Cartoon Problems at The Washington Post

Mike Rhode is a general comics scholar with a particular interest in Washington, D. C. cartoonists as revealed through his Comics DC blog (and, full disclosure, is a friend of The Daily Cartoonist).

Yesterday Mike went on a three part self-described “rant” about The Washington Post’s recent treatment of comics and cartoons appearing in the newspaper lately.

© The Washington Post

We begin where Mike ends – with a critique of The WaPo’s choice of editorial page cartoons.

With all due respect to Ellis Rosen, whom I don’t know at all, why is this on the editorial page of the Washington Post. is this a political cartoon? If so what does it mean? …

This was a two-fer as Mike is not happy with the choice of a foreign cartoonist as their homeboy.

For their home cartoonist, we should have someone that lives here. Michael de Adder is a perfectly competent cartoonist, but he’s a Canadian who stayed in Canada and works on a contract…

…To add to the disrespect they show him, the editor runs his cartoons smaller than this one is, and his color cartoons with extensive cross-hatching are run in black and white, so they are extremely muddy and sometimes unreadable…

Mike is not happy their layout people:

© The Washington Post

Jeff Stein and Vreni Stollberger may have created a perfectly good comic strip about the debt ceiling. Certainly the teaser image and text on the front page of Sunday’s business section looks appealing.

However, when you open the page, instead of seeing one broadsheet comic of a basic ten panels, it’s broken up into two black and white panels per page, for five pages, totally interrupting the rhythm and flow of the strip…

Even the comics page, which is basically on cruise control but still needs some supervision, gets Mike upset.

© Mark Buford

…is squished into Reply All Lite’s panel space. Lite only appears in the Post as far as I know, while the main strip is widely syndicated. Whoops. Lucky they don’t think the comics matter anyway.

Somehow the Scary Gary comic strip from May 18, 2019 got squeezed into the May 15, 2023 Reply All Lite panel territory. Serendipitously the lost Reply All Lite panel was about annoyances.


The Spirit of Virginia Military Institute political action committee and The Washington Post’s Ian Shapira seem to be developing a feud worthy of the Montagues and Capulets.

The latest is charges of racism directed toward VMI’s cartoonist “Zippy.”

© Spirit of VMI

Note: “Zippy” is generally considered to be Spirit of VMI Chairman Matt Daniel – TDC can’t confirm that attribution.

From Bacon’s Rebellion, taking the SOVP side, comes the most recent commotion:

Is the cartoon above, drawn by Virginia Military Institute alumnus Matt Daniel, racist?

Former Governor L. Douglas Wilder thinks so. “It’s clearly racist,” he told Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira after Shapira showed it to him.

Shapira evidently thinks so, too. “Some say” the depiction of Martin Brown, Virginia’s African-American director of Diversity, Opportunity & Inclusion, “resembles a monkey,” he wrote.

Wilder is one person. The word “some” implies that there are others…

“Zippy” cartoons regularly appear on The SOV Facebook page and Ian Shapira is a regular target.

6 thoughts on “Cartoon Problems at The Washington Post

  1. Wow, I didn’t expect you to run anything on my rants. Thank you. I have a few notes to make clear though. Thank you for identifying the strip that ran in Reply All Lite’s panel. It’s only about 3″ tall in the paper and I couldn’t make out anything, but I corrected the blog.

    Also, I have nothing, but respect for de Adder or Rosen, or their cartooning. It’s a rough way to make a living. It’s just the WaPo set the standard and pace for many years with a masterful *local* cartoonist (they made Toles move from Buffalo), and now has abdicated that role, and shamefully diminished the cartoon they do publish.

    And if you listen very closely to Ann Telnaes’ Herblock award ceremony speech on YouTube, right before she tells her Block anecdote at the end, they may be in danger of losing their last local cartoonist.

  2. VMI is one of those schools I just do not get. If you want to be in the military why not just join the military?

  3. Because without a college degree, they typically must go in as an enlisted rank instead of being the commissioned officer.

    Collegiate military institutes are seen as good alternatives for people who couldn’t make the cut into one of rhe actual service academies but want that culture. Of course, that also means they have more than a few white guys who are just positive the only reason they didn’t get into West point was affirmative action. It couldn’t possibly be because they had nothing outstanding about them…. just ask them.

  4. Julia C, I can assure you that your supposition about SMCs and Academies is not correct.

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