On Friday the Senate is expected to vote on whether to call witnesses for the impeachment trial. As of now, it is possible that four Republicans can be found to vote for witnesses, in particular, John Bolton –but it is likely there will not be four Republicans who vote for witnesses. Here’s my cartoon …
I was reminded that people like to see my rough sketches, so here you go.
You can see I fiddled with making the elephant’s butt bigger and moving his head forward, and whether or not to put the tie in front of his shoe. This is an odd angle to draw, but it is the best angle for effective mooning –I’ve done it before. Here’s one that I drew over 20 years ago, during the Florida recount in the Bush vs. Gore election.
My biggest regret from my career as an editorial cartoonist is that I supported the run-up to the war in Iraq, and I believed The New York Times‘ bogus stories about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (I won’t make the mistake of trusting The New York Times again.) Here’s one of my run-up to war in Iraq cartoons, about Saddam obstructing the weapons inspectors in Iraq –we later learned that what Saddam was hiding was his fragile ego, since he had no such weapons.
I think it is a general rule for editorial cartoonists that whenever there is a good excuse to draw a butt, a dog or a Statue of Liberty, you gotta grab it and run.
Here are John Cole’s favorite cartoons of the past decade! John is the staff cartoonist for the Scranton Times-Tribune in Pennsylvania, and he also draws local cartoons about North Carolina for NCPolicyWatch.com
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Every day the news is full of Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. We just can’t seem to get enough Ukraine.
We have a great CagleCartoonist from Ukraine, Vladimir Kazanevsky, who has probably won more international cartooning competitions than any other cartoonist in the world –but the international competition world is a different world, with different aesthetics that seem strange and foreign to an American reader.
I noticed that Vlad hadn’t posted any cartoons about the Ukraine/impeachment scandal and I told him that he is the only cartoonist from Ukraine that American readers are likely to see. Vlad’s perch in Kyiv could make his cartoons interesting to Western editors. Vlad then uploaded these three.
It looks like this jester-trap will draw Trump in as he is lured into watching himself on TV.
Here Ukraine is a clown-seal that is getting Trump’s attention …
Here the jester appears to be Ukraine’s brain that is commanding heavy-Trump-the-elephant’s attention.
Vlad’s cartoons are charming, although I must admit that I don’t really understand most of them. This is typical of the international contest cartoonists who have a different cartoon language that doesn’t make much sense to Americans like me. Charming, though.
Here are selections of some of Vlad’s cartoons that I can understand – the first one shows refugees fleeing from a repressive regime.
This one shows our climate-change future.
Here man struggles with oil.
Putin doesn’t seem happy as his cold, Russian Trump-Vodka seems to have turned into poop, which doesn’t go well with caviar.
This charming cartoon shows animals who seem to be demonstrating in favor of their own predators.
All of this is only to show that Vlad is great, but I’m not surprised that we don’t see cartoons from Ukraine in American newspapers even while Ukraine dominates the news.
The photo below shows me with Vlad in Vlad’s studio in Kyiv a few years ago. Behind us are some of Vlad’s trophies from over 500 international cartooning prizes he has won in 52 countries. See Vlad’s archive on Cagle.com.
… And here’s an endangered tree, praying while stuck in place.
President Trump had his mind on the FBI’s Russia probe when he kicked Attorney General Jeff Sessions out.
Remember when Trump kicked out his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, because of Flynn’s ties to Russia?
That seems like a long time ago, but the news happens so fast now, it really wasn’t that long. This seemed like a good time to update this one. Since I drew this one, I’ve started drawing Trump fatter, and with a bigger face and neck. I spent some years living in New York where Trump was in the news throughout the 1980’s, and he was a skinny guy. It has taken me some time to adjust my thinking of him as fat.
Doesn’t it seem like the characters who get the boot are the most fun to draw?
I was riveted to my TV all day yesterday. I thought Christine Blasie Ford and Kavanaugh were both believable. It is interesting that so many people talk about how this is a “he said, she said” thing, with no proof, using arguments that relate to trials and criminal proceedings. Of-course, this is a job interview, and courtroom arguments about proof and procedure are not a part of job interviews. Clearly Kavanaugh won’t be a choice that will reflect well on the institution of the Supreme Court, that’s enough reason to choose another eager candidate. Whether it is fair to Kavanaugh or not, that’s what my cartoon is about; I’m illustrating the notion that Kavanaugh doesn’t reflect well on the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh isn’t my first caveman. In fact, cavemen are a popular cliché for editorial cartoonists and I’ve drawn my share. Here’s an old Putin caveman from when Russia invaded Crimea.
This old caveman cartoon was from when George W. Bush appointed John Bolton to be the United Nations ambassador. Funny how characters like Bolton never go away. Somehow I think I’ll be drawing lots more cavemen – there are plenty of them in Washington.
Last week I was in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, for the opening of an exhibition of political cartoons. I’ve been speaking at some universities and getting to know the people and the place.
Ukraine has 60% inflation here and seems certain to default on their substantial foreign debt as Russia continues to press a festering conflict in the east. Since the news about Ukraine is so terrible, I had expected to see some desperation here. Kiev is lovely and it seems like a normal, European capital. There’s no desperation evident.
My hotel is in the center of town where snipers killed more than one hundred people as the Ukrainians threw out their corrupt president, Victor Yanukovych in 2014. There are scattered memorials showing faces of the slain protestors, along with candles and flowers. One large, burned-out building on the central square is a reminder of the violence.
Yanukovych stole billions from Ukraine and fled to Russia. He built a crazy huge mansion for himself, which has been made into a national park and is now a tourist attraction. The grounds are vast, stretching for kilometers, with manicured gardens, a zoo, waterfalls, rivers, and a giant, pirate, party ship. The grounds are lovely, leaving visitors both charmed and cursing at scale of the of the corruption that could build such a fantastic complex. There was a wedding on Yanukovich’s fancy porch when I visited. It is nice to see these crazy digs preserved as a park rather than seeing it all torn down by an angry mob, as with Saddam Hussein’s mansions. Even the animals at Yanukovych’s giant zoo look happy.
I had dinner with my friend, Vladislav Kazanevsky, who has probably won more international cartoon contests than anyone else. That’s a photo of me with Vlad standing in front of his trophy case at this studio. There’s another photo of Vlad with his most recent cartoon of Obama, smiling out of his butt at Ukraine.
The world of international contests is very foreign to American cartoonists, who rarely enter these competitions, making us seem aloof and arrogant to the Ukrainian cartoonists. The international contest cartoons seem strange to American cartoonists, and I apologize for that – we don’t really fit in with the style, which is very foreign.
I’ve enjoyed the college audiences for my lectures here. I show them my cartoons where I have made Ukraine into a peasant woman character, which they tell me is “a little bit offensive” to them, “but only a little bit”. They ask why I picked this woman to represent Ukraine; why is she fat; why is she blonde? She should have black hair, I’m told, and she should not be fat. “We are not fat. Americans are fat,” I’m told, at each lecture.
The students always ask why I don’t draw Ukraine’s colorful leaders in my cartoons, and I have to explain that American readers won’t know who they are without an explanation. I tell them that Americans only pay attention to Ukraine when there is a revolution, when Putin invades, or when an airplane crashes here, and they all nod in agreement.
I had an excellent meeting with representatives from Ukraine’s cartoonists organization, who gave me some books and a copy of their Crocodile Magazine, a throwback to the old Soviet gag cartoon Crocodile Magazine. Kazenevski draws some western style editorial cartoons, but Ukrainian cartoonists are otherwise contest cartoonists, looking to collect trophies and awards to list on their CV’s. That’s the way it is for cartoonists in much of the world.
Thanks to my Ukrainian buddies, Tomas and Adam Lukacka, their cousin Matthew and loyal volunteers Alex and Brian for a great exhibition, also thanks to Eufurion and the Swiss Embassy, and the volunteers from Ukraine who are managing the show as it moves around the country.
My buddy, Martin “Shooty” Sutovec, the star editorial cartoonist of Slovakia, was also in the exhibit and traveled to Kiev for the opening along. The president of Slovakia was there too, which was a bit strange. I told the president that Shooty is Slovakia’s national treasure, and the president said, “many people do not think so.” This president is a little bit rude, huh?
There are some wacky sights to see in Kiev, and at the top of the list is the “Mother of Ukraine,” a colossal statue of a strong, Soviet woman, holding a shield and a fifty foot long sword in the air. Last year I visited a similar, but smaller statue that towers over Tbilisi, when the exhibition toured Georgia. I’m told that every former Soviet republic has a giant mother statue.
This mother is hollow, with a step ladder inside where fit and intrepid souls can climb to the top of her shield and open little portholes on the top of her shield, just big enough to poke a head out of, and take a photo. It was too much of an athletic feat for me to climb that ladder, so I was content to look up her skirt. The huge Mother of Ukraine is surrounded by a park and giant, metallic, heroic statues of Soviet, World War II statues. The national art museum in Kiev is full of thick, strong, Soviet proletarian hero paintings.
My Ukrainian cartoonist buddy, Vladimir, gave me a tour of downtown and explained that the big, handsome buildings were rebuilt by captured German soldier slave labor after the war. When he was in school, Vlad was taught that the Germans destroyed all the buildings in Kiev, but after the revolution he learned that the Soviets actually destroyed all the buildings, to keep the Germans from claiming anything of value as they took the city from retreating Soviet troops. What goes around comes around, I guess.
The Ukrainians certainly don’t like Vladimir Putin. Tourist shops sell Putin toilet paper. There are images of “Putler,” a combination of Putin and Hitler. I heard a crowd chanting about “Putler” at a rather large protest rally at the main square.
I asked the college students, “since you don’t like my Ukrainian peasant lady as a metaphor for Ukraine, what should I draw instead?” They always say, “Ukrainians just look like regular people – draw that.” And I say, “hey, these are cartoons, that doesn’t work for me,” and they nod in begrudging agreement. I think I’ll keep drawing the Ukrainian chick, the next time Ukraine suffers a new indignity – but now that I’ve learned so much more about Ukraine I’ll draw her with black hair.
Here are some samples of my cartoons with my Ukraine peasant metaphor lady, who suffers from Putin. Judging from the tourist souvenir junk, also pictured below, I think I got her right – but no, I’m told, she has to have black hair, and lose some weight.
President Obama’s metaphorical airline seat is a lousy one right now. Here’s my newest cartoon.
Most people see my cartoons in black and white in the newspapers. I like the cartoons better in black and white – particularly if I do them with no gray tone, just line. Here is what most people see in the newspaper.
I know I should have drawn a Ray Rice cartoon, and I was going to draw something similar to the one that Steve Sack drew below … but I was too slow. And Steve’s cartoon was better than the one was would have drawn, so if I was a little faster, I would have been embarrassed.
The other thing I should have drawn, but I didn’t, was something on Apple’s big product announcement. I put this Nate Beeler oldie up on Twitter and it went viral. Some things never change, from one Apple product announcement to the next.
I collected comic books as a kid – thousands of comic books. The Charles Atlas ad at the right was burned into my brain. The ad didn’t influence me to exercise (I’m too lazy for that) but it motivated me to draw the cartoon above, with Obama, Ukraine and Putin at the beach.
Ukraine is a tough metaphor because we don’t really have any good visual icons or characters that scream “Ukraine” at a glance, so I’ve taken to depicting Ukraine as a pudgy, braided, blond chick.
She is wearing a bathing suit in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, but I’m sure American readers won’t notice that. In the drawing below, she is with caveman-Putin, wearing traditional, Ukrainian garb …
Here she is again, in the same clothes, getting robbed by Putin while Obama stands by …
Putin has his own traditional garb – he doesn’t wear a shirt.
My last Charles Atlas metaphor cartoon is below, from more than ten years ago during the run-up George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. Things don’t change much as we’re seeing the media push war on us all over again.