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When Trump won the Republican nomination, I wasn’t worried about what he’d do as President, because I was confident that Clinton would win. (If the 2016 election taught me anything, it’s not to trust my own abilities as a prognosticator.) Instead, I was dreading the inevitable fat jokes about Donald Trump I’d hear coming from the left until November.
And there have been fat jokes. (But many fewer, I think, than I would have heard ten years earlier. The fat acceptance movement has made some progress.)
But it’s still pretty common for me to hear fellow lefties say things that make me inwardly wince. Not every time I talk to a lefty, not even most of the time, but often enough so it’s not surprising. Sometimes I say something to them. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to admit, I don’t feel up to a possible conflict, or I don’t want to be a killjoy, so I let it go by.
Once after a comic-con, I was hanging out with some other cartoonists as we prepared to go home. We were talking about a cartoonist who was not present, and who has a rep for being full of himself and hard to deal with. And one of the other cartoonists – a woman who I have loads of respect for, and who is extremely “woke” – included “fat” on a list of the third cartoonist’s bad traits. I don’t remember her exact words, but it was something like “that smug, lying, fat, entitled jerk.”
I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want to bring the mood down, and anyhow I was exhausted and I like this woman. Honestly, it happens pretty commonly, and I generally shrug it off. But that doesn’t mean I don’t notice it.
What was extraordinary about this occasion is that the cartoonist wrote me that night, unprompted, to apologize. That’s never happened to me before. She said she should have known better, because she’s read my cartoons.
Wow. Now, that made me feel good. (And made my respect for this cartoonist rise.)
It’s not just fat jokes, of course. This cartoon touches on a bunch of areas, and I could have included more. (I didn’t because I figured that eight panels of lefties saying bad things is as many I could do without causing readers to sigh and skim the strip).
I don’t mean the final panel, of course. The “personality” of my comic strips is often harsher than I am in person; political cartoons work best when they’re not wishy-washy. I don’t want everyone who’s ever said one of these things to get off my side. (I’ve said some of these things, in my life. Maybe you have too.) All of us mess up sometimes. And we can all – like my friend who used “fat” as an insult – take the opportunity to do better. That’s what I want.
Strips like this one, with a different character in each panel, are the most fun strips to draw, and I usually enjoy looking at them once I’ve finished. In this strip, since I’m teasing people on the left for a change, I decided to draw caricatures of the kind of folks I see around Portland. (Yes, there really are people who look like the dude in panel 3!).
(Quick aside: Once I was waiting at the bus stop across the street from my studio, with a middle-aged lady I didn’t know. While we were waiting there, six or seven bike riders, all naked, whizzed past us. After a few moments, the woman sighed deeply and said “Portland.”)
The guy sitting on the sidewalk, in the second-to-last panel, originally had round eyeglasses. But they made him look even more like a muppet, so I erased them.
Do you like the spot reds? I don’t do that often, but maybe I should be doing it more often. In this case, there’s no symbolism in which objects I colored red; I just did it to make the art pop a bit more.
TRANSCRIPT OF COMIC
This comic strip has nine panels. The first eight panels each show a single character (a different character in each panel), speaking to the viewer.
There is a caption at the top of panel 1.
CAPTION: Dear (some of) my fellow lefties:
The art shows a man sitting at a desk, laughing. He’s wearing a white collared shirt and a necktie.
MAN: Ann Coulter is a man! Haw haw!
An older woman, with white hair and a floral-print blouse, is holding up her hands and laughing, as if she’s telling a joke.
WOMAN: Clarence Thomas’ parents should have named him “Tom.” Get it? Like Uncle Tom?\
WOMAN: As a white liberal, it’s totally my place to say that!
A man with an enormous beard, wearing sunglasses, a bowler hat, and a coat with big puffs around the collar and wrists, speaks to the viewer, smiling. There’s a bike parked next to him.
MAN: I bet all these anti-gay conservatives are secretly gay!
MAN: Let’s laugh at them for being gay!
MAN: (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
A thin woman, wearing a red knit cap, a hoodie, and hoop earrings, is speaking angrily.
WOMAN: Trump just keeps pulling lies out of his big fat ass!
WOMAN: God fat people disgust me!
WOMAN: Er… I meant, Trump disgusts me!
A man, wearing glasses and a “this is what a feminist looks like” tee shirt, stands pointing to something on the screen of his tablet. There’s a hillside with paths and a couple of trees behind him.
MAN: When I see pro-life women, I think, who’d even want to get them pregnant?
A person sits at a small round table, a coffee mug in front of them. They have heavily tattooed arms, the side of their head is shaved, and they’re wearing a small ring on their nose and several more in their ear. They’re smiling and holding one hand up to their mouth as if telling a dirty joke.
PERSON: Guys obsessed with protecting big guns are just making up for they lack downstairs, ifyaknowwhatImean.
PERSON: You do know what I mean, right?
PERSON: I mean penises!
A woman stands outdoors, dressed for a cool day. She’s got a jacket, a scarf, and a big knit hat. She’s looking a bit aggravated as she speaks.
WOMAN: You know who votes Republican? Inbred, flyover state hillbilly retards!
A redheaded man sits on a curb, leaning on one hand. He’s wearing a button-up collared shirt, open, over a striped long-sleeved tee. He’s grinning.
MAN: I love it when right-wingers get sent to prison. “Don’t drop the soap!” Ha!
There is no art in this panel. Instead, the entire panel is black, except for a caption in big white letters.
CAPTION: Shut up and get the hell off my side.