I remember reading some swashbuckler in which, at the very start, the roughnecks who wielded broadswords were complaining about Frenchmen who fought with light foils, which they felt were not manly in that they didn’t deal death in great, slashing blows but with small, sneaky thrusts.
It must have been Rafael Sabatini, because Dumas was himself too subtle to so plainly foreshadow his villain’s death, sneaking it in, not with the blunt clash of the broadsword but as deftly as that pinprick from which life oozes.
The other day, things were so depressing that any sort of subtlety, much less comedy, in editorial cartooning seemed out of place, if not entirely impossible. As impending horror built, it felt as though the only riposte (a fencing term!) was the brutal broadsword of a modern day Thomas Nast.
Silly me. Here, as deftly delivered as the Z on Sgt. Garcia’s belly, are some attacks that show subtlety and humor not only have their place but can be more effective and deadly than the broadsword.
Ed Hall is hardly the first to use the wasp’s nest as a symbol — in fact, it’s becoming tiresome — nor is he even the first to place a wasp’s nest turban on an imam’s head.
But to show Trump as a tiny man, tap-tap-tapping on the scowling giant’s turban makes the image fresh and effective.
There is a phrase in Russian literary criticism called “making new,” which means describing a well-known action or scene in a manner that brings an entirely fresh perspective to it. This is a for-instance.
In a related freshening, many cartoonists have depicted John Bolton as Yosemite Sam. Ann Telnaes does not, but somehow infuses her caricature with the same demented, ridiculous fury.
It’s as if she’s daring you, enticing you, to think that looks like Yosemite Sam, which makes it twice as effective as if she’d grabbed for the actual parallel.
And while the broadsword fighters have been screaming about the horrific wildfires in Australia, Pat Bagley simply delivers a quick pinprick that leaves a tiny, mortal hole in climate change denial.
Greta’s famous anger over those who will not listen is as sharp and subtle a point as Bagley needs to drive home the pitiful plight of the sweet animal who symbolizes a continent in flames.
Meanwhile, over on the épée mats:
Clay Jones delivers a thrust to Trump’s threat to attack Iran’s culture by questioning what Dear Leader even knows of the concept.
There is a sort of jujitsu in this humorous riposte, since Jones doesn’t have to lunge to deliver the insult but simply turns his opponent’s momentum against him: Trump himself has degraded the White House kitchen not just from the exquisite heights of Jackie Kennedy’s influence but even from the solid home-cooking that the Obamas enjoyed.
The thing speaks for itself.
Even people who like fast food, even people for whom fast food is a staple of their diet, understand that you don’t invite guests to travel hundreds of miles for dinner and then serve them lukewarm Quarter Pounders.
Now Ed Hall switches from foil to épée for this response to Trump’s ridiculous swipe at Pete Buttigieg’s Catholicism.
You’d have to be a steadfast homophobe to call this a case of the pot calling the kettle black, because, while Buttigieg is obviously in a marriage not sanctified by his church, there are plenty of cafeteria Catholics who violate specific teachings and yet adhere to the church itself. (UPDATE: Buttigieg is Episcopalian and his marriage is endorsed by his church. See comments.)
Meanwhile, the mystery of why Evangelicals overlook Trump’s grotesque departures from any Christian values remains a mystery, and not the kind you pray over with a rosary.
But it is the kind that, if it is your own, should keep you very, very quiet about anybody else’s religiosity, and aware that opening your mouth on the topic opens you up to scandalous attacks.
Juxtaposition of the Broadswords
One does not expect British cartoonists to wield foils, and while the broadsword’s wounds are grotesquely bloody, it does, after all, have its place in the armory.
Adcock’s depiction of world reaction to Trump’s warmongering, though far from subtle, is somewhat comforting, particularly as a view from abroad.
And Rowson echoes what has to be a common response to the utterly irrational situation where our own expensively-installed Iraqi democracy legally votes to have the Americans leave and Dear Leader pitches a fit of childish, bullying defiance.
I note, by the way, that each of them accuses Boris Johnson of standing by in the crisis, which does not seem to jibe with the statement quoted in yesterday’s posting, but it’s entirely possible that they were hoping for a stronger condemnation.
In any case, as said, it’s nice to know someone else has noticed how things here seem to be spinning out of control.
It may not prevent further mayhem, but at least we know we’re not crazy after all.
Well, some of us aren’t.
Juxtaposition of Graphics and Music