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This cartoon is lampooning two things I’ve seen right-wingers do: First, claim that it’s racist that Black people but not white people can “get away” with saying the N-word. And second, look for (or invent) alternative racial slurs that they can say while remaining respectable.
Artwise, this cartoon is definitely on the “do minimal penciling, try to keep the drawings loose and lively” end of my scale. (As opposed to a cartoon like “Helping Ordinary Americans,” where almost every line, except for some of the shading, was penciled out before I did the final black linework.)
I honestly like the loose approach better, when it works well – I can’t think of a single cartoonist whose work gives me more joy to look at than Bill Watterson’s (Calvin and Hobbes), who is the king of brilliant loose lines. I’m no Bill Watterson, obviously, but that’s the ideal. But doing a loose approach feels, to me, like working without a net. If I do careful, detailed renderings, I’m less likely to be surprised, either in a good or a bad way. (And some cartoons I just think need to be more detailed, of course.)
More about the art that probably no one but me cares about: I like the look of having no word balloons in political cartoons. (Maybe it’s because I grew up on Doonesbury.) But I also like full backgrounds, and the Doonesbury approach of just having the backgrounds cut off and turn to white always strikes me as a bit clutzy looking. So here I tried having a full background, but doing it in light enough colors so the text could go directly on top of it and still be legible. What do you think? If you hate this look, let me know and I’ll be less likely to do it again. :-)
Transcript of Cartoon
This panel shows a balding man with a bow tie, THE PUNDIT, sitting in a wealthy-looking study, with a large curtained window, a little table with a tablecloth and a lamp, and a large framed portrait visible behind him. He is sitting in a plain office chair, at a tiny work desk, with his laptop open on the desk.
PUNDIT: If I want to be a respectable pundit, I’m not allowed to use the “N-word.”
The Pundit angrily kicks his little desk over.
PUNDIT: Blacks use the N-word all the time! Whatta double-standard! They’re the real racists!
The Pundit puts the desk back where it was.
PUNDIT: I need words that will let me stay respectable, but readers will know what I really mean.
The Pundit sits, chin in his hands, thinking aloud.
PUNDIT: Let me see… There’s where they live. “Urban,” “ghetto,” “inner city,” “hood.”
The Pundit closes his eyes, one forefinger on his temple, concentrating.
PUNDIT: “Race baiter.” “Race pimp.” “Race hustler.”
The Pundit’s eyes open; he’s smiling, warming to the subject.
PUNDIT: (Hey, there are a bunch of these!) “Race huckster.” “Race charlatan.” “Race monger.”
The Pundit, with a huge grin, has stood up from his chair and is pumping a fist high in the air. By the end of this panel he is yelling.
PUNDIT: “Criminal class!” “Welfare queens!” “Sketchy!” “Shady!” “THUG!”
The Pundit, looking very satisfied, speaks directly to the reader.
PUNDIT: What a list! This’ll be a huge blow against the racist double-standards that oppress white pundits!
Panel 9 (last panel)
The Pundit puts his left hand over his heart and looks reverent, a tear falling from one eye.
PUNDIT: When my grandchildren ask me what I did to fight racism, I will tell them of this day.
Kicker Panel (A tiny additional panel at the bottom of the strip)
The pundit is speaking to a Black child, who is bewildered by this.
PUNDIT: You’re welcome!