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Cartoonists Mourn Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was God’s gift to editorial cartoonists. Now that the gift has been “returned to sender” the cartoonists are mourning the loss of one of their most evergreen gags.

Jackson was a wonderful character for cartoons. From “Jesus Juice” to chimps and burning hair, he was a cartoon treasure. One of my all time favorites was a Mr. Fish cartoon during the jury selection process from Michael’s trial, showing Michael’s “nightmare jury” or “nightmare witnesses” of scowling Fruit of the Loom fruit characters in the jury box.

The political cartoonists have been emailing each other, warning that we should not do the obvious obit cartoons, like Michael at the Pearly Gates and St. Peter says, “You’re bad, beat it;” or Jesus dangling little Michael from a heavenly window; or Michael and St. Peter “moon-walking” backwards through the Pearly Gates into heaven. And I can’t help but think of how Jackson’s children must have recoiled in horror when he played “got your nose”…

I was thinking of drawing Michael and Jesus on a cloud sharing a white wine “Jesus Juice” as Jesus holds a little box, saying, “God has a little gift for you — it’s your nose.” I floated a few of these ideas to my 45,000 Twitter followers, to a mixed reaction ““ one third of the responses were angry that I would show such disrespect to Jackson, and two thirds wanted the obituary gags to keep on coming.

I drew my favorite Michael Jackson cartoon when he was arrested. I had a police line-up, and the little boy/victim is pointing at Jackson saying, “That one;” the others in the line-up are a candy cane, a barber pole and the North Pole. Of course, the “secret” characteristic the kid identified was that Jackson’s penis was (allegedly) striped like a barber pole. I thought everyone knew this when I drew the cartoon, but unfortunately it turned out this was a little known bit of color about the King of Pop.

Soon after I drew my Jackson line-up cartoon, I got an e-mail from a couple of middle school kids that went something like this:

“Dear Mr. Cagle, Every week in our Social Studies class, our teacher, Ms. Fuddle, has what we call, “Cartoon Monday.” The class votes on an editorial cartoon that we will discuss that day. We voted to discuss your Michael Jackson cartoon in class next Monday, but we don’t understand it. Would you please explain it to us? Sincerely, Kid One and Kid Two”

I wrote back:

“Dear Kid One and Kid Two, Thank you for choosing my cartoon to discuss. The cartoon refers to Michael Jackson’s penis, which is striped like a barber pole “¦”

And the kids wrote back:

“Dear Mr. Cagle. Thank you for the explanation of your Michael Jackson cartoon. We think this will be our most interesting Cartoon Monday ever.”

When I think of all that cartoonists have lost with Michael Jackson’s passing, it makes me weep.

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.

32 replies on “Cartoonists Mourn Michael Jackson”

Editorial cartoonists, make us this about the levity of a situation and challenge us dig a little deeper in our understanding. It is a big job. You do it very well. Jack Ohman is our local guy and I think he is fabulous. I urge you to be respectful of his life, his genius, his struggles.. and somehow reach out and think about how he touched each one of us. I trust that you will be able to do this.

OK, he's dead. Now can we get back to something that actually affects real people, like Kim Jong Il's crazy obsession with nuclear explosives, or the struggle of the Iranian people to have at least the illusion of democracy?

Seriously, it's sad that MJ is dead, but it's not really important to anyone's future well-being outside of his family and employees.

So much of what has been done cartoon-wise was tasteless, jokes about hiding little angels. Really? It's low-end and you (the editor) would hate someone disrespecting your family like that IN THEIR DEATH. He's gone now, show some class, people.

I'm a big fan of Mr. Fish's and an admirer of MJ's talent, but I can't recall for the life of me the context that would explain the meaning of the Fruit of the Loom jury in this cartoon. Help anyone?

RE: Martin Williams, June 27, 2009 at 7:17 pm

But if "political" cartoonists weren't nasty, mean-spirited, and disrespectful… well, they might have to work harder than they're used to.

This is the MO of most of these "artists"… the lowest road they can take, just as long as it's easy. They are hypocritical, self important, and falsely "holier than thou". And then, for a finale, they'll look at you with the biggest puppy-dog eyes they can muster, and say "I dont know why we keep getting fired," or "I don't know why newspapers aren't buying our 'art' anymore".

But when you think about it, their arrogance is really pretty impressive.

The three fruits of Fruit of the Loom are on the witness stand in court,
testifying against MJ for all that they have seen.

MJ, what a great talent. A fall as sad as Elvis's.
Good thing I'm poor.

I thought there is something called respect for those who have passed ? Your cartoons whilst MJ was alive are OK but not so after his death and whilst a lot of people are mourning and grieving for him and the loss to his family especially his children.
Your cartoon (comments) are in very bad taste. I personally and am sure a lot of others do not appreciate it.

Daryl – I think the "your bad; beat it!" idea at the pearly-gates is genius and you're a fool if you don't whip that one up and use it. Besides, the word "bad" can technically be interpreted in several ways. For those super-sensitive, pure-at-heart types, they can just choose to interpret the word as Michael meant it in his song -that he's just too cool. For the rest of us who love our humor sans the censoring, we can laugh our arses off at the literal meaning.

Most of the 'toons were decent.

There were only two done by total hemorrhoids~~fairrington and chappette. I wouldn't mind meeting either of these two punks–alone–at night.

I'm a 70Y/O straight guy who is also a Nam vet and a jazz fan however, I saw Jackson as a sad, lonely and confused manboy who was robbed of his childhood.
I can understand some of that as, my father was a prick as was Jackson's.

I am not one of those cowards who is too afraid that I experienced some sadness over his passing and the mess he was inside.

We are Americans; there are those of you who want us to treat publicly worshiped human beings as gods and not ever view them in the light of criticism. Well, I'm a student of history and that just doesn't cut it with me. You cartoonists just keep poking fun ALL YOU WANT! We in America DO NOT KOWTOW to the "aristocracy" of fame. PHhhffft!!! That is what I have to say to you folks who do not believe in freedom of speech!!!

These "entertainers" do not deserve one shred of respect as long as they profit off our shekels and take the hard earned money (and sometimes shirts) off our backs! This includes such puffing pontiffs like Rush Limbaugh( or Ruff Limpwadd as my friend likes to call him)

As a human being I feel very sorry for people like Michael and his family, but freedom of speech is a lot more important that the feelings of a bunch of carneys.

Sincerely

JCitizen

Mr. Jackson' s death ends a ;ife as confused as his appearance through that life. The quality and influence of his music will be determined by oine of the last vestiges of the free market left to us–it will survive if people buy the product. The influence of his character and life accomplishment seems to have been lacking any substance and seems as hollow as his surgical transformations. If those forced changes reflect the hollowness of his emotional makeup, his life was tragic indeed.

Is this sudden mass expiration a sign that the 'end times' are near? Nooo, sad stuff happens and it will happen to us all in time. Coming in threes and fours means nothing.

Like Voltaire opined, "A witty saying means nothing." Nor does a strange, close grouping of human death. However, in the world according to me, the death of anybody, except Hitler/Castro/Stalin/Mao types, should NOT be fodder for 'political cartoonists.' There was NOTHING 'political' about Michael Jackson.

About the gagfest surrounding Michael Jackson, I am so SICK of seeing/hearing this icon of overindulgence and probable pedophilia revered by media sycophants, and compared, as I heard yesterday, as one who stands shoulder to shoulder with icons like Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Wagner; and the jaw-dropping claim by one fawning, tear-brimmed reporter who referred to him as the 'most creative genius of the 20th and 21st centuries.' This comment was, IMO, singularly the greatest hyperbolic homage ever uttered, and simply without a single shred of evidence as to its veracity.

PUHLEEZE…I'm sensitive to the loss of any human life, particularly when they are taken early, and that is certainly the case now, as it is with the addition of Billy Mays; but let's step back from this gilded wake for Michael Jackson and try a liberal dose of objectivity here…MJ had allowed himself to be physically maimed into a ghoulish 'Thriller' zombie-look-alike…and with the able assistance of a team of enablers, was clearly doped-up with continued impunity and had been for years with God-knows-what uppers and downers. Now he has sadl y followed the pitiable death march of Anna Nicole Smith, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and legions of other victims of early fame and arrested adolescence. Unfettered indulgence with impunity from apparent consequence destroys absolutely, and with certainty in its own cruel time.

What I find terribly disappointing about this media freakshow is the fact that well-deserved and honorable due has not been given to the passing of Farrah Fawcett (a lovely and gracious University of Texas alum) or Ed McMahon, America's loveable '2nd banana' for 30 years, and now Billy Mays, like him or not, one of the great product pitchmen of our time; each an entertainment icon of the first order. How sad that their lives, accomplishments and careers, when ended, had to be hidden behind the tainted shadow of Michael Jackson, a macabre, disfigured, lonely, overindulgent child of 50.

How truly, truly sad.

Hard to tell who is sicker – the cartoonists, the editorial writers, or the holier-than-thou, condescending, judgmental commentators like "escritor de tejas."

Escritor de Tejas is ridiculous. Farrah Fawcett's biggest contribution was that of being an oversexed symbol to men and some insecure women. I am tired of all this political correctness. Someone get Kathy Griffin in! Comedians and cartoonists should be free to express themselves. Especially when they are witty AND funny.

Sorry, Mari, but that was spoken like someone who never saw any of Farrah Fawcett's better movies. The Burning Bed was important. While I don't agree with the character's solution to her problems, the point was that Farrah took a huge chance to do something non-jiggly and important, highlighting spousal abuse at a time when it was still a nod-nod-wink-wink thing to be swept under the rug by good ol' boy law enforcement officers and politicians. It had a huge impact, and no one viewed Ms. Fawcett's career the same way again. Well, not all of you, apparently, but hey, look it up. Even the most hard to please critics agree on this one.

Most of the ‘toons were decent.

There were only two done by total hemorrhoids~~fairrington and chappette. I wouldn’t mind meeting either of these two punks–alone–at night.

I’m a 70Y/O straight guy who is also a Nam vet and a jazz fan however, I saw Jackson as a sad, lonely and confused manboy who was robbed of his childhood.
I can understand some of that as, my father was a prick as was Jackson’s.

I am not one of those cowards who is too afraid that I experienced some sadness over his passing and the mess he was inside.

It makes me crazy all the weeping and crying over MJ's death. Would any non-celebrity child molester get this if he died?

Five hundred years from now the sounds of Miles Davis and Joe Henderson will still be heard, and the compositions of Monk and Mingus will still be played; but, fifty years from now nobody will remember Michael Jackson.

dear self righteous spectators,
the urge to make blanket statements and to validate loss is sickening. everyone who cared about farrah fawcett was braced for her passing. one may have suspected that ed mcmahon was moving into the next phase. all could reconcile these two losses with a death happens point of view and easily roll michael jackson and billy mays into that category. but to give into and feed the notion that anyone is qualified to value another's life is sickening & shameful. i miss farrah, ed, michael & billy. period. i'm happy that their work will live on. i am cheered that they threw their hats in to the ring; that they chose to live a life of giving and that their MEANINGFUL work WILL live on. unlike so many of the hoi poloi, they did not sit on the side lines with a bag of rotten/bitter fruit. mourning is natural. evolve already!

i wonder if michael jackson introduced to a lot of young people how to correctly put your hand on your crotch.. i notice a lot of kids doing just that even to this day.what will be the next kinda vulgar expression that all the kids will pick up next.. also now the pants way down showing dirty underwear is regularly seen among the .. i dont know know where that came from.. yes i am an older person and i guess in our adolescent years we did things that older people thought were stupid..

When Farrah Fawcett died God was waiting for her at the Pearly Gates. He granted her one wish. She wished that all the children of earth would be safe. So God killed Michael Jackson.

i wonder if michael jackson introduced to a lot of young people how to correctly put your hand on your crotch.. i notice a lot of kids doing just that even to this day.what will be the next kinda vulgar expression that all the kids will pick up next.. also now the pants way down showing dirty underwear is regularly seen among the .. i dont know know where that came from.. yes i am an older person and i guess in our adolescent years we did things that older people thought were stupid..

In the many toons depicting him at the pearly gates, will a cartoonist draw one showing him as he was befor all the surgeries? You know, the "real inside" of him?
Personally, Iam a devout athiest, and have no need for religeous terrorism.

Mike the commentator doesn’t know Diddly about MJ. If he did, he’d know that there were never any convictions of child molestation derived from any accusations towards MJ. God gives us free will and thereby grants us the will to support ALL his children, which includes MJ. RIP.

JCitizen really put it into perspective when he/she said, “These ‘entertainers’ do not deserve one shred of respect as long as they profit off our shekels and take the hard earned money (and sometimes shirts) off our backs!”

To JCitizen… he/she determines who gets respect and who doesn’t. Sure, we’re all humans, all trying to live our lives, all granted the same rights (or at least should be)… but respect… no, not respect. To people like JCitizen, it’s all about how you’ve effected “me” that makes them respect or not respect someone. Jackson didn’t (apparently) do anything for JCitizen… so he/she feels no shame when others are nasty, mean spirited, and rude towards him. He (Jackson) is just another person who didn’t do anything for JCitizen.

What a sad, selfish, egotistical world JCitizen lives in… and thsuly attempts to thrust upon the rest of us. It’s a shame most political cartoonists seem to be there with him/him.

And not a word from anyone about the recent passing of sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan….unlike any of these celebs, a true musical giant and artist and educator of the highest caliber. Something most Americans apparently do not care for. I was fortunate to have witnessed him perform twice in my life and both times he touched me deeply with his musical genius. Google him for more on his immense contributions to the world of music and culture. He brought Indian classical music to America via his Ali Akbar School of Music in Marin County. Find his music and see what I mean. No comparison to Farrah, MJ, Ed, or Billy, who, as sad as their passing may be to fans and family, got all the press. No wonder the USA has such a low cultural reputation!

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