(Updated with the missing Ann Telnaes toon!)
A couple of nights ago, I passed two couples talking on the sidewalk outside a local watering hole. One of the men got as far as "I'd like to have an AK-47, but the problem is–" before I had moved out of eavesdropping range, so I was left to wonder: What is the problem for him? The fact that he has no earthly need for one? The worry that someone, somewhere, might at that very moment be buying something even bigger? The disappointing thought that, the next time he goes deer hunting, he'd have to bring his kill home in a quart-sized Ziploc baggie? That frozen look of polite consternation on the face of the woman with whom he was sharing this date-night chit-chat?
I suppose that, in America, there's really only one topic this week, isn't there? Well, okay, there's more than one if you count all the spinoffs – what do the candidates think about gun violence? how about that symbolic Senate vote about gun violence? what incendiary thing did the Short-Fingered Vulgarian say today about gun violence? what do the Sunday morning talking heads have to say about gun violence? why aren't our thoughts and prayers and Facebook Likes having more of an influence on gun violence? how much deader are the victims of gun violence depending on whether you approve or disapprove of the people the shooter was listening to in the days or weeks or months before pulling the trigger? et bloody cetera – but as you can surmise, we're not feeling 100% committed to fine distinctions on this topic around here today.
Although there is a distinction to be noted, and it's provided by Charlie Pierce:
Even if I grant you the idea that a bunch of Americans with AK-47s and steel plates bolted on their SUVs could somehow overthrow a military endowed with drones, battalions, an Air Force, and a Navy, the reality is that the intent of the Second Amendment has been acted upon only once since this nation came into being. Only once has an organized militia been deemed necessary to secure the rights of a free state. Only once has the citizenry formally armed themselves to wet the roots of Jefferson's tree. The tyranny they rallied to try and defeat?
The abolition of slavery.
What a resume.
(And that, of course, brings to mind this Tom Toles classic which, unfortunately, has been an evergreen since it first appeared in 2010.)
I'm sad to say that I can't find much of a way around the conclusion that Booman draws:
The problem really isn’t that people can legally buy guns (regardless of type) in stores or special shows. Not anymore. The county has enough guns already to arm anyone anytime and anywhere with anything they might want to use to kill one or ten or a hundred and fifty people.
There's your American exceptionalism: Even if we ended all manufacture and sales and importation of every kind of gun tomorrow morning, we've already got so many, uncounted, to say nothing of unregistered, firearms floating around in a toxic stew of authoritarianism, nativism, paranoia, fear, anger, low-information-voting, nearly-limitless campaign spending, white-supremicism, both-sider-ism, stand-your-ground-ism, castle-doctrine-ism, blood-of-tyrants-ism – and, worst of all, a GOP presidential primary season drizzled over the top of it all like an accelerant – that sensible measures like registration and background checks and closing some loopholes or banning extended clips can only hope to help a little around the margins. What other nation can put that on their resume?
So, while the majority of the world's political and editorial cartoonists were talking about carbon footprints this week, today's special edition of the p3 Sunday toon review is devoted to those uniquely-American little watering cans for the tree of liberty.
Today's toons were selected from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons, and other fine sources of toony goodness.
p3 Picks of the week: Mike Luckovich, Clay Jones, John Darkow, Lalo Alcaraz, Mike Lester, Daryl Cagle, Phil Hands, Nick Anderson, Steve Benson, Darrin Bell, Rob Rogers, Chris Blitt, Paul Szep, Nate Beeler, Gary Varvel, Adam Zyglis (1), Adam Zyglis (2), Signe Wilkinson, J. D. Crowe, Matt Wuerker, and Monte Wolverton.
p3 Best of Show: Clay Bennett.
p3 Legion of Merit: John Deering.
p3 Strategic Ambiguity Award: I'm singling out this toon by Walt Handlesman about America's tradition of poor risk assessment for special mention because it's not clear to me what we're to make of the oddly-shaped head of the menacing silhouette at left. Is that the bill of a Tom Clancy-style cap? Or is it the fold of a keffiyeh? Or – scarcely less terrifying – is it a hoodie? Or – darkest possibility of all! – is that the bill of a penguin? Have they finally armed themselves?
p3 World Toon Review: Rod Emmerson (New Zealand). (Like I said, most international cartoonists I keep an eye on had bigger fish to fry than America's love affair with killing one another because.)
Ann Telnaes gives credit where credit is due: The man can play America like a banjo.
Mark Fiore explains why he can't wait until the blood dries.
Tom Tomorrow just makes the cut for this week's special edition by showing Santa packing.
Reuben Bolling asks: Who will think of the snowflakes?
Comic Strip of the Day says, with good cause, it's time to ask the Marvin Gaye question.
You're gonna hoit someone with that old shotgun! And that, my friends, is how you shoehorn classic animation into a very special edition of Sunday afternoon toons. "What's Up Doc?", directed by Robert McKimson from a story by Warren Foster, was created to celebrate the heckling hare's 10th anniversary on the big screen. It's one of several Bugs Bunny toons based around him telling his life story to a reporter. (It's also the second time we see Bugs playing Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody #2" on the piano.) This one has the distinction of introducing the song that would be Bug's theme. As you can probably guess, Life with Father – a Warner Bros/First National film from three years earlier – had indeed been a hit. That's one insider joke; the other is the idea of Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor, Jack Benney, and Al Jolson sharing the same park bench with out-of-work Bugs. Portland's own Mel Blanc did the voice work for Bugs, Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, and the director. Arthur Q. Bryan voiced Elmer, and Richard Bickenbach voiced Bing Crosby (both uncredited).
The Extended-Clip Oregon Toon Block:
Lamentably Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen actually felt (probably with some justification) that she should append something along the lines of a danger of small pieces/choking hazard warning to this one. Tricky business, satire.
Matt Bors gives us a glimpse inside deadline cartooning.
Jesse Springer posted an Oregon-rain-themed piece for this week, but I'm going to go with a rerun of this toon that followed the Umpqua Community College shootings in October:
Test your toon-captioning marksmanship at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.
The p3 Sunday Comics Read-Along: Pearls Before Swine, Doonesbury, Rhymes with Orange, Zits, Adam @ Home, Mutts, Over the Hedge, Get Fuzzy, Prince Valiant, Blondie, Bizarro, Mother Goose & Grimm, Rose is Rose, Luann, Hagar the Horrible, Pickles, Rubes, Grand Avenue, Freshly Squeezed, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee, and Jumble.