Rob Rogers, cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has followed the Steelers to Tampa for Sunday's Superbowl and is filing terrific sketches and dispatches on his blog amidst the media maelstrom, like this drawing of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Rob ran into Don Hasselbeck, father of the Seattle Seahawk's Matt Hasselbeck and Reeboks's director of NFL Sports marketing, who had this tidbit about the Pats' loss last year:
"He recalled how during the last Super Bowl his team was waiting in the wings with huge bins of Patriots Super Bowl champs T-shirts and they had to switch them out at the last minute when the Giants won. I asked what happens to all the shirts they print for the losing team. “They go to World Vision and they distribute them to poor countries who need clothing.” He smiled and said, “there’s a poor child in Nicaragua wearing a triple XL T-shirt that says Patriots: 19-0.”
Michael Cavna at the Washington Post's Comic Riffs detects racial stereotyping in cartoonists' depictions of Obama's mug. He posts a couple of examples where he thinks the Presidential lips are overexaggerated, including the caricature at left. It was drawn by Patrick Corrigan for the Toronto Star and killed by his editors for being too much of a "racial stereotype" (more details at Daryl Cagle's site).
I've spoken out in the past about the use of racial stereotypes in cartooning and their ugly history in the profession, but I don't see what Cavna sees. There may be crude drawings of Obama floating around, but the cartoons that I see in print and in the Globe's Ink Tank strike me as the same facial rearrangement any new chief executive gets, independent of race.
I received a few similar complaints when I started drawing Deval Patrick, and it's actually a subject I discussed with Patrick many years before he ran for office. When he was Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Clinton Justice Department, I invited him to the annual meeting of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists to speak on the subject of -- racial stereotyping in cartoons. As I remember his remarks, he was troubled by the use of grotesque depictions of racial groups - big-nosed Jews and Arabs, ape-like blacks etc. - but was not too concerned that harsh caricatures of individual public figures betrayed some latent racial animosity. I'm curious what readers think.
For John Updike (captured here in a 1978 drawing by David Levine), writing was a fallback career. His first love was cartooning. Writer Jeet Heer has done a good job of pulling together the threads of Updike's cartoon fantasies, from his boyhood correspondence with Harold Gray, creator of Little Orphan Annie, to his use of cartoons and comics in his novels. Heer's accounts have appeared in the Guardian, on his blog Sans Everything and in the Boston Globe. Here are some representative quotes that Heer collected from the comics aspirant and appreciator:
“I can't remember the moment when I fell in love with cartoons, I was so young. I still have a Donald Duck book, on oilclothy paper in big print format, and remember a smaller, cardboard-covered book based on the animated cartoon Three Little Pigs. It was the intense stylization of those images, with their finely brushed outlines and their rounded and buttony furniture and their faces so curiously amalgamated of human and animal elements, that drew me in, into a world where I, child though I was, loomed as a king, and where my parents and other grownups were strangers.” From an essay in Hogan’s Alley, reprinted in More Matter (1999).
“Or was it simply that I was walking back to enjoy the [Boston] Globe’s sports headlines, Arts Section, and Spider Man (the only one of the “funnies” I still follow, as he juggles his tingling “spider-sense,” his improbable double career as a student and professional photographer, and now his marriage to the voluptuous Mary Jane), while I consumed my invariable breakfast of Erewhon New England Style Honey Almond Granola and orange juice?” From the memoir Self-Consciousness (1989).
On David Levine’s caricatures for the New York Review of Books. “Levine, instead, flung himself in a fury of crosshatching upon his subject. His style looked past Beerbohm to the three-dimensional grotesques of Daumier and Tenniel. No weary pucker or complacent bulge of physiognomy could slip through the supple net of his penstrokes, and every corner of the face – that vulnerable patch between the eyebrows, the unseemly area behind the chin, the mute folds of the ears – was brought into a focus were keenness transcended the mild demands of ‘humor’. On the gray expanses of the NYRB pages his etched homunculi seemed astoundingly there; one wanted to pick them up and put them on the shelf. Now, in the form of this book, one can.’” From the introduction to David Levine’s Pens and Needles: a collection of literary caricatures (1969), reprinted in Picked-Up Pieces (1975).
Updike's loyalty to his comics favorites was unwavering. In 1994, he wrote a letter of complaint to the Globe about its decisions on the comics page:
Thursday, October 27, 1994
CUT THE UNFUNNY COMICS, NOT 'SPIDERMAN'
I can't believe that you're cutting "Spiderman" -- the only comic strip in the Globe, except for "Doonesbury" half the time, worth reading. Do think again in making way for what sounds like one more jejune set of unfunny panels pitched at the nonexistent (or at least nonreading) X-generation.
And what ever happened to "Mac Divot" -- the most helpful set of golf tips I ever read?
The moment is Obama's, but here's a quick sketch of the departing duo, arguably the sorriest pair to ever lead the country.
Have you been feeling deprived ever since Gary Larson stopped drawing The Far Side comic strip 14 years ago this week? Apparently you're not alone.
Fans of the wonderfully twisted and oft-imitated cartoon have started a Flickr site where they post reenactments of their favorite Far Side moments.
Some of the homages work better than others, but they all aspire to the spirit of the master. Liberal use of Photoshop is permitted but is no guarantee of the best results.
So far, no entries of one of my favorites: several geezers sitting on the porch of the Cartoonists Retirement Home with one of them proclaiming with arms stretched wide, "Oh, yeah? Well I once drew a nose THIS big!"
For those craving the real thing, Andrews McMeel published The Complete Far Side in 2003 and sells it for $150.
Thanks to The Inquisitr for the link to the Flickr fan site.
Boston artist Bren Bataclan feels a responsibility to help people weather the economic recession. His stimulus program involves lifting people's spirits with random acts of art. Giving away his acrylic paintings of cartoon faces is something Bataclan has done for a number of years, but he recently expanded his largess to the streets and subway stations of San Francisco.
Since 2003, the Phillipines-born computer animator says he has given away over 400 free paintings in 20 cities and 20 countries. In return, he asks that the recipients make an effort to smile at strangers more often. He chronicles the response of the new art collectors at his Smile Boston Project website. The Globe profiled his graphic generosity in Boston in 2006.
"Waltz with Bashir", an animated movie about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon has opened in New York and is due to debut in Boston on Friday, January 16.
Written and directed by Ari Folman, a soldier in the Israeli army during the invasion, the film focuses on the memories of Israeli soldiers who were in Beirut when Christian militiamen massacred 3,000 Palestinian civilians. Folman has lost his memories of the war and seeks out other veterans to interview in order to piece together their collective story and contemplate their ethical culpability in the massacre.
Writing in the New York Times, A.O. Scott calls the film "astonishing" and "exemplary" and suggests it is to film animation what Art Spiegelman's "Maus" was to graphic novels -- the expansion of a popular genre into a "profound and original vehicle for the contemplation" of horror.
The Globe's reviewer, Saul Austerlitz, places the movie in the context of Israel's other films that grapple with its military history. "Bashir", he writes, " deliberately turns away from top-down depictions of heroic Zionist generals single-handedly winning battles...The film is a waltz, not only with former Lebanese prime minister Bashir Gemayel, whose assassination prompted the massacres at Sabra and Shatila, but with memory."
The film's website has extensive clips that suggest the harrowing narrative of the film. The Times review has a video clip of Folman explaining how he achieved the animation effects he wanted.
Update 1/5 The National Society of Film Critics 2009 Awards surprised the movie industry and picked "Waltz With Bashir" as the year's best film.
(1/3 23:59 Correction to review quote: Bashir Gemayel was president-elect of Lebanon at the time of his assassination, not prime minister.)