cartoon violence

A Number of Cartoons That Will Enrage David Denby

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Cartoon Violence!By the Comics Curmudgeon
If there is one thing guaranteed to enrage America’s arbiter of good taste, it is making any kind of snide remark about Ted Kennedy when he is ill or, in the current case, dead. Naturally, this rule has been flouted relentlessly for the past two days by the crassest, most awful people in the world, which is to say political cartoonists. Who are these heartless monsters, and why do they try so very hard to ruin our national conversation about how much we love Ted Kennedy?

This cartoon trots out an old canard about the Kennedy family in general — that they are hypercharismatic cult leaders building an army of liberal zombies who will do their every command (these commands generally involve destroying America, with socialism). Look at this cadre of Kennedy revolutionaries: a mother, an African-American gentleman, a man in a wheelchair, and bald beardy dude with a sign. They stare, numbly and glassy-eyed, at the newspaper announcing that their leader has passed on. Who will lead them to victory now? What do they have to live for?

This cartoon purports to honor Kennedy but in fact shames him, with its extreme generic-ness. Isn’t it convenient that our point of view up here in the heavenly firmament is from behind Teddy’s recently ascended soul? Because that could, quite frankly, be the soul of anybody who was classy enough to go to Paradise wearing a suit. The label on his back (and in heaven everyone has to wear labels, because there are so many people from different eras up there that even very famous people need a way to be easily identified) and God’s booming dialogue could easily be swapped so this cartoon could be used again and again for any other future cartoon-worthy deaths. Is it physically possible to get any lazier?

You sure bet it’s possible! Just slap a Kennedy quote on top of some Zip-a-Tone, put his birth and death dates in small print at the bottom, and bam! You’re ready to head to the golf course! The debate about whether the thing you just produced meets any of the criteria for cartooning as a medium is left to the eggheads who care about that sort of crap.

Sponsored Intermission

This cartoon implies that Ted Kennedy was some sort of freakish giant who required an enormous chair the size of dozens of ordinary chairs just to support his enormous frame. It is unclear whether this cartoon is hostile towards Ted Kennedy or not. On the one hand, giants are very large and powerful, and are therefore badasses. On the other, giants are often depicted in a negative light in the media and in literature, always smelling the blood of Englishmen and attempting to grind their bones into horrifying bone-bread. Thus, this cartoon may in fact be an anti-Irish slur.

This cartoon has the guts to tell the truth: that America loved Ted Kennedy, and loved him dearly, because of Camelot, and now the Democrats are going to ruin the beautiful mourning over him, by crassly injecting terrible politics into the discussion of the legacy of someone who had been a Senator for more the 40 years. Jeez, Democrats, Kennedy was just a legislator and presidential candidate and holder of any number of strong political opinions! Why are you ruining his funeral, with your politics-tree? Get with the program!

This cartoon captures the true totality of the man, which is to say his universal totality: he was both good and evil, light and dark, angel and devil, Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, the Manichaen duality from which all forces in the universe flow for good and ill. He also had prominent and easily caricaturable teeth.

This cartoon implies that Ted Kennedy was a furry.

About the author

Josh was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, leaving him with a love of chicken wings and a tendency to say “pop”. He taught ancient Greek and Roman history to undergraduates before fleeing from academia in terror; worked for a failed San Francisco dot-com that neglected to supply him with stock options or an Aeron chair; lived in Berlin, where he mostly ate Indian and Ethiopian food; finished in third place on his sole Jeopardy! appearance (the correct answer was “Golda Meir”); and was named 2007 Blogger of the Year by The Week, for obvious reasons. Josh is the creator/editor of COMICS CURMUDGEON (which you should read) and does geeky editing and writing about geeky things such as "the Java programming industry for JavaWorld." He lives in Baltimore with his wife Amber and his cat Hoagie.

View all articles by Josh Fruhlinger


Hey there, Wonkeputians! Shypixel here to remind you to remember our Commenting Rules For Radicals, Enjoy!

  • nbawriter

    The Philly Daily News likes to sell Signe as some great staple of political cartooning … but I gotta say, she blows at least 90 percent of the time. It’s just … not … good.

    (Or I might be bitter because she could have at least drawn some Lion Nutz in that last panel.)

  • Jumping Jim

    Please someone explain the last cartoon where he appears to be a cat getting off a cushion, brushes by a poll and then ends up with a lion’s tail, leaving footprints.
    Best answer wins my un-dieing respect for your philosophical bent or snarkiness.

  • the problem child

    Implies? Implies? It comes right out and says it: fuzzywuzzy was a lion.

  • SayItWithWookies

    WTF is the significance of the palm tree supposed to be?

    And Nick Anderson, just because you can’t talk about one without the other doesn’t mean some of us can’t. I’ve never heard of you before, but I’ll gladly show up at your funeral and mention what an asswipe you were, if that’s a helpful illustration of disrespect. Just let me know.

  • Ducksworthy

    I want to know what was in Ted’s letter to the Pope. Did he tell Bennie that he knew he as a nazi and that’s why Bennie had him killed?

  • Ducksworthy

    The donkey with the politics was redrawn one drawn after Wellstone’s funeral.

  • Come here a minute

    I hope Ken has already ordered the company baby gift — a life-sized stuffed “Liberal Lion” for little baby Teddy K. Smith.

  • SayItWithWookies

    Considering Gorrell’s complete inability to draw recognizable human faces (they all have the same bug-eyed fearful expression like they’re in the process of gulping down a cueball), it’s a relief to see him finally work within the limits of his artistic ability.

  • zenferret

    Why do the good and bad Teddys where children’s onesies?

  • Gun-toting Progressive

    “They stare, numbly and glassy-eyed, at the newspaper announcing that their leader has passed on.” I dunno, the lady seems pretty damn angry. Maybe Ted owed her money (you know, from The Socialism).

  • martinette

    They still make Zip-A-Tone?

  • Doglessliberal

    OK, I will be banned for this, but the word you are looking for is “flouted” not flaunted.

  • Doglessliberal

    And is that one saying God agrees that he fought the good fight, but too bad, he still doesn’t get into heaven?

  • Josh Fruhlinger

    [re=397324]Doglessliberal[/re]: I HAVE FIXED THIS, because it is the sort of thing I actually care about.

  • SweetTea&amp

    I’m not sure that last cartoonist understands evolution. It’s not surprising, given the way it is taught (or not) in schools these days, but I don’t think it’s too hard to comprehend evolution needing to take place over at least a few generations.

  • Doglessliberal

    [re=397335]Josh Fruhlinger[/re]: thank you. I am so annoying, but you know, we have to pretend it matters.

  • Paterlanger

    Why is “The Good Fight” in quotations? Is that meant as irony?

  • Guppy06

    [re=397329]Doglessliberal[/re]: Off to Purgatory, ya Papist!

  • Terry

    Politics are the potted tree ferns of the plant world?

  • freakishlystrong

    Today, we are all really shitty politcal cartoonists.

  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Hey, I’m a furry, too! I guess I need to rub my naked body against more light posts. Yay, I have plans for the weekend!

  • LittlePig

    [re=397339]Paterlanger[/re]: Why is “The Good Fight” in quotations? Is that meant as irony?

    That was my take. The quote would be “fought the good fight”, from the Irish Koran or some such, so it is not indicating taken from a literal source. Therefore, the cartoonist is being a douche about it.

  • Come here a minute

    [re=397284]SayItWithWookies[/re]: Politics is all about symbols, and the donkey was the only one to rembember to symbolize the Palm Beach, Florida Kennedy Kompound, because of the donkey’s long memory. This is an homage to politics.

  • WadISay

    [re=397394]LittlePig[/re]: Jesus was always doing this. Example: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man [air quotes] to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Luke 18:25)

  • thejesusandmarycheney

    [re=397336]SweetTea&[/re]: Clearly this cartoonist is not a believer in Darwin, nor in Lamarck; this is a classic illustration of Pokemonian evolution.

  • gjdodger

    good and evil, light and dark, angel and devil, Ahriman and Ahura Mazda

    …Gog and Magog!

  • MonaLisa65

    [re=397281]Jumping Jim[/re]: Born in the lap of luxury and privilege / chose to understand and be a part of the real world / passed from this life as one who’d drawn strength and earned stature from doing the best he could to make a difference, leaving behind a clear trail for those who may wish to follow.

    (Aside: The ‘Pampered Kitty’ panel looks too much like Tucker Carlson, doesn’t it? ‘Cept his 2nd panel will be of a shriveled, bow-tied phallus on a Crossfire set. His third will be a shriveled, bow-tied pussy. Yes, I said it. Get busy, cartoon artists!)

  • Leopolt

    I used to drive an Ahura Mazda. The air conditioning never worked.

  • trickyrick

    [re=397284]SayItWithWookies[/re]: Peace in the Middle East?

  • Ignatz

    “I have fought the good fight” is from the Epistle of 2 Timothy, and is often regarded as Paul the Apostle’s last statement, although the Epistle may be pseudepigraphical.

  • Marmel

    For every idiot that keeps screaming “Chappaquiddick” in their cartoons…

    I’m talking to you, talentless Chuck Asay from Colorado Springs who even though I haven’t seen a cartoon yet I know you’ll draw it…

    I have two words.

    Laura Bush.

  • TeddyS

    [re=397724]Ignatz[/re]: That line came from Sylvester Stallone in Rocky XIV, the prequel.

  • ladymacbeth

    even ted kennedy has to have one of those stupid roadside memorials with stuffed animals.


  • doloras

    [re=397610]MonaLisa65[/re]: Actually, I think second panel actually means “whored his way around town”.

  • bebergebberson

    [re=397281]Jumping Jim[/re]: A simple statistical test indicates that two thirds of these panels are critical – pampered kitty and alley cat. Actually for that Philly rag, all three panels are critical, since ‘liberal lion’ is undoubtedly a slur too.

    ps the Redders mostly do their cattin’ around in restrooms and cathouses

    So I prefer MonaLisa’s take.

  • Jumping Jim

    [re=397610]MonaLisa65[/re]: OK but how does a cat rubbing itself against a post turn into a Lion? Because believe me, if this is the way to do it, my neighborhood would be a very dangerous place.

  • Paul Tardy

    Why couldn’t Ted Kennedy be an Angel? Kennedy was on the no fly list.

    Why didn’t the Republican put a fly in Ted Kennedy’s soup. Kennedy was on the no fly list.

  • MonaLisa65

    [re=398063]Jumping Jim[/re]: Haha… mine too!

    Best cat I ever knew was a declawed gray Angora named ‘Smokey’, given to me when he was about 5 years old. One day about a year later, he decided he wanted to explore; he started slipping past whoever opened the door, every chance he got. It worried me to no end until the day the neighbor’s lab, Otis, decided Smokey needed investigating, and he trotted onto my lawn making a bee-line for my fat lil’baby…

    Before I could get to either one of them, Smokey literally launched himself from the welcome mat straight at Otis, met him in the middle of the lawn, and punched him upside the head, knocking him off his feet.

    Otis freaked and ran, and never came back.

    Smokey COULD have lived a soft, purely decorative life, blissfully unaware of things like dogs and fleas and busy streets, but he chose to broaden his domain. He embraced it all, and then he ruled it. (For a dozen years, I should add. I still miss you, Smokey-mokey….)

    [FWIW, I think promiscuous women or street-smart boys are referred to as ‘alley cats’ (man-whores being ‘dogs’) but I could be wrong.]

  • jbd

    [re=398065]Paul Tardy[/re]: That…. That was even less funny than expected. Actually, the retarded checker at my former grocery store did better by yelling out the code for tangerines while I was at the self checkout without him even looking at me. And that’s saying something.

  • MonaLisa65

    Today, we are all retarded checkers….