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CSotD: Serena, Wiley & a Star-Spangled Juxtaposition

The firehose of Trumpian foolishness often results in a whole lot of versions of the same gag.

But his bizarre, unhinged two-hour ramble in front of the Conservative Political Action Committee gathering yielded, besides Eugene Robinson’s horrified response, (and this one, and this one, and others) this weird photo and, from that, a boatload of cartoons that had a surprisingly small repeat factor.

BTW, here’s a transcript and I’ll admit I didn’t read the whole thing, not so much for the political folly but for the lack of complete sentences.


Trying to wade through that incoherent speech made me genuinely appreciate Jen Sorensen‘s latest cartoon, whether she was inspired by the speech or had already been pondering the issue.

I mean, Elsie Segar came up with this analysis in 1935 and our current dictipator hadn’t even been born yet, though another one was just coming into focus.

But that one brought in his own flag, so there’s no logical connection to any current events.


Matt Wuerker offers the most straight-up depiction. He was not the only cartoonist to tie the hug into the #MeToo movement, but best captured that rhapsodic, unsettling toddleresque grin of self-satisfaction.


A couple of cartoonists suggested that Trump was humping the flag, but only Clay Jones had the nerve, or perhaps the insight, to suggest that he was making love to his own flag while fantasizing about his illicit lover.


Dwane Powell brought in a couple of Trump’s lovers to further desecrate the flag, and, for good measure, turned Trump’s signature red tie into a forked tongue.


Ann Telnaes was more focused on how Trump’s embrace has soiled the flag and thereby the nation (note the skewered eagle).


Chan Lowe was more explicit than Telnaes in pointing out the inconsistency of such an embrace of a symbol with the obvious disdain for the substance.


While Kevin Seirs went for a more straightforward (straitforward?) analysis of the situation we’re in.

Though, if anyone is thinking about the 25th Amendment, let me show you our

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Mike Luckovich)

(Jeff Danziger)

Both impeachment and removal under the 25th Amendment assume that the Executive and Legislative branches remain independent of one another.

Luckovich is more direct in naming the gang members, while Danziger assumes none of us will ever say, “But I didn’t know until this day that it was McConnell all along.”


In other cartooning matters

The Australian Press Council issued a ruling exonerating Mark Knight of punishable racism for his September cartoon about Serena Williams’ outburst during the US Open.

My reaction is that we don’t need a “press council” because nobody in the US suggested it broke a law, only that it was in bad taste, and I feel no need to expand on what I said at the time.

However, Tom Richmond — one of the top caricaturists in the business — has an analysis that should be required reading for all cartoonists and all cartoon fans.

He nails the race-in-caricature issue extraordinarily well.


The Wiley Miller matter

I have let DD Degg do the reporting on the Non Sequitur issue because reporting cartoon news is his department while commentary on it is mine, but mostly because Wiley was one of my first friends in the business, and so I have felt ethically constrained.

It’s also taken me a while to sort out my response and that’s relevant, particularly in light of the letter of apology he had the syndicate send to clients and former clients.


First, you cannot blame editors for letting it through, because at the vast majority of papers, Sunday comic sections are pre-printed and delivered on pallets along with Parade magazine and the Rite-Aid ads.

They are then inserted automatically at a speed which means the first time a Sunday cartoon is seen locally is when it’s picked up off the doorstep.

And editors choose political cartoons, but the dailies are on contract and are placed on the page in the backshop. My own opinion is that comic strips should be the province of the marketing department, not editorial, but that’s a discussion for another day. Point is, editors never see them.

Even if they did, this whole thing reminds me of Janet Jackson’s nip-slip in the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show, which became an issue because someone was DVRing the game and so could go back to that brief instant and freeze it.

Had I been the editor in Pennsylvania who got that angry letter, I would have treated it as a customer complaint, not an opinion to be published.

I’d have called the syndicate and raised hell and I probably would have canceled and then called the reader to tell her the outcome.

And I would have published a brief announcement in my paper saying the strip had violated our standards without going into a lot of detail.

I would not have alerted the wire services to what my reader had discovered any more than, had I been in the wagon producing the Super Bowl, I would have thrown up an Instant Replay of Janet Jackson’s titty.

Which may be why I’m no longer a newspaper editor, but, if I still were one, and if I had Non Sequitur on my comics page, I likely would have canceled it, not over the politics but over the F-bomb and because of the breach of trust.

And now, if I had had a lot of pushback from readers, and in light of Wiley’s abject apology, I’d be bringing it back.

Note that I cite both factors: Wiley’s apology and reader pushback. If you haven’t spoken up, you’re just a spectator, not a player.

It’s not too late to drop your local editor an email or letter, perhaps citing the apology.

As Wiley’s friend and as someone who favors thoughtful journalism, I’d like to think at least some editors will back down in light of reader preference and Wiley’s promise.

Though an old Wanda Sykes bit I cited in the Serena Williams kerfuffle is applicable to the issue of thoughtful journalism in general.


Community Comments

#1 Sean Martin
@ 10:34 am

I hadnt heard about the Wylie Miller matter, but in all honesty, while it had great intentions, it was a stupid, stupid move. While I can understand aiming derision at your laughable excuse of a leader, there are better ways of handling it.

#2 Mary McNeil
@ 5:39 pm

After all the Wiley kerfluffle, apology, etc, not a peep appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal. No letters, no nothin;.

But as of yesterday, the BJ dropped Non-Sequitar. No comment, no explanation , Apparently the fact that they are now owned by a syndicate (I forget who,, after McClatchy sold the BJ) it finally trickled down to Akron.

Thank goodness for GoComics.

#3 Sean Cleary
@ 10:11 am

I wrote a email to the LA times.
They reinstated the comic, using almost my exact words.
I did something!

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