Dan Perkins was born in Wichita, Kan., in 1961, back in the days when the future still existed.
Like most good artists, Perkins, who cartoons under the pen name Tom Tomorrow, has never completely let go of his childhood and continues to be nurtured by the wellspring of creativity that comes with our first awareness of the world. He’s never lost a taste for the iconography of Cold War science fiction: bug-eyed aliens who fly around in UFOs that resemble kitchenware, wild-haired mad scientists, metallic robots, and city-crushing monsters. It’s hardly an accident that Perkins has a full-arm tattoo of the poster for Forbidden Planet, the much-loved 1956 science fiction reworking of The Tempest that featured Robby the Robot.
Although the political cartoons he’s been doing weekly for three decades are topical, they also contain in their iconography a hidden argument that goes beyond partisan politics: Repeatedly his cartoons have used the images of a promised future that never arrived to accentuate the failures of the disappointing present.
At The Nation Jeet Heer provides a profile of Tom Tomorrow, an analysis of his creativity,
and a review of the new Life in the Stupidverse book.