Finally finding time to acknowledge a couple of changes in my editorial cartoon department...
I’m now only drawing two editorial cartoons a week for the Concord Monitor but have added a full color Sunday funnies-style political comic called Birch & Finch.
The strip will satirize New Hampshire politics via two main characters,
Arthur Birch and Violet Finch. Birch is a 14-term NH legislator of the Republican persuasion. Finch is a six-term House Democrat and she just happens to be Arthur’s daughter. The comic will be a mash & clash of politics, family dynamics and New Hampshire eccentricities. This comic appears on the new Forum page rather than the Opinion page so it will not always be leaning as hard left as my editorial cartoons do. I will portray a reflection of others' opinons as well as my own.
It appears each Saturday in the Monitor - see it online here: http://www.concordmonitor.com/opinion/cartoons/
Each installment is also added to my website several days later.
Birch & Finch has been a long time coming...it originated back in 1995 as a black & white daily comic strip that I proposed to then-editorial page editor John Fensterwald. Alas, it never saw the light of day due to budget constraints.
Fast-forward to today...my current Monitor editor, Felice Belman asked me to come up with something for a new page she was developing - The Forum. I dusted off Birch & Finch and re-wrote it, updating the characters and drawing it in the Sunday funnies style.
Below is a run of strips from the original in which, reflecting the reality of the time, both characters were old-guy legislators.
You can see the new ones on the Birch & Finch page of this website.
Yup. The critics delightedly pounced on this one. A couple of ‘em even going off
on little cuckoo tangents...
Critic: The cartoon was “sexually suggestive”...
due to the fact that I’d drawn Senator Ayotte sitting on a man’s (Wayne LaPierre) lap.
Um, where would they have preferred I place a lapdog, on his head?!
And she wasn’t “pawing at his thigh”. Her front legs are merely positioned in the front to clearly show this is a dog. I see knees and calves. No thighs. Would the critic have preferred I’d hidden the paws out of sight between WP’s legs? I think not.
And the cartoon was “sexist”...
Critic: “Would Marland have ever drawn this cartoon replacing Ayotte’s head with the head of a male senator? I don’t think so.”
Of course I would.
And I would’ve had his tongue hanging out.
Which I had pencilled on this one but decided not to ink it because, being concious of the fact that I was drawing a woman on a man’s lap, I didn’t want to give the cartoon any sort of, wait for it...sexual connotation. I will readily admit that I'm kinder to women when I draw them than to men, which makes the above charge and the one below all the more asinine...
Because... I’m also a misogynist according to another critic.
He says I hate women, especially Republican women.
Not true. I love Republican women.
They give me some of the best material for editorial cartoons.
Bottom line: No matter how you want to slice ’n’ dice the details of that background check bill, Senator Ayotte voted against an overwhelming majority of her constituents’ wishes and for the interests of the NRA. The NRA lapdog image was the perfect metaphor for what I had to say.
There were also objections to my “demonizing” of Ayotte.
And charges of “uncivil discourse” and adding to the “divisiveness” within the debate on guns.
They’d like me tone it down.
These are the buzzwords and phrases that the right likes to trot out when someone kicks them in the ass...but when they’re the ones doing the kicking...hm, whole different story.
See you in funny papers.
As I stated in my very first blog post I had a little something to say about the internet and its effect on the newspaper business...
Before the internet I hand-delivered my Concord Monitor editorial cartoons to the opinon page editor every Friday morning. This resulted in actual conversations with the editor and
others I knew in the office. The round-trip drive and visit took approximately 1.25 hours.
Since the late nineties I’ve sent the cartoons to the Monitor via the internet. I have moved 90 minutes away from the Monitor office. I speak occasionally by phone with my editors. I have not been to the actual Monitor office for well over a dozen years.
Delivering my cartoons now takes less than a minute.
The give: time saved.
The take: personal interaction lost.
Before the internet I self-syndicated my editorial cartoons by sending photocopies via US mail. In the late 90s I began sending them as computer files via the internet. At the peak (late 90s/early 00s) I had 10 NH newspapers as clients.
Then came the great newspaper advertising crash, courtesy of...the internet! I am now down to four newspapers, probably with no hope of regaining those I’ve lost or of signing up any new ones, thanks to the radical change of fortune for the newspaper business. And I’m only drawing half as many cartoons for the Monitor as I used to due to their budget constraints. I stick mostly to NH topics now so I have nothing to send in what used to be my biennial mailing to the syndicates hoping this might be the year one of them signs me up.
The give: time saved.
The take: income & opportunity lost.
Before the internet editorial cartoons were black & white.
Now most are available in a choice of black & white or full color (not mine). That takes more time, computer time. And taking time to learn a software program.
The savior of editorial cartooning at one point was going to be animation. Full-color editorial cartoons that move! Cool! So I bought animation software. That increased my per cartoon time from 1-2 hours per cartoon to 8 hours for the first 5 seconds of a 30 second cartoon.
Considering what a newspaper can pay, there’s no way in hell that’s ever going to be cost effective (although there are a few who have managed to continue producing animated editoons).
I never completed a single animated cartoon.
The give: learned that the future of editorial cartooning is not animation.
The take: non-productive time-suck.
Before the internet there was always possibilities.
Of signing up more papers. Instead of watching them fold.
Of getting syndicated. Instead of posting your work for free on the web.
Of landing that staff position at The Maui News. Instead of becoming an endangered specie.
Fortunately I’m an optimimist and I do think the newspapers will figure out how to
make the internet pay (no pun intended :) and we cartoonists will continue to be part of their content.
Something will come along. It always does.
Of course, I do miss the glory days.
I’m easily stunned.
Usually in a good way - by something in science or nature.
But unfailingly by people.
I was taken aback recently by a person who left a comment
in which I was labelled a hater.
Damn. I thought I was just an very opinionated cartoonist.
Evidently, if you criticize delusional, paranoid, ideological crackpots by
pointing out their arrogant, intolerant, moronism and you do it in a humorous way and put it in the newspaper they get all hurt and quite defensive.
It’s not like I’m on a par with the likes of Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or NH’s very own Jack Kimball. Now there are some haters. No, the opinions in my cartoons are based on facts and reality, not on personal delusions or ideological talking points and propaganda. When I criticize something or someone I come at it from a legitimate angle rather than a dishonest one which would serve the desired purpose of the hater which is to use their words in a way that will do the most “damage”.
I do not view editorial cartoons as a vehicle with which to deliver hate. More like little vehicles to deliver a much-needed comeuppance. Or a little reminder to a politician that, yes, we’re watching you. And on to you. And you ain’t fooling no one and I’m going to point that out just in case someone missed it. Political hypocrisy and moronism is my meat & potatoes.
I do hate arrogant, self-absorbed, windbag, pocket-lining politicians
who sacrifice our long-term well-being for short-term party gains.
And people who will go to any sleazy length to win an election.
And the people who think that’s okay.
I hate racism.
Okay. Ya got me.
I’m a hater.
Hey, @#%**! Why do you hate guns?
I do draw a lot of anti-gun culture cartoons but not because I hate guns -
because I vehemently disagree with gun extremists.
I grew up a country boy north of the notches in the 1960s & 70s.
There were guns aplenty at home and in the homes of most everyone I knew.
In my late teens I had custody of my father’s 12 gauge shotgun.
I took the NRA hunter safety course, but decided fairly quickly that I wasn’t a hunter.
But my brother was. And my sister. And most of my friends...relatives... and neighbors.
A former brother-in-law was a competitive shooter.
Hmm...all those people with guns and not a one of ‘em would I call a gun nut.
Hmm again...MAYbe because that was back when the NRA was more concerned with teaching the safe handling of deadly weaponry instead of whipping angry white guys into a paranoid frenzy so they’ll buy more guns, thus increasing the gun makers’ profits which in turn ensures the continuation of the NRA’s own enrichment by lobbying for the gun makers and from dues and donations from whipped-up, brainwashed white guys.
I’m one of those who subscribe to the militia interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
As I read it, it clearly states we have the right to keep firearms for the purpose of
participating in a militia.
Whose original purpose was the defense of our brand-spankin’-new country.
Things have changed a wee bit since then.
We have a huge military now. With mortars and tanks and nuclear bombs.
We don’t need militias. Although 23 states currently have official “state defense forces”, mostly in the south and west, of course, which speaks volumes about our current cultural divide.
Also, at the time the 2nd Amendment was written the state-of-the-art firearm was a flintlock,
not a 30-round AR-15.
So...pistols, rifles & shotguns for self-protection and hunting? No problem as long as they’re properly regulated - mandatory safety courses, background checks and owner registry. We do it with cars, (registry) we can do it with guns.
Automatics or semi-automatics of any kind? No. They should be banned and all the ones that are out there need to be turned in. These are military weapons made for one pupose: war. I see no reason to have these in the hands of civilians. None. I know they’re fun to shoot, but fans of these weapons really need to find a different hobby.
And as for the government tyranny argument, I think that’s just nuts. If you think the government is coming for you and your guns you don’t need more guns, you need therapy.
That’s just a marketing ploy to get people to buy ever more guns and ammo.
Also, I’ve always kinda thought if there was tyranny it wouldn’t be brought down upon us by the left it would come from the right... They seem to be the surly, intolerant, tyrannical ones.
Until sanity prevails I’m sure the current treasure trove of editorial cartoon material will continue unabated courtesy of the the 2nd Amendment extremists. Hell, as it stands now there is so much ridiculousness out there that I could draw a gun cartoon every single day of the week!
I'll try to control myself and keep it to one a week.
As hard as that is.
Because I love to give a good whack to evil and stupid every chance I get.
Peace & Love,
Some online comments I was reading recently sent me to the dictionary to look up the word opinion...
A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.”
Well, don’t I feel stupid.
Over 25 years of cartooning I’ve always based my editorial cartoons on facts.
I’ve been very meticulous about that. I’ve always believed if I’m going to throw an opinion
out there I’d better be prepared to back it up with some solid facts.
Turns out I didn’t need to.
I could operate just like a letter-to-the-editor writer if I want to. Or web trolls.
Or right wing editorial writers and commentators.
I could just make shit up!! Or slyly leave pertinent things out. Who knew?!
Wow. I could toss things out there based on nothing more than party talking points, blog trash and gobbledygook from the radio and tv or even from the ramblings of my wealthy nutjobs friends! Holy cow! Just think of all the hilarious, mean, wacky cartoons I could’ve done!!
Given this newfound knowledge I could join the ideological media whores like Rush and
Glenn Beck and Fox News (and SO many others) and turn this cartoon thing into a real moneymaker! I’ll just make stuff up that’ll push all the right buttons of my chosen audience causing them to identify with my carefully cultivated persona and go into a buying frenzy whenever I release a new book, dvd or coffee mug! I’ll be ensconced in a Boca Del Ray mansion in no time!
Then I’d probably have to take up golf. And cigars. And lying.
And sell my soul to the devil.
Guess I’ll just do what I’ve always done...stick to the facts.
To begin with, some credentials: I have been reading the newspaper since I was 13. I’m 54.
I currently read multiple daily papers whose opinion pages are of differing politial persuasions.
I’ve heard and read many complaints about newspapers slanting the news. I’ve read a variety of papers over the years and have seen how news coverage of the same story is handled by different papers, and yes, some days you can kind of tell which side of the aisle they’re on.
However, in my experience, for the most part papers do a very good job of keeping their political leaning out of the news section. Although from what I’ve read over the years many seem to disagree with that statement!
Which brings me to the questions that prompted this post...
What the hell are people thinking?!! And where did this type of thinking come from?!!
I’m referring to the increasingly frequent pleas from letter-to-the-editor writers and news
website trolls for “fairness” or “balance” in editorial opinion, including editorial cartoons.
Newsflash: news is supposed to be fair and balanced - opinions are by their very nature one-sided.
I draw editorial cartoons. Liberal editorial cartoons.
There is no journalistic rule that says I have to draw an equal amount of cartoons from a conservative viewpoint in order to placate right-leaning readers. I don’t do conservative. I find the conservative viewpoint pretty much repugnant.
If you want editorial cartoons that reflect conservative views then you need to read a conservative opinion page. The Union Leader, for instance. I read it every day - have for 30 years - their opinion pages make me swear, holler and sneer, but I don’t demand that in the interest of “journalistic fairness” that they run Liberal cartoons alongside those lame (though damn well-drawn!)
Michael Ramirez anti-Obama potshots.
I’ve noticed that, ironically, this hue and cry for “fairness” has coincided with the rise of right-wing hate-talk radio, the emergence of Fox News and the plethora of hyper-partisan websites.
The very people with the loudest complaints about (their idea of) fairness are the same ones that
absorb and re-spew the twisted, lop-sided ramblings of the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck
media cesspool. And these types of reader demands have intensified even more with the rise of the tea/liberty movement. They’re a very tiny minority but very vocal. They’re the new media version of the Minutemen - when they see or hear something that criticizes their world view they rush to respond to it in order to minimize any damage they think it may do to their cause, usually by demeaning it (and its author) and declaring it stupid, ignorant, unfair or simply untrue (even when it is).
The internet grants instant gratification to newspaper readers who wish to comment on anything (and in the case of the more active trolls, everything!). This is a good thing and a bad thing - it’s good when someone contibutes additional truthful information to a discussion. The bad thing is it’s also a moron magnet - fringe trolls who feel compelled to educate us masses of ignorant, lazy socialists by regurgitating the garbage they’ve devoured from the propagandists mentioned above.
I’ve been drawing editorial cartoons from the same Liberal point of view for 35 years. I drew Reagan with a swastika back in the early ‘80s and O’Brien with a Hitler mustache mustache last year. I'm doing exactly what I’ve always done. With the coarsening of civility - over the last decade especially - and the hyper-partisan political atmosphere, many people now act like being a moron is a constitutionally protected right and their patriotic duty! As I said - I’m doing nothing different , it’s the reader who has changed. And in many cases, not for the better.
First off, I’m not a real writer.
I can string words together, but whether or not they’re
grammatically correct or punctuated properly is a whole ‘nother matter.
I am a pretty good speller though. Sometimes I even turn off spellcheck
just for the fun of it.
Cartooning has become a weird little business, but I still love it.
I don’t ever want to do anything else.
Well, except maybe draw and paint tropical scenes on Maui.
And it look s like this damn internet* isn’t going away
so I guess I’ll reluctantly embrace it and see where this all goes.
So...welcome to my ‘toonblog.
*more on THAT in a future post