Political Cartoons

Political Cartoons are what happens when someone with basic artistic skills wants to show how little they know about current events.

Comic by August J. Pollak (http://www.xoverboard.com/)

Comic by Zach Weiner (http://www.smbc-comics.com/)

Comic by Shmorky (http://www.shmorky.com/)

Just The Facts

  1. The "proper" term is "editorial cartoon."
  2. This is the equivalent of calling a man wearing a George W. Bush mask and having sex with a watermelon "performance art," or calling "Archie Meets the Punisher" a "graphic novel."
  3. Both things in #2 are more entertaining and informative than 90% of all political cartoons.

Why (most) political comics suck

The outrage/controversy surrounding a February 2009 New York Post political cartoon comparing Barack Obama to Travis the chimpanzee, who snapped and disfigured a woman before being shot and killed by police, led to a shocking revelation: people still give two shits about political cartoons. In fact, more people were concerned about the comic than the woman who got her hands, jaw, eyes, lips, and nose ripped off by the chimp in the comic.

Instead of thinking about those terrifying injuries and the misplaced concern/outrage, think of how cute this bunny is.

Nobody noted that the comic was pretty standard in terms of quality, by which we mean it was a piece of crap.

Most political comics try to be informative and entertaining, but fail at both. It's not that political humor can't be funny, it's just that these cartoonists suck at it. Here's how:

-Labels: The double whammy of using labels is that they're either useless or necessary. Either a joke makes no sense without a label explaining what's going on, or the situation is so obvious that using labels is treating the readers as if their brains were made of dildos.

-Obviousness: When was the last time a political cartoon actually tried to make an insightful point? Hell, when was the last time they had anything original? Here's a great example: When the news was reporting on the building of a massive wall along the US-Mexico border, there were literally dozens of cartoons making the same joke: "WHAT IF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS COULD BE HIRED AS CHEAP LABOR TO BUILD THE WALL SO THAT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS COULDN'T ENTER THE US? LOL IRONY."

When they're not making obvious jokes, they're making incredibly simple observations that weren't funny to begin with and attempt to milk them for all they're worth. What's that? The RNC was using donated money for a party at a strip club? The RNC promotes family values? Those two blatantly stated facts contradict each other?! Wow! We could've never figured that out on our own!

-No knowledge required: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, when an issue requires extensive knowledge on a subject in order to actually understand and make assessments in regards to it, people who have no background in that particular area need to do everyone a favor and shut the fuck up. Political cartoonists however, can't grasp this concept, which probably why they're writing political cartoons and not doing something that requires intelligence, like ditch digging.

Yes, cartoonists care about factual accuracy about as much as Hitler cared about giving his employees the day off on Yom Kippur. The best example comes from anytime it snows, where a comic shows a sign on a building saying something to the extent of "global warming meeting canceled due to snow," because snow is proof that the climate hasn't changed at all and therefore the comic is ironic, meaning the comic is both funny and informative. With this accomplished, the cartoonist is so happy that any chance of him/her realizing how fucking stupid this sounds vanishes.

-Exaggerations: There are no issues that are in black in white, the people involved in those issues vary greatly in their beliefs, and there is no simple way to summarize an issue in a few words. Making a level-headed statement on an issue is all the more challenging when these things into account...so why take the time act all fair and balanced when you know that you're right and everyone else is a terrorist? Group of people disagree with you on certain issues? Now they're a bunch of ignorant jackasses! Complex social issue that has most people on the fence? Now it's a "yes or no" no-brainer! Political figure with opposing views to your own gaining support? Hitler mustache!

At this point, you might think we're being unfair and (ironically) exaggerating the flaws of political cartoonists. We assure you, we're not.

Mike Lester

Mike Lester is a conservative, possible racist, and almost certainly retarded.

Using a recent tragedy to push some sort of political agenda makes you a dick.

Fun fact: one of the Cracked forum moderators was actually attending VT when the shootings happened. Here are his thoughts on giving the students guns:

"By the time people realized what was happening and had a chance to counterattack, they were either shot or the shooter had moved on. This is not the sort of situation where they could have prepared for the guy, set up an ambush and taken him down. This was a situation where they were sitting ducks and no amount of armament would've prevented this tragedy.

I remind you that even the police, who are trained to spot the criminals out of the innocent sometimes get it wrong and shoot the wrong people. Untrained vigilantes are even more likely to shoot the good guy by mistake. I don't see allowing the students to arm themselves as saving lives, I see it as causing accidental shootings when a goth guy drops a text book in the hallway

That said, the key part is that Lester used a tragedy to push an ideaology in that same smug way all cartoonists do: "Gee what an awful, awful thing...THAT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED HAD YOU DONE ______."

Criticism: Accusing the Democrats of hiding behind the State Children's Health Insurance Program, making them immune to criticism of the healthcare legislation.

Retarded political comic criticism: Saying that doing the above statement is just like being a terrorist.

Long version: We have no idea what's going on in this comic. We're using immoral things as an unstable platform? That we should've given up on "morality" when Elvis died? Wasn't Prohibition started by the same people who would've condemned half the subjects mentioned? Since when has men eating french quisine ever been an issue (aside from "freedom fries")? We can totally get behind the "women wear pants" issue. Ladies be wearing too much clothing for our taste.


You got to be fucking kidding.

Let's compare, starting with Michael Irvin's quote. (Audio)

"� [there must be] some brothers in that line somewhere � (laughs to himself) somewhere there are some brothers � I don't know who saw what, where �. [maybe] his great, great, great, great Grandma ran over in the hood or something went down � (laughter)"

Clearly not words coming from Rosa Parks, but also not the "blacks are superior athletes to whites" racism that Lester portrayed it as. The only difference between this and two male co-workers talking about which race has the sexiest women is that Irvin was dumb enough to say that shit on a national radio show.

In contrast, here's what Richards had to say to two black hecklers.

"You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now motherfucker. Throw his ass out. He's a nigger! He's a nigger! He's a nigger! A nigger, look, there's a nigger! Oooo! Ooo... All right, ya see? It shocks you, it shocks you, to see what's buried beneath, you stupid mother fuckers!"

So Irvin makes an off-color joke reserved for the locker room on and gets made to look like a black panther, while Richards starts screaming racial slurs at a black audience members for heckling him and is suddenly the victim.

Also, the answer to the "bonus question" is "technically neither." Irvins was later fired for a different incident, and Richards "retired" from stand-up comedy to travel the world and do some "healing."

Ted Rall

When Time Magazine did the traditional "top ten" yearly round-up, political cartoons were included. Naturally, most of them sucked. So award-winning cartoonist Ted Rall stepped up to the plate and sent the editors a letter pointing out that it was an "insult" to all the other hard-working cartoonists that this "phoned-in crap" could be considered the best of the year.

Ironically, Rall has no understanding of what qualifies as a good political cartoon. If Mike Lester is Rush Limbaugh, then Ted Rall is whoever's a bigger asshole than Michael Moore.

Yup, Rall just compared American soldiers to terrorists. That urge to punch through your computer monitor is not some sort of hallucination. Note that Rall apparently believes being a dude and having religious beliefs is just like being a terrorist. This is like saying that the pest control guy is similar to a Nazi, as they both wear uniforms, are male, and use "chemicals" to "exterminate" the "lesser creatures." See how easy it is?

Also note how Rall tiptoes around using traits that most sane people attribute to suicide bombers, like "terrorist," "works for Al-Qaeda or the Taliban," or "a tendency to blow themselves up in public places with the intent of killing as many innocent people as possible, which is pretty much the exact opposite of a soldier, you fucking shithead."

Few things:

-Pat Tillman doesn't fit the mold of the terrorist/soldier in the previous comic because he doesn't believe in God.

-We don't know his IQ or anything but we doubt that Tillman was an idiot. He was a fan of Emerson and Thoreau, well-read on the Bible, Koran, and the Book of Mormon, and planned to meet Noam Chomsky when he returned home.

-He was an outspoken Bush critic and planned to vote for John Kerry. Also, he specifically wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, and believed the invasion of Iraq was "so fucking illegal."

-That "low-rent occupation army" was the 75th Ranger Regiment.

But why bother with all these "facts" when you can sum up a person as "DURP DURP LET'S KILL SUM A-RABS GIT-R-DONE" and spit on their grave?

Turns out, Rall didn't know about any of these things, and eventually issued an apology. Rall somehow manages to fuck this up, by ending it with the "I guess the lesson here is don't judge a book by its cover" line like this whole incident was a saturday morning cartoon. You tell 'em Rall! That'll mend some fences.

Let it not be said that Rall isn't afraid to dehumanize living people. What's weird is that his "criticism" of "the Jersey Girls" is not unlike Ann Coulter's.

If you haven't figured it out yet, Rall is an asshole. This strip sums up a lot of his stuff: indiscriminately-targeted grieving families/friends get painted as victimizers. We sincerely doubt that Daniel Pearl's wife is totally emotionless with regards to her husband's death. (This strip came out about a week after his beheading; it's as tasteless now as it was then.)

Eat a barrel full of dicks, Rall.

Bruce Tinsley

Tinsley writes Mallard Fillmore, that cartoon about a Republican duck.