CSotD: Getting it right

Walt Handelsman (AMS) has what appears to be the best take on the revelation that the coronavirus is more likely to have escaped from a laboratory than, as the Chinese government had originally contended, been a spontaneous crossover from China’s bushmeat markets.

It’s possible that the virus was developed in the lab. It’s also possible that a pre-existing virus was being studied in the lab.

Until more is learned, the issue is the Chinese government’s honesty and transparency, and it’s both fatuous and dishonest for conservative cartoonists to contend that they know where it came from or that Donald Trump knew where it came from.

It’s certainly dishonest, and perhaps a bit paranoid, to claim that anyone in the West knew the truth and covered it up.

Unless you also explain why the Trump administration,then, wasn’t more active in attempting to contain and control it.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Chip Bok – Creators)

(Nath Paresh – CartoonArts)

I hate to keep picking on Chip Bok, but the solution is to do your damn homework, and this is a matter that has been simmering for several decades: The inability or unwillingness of American cartoonists to recognize how the Iranian government is structured.

Khamenei did say that, but it’s important to note that, while he heads the Guardian Council, he’s also in charge of chest-beating and hot air.

Given that we’ve got our own chickenhawks rattling their sabers and making provocative speeches, it’s important to pay attention and be honest in your analysis.

As Paresh notes, Iran’s Guardian Council exercises an outsized control of the nation, beginning with their ability to ban reformist politicians from running for public office.

Paresh also does well to depict Iranians in a mix of traditional and Western garb, because the notion that everyone there dresses like an imam is not only wrong but perpetuates a stereotype that is far from helpful.

Cartoonists and other commentators should have figured out all this over the past decades because the Guardian Council controls the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is different than the Iranian Navy, and which keeps trying to provoke confrontations in the Gulf.

When you hear of a boat being seized by Iran, that’s the Guard, and, after a lot of hoo-hah and publicity, the formal government intervenes with the Council and gets them to release everyone until the next foolish provocation.

Let’s hope it’s not one of the Guard’s gunboats finally going too far in feinting attacks on US naval vessels and succeeding in getting itself blown up.

Similarly, depicting the negotiators of the nuclear treaty — most of whom are Western-educated, Western-dressed governmental officials — in traditional beard-and-turban stereotype is where we have to ask if it’s a shortcut, like showing Frenchmen in berets, or a case of deliberate ignorance?

Maybe we need to bring back the draft and put some cartoonists’ and Senators’ kids at risk.

Speaking of provocation, consider this four-way

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Michael De Adder)


(Michael Thompson)


(Andy Marlette – Creators)

(Clay Bennett – AMS)

This Juxtaposition raises the question of intent: Are you trying to change minds, or simply rally the troops?

Both are reasonable goals, and, properly presented, it’s possible to do some of both. A cartoon that can change minds is likely to rally the troops as well, and De Adder starts us off with simple mockery of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ridiculous comparison of mask mandates and death camps.

“Did you really just say that?” is an excellent question, to which I would add that I find it appallingly irresponsible for news outlets to report that Kevin McCarthy condemned her remarks without noting that, in his statement, he also accused the Democrats of being anti-Semitic and of Nancy Pelosi of failing to act on this alleged, unspecified bigotry.

His statement was less than 100 words long. Surely, an honest journalist would be able to read the entire thing.

Again, do your damn homework.

The other three cartoonists take up the bizarre Greene/Gaetz Road Tour, and it is admittedly hard not to descend to pure mockery when a noted dumbass and an alleged pedophile are appearing together, and doing so with neither coming under any real discipline by the GOP.

Bearing in mind that the Democrats forced one of their own Senators to resign over a stupid joke photo. Is there no sensible middle ground??

In any case, Thompson compares the pair to cicadas, an annoying, pointless sound that brings to mind Edmund Burke’s famous statement about a few loud grasshoppers giving the impression of unrest where little exists.

De Adder is more analytical, but Thompson isn’t entirely preaching to the choir.

By comparison, Marlette is simply insulting them, which is okay with me but I don’t think any Republican readers are going to see that and say, “By golly, I hadn’t thought of it that way!” while Bennett turns the insult away from the two nitwits and directs it, instead, at their followers.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t chuckle, but I don’t think that approach is going to change a lot of minds, either.

Then again, comforting the afflicted is part of the mission, particularly since we seem to have already entered the 2022 Election cycle.

If mockery helps inspire voter turnout, bring me a dozen cream pies, suitable for throwing.


Turning to sports, Tank McNamara (AMS) is written close to deadline, but Bill Hinds could not possibly have written today’s strip knowing that last night, indeed, Trevor Lawrence would be interviewed on NFL Total Access and, yes, asked about Tim Tebow.

“We just had to ask him about his new teammate” — No. No, you didn’t.

He’s a rookie. He’s lucky to be able to find the stadium each morning, never mind commenting on the roster of a team he’s only just joined.


And this announcement: If you’d like to spend a few weeks working in the splendid isolation of JD Salinger’s old studio, with Harry Bliss living next door and all the resources of the Center for Cartoon Studies at your disposal, the Cornish Residency Fellowship is accepting applications.

CCS is far more comic book/major piece than comic strip/panel oriented, but if you’ve got a good project along those lines, Cornish would be a lovely place to unplug and focus.