Political cartoons for teh LA Times for February 2011.

And we’re back.

I know you guys are dying for some Charlie Sheen cartoons. I know I’m NOT. At first I was curious what he was going to do after Two and a Half Men was cancelled, but then he spun way out of control, and aren’t druggies boring!? The cartoons I’ve seen on him are pretty lame so far – many compare him with Gaddafi, which is just stupid. I’ll cover both of them later in the week.

Best cartoons of the week for the LA Times

I talk about why I’m editing these cartoons at the end of the post.

bob englehart union cartoon
bob englehart union cartoon

This cartoon by Bob Englehart from cagle.com is an effective simplification of the brouhaha in Wisconsin and other states over collective bargaining power – or, unions, if I may speak directly. (And why doesn’t the media?)

I don’t begrudge unions – I’ve been in IATSE, in the movie studios, and the National Writers Union, which is affiliated w/ the UAW (auto workers!) – and in the studios, especially, unions are really necessary for safety and health issues.

But with state unions, with benefits paid by taxpayers? The rules are different. (The LA Times current “editors”, btw, would never choose this cartoon – it’s too simple. They prefer obscure cartoons, fancying their readers to be like NY Times readers. But since they’re not (after all, I am one of them!) here is a cartoon they SHOULD be using.)

dick locher cartoon on pensions and unions
dick locher cartoon on pensions and unions

I haven’t paid much attention to Dick Locher’s cartoons, even though he was on Gocomics with me for 2 years, until I was fired. But I like political cartoons that take place out of the office. Why not the kitchen? And I admire how he managed to fit all that teeny tiny lettering on the milk carton (or milk cartoon!) and still have it be legible.

From this cartoon, it’s not clear where Dick actually stands on the issue of pensions and jobs. Is he saying most companies don’t have pension plans? That it’s better to work for the government? In any case, this is a funny one!

mike luckovich cartoon on Republicans and how mean they are
mike luckovich cartoon on Republicans and how mean they are

Mike Luckovich is a card. It’s okay to say that, right? He’s one of the most consistently good cartoonists, so I use his work a lot in these roundups. However, I’m torn on this one; this is a foolish, diversity-obsessed, liberal slanting cartoon that I wouldn’t pick on my own. But I want to edit a balanced selection for the Times, so I’m including it.

Why would unemployed and minorities and unions be grouped together anyway, except that the Dems like to feel sorry for people… Mike draws on the left, in case you were wondering.

The colors are very good, however, and the way the figures stand on the bottom of the frame is good design, and the lamppost touches the top. From Gocomics.


taylor jones cartoon on supreme court justice clarence thomas
taylor jones cartoon on supreme court justice clarence thomas

Finally, here’s an example of why the LA Times is still respected and great! LA can be very proud that the Times broke this story of  Justice Clarence Thomas never asking a question during arguments in the Supreme Court…for 5 years now!! He says he only goes by what is written down. So when lawyers present their case, he just listens!

The other justices do not agree with him on the value of oral arguments. They said the back-and-forth exchanges with the lawyers give them an opportunity to clarify aspects of the case they find puzzling. Sometimes, they also use the arguments to throw out ideas to get the attention of their colleagues.

And on occasion, the justices say, the answers they hear during the oral arguments persuade them to change their decision in a case. Thomas, by contrast, indicates he has his mind made up prior to the argument.

Investigating this further, it seems that his silence has been going on for several years. NY Daily News says he’s known as the silent member.

When someone on the Supreme Court is acting strangely, this should bother people. Curious, intelligent people (ie, those who ask questions) are smarter and better-educated, and being stubborn has no place in a court of law. Also, he’s a Conservative judge – he should be as well-informed as possible!! How dare he vote on something he has to guess about!

Why is this cartoon by Taylor Jones (Cagle Cartoons) so  important? It’s the only cartoon out there concerning Thomas’s silence. If you don’t get the LA Times, or didn’t notice this news item, this cartoon would make people curious enough to look up the news. In a real sense, this cartoon IS the news. (Just FYI, I did my own cartoon of Clarence Thomas last year, when his wife decided she didn’t like him being the star, so she started her own tea party. I guess his wife talks more than he does.)

nick anderson cartoon on drug violence in mexico
nick anderson cartoon on drug violence in mexico

Nick Anderson, from Gocomics, usually colors in pastels, and the drawings can end up rather beige, but red and black and white always hits the spot for good design! Of course, no one wants the violence in Mexico, but he cartoons for one of the Texas papers, so this especially hits home for them – and for California, of course, since we’re border states, like Arizona. That’s Uncle Sam holding the flag – he’s is a tired editorial symbol – maybe I should say lazy – dating from the 18oo’s, but  overall this cartoon is striking.

michael kountouris cartoon of european politics
michael kountouris cartoon of european politics

Michael Kountouris, of Cagle Cartoons,  sounds like a Greek name…and I think the stars mean something in Europe…Beyond that, I’m lost. Does anyone know what this cartoon means?

No matter – it’s already far more amusing and eye catching than any of the forgettable scrawls (pretend illustrations) the illustrious LA Times publishes in place of interesting cartoons. The Times needs illustrations like this one, desperately.

Why I pick cartoons for the LA Times

I started this category almost a year ago,  after getting fed up with the backwards-thinking Los Angeles Times. Six years ago they axed Michael Ramirez, their staff cartoonist (conservative), and not only did they never replace him, they put a fatwa on most cartoons in the editorial pages. One source says that one of the key editors at the Times just “doesn’t like cartoons.” Well, it shows, Mr. Editor. The LA Times opinion section has less cartoons than any of the top 100 papers in the country, although it’s  #3 in circulation!

A scanned copy from the Los Angeles Times.
Image via Wikipedia of The LA Times. Can't tell whether it's recent or very old...

They run about 2 cartoons a week, plus 3 on Sunday. One is by Ted Rall, an alternative cartoonist; his national comics are very good, but his cartoon in  the Times, which is supposed to be local (he lives in NY!)  is  a bust – confusing, trivial, and never funny. Worse, his amusing savage anger is gone! Maybe because LA is a city he’s never lived in, and he just doesn’t care.

The Sunday Times cartoon editor, Joel Pett, is a cartoonist out of Lexington, KY, with no editing experience, who has visited LA once.  He usually chooses obscure international cartoons, or dour liberal sad ones, or he often picks his own, just to spice things up.

Both Rall and Pett are Liberal, but of course that’s to be expected at the Times.

The Times has to pull itself together and pull readers into the Opinion pages; not drive them away with dull shoulds, but entertain them with coulds. Treat the readers like smart adults, please. And hire someone with cartoon experience who actually lives in the city you’re trying to target.

Cartoon Captions

Nick Anderson cartoon of Uncle Sam holding the American flag. It says Mexican drug violence, with a big splash of blood.

Taylor Jones’ cartoon: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is shredding the Constitution with his mouth zippered shut.

Mike Luckovich’s cartoon: Two people are on the street looking at a line of people under a streetlight, with labels of jobless, hispanic, gay, muslim and union member. One person says, “American Federation of Scapegoats.”

Dick Locher cartoon: Couple in kitchen eating breakfast. Man reads milk carton that says: MISSING: Your company’s pension plan. Have you thought about a government job?

bob englehart union cartoon – Unions and State Government (Wisconsin or other) are sitting at the Bargaining Table. The essential Taxpayer is missing. Someone needs to call him.