Tag Archives: World War 1

In Praise of Political Cartoonists Part 1

As a wee girl from Glasgow, Scotland growing up in Toronto Canada and ending up living in Vancouver, always loved comics. Beano, Archie, Superman, Batman…the list was endless.

Was a huge fan of Saturday morning cartoons on the telly. Even as a kid, was convulsed by the brilliance of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Chuck Jones and Bugs Bunny‘s “What a maroon!” remains one of my favorite sayings to this day.

The teenage me grew to love Mad Magazine

whatamaroon  MAD-Magazine-140-Patton-Cover

As my interest in Canadian, American, British, Australian and global politics evolved, became aware of the art of the political cartoon, and I was hooked. A cartoon is after all, a picture – whether static or celluloid. And a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Political cartoonists have always been our voice and our conscience

Nothing made this clearer to me when 25 years ago, a dear friend loaned me his original folio of political cartoons by the great British caricaturist James Gillray, who was born in 1757. I was gobsmacked! Remember spending an entire 24 hours going over the large book, page by fragile page, referencing the illustrations to help me understand their meaning. In addition to being brilliant, flamboyant and very funny… these beautifully colored pen and inks (with some watercolors) were extremely daring. His toon of Napoleon and William Pitt carving up the world is even more relevant today than it was then!

Gillray’s predecessor, William Hogarth, was born in 1697. Hogarth was “a painter, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial cartoonist. His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called “modern moral subjects”.

James Gillray  Gillray England France Carving Up World  William Hogarth  Hogarth The Marraige Contract

Caricatures go back as far as The Renaissance and Leonardo Da Vinci b.1452 … He brilliantly used distorted features to mock his subjects.  Visual protest is evident in Lucas Cranach‘s work during The Reformation in Germany  b.1472

Leonardo Da Vinci  Da Vinci Caricature  Lucas Cranach  Lucas Cranach Anti-Christ

Thomas Rowlandson, born in England in 1756, never missed a beat in satirizing the socio/economic/political scene… from the thoughtful to the naughty

Thomas Rowlandson PortraitThomas_Rowlandson_The_two_Kings_of_TerrorThos Rowlandson 5rowlandson-thomas--eine-szene-aus-der-farce-citizen-793031

Ben Franklin, b.1706 was a true Renaissance Man himself, Ben Franklin’s Join or Die is a masterly cartoon of the times. Harper’s Weekly Review featured the caricatures of men like Alfred R. Waud who captured the tragedy of the Civil War

BenFrankin Ben Franklin Join or Die Cartoon  Alfred R Waud Civil WarCartoon Massacre of the Innocents at New Orleans 1866

Thomas Nast b.1840, was considered The Father of The American Cartoon. He captured both the corruption of Reconstruction and Tammany Hall.

Thomas Nast Pacific Chivallry Thomas NAst BOss Tweed

Louis Dalrymple b.1868 depicts Teddy Roosevelt‘s New Diplomacy, embodying the iconic “Speak softly and carry a big stick”, for Puck Magazine in 1905. E.W. Kemble b.1861 who illustrated Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, also worked for Harper’s Weekly Review penned Roosevelt’s final frustration with “Old Man Ananias” in 1910.

Roosevelt New Diplomacy      Teddy Roosevelt Election

World War 1, World War 11:   Frank Henry Townsend complimented Britain’s Punch Almanack’s roster of illustrious cartoonists. Even our beloved Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, created wartime cartoons.

Ww1 Cartoon / Punch    WW2 Dr Seuss

Vietnam Anti-War Cartoons:  North Carolina-born cartoonist Doug Marlette was killed in a car crash in 2007. Marlette felt that “Cartoons are windows into the human condition…It’s about life”. His principled take on life was reflected in his conscientious objector stance on the Vietnam War in some of the most poignant cartoons that I can remember. His long and illustrious career covered the Charlotte Observer, the Atlanta Constitution,  New York’s Newsday and the Tallahassee Democrat.

Vietnam Anti-War Marlette Charlotte Observer  Vietnam Quagmire - Marlette

I AM CHARLIE HEBDO:

It has always been dangerous to be a political cartoonist. Da Vinci risked loosing patrons and the wrath of The Church, as did artist Lucas Cranach. Harper’s Magazine Tammany critic Thomas Nast was threatened by supporters of Boss Tweed. But nothing has highlighted the perpetual risk of drawing for a living, than the recent massacre of artists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. This tragedy has shaken us all to the core.

Je Suis Charlie Hebdo has become a global rallying cry. As it was centuries ago and so is now, caricaturists refuse to be intimidated.

charlie-hebdo  Rod-emmerson Charlie Hebdo

Iranian cartoonist, artist and activist Atena Farghadani was arrested in August 2014 for a cartoon that mocked Members of Parliament, depicting them with animal faces. Ms. Farghadani is charged with insulting The Supreme Leader and spreading propaganda. The 28-year-old, described by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, languishes in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, having suffered a heart-attack earlier this year. On May 19, 2015 Ms. Farghadani was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison. It is difficult to reconcile this with the push to collaborate with Iran on a nuclear deal.  We must keep up the pressure on the Iranian government to secure Atena’s safe release. **

Atena Farghadani  Atena Farghadani Iranian Cartoon

So given the inherent dangers, not stellar salaries and relentless 24/7 news cycle, what exactly inspires political cartoonists to pick up the pen or brush these days? There is a far-flung family of artists from around the globe who share their thoughts with us on a daily basis. And of course we in The Colonies are some of the most brutal.

In Part 2 of In Praise of Political Cartoonists, we look at how editorial cartoonists depict the current chaotic global political scene:

Dave Weigel of Bloomberg Politics, calls Donkey Hotey “The Margaret Keane of Political Cartooning” He describes Donkey Hotey by saying “Nast used pen and ink; Donkey Hotey takes public images and alters them into parody or horror. He quotes DK… “I am remixing images, manipulating them and then treating the entire piece as a whole.”

GOP Clown Car Donkey Hotey

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to provide David Rowe with endless toon fodder. Rowe’s watercolors (the most difficult medium to work in) are brilliant, brutal, and beautiful. Rowe is a Stanley Award-winning Aussie, who casts his paint far afield.

Tony Abbott Balls David Rowe Toon Donald Trump GOP CANCER DAVID ROWE AUSTRALIA

Canadian cartoonist Michael De Adder, is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That fact does not stop him from commenting on the current rise of Facism in America. We are All Americans – North Americans, and what hurts our American cousins, hurts us all…

Melania Crying Child De Adder

Raising a Glass of Champers to Political Cartoonists Everywhere…and Those Who Sail With Them. Long May Your Voices (and Ours)  Be Heard! Long May the Ink Flow!

In Praise of Political Cartoonists Part 2 coming soon

@DonkeyHotey @DeAdder @roweafr

@MissMyrtle2  missmyrtle2@gmail.com

** Please sign and share #FreeAtena http://www.amnesty.org.uk/iran-atena-farghadani-prison-cartoon-womens-rights-activist#.VYo2N_lViko

Dearies, after much dithering am committing pen to paper, metaphorically speaking.

After watching the sumptuous John Oliver interview the equally yummy Dr. Stephen Hawking on the brilliant new “Last Week Tonight”, have been inspired to write my first blog post. Have also had a few glasses of champers…so here goes

It has been quite the week. Honour killings in Pakistan,  Iraq descending into hell once again, cannibalism at FIFA World Cup Brazil, Mayor Rob Ford’s return from rehab, all counter-balanced by the sublime sounds of Sachal Music, Dragon Boat Races in Vancouver, the joyful documentary about Roger Ebert “Life Itself”, and the knock-out performance by Emil and Dariel on America’s Got Talent.

And then there was the Scrabble Nazi. Lately, have been winding down a tough day in the trenches, by playing a few games of online Scrabble. Have always loved the game, and find that there is generally a global community of like-minded folks out there on the net. It helps keep the old brain cells active. Since the game is being played in the ether, there are often tech and even human-beings-behaving-badly issues. So, one is required to “Ask a helper”…

Although my life pretty much revolves around sarcasm (from the British side of my family), have been startled and somewhat dismayed by the ongoing sarcastic non-help offered by ISC’s so-called helpers. Granted, it’s a tough job just waiting by the screen for some inane question, comment or winge to appear, but hey…you volunteered.

The most relentless of these “helpers” calls himself CariBOUman, and he brooks no nonsense from players. He is smarter than they are, and he can dish it out, but Dearies, he can’t take it. One of the joys of playing is that you have to see conversations between the helpers and members of ISC whether you wish to or not, while you are involved in a game. It can be distracting and downright annoying.

Recently, after a particularly long stream of sarcastic remarks to players in various states of confusion, added my own comment, between firing up the tiles, that “sometimes your sarcasm drips too much”. The response was immediate and vicious. Which is interesting, considering they either ignore your query or respond with totally unhelpful info. As a paid member (to help kep this enterprise afloat), I find this offensive.

My point is this, Dearies. If I wanted to pay to be abused, would find a good S&M parlour. Sarcasm/humour has a place,  i.e in this blog. It really should not interfere with the Not-Quite-Beautiful-Game. And if you don’t like hyphenated words, then you shouldn’t be reading this. Ohoh, CariBOUman is rubbing off on me!

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Leads to WW1

Cannot end this inaugural blog post on a sour note. For something far more uplifting will close with a few thoughts about the 100th Anniversary of WW1. “The Shot Heard Around the World” reverberates yet today.

But it was a simpler time. My grandfather uprooted himself to join the British Army, and survived to tell the tale. He never talked of the unspeakable horrors of trench warfare. He transplanted himself from Russia and England, to  Canada, where he started a family. My grandfather published ” The Daily Ragweed” and doted on my grandmother.

He would often drag me to Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, built by that titan of Canadian Industry, E.P.Taylor (who also bred the great Northern Dancer, Dearies). We both loved the horses. We were buddies when I was little. The one and only time he ever spanked me, was when he found the 5 year-old Miss M smoking his cigars (and loving every moment of it).

That world was complicated to my grandfather, but he engaged it on his own terms. Am glad that he is not here now to see how truly complicated the world has become. He fled the pogroms of Russia. Now it seems, the world has become one big pogrom, from Africa and South Asia to Bosnia and beyond.

Grandpa never lost his thick Russian accent through it all. This embarrassed his children, I think, but never concerned me. He was a short, wiry man who could type-set a column while puffing on his cigar. He helped in his small way, to set the stage for the world as we know it. He was brave, he was hopeful, he was pragmatic, he was kind.

These are all traits that I hope somehow have been passed down.

All three of his sons followed in his footsteps and enlisted to fight during WW2. My father lied about his age and joined the Royal Canadian Navy. North Atlantic convoys were treacherous. German U-boats were everywhere. But the danger was momentarily forgotten in ports of call like Glasgow, Scotland.

In that very port on the River Clyde, one Sunday afternoon, he and several of his friends accepted an invitation to “come home for lunch” from a dapper man (with a decidedly Hitler-like moustache, of all things). Little could my father guess, that 3 lovely daughters would also be sharing lunch.

My grandmother had created a magical feast from limited rations. She welcomed the three Canucks with open arms. One particular daughter caught my father’s eye, and he hers. It was love at first sight. My grandfather regretted making that lunch invitation until the day he died.

Promising to reunite after the War, as many did, my parents married in Glasgow.  They faced a brave new world together. It seemed so much simpler then, evil had been vanquished and the future was bright and unknown…

The point of all of this Dearies,  before I get too misty-eyed and tedious, is that we are all part of History, however unwilling we maybe. The world is a dangerous, volatile place. Of course, it always has been.

We continue to bear witness to the worst and the best of human nature. Evil will always be present, in forms and ways that are familiar and unimagined. It is how we confront it that matters. Each in their own way. Our grandfathers and grandmothers shared a strength and grace that the world so desperately needs at this moment.

To them and those who followed, I raise a glass of champers. Cheers Dearies, Cheers!

https://twitter.com/MissMyrtle2  http://www.missmyrtle2.com/