Each week, the Comics Curmudgeon helps explain Today's Cartoons.

You know how it is. You're on deadline. There are only so many political issues out there that the drooling masses will understand when they're portrayed metaphorically. You've gotta draw some damn thing. Your colleagues are all over the country and you can't just ask them what they're doing for their cartoon tomorrow. So you hand your cartoon in to the editor or the wire service, go to bed, open the paper in a day or two, and there's pretty much what you drew ... only it was drawn by someone else.

I'm not here to judge you ... not for that, anyway. I am here to judge you on whether or not you won that battle with your fellow cartoonist, the one that you didn't even know you were fighting. This week: the battle for cartooning supremacy! Another installment in an intermittent series.

The theme: "The hideously deformed cannot protect us from hurricanes."

01nat.gifIn this corner: Our brave fighting men and women of the national guard, normally on hand to fend off attacks by freedom-hating hurricanes with judicious use of artillery fire, have been shipped to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, where their legs were blown off and then reattached improperly by incompetent doctors at Walter Reed! Now they can only march backwards into the flooded cities and fire at random, hoping to hit looters rather than those foraging for food.

02eye.gifAnd in this corner: CRAZY EYES! CRAZY EYES! Dude from the NOAA got him some CRAZY EYES! Who knew that government funding was all that was keeping his eyeballs pointed in the same direction?

And the winner is: Sergeant Wrongfoot. Look, people, I'm only going to say this once: balding white guys in suits are not interesting to look at. I don't care how crazy their eyes are.

The theme: "Bill and Hillary Clinton like to ride each other. If you know what we mean. Nudge nudge. Wink wink."

03who.gifIn this corner: You see, Bill Clinton is an extrovert who loves the spotlight, and sometimes it seems that even though he's campaigning for his wife, he really OH MY GOD, WHERE THE HELL ARE HER LEGS? SERIOUSLY, SHE'S IN THIS TINY LITTLE BASKET! THERE'S NOWHERE FOR HER LEGS TO GO! IS THIS LIKE "BOXING HILLARY"? HAS BILL CLINTON CUT OFF HIS WIFE'S LEGS? SWEET JESUS CHRIST!

04bil.gifAnd in this corner: Hillary needs Bill's stature and popularity on the campaign trail, but she's got to set a firm line to make sure that ultimately the attention is focused squarely on HOLY JESUS WHY IS HE WEARING A FREAKY FETISHISTIC ALL-ENCOMPASSING MASK? WITH A CAREFULLY CUT HOLE FOR THE CIGAR? OH MY GOD, WHAT IS HE GOING TO DO WITH THAT CIGAR? IT'S LIT AND ALL! FOR FUCK'S SAKE! AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING STICKING OUT OF THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG? HIS ... CHIN? YEARRGGGH!

And the winner is: Hillary in her CandidateBjörn. At least I can pretend her knees are tucked up to her chest or something. Whereas I can never tell myself I didn't notice that thing sticking out of the bottom of the bag in the other cartoon. Ick.

The theme: "Man grappling with giant sea-beast as a metaphor for struggle: If it was good enough for Melville and Hemingway, it's good enough for us."

05fis.gifIn this corner: A very clearly labeled Congress-boat has launched a very clearly labeled subpoena-harpoon into a very clearly labeled abstract concept in whale form. And in the word balloon, he uses "whale" in its metaphorical sense! It's a polysemic pun! How delightfully droll.

06fis.gifAnd in this corner: George Bush, in the middle of the ocean for some reason, walks gingerly down the back of some giant chubby dolphin ... shark ... thing, which gurgles a pointed but obscure command. The atmosphere is one of menace and unease.

And the winner is: Dubya and his little hat. Sure, I don't have a single clue what it's supposed to be about, but a creepy vibe goes a long way with me.

The theme: "The doomed Iraq war and the doomed McCain campaign: Both doomed."

07cam.gifIn this corner: John McCain and some random dude are staring together at something just out of the frame. Are they watching the carnage of the ongoing fight in Iraq? Why, no! They're taking stock of McCain's presidential campaign! For you see, the one is very much like the other.

08jon.gifAnd in this corner: A GOP elephant is marching forward, crying a single majestic, noble tear, while two Democratic donkeys look on approvingly. Is the elephant planning to give the Iraq war up as a bad job? Why, no! Instead, he represents McCain's capitulation to the inevitable defeat of his presidential run! The two situations in fact have much in common, as it happens.

And the winner is: The cowardly elephant. What did I tell you about balding crazy-eyed white guys in suits? --THE COMICS CURMUDGEON


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