thomasnast.jpgIs the cartoon riot thing over yet? We don't remember hearing about it this week at all. That's always a good sign, right? Good work Hitch and Sully!


We do hope that episode ended, or fizzled out, or whatever. 'Cause we don't think people should be blowing up Danes, sure, but also because we want to go back to the world where no one gave a shit about cartoons. The world of, like two months ago. When editorial cartoonists, secure in their obscurity, could repeat the jokes they stole from 1950's Herblock cartoons with crosshatching and textual labeling of strained metaphors straight outta vintage Thomas Nast.

We miss that innocent time. And so does our buddy the Comics Curmudgeon. CC's been blogging about daily, non-political comics for a while now, so we asked him to take the impressive skills he's developed as America's Premier Comic Strip Mocker and train them on the political cartoonists of our nation's newspapers. His analysis is after the jump.

You ever notice that if you help a friend out who's having trouble with their computer, you become tech support for the whole neighborhood? Or that if you let one of your frat brothers give you a drunken blow job once your junior year of college, all of the sudden you're "gay"? Well, I write a blog about comic strips, and because cartoons have been in the news lately (with the blasphemy and the riots and the hey hey), the Wonkette masterminds have decided that I'm the guy to parse the political cartoons of the day for you, their esteemed readers. My experience lies mostly in making jokes about how Rex Morgan, M.D. is heavily closeted, but I figure, how hard can it be? Of course, I'll be making my criticisms with pointed barbs rather than explosives, in line with the violence-averse traditions of my overeducated people.

This week, we'll compare and contrast the caricatured takes on two different issues. Some cartoonists have taken the high road and done their best to make us care about this whole UAE-port security thingamawho, while others long ago gave up on that sort of thing and joined the rest of America in mocking Anna Nicole Smith.

Click thubmails to enlarge.

cheneymob.gif

The good: This cartoon subtly but faithfully captures Dubya's "Oh, shit" facial expression, which we've all had occasion to see more often that we'd like.

The bad: If you're trying to wring humor from a fraught, complex issue that nobody really can explain, it's best not to remind the reader of the time Cheney shot a dude in the face, which was easily understood and utterly hilarious.

The ugly: George Bush is depicted reading a newspaper, which destroys any sense of realism the artist might have been trying to project.

pirateports.gif

The good: Pirates fucking rule. This one even has a little beard braid complete with bow, which, in a pirate context, is badass.

The bad: The sheikdoms currently making up the United Arab Emirates were collectively known as the "Pirate Coast" in the early 19th century, which may make this the most obscure slam on a nationality in history of cartooning.

The ugly: MAKE PARROT BUSH STOP STARING AT ME WITH HIS EMPTY, HAUNTED EYES! MAKE HIM STOP!

startrekports.gif

The good: Donkeys are amusingly angry-looking, with gritted buck teeth.

The bad: Loving attention lavished on caricatures of Kirk and Spock compares unfavorably with more basic drawing of Bush and completely generic herd of Democrats.

The ugly: Shatner's bulging Star Trek VI-era gut is squeezed uncomfortably into a form-fitting Star Trek: The Original Series-era uniform.

smithscotus1.gif

The good: The sly smile on Stevens' wizened face is a nice touch, as are Anna Nicole's fishnet stockings.

The bad: The whole joke is explained at length in a word balloon, fatally undermining the visual nature of the medium. This may be a wrongheaded attempt to pander to the blind.

The ugly: Despite having an easily caricatured face, America's favorite gold digger here looks eerily like a drawing of Fawn Hall, circa 1986.

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The good: Offers a game if no doubt doomed attempt to shift attention from a fun, frivolous current issue (Playboy bunny/all-around train wreck appears before Supreme Court) to an important, boring issue that everyone's forgotten about (Texas Congressional gerrymander ... zzzzz).

The bad: First you smarty-pants types made the movie with the cowboys that were fruity, now you got the gumption to make the great state of Texas into some kind of damn homo European hairdresser. Might get a fella riled up, I reckon.

The ugly: The hideous, clown-like eyeshadow and rouge were quite enough to establish the pig of redistricting as unlovable; the stink lines and puddle of drool were unnecessary and, frankly, gratuitous.

smithscotus2.gif

The good: Despite the fact that most Americans couldn't name a single Supreme Court justice, pick one out of a line up, or be bothered to understand what they do for a living, the artist has chosen to caricature Souter, Kennedy, and Stevens as doddering, liver-spotted zombies, rather than just drawing generic doddering, liver-spotted zombies.

The bad: It's pretty much the same gag as the one up above, albeit in color.

The ugly: Can you look at this cartoon without visualizing a horrifying septuagenerians-on-silicone-enhanced-bimbo gangbang? Bet you can't now.

--THE COMICS CURMUDGEON

Today's Cartoons [Slate]

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