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How cartoonists deal with Ted Kennedy’s death

Comics Reporter Tom Spurgeon writes:

With the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, you can expect to see the same dilemma played out that was on display after Michael Jackson died. Only this time it’s Chappaquiddick and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne versus Kennedy’s distinguished Senatorial career as opposed to Thriller versus the possibility Jackson was a serial diddler of children.

I think for the most part, regardless of how one views the life of Senator Kennedy, the initial cartoons will be favorable out of respect for his office and accomplishments. Not to say some won’t try to focus on the darker side of Kennedy’s life. Clay Jones has posted a spiked cartoon featuring Kennedy meeting Mary Jo Kopechne in heaven. There are probably others.

As Tom mentioned, the best place to see the wide spectrum of work on the passing of the senator is over at Cagle.com. From observation, those cartoonists that are most free to touch on Kennedy’s failings right after his death will be from foreign cartoonists.

Community Comments

#1 Mike Peterson
August/28/2009
@ 5:56 am

Major difference between Jackson and Kennedy is that Jackson’s greatest public contributions came before his slide into personal weirdness, while Kennedy’s personal failings, though not to be denied, were earlier in his career with his greatest public contributions coming after he had apparently gotten hold of his demons.

Like OJ, like Phil Spector, even like poor loony old Ezra Pound, Jackson will be remembered by most people for Act III, not Acts I or II.

In Kennedy’s case, the majority of Americans alive today weren’t even in the theater when Acts I and II unfolded. (US median age is 35.3. Chappaquiddick was 40 years ago.)

Silence? A choice. Perspective? A creative obligation.

#2 Henry Clausner
August/28/2009
@ 8:42 am

look for his name to be attached to some health insurance plan or something….as we also deal with Michael Jacksons birthday/and burial, the OJ anniversary, Spectors treatment in jail, Bernie Maddoff on a daily basis…..

#3 Jim Lavery
August/28/2009
@ 10:23 am

Kennedy had such a hold over his demons that he was able to joke about them. What a guy

Ed Klein, former foreign editor of Newsweek and editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine, recalled on The Diane Rehm Show :

“I don’t know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, “have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?” That is just the most amazing thing.”

This is why he’ll always be remembered as the degenerate drunken brother of the Cool Kennedy Brothers.

(Here’s a link to the audio in WMA format, relevant portion starts at about 30:15):

#4 Pat Bagley
August/28/2009
@ 12:34 pm

I have cartoon obit fatigue. Not gonna draw another pearly gate unless the idea screams “best cartoon ever.”

#5 Steve Nyman
August/28/2009
@ 10:11 pm

Just drew a caricature of Ted kennedy. He certainly looked like a caricature without even drawing him.

#6 August J. Pollak
August/30/2009
@ 3:48 pm

Eh. When the lion dies, the hyenas feel safest laughing.

#7 K. Davenport
August/30/2009
@ 4:06 pm

I would like to take issue with Mr. Lavery’s comment. I seriously doubt that Senator Kennedy joked about Chappaquiddick. It was an issue that caused him great sadness.

I can’t even believe anyone would post something like this – it is highly distasteful. If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all.

#8 Jim Lavery
August/31/2009
@ 12:02 pm

Is it my posting that that is distasteful or is it FRK’s love of Chappaquidick jokes that is distatseful?

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