What would happen if cartoonists weren’t allowed to draw things that looked like things? What if they weren’t able to use their artistic powers to transform, say, Dick Cheney into Satan (ooh, edgy!)? What if they had to portray things exactly as they are — in fact, what if they were only allowed to use photographs of their subjects, to which they could apply word balloons and labels?
That would be pretty interesting, actually.
Wait, no, boring, I meant boring! It would be boring. Artistic license is what makes them artists, after all. But, like the rights afforded to us by all the amendments except for the second and the twenty-first, these artistic licenses can be taken too far. It’s hard to define exactly how far is too far, but generally, it’s when the whimsical transformation you depict goes beyond “Ha ha, that animal is talking and wearing clothes” and hits “SWEET JESUS I’LL NEVER TAKE PEYOTE AGAIN I PROMISE JUST MAKE IT STOP”. This week: The line is crossed.
And the thing became: A disturbingly hook-nosed man-faced fish creature.
Transformational significance: While lesser candidates must develop expensive pumping apparatus to keep their lungs flushed with sweet, sweet special interest cash, the highly evolved Bloomberg fish is able to distill money from the very environment in which he swims, marking him as destined to rule the undersea kingdom.
And the thing became: An unfathomably wizened and leather-skinned turtle-monster. Only with, you know, a shell now.
Transformational significance: John McCain actually has a lot in common with our turtle friends. Both are protected by a hard outer layer; both are over 150 years old; both have a placid exterior under which seethes almost unimaginable anger; and both will beat that rabbit in the race with their slow, steady gait, then have disappeared to a CIA-run rabbit hutch and tortured to death.
And the thing became: The awesome and terrible Mesoamerican winged serpent-god Quetzalcoatl, who demands sacrifice. Human sacrifice.
Transformational significance: According to one Aztec legend, Quetzalcoatl was tricked into getting drunk and sleeping with a celibate priestess, then burned himself into ashes out of remorse. I THINK WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO DO, AMERICA’S BARTENDERS.
And the thing became: Two burnt-out street whores, hoping to make enough cash by daybreak to pay the pimp, but worried that maybe they won’t because, you know, they have fucking elephant and donkey heads. Jesus, what kind of pervert would hire them? No, don’t answer that.
Transformational significance: Actually, creepier than the major-parties-as-whores (not news, really) is Bloomberg as some kind of short-pantsed, smoosh-faced, hyper-aged man-child. He actually looks more like Rupert Murdoch, which doesn’t make anything better and might make it worse.
And the thing became: Mitt Romney, only with four mouths pointing in various directions around the sides of his terribly elongated chin and dear God why why why why
Transformational significance: If take a split second (anything longer will drive you over the brink into total madness) to visualize all four of those mouths yawning and licking their lips and jabbering political aphorisms — simultaneously, but not in unison — you will be thankful for ever and ever that mainstream political cartoonists have yet to master the intricacies of Flash animation. Don’t think about it too long though I beg of you! —THE COMICS CURMUDGEON