Category Archives: cartoon review

The Current Cartoon Administration…

I don’t need to tell you what I really think about Trump, because I don’t use language that bad in public, and because cartoons capture what I think better than anything else does (except maybe the Mueller investigation… hopefully that captures Trump’s antics better.

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Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

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It is really hard to believe all the fascist Shiite that is going on.

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Tumbling the Trumpinator

It has gone beyond the realm of credibility.  How can a pumpkin-headed orangutan with a belly full of racial hatred and Islamophobia still be nominally running this country?  Has he not committed enough irredeemable sins to be sent to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass GO and do not collect $200!?  I think he stole all the “Get out of jail free” cards before the game ever started.

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I have never called this Twitter twit-wit my president.  I never voted for him.  He did not win the popular vote.  He would not have won the electoral college without Republican cheating at voter suppression and Russian influence through email chicanery.  But the terrible things he has done so far have not gotten him removed from office.  Republicans still treat him as if he were a rational adult.  And Fox News is not only putting lipstick on the pig, they are covering him in red, white, and blue frosting and molding him into the shape of an American Eagle.  Why do we put up with these tactics?

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Perhaps other cartoonists and I are the only ones who see him for what he really is.  He’s an ignorant con man put into a position of power by billionaires so they can foist their evil agenda on us and have him rubber-stamp it with faux legitimacy.

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The betrayal of the DACA Dreamers was fifteen straws beyond the last straw for me.  Who is planning to remove him from office immediately?  I want to help.  I don’t believe in solving problems with guns, but I can throw a mean banana cream pie of satire and sarcasm.  I’m actually Hell at pie-whacking faces.   I can attempt to hurt him with rotten tomatoes of jokery and the silly string  of mockery too.  But even the image of this buffoon in cheap clothing with long red ties is immune to the assaults of mere humor.  He never gets the joke, and it is never on him.  It is on us instead.

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He hurts too many good people by taking away things that they need.  He may have damaged the way sick people access health care to the point that many, including me, will die for lack of funds.  He de-values human life by pardoning racist criminals like Arpaio and praising malevolent dictators like Putin.  He puts human life at risk by taunting another irrational man-baby who also has nukes to play chicken with.

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And no effort to remove him from office for crimes which he obviously committed and shows no signs of anything but guilt about will be made by the party now in power.

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So what will you do to bring back our country and our supposed sanity?  Tell me.  I want to hear a plan.  I stand ready with foam rubber whack bats to take the best shots I am capable of to help.  And I am not the only one.  (Truly, I drew none of the cartoons in this post myself.  Good cartoonists are legion in this day and age.)

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Why Do You Think That? (Part Two)

In my short, sweet sixty years of life, I have probably seen more than my share of movies.  I have seen classic movies, black-and-white movies, cartoon movies, Humphrey Bogart movies, epic movies, science fiction movies, PeeWee Herman movies, Disney movies, Oscar-winning movies, and endless box-office stinkers.  But in all of that, one of the most undeniable threads of all is that movies make me cry.  In fact they make me cry so often it is a miracle that even a drop of moisture remains in my body.   I should be a dried-out husk by now.

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I wept horribly during this scene.  Did you?

And the thing is, people make fun of you when you cry at movies.  Especially cartoon movies like Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.  (But I claim I was laughing so hard it brought tears to my eyes.  That’s the truth, dear sister.  So stop laughing at me.)  But I would like to put forth another “Why do you think that?” notion.  People who cry while watching a movie are stronger and more powerful than the people who laugh at them for crying.  A self-serving thesis if ever there was one.

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Movies can make you cry if you have the ability to feel empathy.  We all know this.  Old Yeller is the story of a dog who endears himself to a prairie farm family, saves Travis’s life at one point, and then gets infected with rabies and has to be put down.  Dang! No dry eyes at the end of that one.  Because everyone has encountered a dog and loyal dog-love somewhere along the line.  And a ten-year-old dog is an old dog.  The dogs you knew as a child helped you deal with mortality because invariably, no matter how much you loved them, dogs demonstrate what it means to die.  Trixie and Scamper were both hit by cars.  Queenie, Grampa’s collie, died of old age.  Jiggs the Boston Terrier died of heat stroke one summer.  You remember the pain of loss, and the story brings it all back.

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Only psychopaths don’t feel empathy to some degree.  Think about how you would feel if you were watching Old Yeller and somebody you were watching with started laughing when Travis pulls the trigger on the shotgun.  Now, there’s a Stephen King sort of character.

But I think I can defend having lots of empathy as a reason for crying a river of tears during Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  You see, identifying with Quasimodo as the main character, hoping for what he hopes for, feeling like a monster and completely unloved, and fearing what he fears connect you to the story in ways that completely immerses you in the experience.  This is basically a monster movie.Original-Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame

But the film puts you inside the head of the malformed man, and you realize that he is not the monster.  Righteous Judge Frollo and the people who mistreat Quasimodo for his deformity of outward appearance are the real monsters.  If you don’t cry a river of tears because of this story, then you have not learned the essential truth of Quasimodo.  When we judge others harshly, we are really judging ourselves. In order to stop being monstrous, and be truly human, you must look inside the ugliness as Esmeralda does to see the heroic beauty inside others.  Sometimes the ideas themselves are so powerful they make me weep.  That’s when my sister and my wife look at me and shake their heads because tears are shooting out of me like a fountain, raining wetness two or three seats in every direction.  But I believe I am a wiser man, a more resolved man, and ultimately a better man because I was not afraid to let a movie make me cry.

The music also helps to tell the story in ways that move my very soul to tears.  Notice how the heroine walks the opposite way to the rest of the crowd.  As they sing of what they desire, what they ask God to grant, she asks for nothing for herself.  She shows empathy in every verse, asking only for help for others.  And she alone walks to the light from the stained glass window.  She alone is talking to God.

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Yes, I am not embarrassed by the fact that movies make me cry.   In fact, I should probably be proud that movies and stories and connections to other people, which they bring me, makes me feel it so deeply I cry.  Maybe I am a sissy and a wimp.  Maybe I deserved to be laughed at all those times for crying during the movie.  But, hey, I’ll take the laughter.  I am not above it.  I am trying to be a humorist after all.

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Ladybugs Conquer Cartoonland

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Yes, Mickey couldn’t help it.  The toys hit the shelves in Walmart.  He discovered the silly superhero junior highschool romance thing first on Pinterest, then on YouTube.  Miraculous, the Adventures of Ladybug and Cat Noir.   The silly thing is on Netflix now too.

So, why would a goofy old man like me be interested in a thing like this… a thing aimed at an audience of pre-teen girls?  That’s disturbingly creepy, isn’t it?

Well, I never claimed to be cool.  I was an English teacher for 31 years.  Cool was never an option.

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And I collect dolls… erm… action figures… uh… well, I might as well be honest.  I have more Barbies than G.I. Joes.  I have a hoarding disorder fixated on 12-inch dolls.  And when I saw this doll for less than 15 dollars at Walmart, I had to buy it.  And it has the other super hero, Cat Noir right beside it.  Both under 20 dollars so they fit under the 20 dollar limit.  And both together only cost 30 dollars, so it fits under the 50 dollar per month limit as well.  Those collecting rules are important in saving me from my own juvenile regressive self and helps me have enough money to buy food all month long.

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The people in the store don’t look at me funny.  I am not the only old man buying toys and dolls in Walmart.  I am just the only old man there not buying for his grandkids.  I don’t have any grandkids yet, and my own kids are definitely older than the toy-wanting stage.  The people would be far more disturbed if they knew I was now struggling with the question, “Do I preserve these dolls mint-in-box?  Or do I take them out and play with them?”  And if you have read any of my lunatic “he-plays-with-dolls” posts, you probably already know how that one will turn out.

People might also be deeply disturbed to know that I have already watched two episodes of Miraculous, and (shudder) liked them in spite of the moronic romance and love-triangle bull poop.  I can’t promise that I will not watch more and turn away from this new filthy habit.  The stories are stupid villain-of-the-week stuff.  But the CGI animation is brightly colored, smooth, and highly interesting… to the point that I and any available chimpanzees or monkeys will be enthralled with it.  Oh, and pre-teen girls too.  I won’t go into the connections between those things.

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I could probably spend a lot of words telling you more about how this cartoon is set in Paris, France, and how Marinette and Adrien, the secret identities of the two superheroes above, are both in love with each other, but don’t realize it because neither one knows the secret identity of the other.  But I won’t.  This post is not a review of the cartoon show.  This post is a goofy commentary celebrating the fact that I bought myself two more dolls, and now must somehow rationalize that weird, compulsive act.

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The Ultra-Mad Madness of Don Martin

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Born in 1931 and lasting in this crazy, mixed-up world until the year 2000, Don Martin was a mixy, crazed-up cartoonist for Mad Magazine who would come to be billed as “Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.”    His greatest work was done during his Mad years, from 1956 (the year I was born… not a coincidence, I firmly believe) until his retirement in 1988.  And I learned a lot from him by reading his trippy toons in Mad from my childhood until my early teacher-hood.

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His style is uniquely recognizable and easily identifiable.  Nobody cartoons a Foon-man like Don Martin.

The googly eyes are always popped in surprise.  The tongue is often out and twirling.  Knees and elbows always have amazingly knobbly knobs.  Feet have an extra hinge in them that God never thought of when he had Adam on the drawing board.

And then there is the way that Martin uses sound effects.  Yes, cartoons in print don’t make literal sounds, but the incredible series of squeedonks and doinks that Martin uses create a cacophony of craziness in the mind’s ear.

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And there is a certain musicality in the rhyming of the character names he uses.  Fester Bestertester was a common foil for slapstick mayhem, and Fonebone would later stand revealed by his full name, Freenbeen I. Fonebone.

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And, of course, one of his most amazingly adventurous ne’er-do-well slapstick characters was the immeasurable Captain Klutz!

Here, there, and everywhere… on the outside he wears his underwear… it’s the incredible, insteadable, and completely not edible… Captain Klutz!

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If you cannot tell it from this tribute, I deeply love the comic genius who was Don Martin, Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.  Like me he was obsessed with nudists and drawing anatomy.  Like me he was not above making up words with ridiculous-sounding syllables.  And like me he was also a purple-furred gorilla in a human suit… wait!  No, he wasn’t, but he did invent Gorilla-Suit Day, where people in gorilla suits might randomly attack you as you go about your daily life, or gorillas in people suits, or… keep your eye on the banana in the following cartoon.

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So, even though I told you about Bruce Timm and Wally Wood and other toon artists long before I got around to telling you about Don Martin, that doesn’t mean I love them more.  Don Martin is wacky after my own heart, and the reason I spent so much time immersed in Mad Magazine back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

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Cartoonists Trying to Save the World

Back in the 1870’s (you remember it as well as I do, don’t you?) a cartoonist named Thomas Nast basically invented the political cartoon.  Back then, a bloated New York politician and his gang of criminals were busy getting wealthy through corrupt business and government relationships.  Nast used his gift for scribbly-art satire to lampoon the buffoons and make the public laugh at the evil he exposed.  Of course, they knew about the corruption of Boss Tweed before they laughed at the cartoons, but the focus on the problem created by Nast’s magnifying glass focusing the rays of sunlight on the problem is often credited with helping to burn up the scandal.

Cartoonists had power back then.  Power over public opinion.  The power to help fairly uncomplicated (and sometimes stupid) folk to recognize the absurdity of the situation and the need for changing it.

So why haven’t cartoonists fried the Make-America-Great-Again orangutan running the country now with his brand of corpulent corruption already?  Believe me, they are trying.

They have already highlighted the way the Bozo Administration manipulates the focus of the mainstream media.  Every time media coverage begins to converge on one scandal, he creates another big, smelly media poop of a controversy to redirect their focus.

And while he is doing his big shoe dance on the tables in the spotlight, congress is doing his rich friends’ evil will in the back rooms.

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The end result of this malevolent dog-and-pony show is patently obvious.

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Unfortunately, in the 1870’s, the stupid people that Thomas Nast was enlightening had not yet achieved the profound levels of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stupidity that Trump supporters have now mastered.  Poor and middle-class Republicans, Texans, and other dim folk continue to take the Great Pumpkinhead at his word and believe every utterance of his mouth to be sacred gospel truth.  I have had conservative friends arguing themselves into pretzel-knots to defend his policies and dastardly deeds.

But if cartoonists can’t succeed in shining sunlight on the bloodsucking vampiric old moneybags and kill him soon, his reign will become immortal and we are all gonna die.

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Seriously.  We stand at the end of a long chain of greedy b*st*rds raping and pillaging the environment for profit and not caring about the impact of their actions.  We are dooming the planet to environmental collapse because the orange-faced name-stamper cares more about short-term profits for himself and his friends than he does about whether or no his own grandchildren will have water to drink, air to breath, and a place to live cool enough that metal doesn’t melt in the sunshine.

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So, I hate to be a double-trouble downer about the whole thing, but the truth is if we are depending on cartoonists and humorists to save the world, we are in trouble.  It is not working the way it did in Nast’s day.  Cartoonists are doing their lampooning and doing it well.  But more is needed.  And if we don’t get that something more soon, then (to incorrectly paraphrase and misquote T.S. Eliot), “This is the way the world ends… Not with a whimper but a bang!”

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Nicknames, Insults, and Epithets

He won by hanging nicknames like millstones around the necks of his opponents.

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He called this fellow “Lyin’ Ted”.

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And he berated her as “Crooked Hillary”

Insults, nicknames, and politics seem to work better together than anything else when you are trying to win over the fat, lazy white folks with too much money who gather at the Cracker Barrel in Lewisville, Texas to decide who will be President of the U. S.  After all, they are the only ones whose voice still counts in politics.  Voter I.D. laws, gerrymandering of voting districts, and vilification of Muslims has pretty much seen to that.

But I have always felt that insulting your opponent in a debate was not only uncivil, but actually cheating.  I would much prefer to see ideas and policies and political positions be ridiculed.  Still, that is not the way the world works now that the semi-stupid people have taken control.  Vicious and personal is the preferred way of the modern day.

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It was certainly awkward, stupid, and bad the way a certain Texas Grandpa Munster look-alike exploited his own children during his GOP nomination campaign.  But that paled in comparison with how the Great Orange Face accused his father of killing J.F.K. and called his wife ugly in comparison to the plastic Barbie doll that Pumpkinhead currently keeps on leash number three for himself.  Grampy Munster was right, when he said family should be off limits.

If you must vilify the un-TrusTED One, and we certainly must,  it should be for the selfish, stupid policies and agendas that he would enact if he wins the golden ticket.

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And how do we know what he would do if the “Ultimate Power of Castle Grayskull” actually became his?  Well, he did spend a lot of time telling us what he would do.  His message was not all Green Eggs and Ham.  Though there was a lot of leftover ham even after the Dr. Seuss Filibuster.

So what is the proper way to talk about the Orangutan King we made the mistake of electing?

He has gone to considerable effort to place doubt in everyone’s mind about the truth in every reported story from the media.

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Although, he seems to really like Fox News.

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He has hammered it into the brains of his true believers that anything CNN says about the Russian hacking scandal is absolutely “WRONG!”  Though I am inclined to believe that everything that comes out of his mouth truly means that the opposite of what he says is true.3-1

And I think we all have to work a little harder to deny him control over what is defined as “True” and what he can be allowed to call “Fake.”

So, even though I realize I have a certain talent for insulting others myself, and have used it generously here, I do not think insults are the right way to go.  You should talk about the ideas and the prejudices, and how those things lead to evil befalling us.  Insults are a waste of time.  But did you notice?  While composing this piece, the cartoonists whose work I am sharing with you may have labeled them with names, I never once  in my own writing named any of the ones I was insulting by name.

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And I’ll bet you knew who I meant anyway.

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