Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday morning toons: Special "Goodbye to 2009 and all that" edition

Seriously: Iran is bubbling over. After a year, no one knows where the health care reform process is going--except that the best we can hope for is that it won't get much worse. And the decade ended with America going to Def Con 5 because a guy tried to blow up an airliner by setting fire to his underwear. Can you really miss 2000-2009 that much?

Only one way to find out: Let's start with Daryl Cagle’s toon round-up for this week (and this decade).

p3 Picks of the Week: Mike Luckovich, Adam Zyglis, John Cole, Joe Heller, Jeff Stahler, Steve Breen, Rob Rogers, and Monte Wolverton.

That Was The Decade That Was: Pat Bagley, R. J. Matson, Jeff Parker, John Trever, David Fitzsimmons, and Milt Priggee.

p3 Legion of Extreme Honor, with Fruit Clusters: Daryl Cagle.

p3 World Toon Review: Stephane Peray (Thailand), Dario Castellejos (Mexico), Pavel Constantin (Romania), and Frederick Deligne (France).

Ann Telnaes brings us her year in review.

Mark Fiore wonders: Will 2010 be the one we're waiting for?

When political nerds argue about the decade's best film adaptations of comic books: Things can get ugly.

David Levine, the caricature artist whose work graced the pages of The New York Review of Books since 1963, died last week at age 83. I’m not sure which is more difficult to get my head around: That his one-of-a-kind voice gone, and that there are politicians, philosophers, and pop culture icons that will never know his stinging caress? Or that he was only at it for 44 years? Although he stepped down from TNYRB in 2007, his images seem inseparable from the world of books and ideas. When I imagine God giving the Ten Commandments to Moses, I imagine Levine to one side, capturing them both in an unforgiving drawing--both summed up by their hair, their eyes, and their noses.

TNYRB has a gallery of Levine’s images. And the NYTimes obituary (which also includes a Levine slide show) is surprisingly decent, given that TNYRB was born during a printers’ strike when the Times’ own Sunday book review section disappeared:

Mr. Levine’s drawings never seemed whimsical, like those of Al Hirschfeld. They didn’t celebrate neurotic self-consciousness, like Jules Feiffer’s. He wasn’t attracted to the macabre, the way Edward Gorey was. His work didn’t possess the arch social consciousness of Edward Sorel’s. Nor was he interested, as Roz Chast is, in the humorous absurdity of quotidian modern life. But in both style and mood, Mr. Levine was as distinct an artist and commentator as any of his well-known contemporaries. His work was not only witty but serious, not only biting but deeply informed, and artful in a painterly sense as well as a literate one; he was, in fact, beyond his pen and ink drawings, an accomplished painter. Those qualities led many to suggest that he was the heir of the 19th-century masters of the illustration, Honoré Daumier and Thomas Nast.

Especially in his political work, his portraits betrayed the mind of an artist concerned, worriedly concerned, about the world in which he lived. Among his most famous images were those of President Lyndon B. Johnson pulling up his shirt to reveal that the scar from his gallbladder operation was in the precise shape of the boundaries of Vietnam, and of Henry Kissinger having sex on the couch with a female body whose head was in the shape of a globe, depicting, Mr. Levine explained later, what Mr. Kissinger had done to the world. He drew Richard M. Nixon, his favorite subject, 66 times, depicting him as the Godfather, as Captain Queeg, as a fetus.

Whether you’re already familiar with Levine’s drawings or not, you owe it to yourself to follow the links.

No sense of humor: The Danish cartoonist accused of blasphemy for political toons showing the likeness of Mohammed was attacked at his home last week.

Tom Tomorrow presents "2009: the Year in Crazy" Part 1, and Part 2. The only problem: He ran out of room before he ran out of crazy.

Do not miss: Portland homeboy Jack Ohman's end-of-year series on poverty in Portland: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Don't get poisonal! By 1938, one-time jazz girl/flapper Betty Boop had paid her dues to the production codes of the day, becoming less of a sexpot and more of a typical woiking goil. Here she is, a pre-Starbucks coffee-shop worker having a tough go-round with the job market, in "On With the New:"

No p3 Bonus Toon this week. Jesse Springer is still on holiday.

But remember to bookmark Slate’s political cartoon for the day.

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