(To see this cartoon as big as China, click on Mao’s third button.)
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I’ve been away for a while visiting my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was asked to deliver the commencement address at their midterm graduation and had a ball doing it. As many times as I have spoken and performed in public, I was pretty nervous. Big crowd, lots of big brains, funny outfits, a giant basketball scoreboard with a live video feed of me talking hanging over the center of the room right in front of me. To top it all off, I couldn’t see my notes so I had to mostly wing it. I guess it went okay.
I love this Mao joke, which was the idea of my colleague, Dan McConnell. Some folks won’t get it so here’s the quick summary explanation: Mao had a Little Red Book that everyone in China was “encouraged” to read. The punch line of this cartoon is the cover of the book, which says “LMAO,” which, if you’re over a certain age, you might not know is a common text abbreviation for “laughed my ass off.” Instead of just featuring Mao with the book, I decided to go hog-ass wild and create an entire propaganda poster. It was a daunting undertaking but I had a ton of fun creating it. I’ve always loved those posters; here is the one I mostly based this one on.
Lots of people wrote to me to say they liked this crash test dummy gag. Crash test dummies are a perpetually rich vein of humor. I’ve got another good one coming up on Sunday, January 13. Here’s one I did in ’07.
Up next is a Martian playing fetch with the Mars rover. That sucker is a pain to draw, I can tell you. The strangest thing about this cartoon is that apparently both the Martian and the rover speak English. Veteran Jazz Pickles will notice that the Martian looks a bit like the alien I drop into the background of my cartoons. (See the upper left corner of the crash test dummy cartoon above.)
And now a cat joke about the legendary nine lives of cats. Cute gag, but nothing much to say about it other than that I think I did a good job with the expressions and body language of the cats. I try to put a lot into this kind of detail with the blind faith that there are readers out there who notice and appreciate things like that.
This “Exit Poll” gag is a favorite of mine. I love the dry aspect of the humor and also the odd fact that if the man’s response had been “Number two,” it likely would have been refused by some of my client newspapers. People are funny. Incidentally, I’m not a big fan of “potty” humor but this one makes me chuckle.
My next gag, featuring James Cromwell as god, is from my good friend and known associate, Wayno of Pittsburgh. I love this gag because it cleverly lampoons the fact that so many people attribute their successes and aspirations to divine intervention. When I hear a football player or a Grammy winner thank god for their victory I always wonder if the losers in the same contest were not smart enough to pray for a win, or if god just didn’t like them as well as the one who won. The most absurd application of this phenomenon is politicians who claim god told them to run for office. Those candidates virtually never win (because most voters sense they are delusional) which means one of two things: there is no god, or god convinced them to run for office to give them a dose of much needed humility.
When I submitted this cartoon about Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, there was some question among the editors at King Features if any of my client newspapers would reject it because of the word “crap.” Yes, some Americans can be that childish sometimes. I am happy to report, however, that none did and we didn’t hear a peep of complaint. I love (idiotic) hate mail so I was a little disappointed but I did find it encouraging.
My penultimate gag of this Komedy Kartoon Kavalcade is this dandy little scene of two turkeys talking in heaven. If you’re not familiar with the U.S. tradition of our president pardoning a turkey each Thanksgiving (started by Abraham Lincoln), you will have been mystified by this gag. And if you don’t remember your U.S. history, Richard Nixon was very famously pardoned by incoming sock-puppet president, Gerald Ford, after he was forced to resign from office because of criminal activity. Richard Nixon is also famous for being one of the most easily caricatured persons in the history of the human race. Still, I’m proud of the caricature I created since it’s not something I’ve practiced much.
Lastly, another cartoon collaboration with Wayno. I thought this joke was fun because I have a striped shirt like this that I wear fairly often. I’m not a pirate, Frenchman, burglar, or mime, but it is a replica of a shirt that Pablo Picasso was fond of wearing, so I wear it when I want to pretend I’m him. Here is what Wayno has to say about it.
That’s it for now. I’ve enjoyed spending these few minutes with you. Also, I like what you’ve done with your hair.