Monday, January 22, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

I barely saw yesterday's football games on account of having to think up and draw a cartoon. Gosh, I hope I didn't miss anything important.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Environmental Stewardship: Romans 6:1

Here's Dad's Environmental Stewardship column for February:

Not too long ago, a member of my congregation complimented me on my Environmental Stewardship articles on climate change and global warming. (Like most males, I am a glutton for compliments.) But then this person essentially said that we need not change the way we live significantly; we should just trust in the Lord because God, after the flood, promised never again to destroy the world.

True, but He said nothing about what we might destroy.

Also, I should remind the reader that even with the worst case scenario, the earth will still be here and so will the cockroaches, carp and lots of other living creatures; we will just have made the earth close to unlivable for many or most human beings.
Joseph Sittler: Photo from
That member’s statement sounded an awful lot like what my favorite theologian, Joseph Sittler, had written about years ago. What follows is a direct quote from his writing in the Center for the Study of Campus Ministry Yearbook, 1977-78 as reprinted in “Joseph A. Sittler: Grace Notes and Other Fragments.”
“I meet it [soggy piety], for example, in people who, following a talk about the Christian responsibility for the care of the earth, will remark, ‘I hear what you say, it is very serious and we must do something about it; but I really trust in  the Lord. The Lord will not permit us to do this to his world. This is our Father’s world and he will see to it that we do not destroy it.’ The first person who said this to me took me rather aback because I had not met that one before. But neither, of course, had I met before the kind of jovial God who lets you romp all over his garden and will clean up the garbage after you have messed it up. I was hard put for a moment – but by providential help, for only a moment.
“I remembered a wonderful passage in the prophets – you remember – where God is talking to a prophet who has worked very hard at a certain vocation and has become quite discouraged. The prophet is taking the matter up with God and says, ‘I seem to be working hard at it, but I’m not getting anywhere.’ And God says, ‘I will send my servant Nebuchadnezzar.’ And the prophet says, ‘How’s that again? That guy? You really mean you are going to let Nebuchadnezzar serve your purposes?’ God says, ‘You heard me! I will send my servant Nebuchadnezzar.’
“So not all the purposes of God are realized in the hands of the church, but God is a God of judgement as well as of grace; you cannot get away endlessly with rapacity toward his creation.”

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Watson a Name?

The cartoon I drew for the syndicate this week starred a fictional Hollywood character named "Brock Stoder." The name doesn't have any hidden meaning; it was merely something that sounded like a film star's name without actually sounding like a particular film star's name.

When I originally described the idea to my editors, he had the name "Brock Slater," but it occurred to me that I had better Google that name in case it happened to be someone's real moniker. As it turned out,  there's a business management consultant in Chicago by that name. Just in case I'm ever in Chicago needing a consultation on managing my business, I decided I might as well change it.

I had already inked "Brock S" by then, so I tried "Brock" plus a couple other butch-sounding surnames (one of which turned out to belong to a transgender soldier who might actually have a chance of having the cartoon brought to his attention) before cooking up "Stoder," which doesn't seem to be anybody's last name.

Coming up with names for cartoon characters can be a tricky business. Most of the generic characters in editorial cartoons don't need names, except when the cartoonist wants to have a recurring character, or if it would be weird for someone else in the cartoon not to call him/her by name. I'll often use a pun as a name to signal to the reader that the character doesn't represent an actual individual, and in hopes that no parent would have been so careless or mean as to inflict such an easily mocked name on their child. A page in one of my sketch books is devoted to names that I might find a use for later: LiBrarion Buchman, Juan Thieu III, Purmia Bruschi, Oliver Sudden.

For a few years, I drew a generic congressman, Luke Warmish, who was a kind of middle-of-the-road career politician:
I quickly determined that Congressman Warmish was a Democrat, but in 1993 and '94, I portrayed him shying away from overt support of President Bill Clinton's health care reform proposals. He lost his reelection bid in the Republican sweep of 1994, but his name showed up in one later cartoon about Political Action Committee ads on TV, without indicating what office he might be running for.

Meanwhile, I had given Warmish a Republican counterpart in Charles Snollygoster IV, whose surname comes from a word meaning a person, "especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles."

Congressman Snollygoster had no problem taking his stand on the bedrock Republican issues of the day — against flag burning, in favor of The Family, against taxes — so he lasted longer than Mr. Warmish did. I imagined him representing a safe suburban district somewhere in Illinois; I suspect, however, that he would have been primaried sometime since 2010.

I haven't found it necessary to invent fictional right-wingers, Tea Partisans, or Trump Loyalists; there is plenty to criticize in the real ones without making fake ones up.

Sometimes one's editor doesn't want to single out any particular legislator. It would have been irresponsible, for example, to have used a real politician in the cartoon at the top of this post, which was intended to highlight the underhanded tactics used in issue ads against politicians.

Sometimes the cartoonist wants the character to say something no politician in his right mind would say (at least in the Time Before Trump). I gave this state legislator, who appeared a few times in my NorthCountry Journal cartoons (and at least once later in the UW-Milwaukee Post), a name unlikely to belong to any elected politician anywhere in the English-speaking world.

Not all my fictional named characters have been politicians, or have appeared multiple times. These two simply needed nameplates in the first panel.

This daytime talk show host's name had been sitting in my notebook for years, and it's a good thing I've never been a drag performer.
(And yes, I've been informed that "transgender" is the preferred term nowadays. Sadly, nobody on Ms. Drewledge's staff had been so enlightened.)

You may have noticed this meteorologist's name on your shampoo bottle. I therefore hasten to stipulate that I have the utmost respect for the professionalism and dedication of America's weathermen and weatherwomen; even though I often wish that the news department spent the same amount of time, say, forecasting the chances of the bills making their way through the state legislature that the meteorologist gets every night to tell us what the jet stream is up to.

Ms. Sulfate, however, is not a professionally accredited meteorologist. But at least she wasn't saddled with the name Phil Kiesterlich.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Q Toon: Served Cold

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
🜄Jan 16, 2018

James Franco wore a "Time's Up" pin to the Golden Globes awards, but since getting up on stage to accept a best actor award, he has been accused of "inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior" by five women. Whether this damages his career, given his well-established bad-boy reputation, remains an open question; I haven't read anything about his film scenes being reshot with Christopher Plummer.

There followed the accusations by an anonymous photographer against Aziz Ansari, which blur the line between what constitutes sexual assault as opposed to just a bad date. Even some women have come to Ansari's defense, pointing out that "Grace" (the accuser's nom de punir) wasn't lured to Ansari's apartment under false pretenses; she didn't say "no" early on; and when she did, he stopped and apologized and they watched some TV.

But by and large, one male celebrity after another (and not just in Hollywood) is finding that while he may think of himself as Cary Grant in the boudoir, women these days who find him to be The Continental aren't afraid to tell the world about it.

Where we draw the line between The Continental and Inspector Clouseau has yet to be determined.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Well Done, Sister Suffragette

On the home front, America's editorial cartoonists had much to draw about in January, 1918. The federal government nationalized the railroads. Because of a coal shortage, Congress ordered businesses to close shop every Monday for a month. Not coincidentally, knitting sweaters was promoted as the latest fad sweeping the nation, for men and women alike.

And then there was the plot by women to unman the federal government.

One day after announcing his Fourteen Point plan to end all wars, Wilson declared his support for a constitutional amendment to extend federal voting rights to women.

"Both Are Mine!" by Charles "Bill" Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, January 9, 1918
You might recall that during the 1916 presidential campaign, Wilson's support for women's suffrage was grudging and negligible, in contrast to Charles Evans Hughes's and most other Republicans' whole-hearted support. Wilson's January announcement persuaded just enough reluctant Democrats for the the amendment to pass the House on January 10 — with only one vote more than the required two-thirds majority.
"How Can He Refuse?" by C. F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, January 12, 1918
From the House, the bill passed to the Senate...
"Another Dark Alley to Go Through" by Kenneth Chamberlain in Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, January, 1918
...where it languished until its defeat in September.

These cartoons (prematurely) celebrate the emancipation of the female electorate, but it's only fair to present the other side. Since I led off with that fear-mongering banner headline in the Special Night Edition of the El Paso Morning Times, I feel obligated to share that Associated Press story with you.
Washington, Jan. 7. — Hearings on the federal suffrage amendment resolution to be voted on in the House Wednesday were closed by the House Woman's Suffrage Committee today after listening to arguments by representatives of the National Association Opposed to Woman's Suffrage, and final appeals for favorable action by officials of the Nation Suffrage Association.
Former Senator Bailey of Texas contended that women are incapable of performing the three principal duties of citizenship, military service, sheriff service, and jury service, and should not help enact laws they are incapable of obeying. He insisted the suffragists constitute a small percentage of the women of the country, and added:
"There are too many ignorant voters now, and I would not add to the number."
"Shattering the Chains" by Harry Murphy in Chicago Examiner, January 11, 1918
Hentry A. Wise Wood, New York, formerly an advocate of woman suffrage, said women would insist on holding government offices, invading Congress, the Supreme Court and the White House and would succeed in womanizing the government and blocking the country's military program.
"The Feminine Way" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Eagle, January 11, 1918
Mrs. James A. Wadsworth Jr., president of the National Association Opposed to Women Suffrage, and other speakers denounced methods used by the suffragists in their efforts to put the resolution through Congress, particularly by public demonstrations of the militants and threats of political defeat to opposing legislators. The Suffragists, Mrs. Edwin Ford of Boston said, are "well organized, over-financed, and already have a split in their ranks."
"Father Gives His Blessing" by John "Ding" Darling, by January 18, 1918
Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt and Mrs. Maud Wood Park, officers of the National American Women Suffrage association briefly replied, saying they were before the committee to present "facts, not theory."
The national association made public today a number of telegrams and letters advocating the passage of the resolution, including one from Theodore Roosevelt.
Because of a crowded court calendar, argument of the appealed cases of the women convicted of picketing the White House was postponed until tomorrow. --30--
"Hands Across the Seas" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1918
(Me again.) Across the Atlantic on the same day as the House vote, the House of Lords, considering what would become The Representation of the People Act of 1918, rejected an amendment by Earl Loreborn which would have denied British women the vote. Speaking in favor of the amendment, Lord George Curzon alleged that wherever women had the right to vote, it promoted socialism.

Even without Earl Loreborn's amendment, the Act would not give British women equal voting rights with men, however. Whereas any man could vote after his 21st birthday (or his 19th if he had served in the military), a woman had to wait until the age of 30, and moreover had to be either a member a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, a British university graduate, or the wife of any of the above.