Josh Fruhlinger wants to know (and so do I):
I’m completely uninterested in discussing the didactic content of this cartoon, but it does bring up a question I’ve always found completely fascinating, which is: why are large, wooden barrels the Universal Comics Symbol For Poverty? I mean, I know I’m a decadent 21st century denizen who has grown accustomed to wearing garments that in relative terms cost very little, thanks to helpful Southeast Asian children with tiny, nimble fingers — certainly less than a finely crafted barrel. But is it possible that there was a time when a sturdy, wooden barrel with metal … circular dealies … that hold it together (boy, I hadn’t realized how weak a grasp I had of basic barrel vocabulary until just now) was actually cheaper than, you know, clothes? Did people really go into some kind of old-timey second-hand clothes store, sell all of their clothes (including the ones they were wearing), then walk, stark naked, up the street to the cooper (see, there’s a word that I know) to buy a barrel to wear, and have enough cash left over to afford life’s necessities? Did that happen? Because if not then, you know, barrels, what the hell?
Having recently drawn a cartoon employing this visual cliche (with some irony), I would really like to know the real answer to its origins. Which doesn’t mean that the possibilities — some plausible, others absurd — proposed on Josh’s discussion board aren’t incredibly amusing. Oddly, it may have something to do with Diogenes.
Also, Josh has written previously about this and other political cartoon cliches about poverty at Wonkette.
I just learned the news from The Daily Cartoonist that Will Elder has died. Alan Gardner links to a great tribute by MAD cartoonist Tom Richmond. Tom links to Mark Evanier, as well as some great stories about Elder at Journalista!.
For those who don’t know, Elder was among the original stable of MAD Magazine cartoonists and a frequent collaborator with Mad founder Harvey Kurtzman. As a kid of the 1970s, I grew up reading MAD, absorbing stylistic tics from Mort Drucker, Sergio Aragones, Al Jaffee, George Woodbridge and, of course, Don Martin. Then one day, I picked up one of MAD’s anniversary issues that had a bonus reprint of one of the original incarnations of the magazine from the 1950s – the Kurtzman era. It was like a whole other world, a completely different take on a magazine I had known so well. It was wilder, more anarchic, more irreverent, and screamingly funnier. I loved this MAD. I wanted more of this MAD. At the time, I didn’t know where to look, so I re-read that one issue, trying to suck in through my eyeballs all the drawing lessons I could absorb from both Elder and Wally Wood. To this day, as I draw I consciously and sometimes unconsciously ape elements of the detailed, gorgeously rendered yet highly energetic style Elder pioneered.
My fellow Cartoonists With Attitude Matt Bors and Jen Sorensen will be at Powell’s Bookstore on Burnside this Friday at 7:30pm. Here’s how Matt describes it:
Jen Sorensen and I will present a live slide show and reading of our comics and Jen will be signing copies of her new collection of cartoons, “SlowPoke: One Nation, Oh My God.”
We’ll be doing some live drawing as well, showing folks how we cartoonize McCain’s numerous cheeks and Obama’s massive smile.
Maybe I’ll even draw a cat’s asshole for you.
That last link brings you to a drawing Matt did for a Willamette Week editorial on the politics of spaying cats. It is all that it should be.
There will also be a pre-Stumptown Comicsfest Party at Guapo Comics.
I hope to make it, but no guarantees from this father of two.
Found via the Daily Cartoonist, this clip of cartoonist Steve Brodner shows how wonderful traditional media can be. The watercolors are fascinating to watch. I couldn’t hear the audio, because my work station doesn’t have speakers. I imagine it’s insightful and witty. What else would it be?
The NY Times Arts & Leisure section has a wonderful profile of Al Jaffee, the cartoonist behind MAD Magazine’s long-running “fold-in” gag and “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” series.
Among the many great MAD cartoonists, the most influential for me as a young, budding toonster were Sergio Aragones, Mort Drucker, George Woodbridge, and Jaffee. Drucker had spot-on caricatures, and Woodbridge had such a biting style. But Jaffee and Aragones drew what I considered proper “cartoons” by proper “cartoonists”: they wrote and drew their own stuff in a less realistic, more funny style. And they hit on a wide variety of subjects, from current events, politics, fashion and pop culture, to more sinister aspects of modern American society. I love this fold-out as described in the NY Times profile:
July 1968: “What is the one thing most school dropouts are sure to become?” A picture of teenagers at an employment center folds into a piece of artillery with a kid stuffed in it, and the answer: “Cannon fodder.”
Jesus, that’s brilliant. Bitter, angry, caustic – yet funny. It’s something I aspire to with every In Contempt strip I draw. Glad to see Jaffee continues to put out his stuff, despite cancer and advanced age, with a technique I am still too timid to take up: water color and gouache. Photoshop has made things too damn easy.
Pearls Before Swine:
Is this a new meme?
UPDATE: Point of order, my wife points out that in the first cartoon Popeye does not, in fact, choke on the spinach. He just eats it and dies. STILL, I say, it’s funny that two different cartoonists used Popeye dying from spinach as a joke.
Why does she need to be told this? Who the hell is Anthony to have to explain this crap to her? What happened to her brain?
The Comics Curmudgeon nailed this one in a comment on yesterday’s strip:
There’s an entire Women’s Studies thesis waiting to be written about the Foobs today. Elizabeth’s abject terror and panic that Anthony will think she’s a two-timing ne’er-do-well would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic and queasy-making. The fact that Anthony isn’t being a total douche for once (“Gosh, sorry you’re terrified about being caught alone with a man after sundown … I didn’t realize that this phone could call the 19th century”) just makes it ickier. Presumably Liz will agree to Anthony’s inevitable proposal to “make it up for him,” setting a firm foundation for a future life of quiet desperation and self-loathing.
For the unindoctrinated, “Foobs” are the characters in For Better or For Worse.
Shaenon Garrity wrote the definitive case against Anthony a couple months ago.
UPDATE: The Curmudgeon comments on today’s strip, too. Iz hilarious.
From Mr. Fish…of course.