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plus ça change, huh?


I’ve been browsing editorial cartoons tonight (gosh, I’ve wasted an improbable chunk of my life staring at Google Images). Made me fink.

You have to go back a hundred years before the ideas and the artwork strike me as worthy. Like this one, from 1919 (who doesn’t revile “the mad notions of Europe”? Amirite?). Of course, these days you find these old gems mostly in course syllabi for How Our Ancestors Were, Like, Totally Retarded 101.

Editorial cartoons from about the mid-20th C onward are mostly lefty. And ugly. (One exception would be Michael Ramirez, who I think is a flipping editorial cartoon conservative mad genius).

And at some point they stopped trying to persuade the other side (me, IOW) and went straight for enrage. Ideas were replaced with ciphers. Like if they could hang a label on something (“red scare” or “McCarthyism”), they didn’t have to address the issue (whether the government ever was really and truly infested with commies and whether that’s done us any favors).

I don’t know. Maybe cartoons always made somebody mad. You’d have to ask a lefty whether Ramirez cartoons make him irrationally angry. But the modern stuff just seems awfully heavy on snark and ridicule. And they punch down (or at least sideways) more often than they punch up.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: October 14, 2015, 11:11 pm

‘The mad notions of Europe’ Oh, yes!

I’ve often said that there’s no idea so bleedin’ crazy that a Frenchman or a German wouldn’t go to war over it.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: October 15, 2015, 11:02 am

Herblock (Herbert Lawrence Block) started making me angry when I first became aware of his crap in the Washington Post some 50 years ago. I’m not quite ready to call my anger “irrational” though: it can be argued that he took positions where anger was a reasonable reaction. He was a simple-minded progressive alarmist, and could be nastier than Nast.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: October 15, 2015, 1:24 pm

Micheal Ramirez is a Super Genius, there is no doubt about that. There are very few political cartoonists worth looking at. Lisa Benson is one that I like. You are quite right about snark being the soup du jour of the day, every day, with the vast majority of political cartoonists. It’s not even good snark!

Comment from David Gillies
Time: October 15, 2015, 8:09 pm

I miss Cox and Forkum.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: October 15, 2015, 10:57 pm

Yeah, I suppose if you were one of the immigrants referred to in this cartoon, it would be pretty angry making. I guess, though, I was thinking they didn’t use to take pokes at fellow Americans.

And then there’s Cruikshank…

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: October 16, 2015, 3:43 am

The cartoon is a little bit goofy – because the IWW was founded in Chicago. The U.S. has had plenty of domestic radicalism.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: October 16, 2015, 5:25 am

Anybody here old enough to remember Jeff MacNelly? In addition to editorial cartoons he did Shoe, and also illustrated Dave Barry’s old syndicated column.

I think my favorite of his was the 1040 he did back in the mid eighties. A friend and I still crack each other up by ending questions with “Yes/No/Extra Cheese?”

Comment from Can’t Hark My Cry
Time: October 16, 2015, 6:49 pm

Steve: I still have a copy of that McNelly 1040 that my parents cut out of the newspaper and sent me; thought it was earlier than the ’80s. Nonetheless, a classic!

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