabob over a pit of open flames, but there was no room, and I thought that might be a little stock, as the members of Metallica say in "Some Kind of Monster."
I must confess, as an elementary-school student, I used to get really excited about the science fair. I won a few ribbons, too, though I suspect my success was partly due to my elaborately-illustrated displays.
Monday, March 26, 2007
The time for my panel at the WAM! Conference, where I'm presenting alongside fellow cartoonists Mikhaela Reid and Stephanie McMillan, and blogger Jessica Valenti, has been bumped up to 10am. That's still April 1.
Here's a photo of me discussing the finer points of drawing Spongebob Squarepants at the kids' cartooning workshop I taught last week. I've taught these a few times in the past, and I felt this one went particularly well. I actually had kids hugging me at the end! And no one raised any awkward questions about last week's cartoon. To be honest, I'm not sure that many of them were familiar with Slowpoke.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I'm teaching a cartooning workshop to elementary school- age kids later this week, so I decided to postpone doing a cartoon that features condoms to avoid any awkward conversations with parents (or kids) who might be checking out my work. Well, wouldn't you know it, I went ahead and drew a strip that mentions whorehouses and poontang. (Boy, I really just set myself up for some colorful Google searches, didn't I?) I have visions of apoplectic, Church-Ladyesque types firing off angry letters to the C-VILLE Weekly. Well, folks, it could have been worse. And in the age of South Park, I'll bet the kids could teach me a thing or two.
While I was working on this cartoon, Mr. Slowpoke unearthed a copy of Ted Nugent's Double Live Gonzo! from his large and eclectic record collection and blasted "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" for inspiration.
So why would William H. Macy lend his respectable talents to an apparent travesty like "Wild Hogs"? Did he really need the money that badly?
Sunday, March 18, 2007
"South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone do not come off well in the latest issue of Rolling Stone:
They won't talk about the war, even to voice an opinion on President Bush's new troop-deployment plan. "I wouldn't even begin to say I know enough to say if it's right or wrong, because whomever is telling you it's wrong is full of shit too," says Parker. Neither votes -- "like, ever," says Stone. Parker waves a hand in the air. "Each election is a choice with a douche or a turd, so who cares," he says. "If Gore had beaten Bush, things wouldn't be much different."...I would say that doesn't make you punk rock -- it makes you a dick. Doing the opposite of the people around you doesn't make you some cool, superior, "politically incorrect" individualist -- it makes you a mindless reactionary. This sort of nihilism depresses me. Parker and Stone sound like a couple of spoiled white boys who never had to learn about politics because they never had anything to lose. They've never been gay-bashed, or denied something because of their race, or had a back-alley abortion, or sent to war, or gravely injured in a factory because of poor safety regulations. They seem to be part of the sub-subculture of "conservative punks," the roots of which, I would argue, lie in punk's rejection of hippie style. It's a heavily-gendered movement, a sort of macho reaction to the perceived "feminizing" aspects of '60s culture and liberalism in general. Conpunks take this rejection to the extreme, finding common cause between punk's emphasis on toughness and DIY individualism with Republican "pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" BS. They think they're being independent-minded by differing from their progressive friends, when in fact they've basically become Rupert Murdoch with a mohawk. Personally, I'd like to drop Parker and Stone into the Dairy Queen in Suffolk, Virginia and see how long they lasted without getting beaten up.
Coincidentally, last weekend Mr. Slowpoke and I watched the South Park movie, which we had bought used on VHS for a few bucks. That is to say, we watched the first hour or so before stopping it because it sucked so bad. It's not that I found the language offensive -- I enjoyed The Aristocrats -- it's that it was boring. Kids running around dropping the F-bomb isn't shocking, it's tedious. And insulting everything does not equal wit. I'll take the Simpsons, which is actually funny, any day.
I've posted this week's strip a little ahead of schedule. It ties into Mr. Coulter's -- I mean, Mr. Parker's "faggot" comments.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I just wanted to issue a belated sigh of relief that Daylight Savings Time has been bumped up a few weeks. It's one of the very few good things that Congress has done in recent memory (see related post from 2005). Turning the clocks back in fall always puts me in a beastly mood. Now, especially on warm days like today, I can almost pretend it's summer. Even the neighborhood frogs -- or toads? -- have started chirping again at night, indicating that they are busy makin' tadpoles. Or they're working up to it. Or something.
Monday, March 12, 2007
As an anthropology major, I really get a kick out of this.
Further down in the article is this description of a protest against Bush in Bogota:
About 300 to 350 demonstrators threw rocks and charged a line of about 200 police clad in riot gear. The demonstrators ripped up metal barricades, smashed concrete barriers and used the resulting fragments as projectiles.Now that's pissed!
Ironic, isn't it, how the right has bleated for eons about the "politicizing" of the court -- citing such examples as the Supreme Court's "activist" ruling that gay sex is legal -- and yet here they are, replacing highly-regarded U.S. Attorneys who either a) prosecuted corrupt Republicans or b) refused to do political favors for the Bush administration (like bringing charges against Democratic politicians before the election) or c) were simply occupying a position the White House wanted to give to a young associate of Karl Rove's.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Someone needs to come up with a name for this phenomenon of wingnuts inventing urban legends about Democratic politicians that filter up through the mainstream media, only to become conventional wisdom. Just a few weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi was the target of one of these contrived scandals when the House Sergeant-at-Arms put in a request for a plane that can hold enough fuel to reach California. Some Republican lawmakers brought up the possibility of her flying on a Boeing 757, and by the time the media finished its gang bang, half the country believed she had requested a luxury jet. Now, a little BS nugget on the Drudge Report falsely claiming that Hillary was trying to speak in a fake southern accent has become the latest fabricated smear to spread far and wide. In short, she was quoting a hymn. Before you do anything else, go here and get the straight dope. Watch the video clip. Then ponder why the hell Drudge has so much power to dictate the national conversation.
This stuff, while totally stupid, is extremely powerful. The smears are all too believable because they fit into peoples' preconceptions about politicians; they are too delicious not to swallow. While few Americans are probably aware of the Bush administration's purge of U.S. Attorneys who wouldn't play their partisan game (according to Media Matters, ABC and NBC have yet to report on the story), everyone is sure to hear that Hillary spoke in a southern drawl. It's the kind of character-oriented story that's easy to understand, and easy for the cable news channels to cover. And it's completely antithetical to the cause of democracy.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I was suffering from both a migraine and a respiratory infection when this one was due, so this cartoon doesn't "leave the ground" as much as I'd like, but it does make a point I feel is important. More than once I've received email from wingnuts accusing me of taking my cues from actors, which strikes me as utterly bizarre, seeing as I believe the cult of celebrity is contributing to our democracy's implosion. You hear it all the time: Howard Dean was mocked in that commercial as a "Hollywood-loving" liberal. Sean Hannity's "Enemy of the State" segment laughably paired images of dictators with Alec Baldwin and other entertainers who've dared to criticize the Bush administration. Hollywood righties like Charlton Heston, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Tom Selleck, and Dennis Miller never seem to enter the equation. Let me reiterate the point that Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor.
But however Hollywood celebrities vote, it's irrelevant. They're not at all representative of the average voter, and the idea that Democrats everywhere are worshipping these people is absurd. Americans as a whole -- of all political stripes -- do worship celebrities, in a non-political sense, but that's another matter altogether.
I'm reminded of a thought I had while reading What's the Matter With Kansas? not long ago -- an absolute must-read for anyone interested in how the Republicans have convinced so many working-class people to vote against their own self-interest. One begins to wonder whether some people have so few progressives in their social networks that it becomes easy for them to believe that Hollywood celebrities are indicative of the norm. I say this as someone who grew up in rural Lancaster County, PA and who lives in a rural area now, albeit not far from fairly cosmopolitan Charlottesville. The "Hollywood liberal" meme fits so perfectly with the "liberal elite" smear -- the right-wing frame that convinces non-elites to vote for politicians who serve the real elites -- that we would do well to recognize it as part of their strategy.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
The winner of the Herblock Prize in editorial cartooning was announced recently, and it turned out to be -- surprise! -- a well-established, middle-aged daily cartoonist who already won a Pulitzer. Just like the guy who won last year's Pulitzer. Fine cartoonists both, but the Herblock Prize (which just started being awarded a few years ago after Herblock's death) has yet to recognize anyone outside the daily genre, and only one alternative cartoonist -- Jules Feiffer in 1986 -- has ever been awarded the Pulitzer. My colleague Tom Tomorrow wrote an open letter to the Pulitzer committee last year, which received coverage in Editor & Publisher, and he tells me he never got a response. I find that outrageous. It would be awfully nice if the judges of these contests woke up and realized there's a little newspaper industry out there with readership in the tens of millions, practicing some of the finest, most essential journalism in this day and age of media consolidation. These newspapers are called altweeklies, and that is where you'll find political cartoons that feature more complex ideas than a giant hippo labeled "debt." No offense to my friends in the daily business; I actually think Tom Toles is the most brilliant political cartoonist currently working. But damn! Wake up and smell the other media! And maybe help out a younger cartoonist for once who could actually use the exposure. I don't mean to sound self-serving here. It's just that these cartoon contests are, if you'll forgive my bluntness, starting to look like antiquarian circle jerks.
Reader Doug points out a startling similarity between the little girl in my "21st Century Chef" cartoon and the famous hair gel scene in There's Something About Mary.
Uncanny, isn't it? Let me just say my cartoon character's bangs are not being suspended by the same substance as Ms. Diaz's.
... I submit, is "Fly" by Sugar Ray. You know, that treacly, feel-good pop song from about ten years ago that goes "I.... just wan-na... fly!" with the Rasta guy in the background who goes "higher-higher-higher high!" This song perniciously refuses to recede into the dustbin of pop culture history. Whenever I hear it, I envision dippy sorority girls doing the "raise the roof" dance move in a convertible with the top down. It makes my blood BOIL!
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