Cartoon Violence Doesn't Get It, Okay?

Your Wonkette Editors went to a journalist-packed happy hour yesterday. We didn't really intend to write it up, but being that this is the introduction to America's Favorite Today's Cartoon-Mocking Weekly Column, we're going to take the opportunity to let you know something we learned: Tom Toles, Editorial Cartoonist Extraordinaire, not only works from the Post newsroom, he also has his own office. And it's the biggest one on the floor. It's bigger than Woodward's!

What we're getting at: Cartoonists are important. And influential. And that can go to their heads. Thankfully, Resident Cartoon Expert The Comics Curmudgeon knows how to take 'em down a few pegs. And this week's all about Reader Participation! Join the fun, after the jump.

Folks, even when you're an internationally renowned comics expert such as myself, you sometimes run into cartoons that are just plain baffling. Of course, my first instinct is to blame the cartoonist. "What an obscure imbecile!" I shout to nobody in particular. "This cartoon is clearly the work of someone whose thought processes are addled by opium and ink fumes! There's no way a reasonable person could be expected to make a bit of sense out of it!"

But deep down I'm a generous, forgiving, and deeply insecure soul. "Wait a minute," I say, beginning to alarm the cat, who knows I'm not talking to her. "Maybe the meaning to these cartoons are obvious to all, and I've gone snowblind from staring at comics all day? Or, worse, maybe their meaning is so subtle and my mind so simple that I can't comprehend it! Sweet God, my fancy college education has all gone for naught!"

So, I'm opening myself up to potential ridicule here by offering some political cartoons this week that puzzled me. Each of them charmed me in some aspect as well, since I'm easily charmed by pretty pictures. If the answer to the conundrums I pose are clear to you, feel free to post them in the comments. (And if you find this sort of thing easy, check out the posers over at The Comics I Don't Understand Page.)

I wish you knew how to quit doing this

01lobbyist.gifWhat charms me: The fact that the Republican-congress stand-in is riding an elephant. Call me old-fashioned, but I love me some elephant/donkey iconography in political cartoons, whether they be hyperrealistic or amusingly anthropomorphized. This elephant looks just like a normal elephant, except that he's roughly horse-sized, and wouldn't it be awesome to have a little miniature elephant? You could keep two of them in pets in your yard and name them "Tusky" and "Trunky"! Auxiliary charming thing: The huge, shit-eating grin on the lobbyist's face, as if he and Congress just got done with a satisfying session of special-interest-group-favoring-law-crafting/ass-fucking.

What puzzles me: Who still thinks "I wish I knew how to quit you" jokes are fresh and funny? Who? Who? Here's a hint, fellas: the next big pop-culture film sensation is going to be Snakes on a Plane. Get on that bandwagon now while the gettings good!

Like a cartoonist knows what a huge bag of money looks like

02ceo.gifWhat charms me: The idea that a CEO would be paid in large burlap sacks of cash, conveniently labeled in the millions and thousands. Also, the idea that a CEO so paid would carry those burlap sacks home, only to be confronted with his wife and the beginning of a hilarious, Lockhorns-style spat about money.

What puzzles me: There's a comma or something missing from the dollar figure in the caption, so I'm a bit confused as to what the actual amount in question is. Somewhere, an out-of-work copy editor is shedding a single noble, majestic tear. I'm sure I could look it up on Google, but I think that I'd like there to be some small ambiguity in mind as to whether there really is some guy out there earning $54 billion a year.

Elabit? Bunnyphant?

03immigration.gifWhat charms me: Oh, it's all about the elephant again. This time he's got an adorable cotton tail and the sort of wonderfully freakish half-elephant, half-bunny feet that we could see in real life if the powers that be would let us go full bore with the genetic modification stuff. The ears, however, are just tie-ons, presumably because the bunny-thing would be unrecognizable as Congress in disguise without the tradition elephantine ear flaps.

What puzzles me: OK, so, Congress/the Easter Bunny didn't deliver any of the legislation/brightly colored eggs it promised, I got that. But ... why is it standing there looking sheepish in the corner? Wouldn't it be back in a tent somewhere having metaphorical ass sex with lobbyists? And why can't our family see it? Maybe the invisible Easter Bunny does more than just fail to deliver; maybe it goes from house to house actively not delivering. That's, like, heavy.

Raining on my parade

04rain.gifWhat charms me: As usual with Jeff Danziger, I hear the weird, spatially ambiguous grimness. Ah, mysterious man in trenchcoat: will you ever win?

What puzzles me: Just about everything else. Who is this soggy figure? His face looks kind of like Dubya's, but it also kind of looks like Leonard Nimoy. Is the trenchcoat relevant? Does he represent a CIA spook, somehow made "soggy" by some metaphorical "umbrella" standing for, um, "something that I have no idea what it is?" Is this just a general cartoon about April showers? Is that it? Is Danziger such a magnificently prickly bastard that he's satirizing rain? I hate to say it, but this is a context in which some labels might be a good idea.

Uh, yeah, "Heavenly Humor," yeah

05heaven.gifWhat charms me: The sequence of facial expressions on the Earth's face. From disgruntled, with protruding lower tooth; to the beady-eyed formulation of a crafty plan; to some satisfied munching; to shock and confusion and the cycle begins again.

What puzzles me: No, but honestly: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? Seriously. --THE COMICS CURMUDGEON


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