Opus 360 (November 12, 2016). The Election in Editoonery.

ONCE AGAIN, the everlasting Trumpet flummoxed all the experts and did the unexpected. He won. What’ll he do next? No one knows, of course; we may as well admit it. But we’ll be finding out over the next few weeks. Today—before the Election slips out of the harbor into the fog of distant memory—let’s see how editoonists and other political prognosticators are playing it.

            New Yorkers saw two magazine covers on the newsstand, New York and The New Yorker—both printed at least hours, probably a day or more, before the results of the Election were known, both trying to wring sales from the news of the moment by being as topical as printing schedules permit. On the left, New York magazine—like all of us—assumed Hillary Clinton would win, and they consequently produced a cover that will live in the mental archives of popular memory along with the Chicago Tribune’s notorious front page headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” after the 1948 Election (which, lest you forgot, Truman won). The magazine obviously couldn’t wait to give Trump the trumpish label of scorn he has been sticking on people all year.

            At The New Yorker, the magazine’s management played it canny. Each of the candidates is so healthily despised by the opposition that the cover applies no matter who wins. The drawing is another of the hesitantly-lined efforts of Barry Blitt, with whom the magazine’s art director Francoise Mouly is apparently so enamored that for every cover with political import she choses Blitt. What Mouly might have done if confronted by Peter Arno’s bold lines is anyone’s guess—run screaming out of the room, I suppose.

            On this picture, Blitt and his editor have engineered the physical impossibility of the subway passenger with his back to us who is at least three feet taller than any other of the human sapien (sic) on the train. Quite apart from the sheer evident error of the elongation, anyone who’s ridden the New York subway knows the rail to which this guy is clinging is over everyone’s head, not at eye level.                                                                  

            At The Nib, an online rampagingly liberal political cartooning site operated by editoonist Matt Bors, Wednesday dawned with this—:

            We did not see that coming.

            We had five cartoons ready for today anticipating a different outcome in the presidential election. Those have now been scrapped, but not having much work to publish is the least of our worries. Donald Trump will be our 45th president of the United States.

            It's gutting.

            What we need right now is group therapy. Send us your thoughts, reactions, fears and, if you can muster them, jokes about what we now face under a Trump presidency. Keep it short—no more than a sentence or two—and we'll select some to be illustrated for the newsletters all week.

            Tomorrow we go back to our desks and start thinking of ways to attack this problem with the level of work you've come to expect from us. For years to come. One line at a time.

            Matt Bors                  

            Editor, The Nib



AND KARYL MILLER, who collects and posts every day samples of the nation’s editorial cartooning, was unapologetically enraged—:

            What does it say about America if the LEAST qualified man beat the MOST qualified woman?

            And why are Dems vowing last night and today to "work with" the Opposition, when on day one of Obama, they [the Opposition] vowed to reject Obama's every plan—and did so? Dems should block every racist, sexist plan of this truckload of deplorables!

            While I'm ranting—Susan Sarandon and all the Bernie people who couldn't in good conscience vote for Hillary can please go to Hell. You helped elect an authoritarian bigot who will surely ruin America.

            What do you think Trump, Guilliani and Gingrich (aka the Nine Wives Club) have planned for the First Amendment, for gay marriage, Roe, climate change, NAFTA, NATO? What about Christian Sharia Law (Pence) letting supposed "Religious Freedom" allow religious fanatic drug store clerks to refuse to sell birth control pills, for instance? Privatize Social Security (they can't wait)? Tax cuts for the rich (for sure)? No more Obamacare even for pre-existing conditions?

            Have we just turned our country over to Russia? How do we know we haven't?

            Fuck the peaceful transfer of power!




LIKE THE NEW YORKER, many editoonists played it safe, and leading up to Election Day, they produced cartoons that were either ambiguous or simple non-partisan statements. In our first visual aid, Gary Varvel and Rick McKee wound up the campaign with “final stretch” cartoons, one sympathetically depicting all of us campaign-weary patriots, the other showing the contestants mired in mud while stretching to the finish line. The other editoonists on this page— Jeff Danziger, Mike Luckovich and Tom Toles—produced these cartoons for publication on Election Day and assumed Hillary would win (or “had won” as readers of the cartoons would know by the time the cartoons were published), Toles more disastrously than the others.

            On the next exhibit, Jack Ohman, like Toles, cast caution to the wind and put Hillary’s logo on the White House.

Several comic strip cartoonists plunged into the final moments of the political fray. At the top, Scott Stantis opted for a patriotic political statement in Prickly City. Below Stantis, both Lalo Alcaraz with La Cucaracha and Mason Mastroiani with B.C. gave their patriotism a little edge, but in Over the Hedge at the bottom, Michael Fry and T (no period) Lewis went all in and presumed that Hillary would win.

            In the next day’s releases—for Wednesday, the day after Election Day— Fry and Lewis continue in the error of their ways: like all the rest of us—guided by polls that were horribly wrong—we thought Hillary would win. The rest on this display—Stantis in Pricky City, Alcaraz in La Cucaracha and Mike Lester in Mike Du Jour—opted for ambiguity. At the bottom of the exhibit, Chip Sansom’s Born Loser is also a “day after” strip, and while it doesn’t mess with the Election at all, it makes a nice philosophical observation and ends with a sentiment that seems a propos the day.

            Although editoonists produce cartoons for publication almost at once, few, if any, could reflect in Wednesday’s newspapers the events of early that morning (say, around 3 a.m. when the final pieces fell into place for Trump): most editorial cartoonists faced late afternoon Tuesday deadlines, so in their cartoons for the next day’s paper, they simply prolonged the period of non-committal ambiguity. In our next display, Scott Stantis produced an imitation horror movie to depict the “average” citizen awaiting the results.

Chan Lowe and Steve Kelley both voice what they imagine the average voter’s feelings are about the Election, and at the lower left, Lisa Benson also assumes the average voter isn’t happy with the choice he/she made.

            The editoonists on our next visual aid continue in the same vein. Without naming a winner, they all deal with voter reaction to the lesser-of-two-evils choice they had. Henry Payne’s voter felt so unclean after voting that he took a shower. The outcome of the Election (unspecified but detested by everyone whose candidate didn’t win) astounds Matt Davies’ Lincoln statue so much that Abe keels over backwards. Drew Sheneman offers an unwelcome certainty, and Rob Rogers toys with the cliche of the “national nightmare” being over—or not.

            Although The Nib had no post-election cartoons on its site on Wednesday, it ran Donald and John, Ruben Bolling’s Calvin and Hobbes imitation, with its sardonic view of the Trumpet.

            Tom Toles, at the upper left of our next exhibit, perpetuates the suspense that hung over all of Tuesday in his cartoon for the “day after”; after committing himself poetically on Election Day in our first visual aid, he doubtless decided to play it safe the next day, chewing toenails (in the corner) as well as fingernails. But next around the clock, in his next cartoon—perhaps for the same day—he surrenders to the hopelessness of his predicament trying to predict the unpredictable. Or is he giving up in the face of the Trump victory? Either way, it works.

            Over the Hedge retreats from its earlier assumption of a Hillary win and goes neutral. Syndicated comic strips are produced 4-6 weeks prior to the date of publication, so Fry and Lewis could scarcely have “learned” back then how the Election came out. They probably just decided to stop risking after two days’ giving Hillary the palm. Ted Rall at the lower left with his first cartoon after knowing the results of the Election has Trump getting fitted with a Nazi uniform. Nothing ambiguous about Rall.



REACTIONS TO THE TRUMPET’S VICTORY began pouring off editoonists’ drawing boards for Thursday’s newspapers. Jeff Danziger lets us know that he thinks Trump is full of crap (while drawing perfect restroom fixtures), and Signe Wilkinson resorts toTrump’s history as a reality-tv star to depict the President-Elect as a novice trying to learn the business. Henry Payne seizes on Trump’s practice of putting his name on everything he owns (or wants people to think he owns), and Scott Stantis, like many of his cohorts, uses Trump’s hilarious hair-do to indicate the President-Elect’s possession of the country. Others put the hair on an eagle, who displays trepidation. Or are they just giving Trump the bird?

            Jeff Stahler portrays the Statue of Liberty in a pose of stark disbelief at the news of Trump’s election. Nobody has done “stunned” any better. Next, Phil Hands registers his disapproval of the new prez. Toles in back in form with Trump advocating uniting the country after he’s so diligently dismembered it. And next around the clock Walt Handelsman deploys that familiar U.S. election night map, in which states were so severely separated from each other, to demonstrate the idiocy of suggesting, in the immediate aftermath of the Election and the bitterness of the campaign, that we all join hands a sing kumbaya.

            By Thursday, The Nib has re-grouped its cartoonists, mustering them to the fresh circumstances of Trump’s election, and they fell to with a will. Unrepentant liberals, they did their best to crucify the Tumpet in single panel vignettes.

On the second page, Dan Archer supplied sketches of his witnessing the anti-Trump protest in New York.

            Winding up this portion of our post-election bonus, here is our interim ending. Joel Pett reminds me of the first thing I jotted down when I learned Trump had won: the election of a racist bigot by half the nation repudiates the progress towards racial equity that the other half believed had been achieved with the election and re-election of Barack Obama. But that is not the whole reason for the triumph of Trump. It represents more my heartsickness than my analytical acumen (however minuscule it may be). It’s poetry not prose.

            We’ll take up the prose in the next Rants & Raves in a couple weeks. For now, we continue with the visual aid at hand.

            Next around the clock, Lisa Benson, an avowed conservative, depicts a horned and crowned Hillary riding off into the sunset. I agree with neither the horns nor the crown—unless, perchance, the crown represents her having won the popular vote. The final count is still being assembled, but both Hillary and the Trumpet tallied just under 60 million votes: Hillary, 48%; Trump, 47%. So she didn’t lose, actually.

            We may talk more about that, too, at a later time. For now, we contemplate the peaceful feeling that Benson’s cartoon conveys—if you ignore the horns and the crown. Hillary rides off into the sunset, discarding the campaign logo, piece by piece, as she goes. Losing was painful, she admitted in her speech the day after the Election, and it will hurt for a long time. But at least she’ll no longer be driven by the same glass-ceiling-breaking demons that have pursued her for years.

            Below Hillary’s exit are two comic strips that have nothing to do with the Election or the winner and loser. Just for laughs. (And we need laughs.) An antique Mutt and Jeff in which the comedy turns on atrociously daring word play, and a recent Shoe that reminds us that we shouldn’t expect algebra.

            Finally, at the lower left, a cartoon of gigantic hilarious dimensions. It refers to the recent Bronco-Raiders football contest, but if you blot out the team logos, the comedy is still there. I admire both the comedy and the ingenuity of the cartoonist, who, alas, is, for the nonce, nameless.

            But we’re not done yet.


OUR NEXT COUPLE OF EXHIBITS take us back to the final days of the campaign—by way of recognizing some of the best editoons of the season. We start at the upper left with Martin Sutovec, whose drawing charmed me: the U.S.A. convertible driven by Uncle Sam with Hillary as a passenger, driving off the cliff that Trump just fell off. So the Election is a road to disaster? Dunno. But I love the drawing.

            Next around the clock, Gary Varvel adequately conveys the idea that many voters had, resorting to drink to wash away the revulsion at what they’d just done. And below, Jeff Stahler associates yard signs with Hallowe’en decorations—implying what? That the tick-or-treaters are coming? The Election is no more meaningful? And then Scott Stantis, whose home gig is the Chicago Tribune, pauses in mid-campaign to recognize something more important to many Chicagoans—the World Series in which their perenniel beloved loser, the Cubs, played. And won. Nicely done. And the seventh game of the Series was a game to end all games.

            One of the most disturbing aspects of the campaign was the behavior of the so-called “news” media. I’ve said before that modern journalism created Trump. And it destroyed Hillary. Trumps antics attracted the press’s attention, and they devoted hours of air time to him, legitimizing his presence. And at first, for several months, the coverage was largely uncritical: the news reports did not point out that much of what Trump said was false or misleading. Regardless, the airtime gave him stature in the public mind.

            But all the press Hillary got was negative—Benghazi, those damn e-mails. So on the one hand, the press gave Trump standing as a candidate; on the other, they undercut the standing of the other candidate.

            I’m not sure what Steve Breen’s opening salvo on this display means. Apparently Trump gets tv coverage as if he owned the company, which means it’s always favorable. But Hillary has only the four major networks; and she can’t control them so she doesn’t appear on any of the four, which are busy airing their logos (and presumably attracting viewers at the expense of any actual news coverage); they are effectively ignoring her.

            But Breen is conservative, and I’m so rampantly liberal that sometimes I can’t understand what conservatives are talking about. So I could be wrong here.

            Probably not with Mike Luckovich’s portrait of news media so enamored of the scampering e-mail scandal (or its potential for attracting viewers) that they ignore the Trump scandal—the women groped by the Trumpet because he feels entitled.

            Similarly, Jack Ohman depicts James Comey being too busy investigating Hillary to pay any attention to the investigations that should have been conducted into Trump’s many borderline illegal maneuvers and/or questionable connection to Russians.

            In the same spirit, Tom Toles reveals the Trumpet’s tactic: if he can provide enough distraction, no one will pay any attention to his failure to pay taxes. Or to any of his other numerous sins. “A jarring accusation” puns the little Toles in the corner.

            Unsurprisingly, a conservative sees the news media’s treatment of Trump and Hillary quite differently. In our next visual aid, Mike Lester gives us his view of the matter in which Trump is being persecuted by a mob of torch-and-pitchfork bearing reporters while Hillary, in sharp contrast, is borne aloft like a queen and carried on her campaign by the press corps, unconcernedly deleting incriminating e-mails as she goes. As usual with Lester, a delightful rendering even though it twists the facts to present the circumstance in an exact reverse of its actuality.

            The revived e-mail investigation by the FBI undoubtedly sabotaged Hillary’s campaign. Any voter who was reluctantly poised to vote for her was dissuaded by this final dose of doubt cast over her—even though she was again exonerated. Matt Davies catches the essence in our opening cartoon the upper left. It’s a great stretch to make the nothing e-mails mean something, but Trump and his Trumpkins are willing to make the effort; and they did.

            Mike Luckovich makes the obvious point: Trump had to be grateful to Comey for bringing all that stuff out into the open again, however briefly, however misguidedly.

            Across the bottom, left to right, Nate Beeler, usually conservative, begins listing Trump’s lies on the way to 270 (the magic minimum number of electoral votes the winner must acquire) —“Nobody respects women more than I do,” “Obama and Hillary co-founded ISIS.” And all this time, people said it was Hillary who lied.

            And at the lower right, Stuart Carlson takes two panels to reveal with the second the fallacy of the first. If the Election is rigged, why vote? Clearly, the Election ain’t rigged.    

            Then, at last, a final display—one that summarizes the campaign and its outcomes Chip Bok starts us off by caricaturing the unappealing aspects of the two candidates. Yes, they are the Known and the Unknown, but neither presents an attractive picture. Next around the clock, Joe Heller deploys Trump’s fabulously idiotic hair-knit to suggest why we didn’t expect Trump to win: the news media, the political establishment, and, most of all, the pollsters were all dead wrong in asserting that Trump couldn’t win.

            The news media, as I’ve said, was wrong to assume that Trump couldn’t win so they could devote hours of coverage to this harmless idiot. The political establishment was wrong the same as the news media was—assuming Trump couldn’t win. And the pollsters were wrong in using models of previous elections to guide their polling: they did not recognize that this Election was different: one of the candidates was a celebrity.

            Pat Bagley would like to penalize the Election for roughing the country. That’s good ol’ Uncle Samuel flattened under those spiked shoes. But we’ll give the last words and picture to David Fitzsimmons, who shows us Uncle Sam at his final duty in an election: trying to re-unite the bitter factions that have warred for months.


Smile freely.




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