Skip to content

The Antiquated Art of Satire

The Antiquated Art of Satire published on No Comments on The Antiquated Art of Satire

When I was a kid I was addicted to Mad magazine. Which tells you something about my age. We used to have to get our satire at the newsstand before getting that paper copy of the Onion at the student center. I loved everything about Mad. I loved the writing, the irreverence, the detail- but what I loved most of all was the art. I was especially enamored of Mort Drucker, whose insanely intricate cross hatched masterpieces were right up there with anything John Tenniel ever did for Lewis Carrol’s books and it was every bit as iconographic.

Mad doesn’t hold the same audience it used to anymore. I think it’s at about a tenth of the size it was at the height of its circulation. The Onion is more known as a website than a newspaper, the same way Cracked is known for its online presence instead of the Mad magazine knockoff I grew up with back in the day. Bill Watterson took Calvin and Hobbes out at the height of their dominance at least in part due to the declining influence of the funny pages. Aaron McGruder left the Boondocks after a few years for television pastures on animation late night.

But there is one place where I think the best of cartoonists are still practicing their art at the height of their game. No, I’m not talking about the Family Circus, though I will admit that circular frame is pretty groundbreaking for a feature so square. I’m talking about the political cartoonists. These are the guys you see on the editorial page that aren’t Doonesbury and don’t have names even though they have recurring characters. There it is just smack dab on the page, that’s ART.

These troops in the trenches come in at varying skill levels just like any other genre of cartooning out there (and if you have thoughts to share on my level- be kind. I’m new) and the one I’ve been most entranced by is David Horsey. He has been cartooning longer than I’ve been alive- and it shows. His art is every bit as detailed and exaggerated as Mort Drucker’s work and the nuance and insight with which he illustrates make for immediate poignancy. He’s a columnist too (and a darned good one), but the words are almost unnecessary as his pictures are worth about 3156 words.

In the works of Horsey I see the best of both worlds. He is an obvious master with a pen and his lines are confident, flowing and varied. I don’t know his method for color, but it’s obviously done digitally and right skillfully as well. It’s easy in these rapidly changing times to try to cling to rules that no longer make sense, but I admire artists like Horsey who see the evolution of art and hang ten on that wave, holding for dear life. That’s inspirational.

I look forward to David Horsey and other eagle eyed Americans looking out for our interests for the next four years (more or less). I hope someday to be within telescope distance of these great satirists someday. In the meantime, I leave you with this cartoon which I swear is political. Think about it.

Please follow and like us:

Threat Levels

Threat Levels published on No Comments on Threat Levels

It’s Christmas eve, so that’s as good a time as any to talk about stranger danger, right?

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear this week as a very uncertain year draws to a shaky close. Someone I know pointed out that we keep blaming the year like that baby who came in on January 1 was a real live being that was stalking us relentlessly from the shadows with a chainsaw out of resentment for our incipient replacement of him with a younger model (Ok, they didn’t use those exact words, but isn’t it colorful imagery?)

We probably need to stop victim blaming and look at our own behavior and go what am I doing that makes the world a worse place? I offer up the following as an example of my point:

The trees KNOW that Lumber Jack is a threat. Maybe one or two of the more paranoid ones suspect that the rock is a threat, but what none of them know is that the real mastermind is the squirrel! The squirrel has been whipping up the antagonism between the rock and the trees and Lumber Jack and the trees, and in the meantime if the trees, Lumber Jack and the rock teamed up they could get rid of that damn squirrel once and for all! But they’re too busy hating each other from fear to compare notes.

I guess the lesson here is we need to manage our fear before we can overcome it. I will admit there is a (big) part of me that fears this in 2017:

But my fears are not only not helping, they’re counterproductive. I’ve adopted a new credo for 2017, coopted from Alcoholics Anonymous:

Lord, grant me the serenity to fear those things I can change, to ignore those things that I can’t and the wisdom to tell them apart.

Fear is a survival tool, that ironically is killing us. Let’s use next year to fear wisely, yeah?

Please follow and like us:

Now Back to Our Show

Now Back to Our Show published on No Comments on Now Back to Our Show

Ok, I haven’t felt much like updating lately because my goal here at the end of the day is to be above, all other considerations, a humor site. I mean, a comic strip should be funny, right? It’s not like we’re at the New Yorker here

*disclaimer: If any of you are scouts for the New Yorker, I retract and I would be proud to appear in your fine publication

 

**disdisclaimer: If any of you are White Supremacists who have no use for New York intellectuals or their namby pamby sympathizers, I retract and would under no circumstances appear in that commie rag

 

***disdisdisclaimer: If you are white and offended that I used the phrase White Supremacist than you are free to go and read the New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Post or any other publication more aligned with your proclivities. Or you can write and tell me why I’m wrong. Martin is not above intelligent discourse from the fan.

So…. yeah… not feeling funny and I decided to go and lift my spirits by going to see Christopher Titus, my all time favorite comedy legend. For an hour and a half I laughed until my sides hurt

Then I was back here. In the world. Where things are happening.

ticket
Things like this.

Or not happening. I’ve been told those things may be in my head. But they seem to be in a lot of friend’s heads as well. So maybe we as a nation lost our minds collectively in some sort of Jungian soup. Or maybe it’s the Matrix, Neo. Or it’s possible it’s the Economy, stupid. I know I feel malaise but I can’t pinpoint the source.

Repetition
I’m not smart like this guy.

 

But then, I go to tie my hair up and I can hear something crinkly and I feel something papery and I know there’s something in there. Leaf? Receipt Jimmy Hoffa? I spend a good three minutes trying to comb it out before I realize I still have my wristband from the show on and the paper is rubbing the hair by my ear.

mnr
I’m also not smart like these guys.

I’m provided a moment for self deprecation, wry introspection and a moral (just because you can’t find something doesn’t mean it isn’t there and the things you find may be different than the things you sought) as well as a way through my writers block to this very blog entry.

And  when I (re)discovered that paper strip all I could hear in my head was Titus ultimate line from his 5th Annual End of the World Tour, thinking about the loonnnnng buildup to his father’s final punchline.

Oooooohhhhhhh………

Funny, a**hole.

Please follow and like us:

The Home Stretch

The Home Stretch published on No Comments on The Home Stretch

I know these past few months have been rough on all of us and this is the last chance I have to throw my two cents in before we pull the ripcord on this freefall. I know that the idea that voting for the lesser of two evils is still endorsing evil is a tantalizing proposition (in a loose sense- because it’s not exactly going to get Tantalus foaming at the mouth like one of Pavlov’s dogs), but there comes a time when the focus needs must go onto the lesser part.

devilfin

I know that’s not very elegantly phrased but I was hoping to confuse anyone who might want to send me to a camp next week. Oh please, let Born in East L.A. stay an amusing vehicle for Cheech Marin and not a harbinger for an entire disinherited generation. I don’t want to go to a camp. I’ll be good! … ish…

In the mean time, please enjoy this new comic as the first in my new side series, 99 Ways to Spi. It’s a gentle and hopefully cute reminder that no matter what your creed, color, orientation or presentation, there is still one common enemy of which we can all be soundly afraid.

spider1

And that enemy is spiders. Spiders that will kill us all.

May (deity, ideology or force of your choice) have mercy on us all in 2017 and protect us from the spiderwrath,

Martin

Please follow and like us:

The More Things Change…

The More Things Change… published on No Comments on The More Things Change…

…the more they really change. Can we agree that 2016 has been a really weird year?

gothic
Yup. This weird.

 

I’ll start by saying that cartooning is something that I enjoy. A lot. I’m not the best in the world at it, but have you seen what Garry Trudeau’s early work looks like? Have you seen what Scott Adams looks like now? I will get better. It’s a promise from me to you and, more importantly, from me to me.

Speaking of Scott Adams, I don’t know how many of you noticed this piece he wrote regarding this hellstorm of an election, but he has formally endorsed Donald Trump after stating that he knows nothing about the issues but that he does know that Hillary’s supporters are bullies.

As a certain type of successful white man, he then goes on to talk about how his books are now being downgraded on Amazon as a result of his political uncorrectness (I know it’s incorrectness but I’m fighting back against PC thugs telling me how to wurd). Writers are speaking out against him motivated only by a desire to diminish his authority because of course that and jealousy are the only reason that any writer ever writes about another writer.

A Graveyard Smash
And we all know jealousy makes monsters of us all.

 

This is honestly the kind of writing I would expect from the apologist balladeer of the crappy workplace (my two cents are ‘it’s funny because it’s true!’ is the same logic that gave us Hogans Heroes).

Contrast this with something that I read recently in the book Only What’s Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts. I would go so far as to say Charles Schulz was the most commercially influential cartoonist in American history. All of the plushies, lunch boxes, coffee mugs and assorted desiderata (I love that word so much) of all the cartoonists working today might approach the level that Snoopy and the gang reached. I assume so, without bothering to research- but it feels right doesn’t it?

In this book there is s0me correspondence between Schulz and a teacher named Harriet Glickman. Harriet very kindly writes Schulz and tells him his comic is so wonderfully received and influential, could he please see his way to add a black character to help with integration? Schulz, again very kindly, writes back that he wouldn’t dare as he would be afraid to come across as condescending to people of color. He writes back and forth with some of Harriet’s black friends expressing his concerns, they share with him some of theirs and eventually Peanuts sees the introduction of Franklin, its’ first black character.

My point? Success comes with privileges and responsibilities, just like being a spider powered superhero. Fifty years ago there was a cartoonist so beloved that he probably could have been president himself who modestly and circumspectly approached the controversial issues of the day- and to be fair I did get a whiff of the protection of his commercial interests at play. Fast forward to today and a niche cartoonist whose niche is not politics and who claims to know little of the issues asks us to upvote his books on the interwebs as a political statement.

I don’t judge or claim to understand either of these men because I have walked nowhere in their shoes. To that end I would like to propose that a well endowed ivy league school give me a LOT of money from their sociology department (first dibs to Princeton so I can meet Paul Krugman) and I promise to fully document all the effects overnight success imposes on a bleeding heart liberal. I look forward to discussing my views on the capital gains tax with you.

Frugally,

Martin

Please follow and like us:

Primary Sidebar