When I talk about shitty editorial cartooning, there is no better time to point to examples of the crap that ruin this profession then the maudlin pabulum that follows tragic mass deaths. The bombing in Boston earlier this week was a boon to America’s imagination-challenged political cartoonists. Those of us to actually care about this field sent a bunch of these around by email to make fun of them, but I thought it would be interesting to share them with you to see your reactions. I’m always amazed to read the comments section under these things when they appear online. So many people like them! Is something wrong with them, or is there something wrong with me? You be the judge.
A number of terrible editorial cartoons have drawn parallels between the Boston bombings and 9/11. This was our 9/11, Bostonians said. Well, sorry, what happened earlier this week really really sucked and was really really wrong, but you guys didn’t lose an entire ZIP Code and 3000 people. Not to mention, the political implications probably won’t be nearly as profound either. I don’t think were about to invade a couple of countries because of what happened in Boston.
What the hell does this even mean? That there are memorials? That people are running past the memorials? It certainly doesn’t make any kind of political statement. It’s not a political cartoon. It’s just a pastiche of an illustration, and not a very good one.
There were tons of these abandoned sneaker cartoons. I just picked this one out at random. Aside from the fact that it’s really stupid and doesn’t say anything, it makes no sense whatsoever. Nobody lost their sneakers running away. Sneakers are tightly laced on. Even if your leg got blown off, it was still attached to your sneaker. So aside from this being schmaltzy, it’s totally stupid.
Again, I just have no idea what these things are supposed to mean. Is Boston metaphorically limping across the finish line? What is the finish line? The successful apprehension and execution of whoever is responsible? I feel like a lot of editorial cartoonists simply slap together a bunch of random images. It’s almost like random free association.
Admitted plagiarist Bill Day – scratch that, now he has de-admitted it – weighs in with a cartoon that will no doubt be repurposed thousands of times for other unrelated issues. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but how exactly does this say anything other than terrorism is bad? I think we knew that. Bear in mind, this guy has worked at numerous newspapers. I’ve never gotten a single one to offer me a job.
You would think that the parody cartoons in the Onion would have caused cartoonists to stop using cheesy weeping Statue of Liberty cartoons after tragedies, but cartooning’s master plagiarist continues. Well, it’s all good times when you’re counting the $42,000 you extracted from suckers on Indiegogo.
One wag commented that a giant blue Anaconda appears to be loose on the streets of Boston. I would also add that a little bit of Ralph Steadman appears to be loose in the lower left-hand corner. Justice, apparently, is blind but really really hot and buff. Anyway, what does this mean? That justice is moving swiftly? Bear in mind, the artist is a lot more successful than I am. He managed to get himself fired on staff at the Columbus Dispatch and was considered on the shortlist for the Pulitzer Prize in a piece by the Washington Post this year.
Another piece by someone who has had more success than me. He’s on staff at a big daily newspaper. Full medical benefits. Retirement plan. He doesn’t have to worry about how to pay his rent every month. He won the very prestigious Herblock award, which if I’m not mistaken, was worth a cool $10,000 at the time. Might be $15,000. Not sure. Anyway, yeah, this is just an illustration of a story that anybody who has been watching the news has been following. The first responders ran toward the blast while the runners were running away. Very hot runners. But when I want to know is, is not the way it’s supposed to be? Most of the time, cops and firefighters don’t have anything to do. They’re paid a good deal of money to spring into action and risk their lives every now and then. That’s the job. They agreed to do it. How exactly does that make them heroes? And anyway, the idea that first responders are heroes is hardly something that needs to be said in an editorial cartoon. This is just pandering.
Another one by the same guy. By the way I always kind of liked his loose drawing style, though it doesn’t really work very well here. Anyway, I really hate these kind of metaphors. You know because there were a lot of flags at the marathon, or at least in the photographs of the marathon that went out over the Associated Press wire service. And because a lot of conspiracy theorists say that this is a false flag operation… Well, you know. Again, it’s not very risky to say that conspiracy theorists are dumb. More pandering.
More bullshit patriotism. One of the things I hate more than anything is when terrorists are called cowards. As Bill Maher pointed out, the guys who flew those planes into those buildings were a lot of things but they were not pussies. And again with the heroes! Enough. Shut up. Oh, I should point out that this guy works at one of the few new gigs in the business, at the Hill newspaper. I sent them a bunch of my stuff when they launched. They weren’t interested. This is the kind of stuff that they would rather have.
So apparently the metaphorical embodiment of the Boston Marathon is homely but with huge breasts. But you would really think that it would be hard to run 26 miles without a jogging bra. Also, I want to know how Uncle Sam is exactly comforting the Boston Marathon. Or is he just hitting on her?
So wait, why is humanity crossing the evil finish line? Is evil the goal that we all run 26 miles to try to achieve?
Um… What? What do the Boston Red Sox have to do with this? And anyway, just another illustration. Makes no point. Tragedy is sad. Blood is bad.
When JFK died, cartoonist Bill Mauldin drew a famous cartoon of Abraham Lincoln on the Lincoln Memorial weeping. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we have to live with the zillions of cartoonists who want to redraw that same exact cartoon every time something like this happens. This one is a huuuuge stretch, though.
Apparently what it really takes to bring us all together is schmaltz. Notice, by the way, that the Democrat is a black guy. Also, is it me, or is this a little bit gay marriage-y?