Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday morning toons: Mistakes we would not have chosen to make

NBC's Brian Williams' was the target of a number of toons this week, but most of them have to do with the harm his "mistake" that he "would not have chosen to make" – that is, his fabricating a heroic survival story from his Iraq-embed days at the beginning of the war, and then doing nothing for years to fix the record – did to his own reputation, or to NBC's.

I'm not sure I ever watched an episode of the NBC Nightly News since Williams took over from Tom Brokaw. In fact, I'm not at all sure I watched it much during the Brokaw years. By then I was getting more and more of my news from online and alternative print sources . Once the NBC Nightly News took on an opening/closing theme by Star Wars/Indiana Jones/Superman soundtrack composer John Williams, it no longer seemed clear why I should bother. I could simply plug in a videotape or DVD and get at least the same entertainment value.

Williams is credited as both anchor and "managing editor" of the NBC Nightly News, the latter probably explaining why he was given the luxury of "taking himself off the air" and naming his temporary successor, rather than getting shit-canned outright by his dodge-the-bullet bosses. If only he'd had the presence of mind of Tom Grunick, who was self-aware enough to take the national news anchor job but not the joint editorial appointment.

Point being: I don't really care what harm Williams has done to his own career or credibility; there are legions of replacements for him out there. I care about the harm that he – and pretty-face news infotainment readers like him -- have helped do to journalism.

And as another symptom of what a sorry state American journalism is in, America is experiencing the first measles outbreak since the disease was done in back around 2000. As a p3 favorite famously said, America is facing a war on expertise – in this case from the doofy New Age left as well as the paranoid, antigovernment, home-schooled right – and expertise is losing. Sorry, all you unvaccinated kids who are contracting the dangerous disease, but it's the price of Freedom! Otherwise, it's just another mistake we would not have chosen to make, I suppose.

Today's toons were selected by still more mistakes we would not have chosen to make, from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, Cartoon Movement, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Legion of Merit: Lalo Alcaraz.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergence (Part 1): Gary Varvel and Lisa Benson.

p3 Certificate of Harmonic Toon Convergance (Part 2): Steve Breen, Ken Catalino, and Chan Lowe.

p3 "One Death is a Tragedy, Thousands is a Statistic" Commendation: Ted Rall.

p3 World Toon Review: blah

Ann Telnaes has a puzzler: What's the difference between the Islamic State and cockroaches? Answer: One runs when you turn on the lights.

Mark Fiore looks with some measure of understandable dread about an issue that could make its way into the 2016 presidential primaries. Unless something even stupider (remember Benghazi!?) takes its place, I suppose.

Milestones: Mort Drucker, of the p3 pantheon of gods, was this week named the first-ever recipient of the National Cartoonists Society's lifetime Medal of Honor. When Johnny Carson asked Michael J. Fox in 1985 when he knew he'd made it in show business, the young breakout star of "Family Ties" replied, "When Mort Drucker drew my head."

Tom Tomorrow celebrates – sort of, maybe 50-50, maybe less – the liberation of Biff..

Keith Knight labors to survive his inlaws.

Tom the Dancing Bug brings you Kittens Reciting Dialog from Blade Runner, which ought to be enough by itself but is actually part of Super-Fun-Pak Comix!

Red Meat's God reveals the real – albeit accidentaly messed up – purpose of our existence.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon lists several ways in which Mary Worth – beloved advice-offering neighbor or white-haired buttinski, take your pick – is difficult to distinguish from Ronald Reagan.

Comic Strip of the Day covers a story that crested and dived almost within a single day. I confess I fear the worst for Harper Lee's literary reputation at the hands of her new guardians, but I am intrigued by the the story that what became To Kill A Mockingbird was originally a novel about the adult character Scout, filled with flashbacks about her childhood, and Lee's publishers convinced her that the story we know as TKAM, narrated by Scout as a six-year-old, was the one to tell. Which would make the so-called "sequel" touted this week (for better or worse) something much different than a "sequel" or "prequel."

Weekly animation: "SH-H-H-H-H-H" was written and directed in 1955 by another member of the p3 pantheon, Tex Avery, for Walter Lantz's shop at Universal after he'd worn out his welcome at Warner Bros and MGM. By the mid-1950s the realities of "limited animation" (watch how little of the face moves when the characters talk – the slide to Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble-style animation of the Hanna-Barbera era was already well-greased) were working against the extremes-driven animation style Avery had become known for. So the interesting thing about this is that the gags are driven not by pop-eyed, tongue-spinning, jaw-dropping, ah-oogah! horn gags, but rather by . . . silence. Sight-gags abound, as you might expect. What voice-work there is comes (uncredited) from the legendary Dawes Butler. Shhh!

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman imagines a perfect world.

Very Possibly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen finds herself having to discredit something that's obviously not true about something most people didn't know it existed anyway. Jeez.

What's the connection between a classic song by the Police and the current problems of Governor Kitzhaber? Perhaps it's a mistake he might not have chosen to make. Jesse Springer could have the answer.

Test your toon captioning powers at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

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