CSotD: Can I Get a Witness?

Tom Tomorrow scores in an increasingly difficult sector of the editorial cartooning world.

Altie cartoonists like him, like Tom the Dancing Bug, Matt Bors, Jen Sorensen, have carved out a niche in which they use multi-panel cartoons to make a point through reductio ad absurdum fantasies.

It was an easier gig back when politics and politicians were more reluctant to appear absurd.

At this point, exaggerating their words until they become ridiculous is being stripped away by politicians who are not afraid to say straight-out what, in a more dignified era, people did not admit to in polite company.

Well, for that matter, turn on your TV, switch around the stations and then tell me where you found any polite company.

Even the comic strips have come down to gags in which not only does someone fart, but the fart is the point of the strip.

Which playing-to-the-cheap-seats I was planning to address later, but I’ll move it up:

The world of editorial cartooning is currently chock-a-block with Kobe Bryant cartoons, and some cartoonists have sworn they would not do a Pearly Gates cartoon on the subject, but then have done some other form of obituary cartoon.

Surely, there is genuine grief out there, not only among basketball fans but sports fans in general, and, even beyond that, you never know when a particular tragedy is going to touch you. His having his daughter with him seems to have ratcheted things up considerably.

But there is also the need to make a living and editors are looking for Kobe Bryant obituary cartoons.

Steve Sack didn’t draw one, but his paper picked up Dana Summers’ piece.

Generally, Steve does five a week, M-F, and he may be on vacation or down with the flu, but the fact is, this is the first non-Sack piece they’ve put up on their site in over a month.

And if Steve is hors de combat, there were any number of John Bolton cartoons they might have chosen to fill the hole instead.

American editorial cartoon pages at the moment being filled with Kobe Bryant and John Bolton cartoons and little else.

Point being that you might as well draw one, because editors buy them and then you get to purchase groceries, pay rent and do similar things.

I would point out, by the way, that we have already covered the fact that John Bolton looks a lot like Yosemite Sam, and I would assume that, if he didn’t enjoy the comparison, he’d lose the silly mustache. Then again, he was working for a guy who wears orange make-up, so wotthehell.

Anyway, while most of the Kobe cartoons are too deliberate in their jerking of tears, some of the Bolton cartoons are far more successful in eliciting laughter.


Bill Bramhall pretty much put me on the floor with this one, which is not simply funny but devastatingly apt, at least for anyone who has ever sat at a table in a bookstore or, as in my case, at trade shows and county fairs.

And part of what makes it so funny is that Bramhall has caught Bolton’s expression of “furious owl” over the top of that soup strainer. The contrast with the expressions on the faces of the panicking elephants adds immeasurably to the hilarity of the piece.

Nor should we, in the midst of our laughter, overlook the truth of the core of the cartoon: The Republicans really, really don’t want to meet the author or, for god’s sake, read his book.

Which brings to mind a separate laff, in that the publisher claims to have sent a copy of Bolton’s book to the White House in early December, which, if Theodore Roosevelt were still president, would mean it was likely to have been read.

TR reportedly read a book a day. Trump fakes having read the Bible, but there’s no evidence he’s ever read a book and quite a bit of evidence that he has trouble even reading his own speeches aloud.

Feel free to invent your own “Sending a book to the White House is like sending _______ to a _____.” jokes.


Elsewhere on the Funny Elephants Beat, Chris Weyant offers this commentary on the absurdity of Trump’s stranglehold on the GOP.

The notion that elephants are scared of mice is a myth, but it’s a good myth for Weyant to exploit, because there really is no need for these particular elephants to be terrified by this particular mouse, and it does make you wonder why one of them doesn’t simply put a foot down on this little rodent and end the embarrassment.


And, to wind up this topic, Tom Toles goes to that four-panel format with which we began the conversation and that just might be John Bolton, if only Toles had somehow used the famous mustache to suggest it. Or put a label on the fellow, reading “Bolton.”

Which fits in with the overall concept of ignoring evidence that is far too obvious for anyone to overlook.


I was going to end by letting y’all scratch the earworm brought about by today’s headline, but I think I’ll build on the elephant thing, because it’s more fun.

Based on the story of the lion going up to the giraffe screaming “Who is the King of the Jungle?” and the giraffe stammering, “You are, your majesty!” and then he goes to the antelope and says, “Who is the King of the Jungle?” and the antelope trembles and says “You are, your majesty!” and then he goes up to the elephant and says, “Who is the King of the Jungle?” and the elephant looks down at him with one eye, then grabs his leg with his trunk, whips him around, slams him into the ground three times and hurls him into a thorn bush.

To which the lion says, “You don’t have to get pissed, just because you don’t know the answer.”

Hell, we all know the answer.

We’re just waiting for the elephants to step up.


8 thoughts on “CSotD: Can I Get a Witness?

  1. I subscribe to a number of strips, panels, and editorial cartoons. I try to be open-minded and put up with pintos I disagree with — just to stay open to new ideas.

    Today’s feed contained a “cartoon” by Mike Shelton (https://www.comicskingdom.com/mike-shelton/2020-01-28)
    depicting “Adam Schiff AKA ‘Pencil Neck'”. His neck and body is drawn as a pencil.
    He is saying, “President Trump threatened Republican Senators not to vote against him or they’d find their head on a pike.”

    Could someone please explain to me what editorial comment or position or analogy this “cartoon” is trying to make?
    Other than Trump-the-bully-whiner has referred to Schiff as “Pencil Neck”.

  2. “pintos”? Above) I don’t know where THAT text correction came from!
    I was trying to write “opinions”.

  3. I think the point (there’s no pun there) is basically “So what if Trump keeps saying things that sound like death threats? Liddle Adam Schiff is a pencil neck! Pencil neck, pencil neck, pencil neck!”

    And all the yahoos and yoyos and yucks start saying “Pencil neck! Pencil neck!” And who cares if DFT wants to be like the murderous dictators he worships? Pencil neck!

  4. Prep school bullies are a breed of their own, a pack that descends on chosen victims in a frenzy of chest-thumping status-building in which what happens to the victim is secondary to the shifts in station that occur within the pack.

    A good alpha bully in that world is judged by things like nicknaming and shaming and humliation. He doesn’t want your lunch money, but he wants you to give him your lunch money. If he can use the laughter of his crew to increase the humiliation and maybe get you to cry a little, his day is complete.

    The cartoonists who join in this are the hangers-on whose shameless attempts to suck up to the alpha do nothing to advance them in the pack.

    Never mind 1984. Re-read Lord of the Flies and pay particular attention to how Piggy is treated.

  5. “Pencil neck” is several cuts above Mike Lester’s contribution to today’s Counterpoint, in which the sad excuse for a punch line is “Is that a urine cake in the shape of Adam Schiff’s head?”

  6. I purchased Dan Perkins’ “25 YEARS OF TOMORROW” during his Kickstarter campaign. While looking at the early strips I have to say the political world of both Bushes and Bill Clinton wasn’t dignified at all. In fact reading through Perkins’ work brought back painful memories of the politics during those times. I’ve been reading This Modern World for years but what I thought would be a fun and enjoyable read, wasn’t at all.

    Hindsight might appear to be golden, but it’s not.

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