When Cartoonists Attack

Matt Bors has practically patented editorial cartoon criticism in his blog, but sometimes a cartoon is so turdy that I have to weigh in. When I heard the news this morning about the huge earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, I knew that my colleagues could be counted upon to unleash a, er, tsunami of hackneyed clichés that would make readers eyes burn. It’s early yet, but I have not been disappointed.

First I offer this gem by David Fitzpatrick of the Tucson Daily Star:

When you live in Tucson, I guess everything looks like a cactus. Which explains Godzilla’s back plates. I love the collection of clichéed Japanese stuff, especially the temples and traditional city gates. Because, you know, Japan is so old-school and traditional and doesn’t have normal high buildings and stuff. But wasn’t Godzilla kind of a dick to Tokyo, what with shooting flames at it and stuff? This cartoon puts the “dick” in “ridiculous.”

But leave it to France to jump the shark over the shark over the shark:

For those who didn’t see the 1970 film, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” was the signal that initiated the attack on Pearl Harbor. In other words, tectonics are getting even for one sneak attack with another. Geology is on America’s side and revenge is a bitch–even if it’s a long time coming. (Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn’t count.)


  • Seriously, what the fuck? Even the Godzilla movies never had ancient Japanese buildings, he was always attacking modern skyscrapers. And why are they on fire? Was Godzilla burning them before the tsunami and then it happened? Wouldn’t that put out the fires then? And the cactus? What the fuck?

    Sometimes people have a hard time telling between real-life and fiction with these cartoons. Reminds me of a post-911 cartoon that showed Superman looking at the first responders and saying they were heroes. I’m thinking, “Superman looks like a dick for not stopping the terrorist attacks in the first place.”

  • You’re being too harsh on the guy from Tucson, after all clichés is what cartoons are all about. In his mind, he was just giving it a “local” color so readers in Arizona could place it in Japan. The plates on Godzilla’s back are awful, that’s for sure.
    At least he was sympathetic. The guy from France was just mean.

  • He could have turned Godzilla into a Gila Monster instead.

  • The French one would have been better if they’d had some whale and dolphin marshaling the waves in.

  • Congrats, andy, you managed to be more of a jerk than the French cartoonist. Who cares about fucking dead cetaceans when you probably have more than 10,000 fellow humans dead?
    That kind of kookiness in some of leftist circles is disgusting.

  • I think a lot of these so-called ‘cartoonists’ are really people who like to draw but don’t quite know how to express themselves beyond that. In spite of this, they come up with wonderful symbols like giant tsunami waves or Godzilla and they think this helps lead readers to a message that really doesn’t make any sense. The circle on the Japanese flag is cracked? Great–that really tells readers what they need to know.

    I drew editorial cartoons for a number of years but I was ultimately told by my editor that we had to be careful not to “offend” readers. His argument was that our average reader was 62 years old and conservative and that we couldn’t afford to lose these readers by offending them since new readers were not coming on board. Needless to say, he LOVED these lame symbolic cartoons–the ones that said something by saying nothing–because it made it seem like they were on topic without steering opinion this way or that. Editorial cartoons–in their attempt to be politically correct or fair or show sympathy–have really lost their way. A giant tidal wave throwing boats and cars through the air? Great. It’s no wonder 19 year old readers are in no hurry to hear the message: in the end, there IS none.

  • There should have been a cartoon about how the house is cutting public broadcast funding even while the apparatus WE built in Japan is providing the best earthquake coverage in the history of reporting.

    Oh well, I’m sure the market will fill the gap.

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