The Tragedy in Cartoons.
September 14, 2001 3:46 PM   Subscribe

The Tragedy in Cartoons. One of the more interesting effects of a national tragedy is that it always somehow causes the nation's editorial cartoonists to suffer massive, collective brain damage. Across the country, they rush to their easels and whip up cheesy, embarrassing caricatures of Uncle Sam crying. Or the Founding Fathers crying. Or - in this case - a comparison to Pearl Harbor. Or - if your local cartoonist is feeling particularly creative - the always crowd-pleasing weeping Statue of Liberty. As Cagle notes, "Fully half the nation's cartoonists drew the same cartoon on the same day." Including Cagle himself. A tragedy in cartoons indeed. Some psychiatrist really ought to study this phenomenon.
posted by aaron (19 comments total)
Someone posted this link a day or two ago. Personally, I don't find the cartoons one bit cheesy, and many were quite poignant.
posted by Oriole Adams at 3:50 PM on September 14, 2001

I always knew that one day aaron and I would agree on something.

I don't think there was one that I didn' t find simply appalling.
posted by rebeccablood at 3:53 PM on September 14, 2001

wow. you guys really have it in for cartoonists. "soon as we bomb afghanistan, set your sights for anyone with a pen!"
posted by kevspace at 3:59 PM on September 14, 2001

I think Tom Tomorrow had one of the best treatments of the issue.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:59 PM on September 14, 2001

Yep. A lot of them made me wince. Harps and drum beats and mouldy bunting.

I didn't see one that had Uncle Sam being jolted from a nap (after a nice evening of Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs and delivery pizza).

Please know that previous sentence isn't intended to make light of the lives lost and the trauma we're going through--just so many of those cartoons had such cliche knee-jerk hawkish attitudes that rally the "to war now - ask questions later" mentality.

posted by Kato at 4:04 PM on September 14, 2001

i keep waiting to see lady liberty with a look of ferocious rage, gripping her torch with white knuckles. all i get are lady liberty covering her face with her hands, or turning away sadly.
posted by quonsar at 4:06 PM on September 14, 2001

This touched me
posted by NsJen at 4:07 PM on September 14, 2001

I don't know which disgustes me more - Wolverton's lynched arab or his guileless correction.
posted by dchase at 4:34 PM on September 14, 2001

Some have been hideous, some poignant, some insightful.. An event like this provides all sorts of viewpoints and all sorts of ideas for cartoonists, some just handle it better than others.. And the heightened sensitivity of people at this time mean that some take it better than others..
posted by Mossy at 4:47 PM on September 14, 2001

What is the phenomenon Psychiatrists should study? The creative impact on cartoonists when monumental tragedies occur? I guess these cartoonists should have been more creative in depicting the horrors of September 11.

I am always impressed with the cartoonist's ability to summarize events with a single drawing or set of drawings. I am not offended by the majority of the images, no more so than those I am bombarded with when I turn on the TV
posted by MetalHead at 5:05 PM on September 14, 2001

I viewed these cartoons keeping in mind that they were by a bunch of people, expressing their feelings and/or their POVs in the way that they best knew how.

And I'm certainly not holding cartoonists to some sort of emotional standard; that 'knee-jerk' reaction of violence, and anger, and outrage and utter shock is something that even the best of us can succumb to. I stood over the toilet and vomited. They put pencil to paper.

We all have our way of dealing.

Many of them are brilliantly done - surely it's no simple task to sum up the emotion of a majority (or a minority) in one still image. Bill Day has an image of war as a large shark, and the world is in danger of being devoured by it. Vic Harville has an image of an airport (in)security guard with no eyes - going hand-in-hand with the CNN report of three Northwest Airline employees who deliberately attempted to get past airport checkpoints with weapons like what the hijackers had - and did so with disturbing ease.

Mark Streeter's image of a mother telling her child tearfully, "No, dear. This isn't a movie. And those aren't 'Neat-O' special effects..." - How many of us felt as if it were all some horrible movie that we wished we could turn off, and it would all just go away? And how do we explain it to our children? I'm glad my daughter's not old enough to want or need an explanation for this senselessness.

I found most of them to be evocative, rousing or (as Oriole mentioned) poignant. Not all of them were "right" in my estimation, but they were certainly understandable.
posted by precocious at 5:12 PM on September 14, 2001

"I don't know which disgustes me more - Wolverton's lynched arab or his guileless correction."

umm... that's not an arab, that's a militant islamic.

get it right.
posted by jcterminal at 5:13 PM on September 14, 2001

The international ones are rather interesting.
posted by kindall at 5:30 PM on September 14, 2001

You're right, kindall...those are much more creative and say a whole lot more.
posted by rushmc at 5:47 PM on September 14, 2001

I like this one the best:

I know it kind of makes light of the situation (and it has Uncle Sam), but it is very true.
posted by noisemartyr at 6:21 PM on September 14, 2001

I feel like I need a mental antidote. There's already a Tom Tomorrow link, so I'll just contribute a pointer to a Lynda Barry.
posted by halonine at 6:24 PM on September 14, 2001

Some psychiatrist really ought to study the phenomenon of people less sophisticated than ourselves and the imaginary Europeans we wish would like us.
posted by argybarg at 6:37 PM on September 14, 2001

I like this one
posted by mkn at 7:34 PM on September 14, 2001

I like it too, mkn, I thought it was brilliant.

Some of these others though...tasteless.
posted by Jack Torrance at 11:13 PM on September 14, 2001

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