Check Out “Thirteen of the Secrets in My Purse” in Uncanny Magazine

Red purse sitting on dirt road surrounded by grass

One: My lipstick.

The shade is Heart’s Blood.

Morbid, if you ask me.

I wanted to know if it was really the color of heart’s blood so I bought beef heart and tried dabbing my lips.

Close enough.

I emailed to congratulate the lipstick company on their realism. They did not respond.

Read more.

Some purses contain pens, stray receipts, and lip balm. This one’s more exciting. This light-hearted, urban fantasy follows a woman, whose purse is full of secrets with a quest to champion. “Thirteen of the Secrets in My Purse” was published in the May/June issue of Uncanny Magazine.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment  

Check Out “Thirteen of the Secrets in My Purse” in Uncanny Magazine

One: My lipstick.

The shade is Heart’s Blood.

Morbid, if you ask me.

I wanted to know if it was really the color of heart’s blood so I bought beef heart and tried dabbing my lips.

Close enough.

I emailed to congratulate the lipstick company on their realism. They did not respond.

Read more.

Some purses contain pens, stray receipts, and lip balm. This one’s more exciting. This light-hearted, urban fantasy follows a woman, whose purse is full of secrets with a quest to champion. “Thirteen of the Secrets in My Purse” was published in the May/June issue of Uncanny Magazine.

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Cartoon – Irreproachable Taste


If you like these cartoons, please support them on Patreon! Every $2 or $1 pledge really helps. Patreon supporters saw this cartoon more than two months early.


Another collaboration with Becky Hawkins.

I particularly liked the way Becky, inspired by some photos of ceramic art galleries, colored the backgrounds. She also created a recognizable aesthetic that’s carried through on all three of the pieces seen on display – certainly not something I called for in my script! Seeing details like that, which I hadn’t even thought about, is a big pleasure of collaboration.


I wrote this cartoon over two years ago, the same day I wrote “The Five Stages of Finding Out Your Fave Is Trash.”  Although I liked both scripts, they cover similar ground, so I drew one and put the other in my “to be drawn someday” folder.


Coincidentally, the issue of enjoying art made by people who say or do terrible things, has been on my mind this week. And on my shelf.

Among the many nerdy little figurines decorating my room are a couple of Harry Potter figurines – one of Harry, and one of Hermione. I got these figures both because I like the characters (especially Hermione), and because I liked the artistry of whoever sculpted them – the choice to use a cartoony approach to create humor and energy.

I’m planning to get rid of them. Not because I’ve stopped admiring the sculpt, or because keeping them would mean I’m transphobic.

I’m getting rid of them because when the plague ends, I hope to go back to occasionally having friends and acquaintances over, and I worry that some guests – especially those that don’t know me well – might see the figures and wonder if that means I agree with J. K. Rowling’s anti-trans views.

To be clear, I’m not saying that enjoying Harry Potter books and films and figurines, makes anyone transphobic. And I’m not worried any of my guests would “cancel” me or even say anything aloud. I just value not making guests (in this case, especially trans guests) uncomfortable more than I value looking at these two figurines.


After I took the photo of the figurines for this post, I noticed that they’re displayed above some Tintin figurines, which I’m not getting rid of. The Tintin series, of course, has been rightly criticized for racism. So why aren’t I getting rid of those figurines?

Well, for whatever reason – perhaps because the series was created so long ago (Tintin began in 1929), and so there’s no live controversy keeping the problematic aspects of Tintin in the news –  Hergé isn’t as associated with racism as J. K. Rowling is with transphobia, so I don’t worry about those figures making guests uncomfortable.


This is an unusual strip for me because I’m not really condemning anyone in the strip. The main character is clumsy and hypocritical, yes, but in what I think is a human and understandable way.


I’m sorry you haven’t heard from me lately. I’ve been making slow progress on a few strips, but I’ve also been having what I think of as an “AHDD meltdown,” where I usually feel unable to get work done – even though I want to work, and I like working, and I feel better when I’m working.

I’m wondering if the combination of anxiety due to covid, and staying in my house due to covid and winter, is making my ADHD worse (or at least, making me less effective at dealing with it).

I’m just going to do my best and hope I’m able to be more productive going forward.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This comic strip has four panels. There is an additional small fifth panel, the “kicker” panel, underneath the comic strip.

PANEL 1

This panel shows a man with a van dyke beard, a cable knit sweater, and a fisherman’s cap (although the man doesn’t look at all like a fisherman!) in a fancy art gallery. The gallery is displaying artistically wrinkled pottery; we can see two pieces on pedestals, and a third piece hung on a wall in the background. Soft spotlight lighting picks the art out.

The man is leaning his elbow on a pedestal, looking confident and happy as he lectures a small crowd of people in the gallery.

MAN: John Smyth is the biggest influence on my pottery. Whatever I know as a potter, I learned studying Smyth’s work.

PANEL 2

A longer shot as the man continues to smile and speak. However, he’s interrupted by a glasses-wearing person in the audience, who raises a finger.

MAN: No one potting today is as innovative and exciting as…

GLASSES: Did you see four women just came forward with #Metoo accusations against Smyth?

PANEL 3

The exact same shot as panel 2, but now the man is no longer confident; he is wide-eyed, his mouth has dropped open a bit, and he’s sweating. The audience looks at him, waiting for his response.

PANEL 4

A closer shot as the man puts a hand over his heart as he speaks to the crowd. His eyes are shut; he’s trying to look sincere.

MAN: I never liked Smyth’s work.

SMALL KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OFTHE COMIC STRIP

A blonde woman with nice earrings speaks directly to the viewer, looking just a bit angry.

WOMAN: I know nothing about Mr. Smyth or these allegations… but clearly this is yet another anti-male witch hunt!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues | 38 Comments  

Cartoon: Feminism Used To Be Good


If you like these cartoons, help me make more by supporting my Patreon! (Patrons got to see this cartoon three months early!)


Another collaboration with Becky Hawkins!


This one was inspired by a tweet – normally I’d link to the tweet, but in this case the twitter account isn’t public, so oh well. I did get ask for, and get, the tweeter’s blessing to do a cartoon.

The tweet said:

“Feminism used to be about righting inequality but now that’s solved and it’s just about giving women unfair advantages” – dudes nonstop since the 80s

I’d had that same sort of idea many times… the way that no matter what year you look at, anti-feminists are claiming that feminism used to be good.  But reading this tweet crystalized it into a cartoon idea for me.

I think people who say this are, in part, just trying to claim feminist cred opportunistically in order to bolster their anti-feminist arguments. “I supported REAL feminism, ten years ago, but now it’s lost its way!” The implication is, they’re the real feminist and anything they say can’t possibly be tinged with sexism or anti-feminist bias.

But it’s also a reflection of feminism’s slow but real success in changing society. The work is seemingly endless, and there’s always more to be done. But some feminist changes have been so successful that they’re now just accepted even by most anti-feminists. Almost no one nowadays is angry that some married women keep their own names (or own their own property). When I was born, newspaper classifieds divided “help wanted” into male jobs and female jobs; no one even remembers that anymore. Basically nobody would argue for bringing the marital rape exception back. And so on.

It’s a contradiction: It’s a never-ending battle, but also, we’re winning.


Becky, of course, did an amazing job of setting the period well in every panel. (The art in this one is one of my favorites of all the political cartoons Becky and I have done together). Originally the cartoon was going to have captions (“now,” “the 1980s,” etc) but once the art was in I didn’t think the captions really added anything.

Another change: Originally the final panel was Adam and Eve, but… Well, I’ll just quote Becky.

Maybe I’m on Jewish Twitter too much but I want to overthink panel 4 and what are the advantages and what did feminism change and should they be getting kicked out of Eden and what does the apple meeeean.

I’m sure Becky wouldn’t have been the only one to overthink that panel, and it occurred to me that cavepeople would actually be a bit funnier.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels.

PANEL ONE

We are looking at a smartphone being held by a hand. On the phone, a man is cheerfully talking to the camera (and presumably, to the person holding the phone). He’s wearing a t shirt that says “Make Orwell Fiction Again,” and on the wall behind him is a “V for Vendetta” poster with the Guy Fawkes mask pictured, and a poster showing a sad kitten face and the caption “FACTS don’t care about your FEELINGS.” In the upper right corner of the screen, there’s a smaller image of a woman’s face, presumably the person he’s talking to.

MAN: Feminism used to be about fixing inequality but now that’s solved and it’s just about giving women unfair advantages!

PANEL TWO

A group of protestors stands holding protest signs, mostly about apartheid and about President Reagan – “Musicians against apartheid,” “human rights now,” “Reagan sucks,” and “Divestment now” can be read. A big red brick building and trees in the background make this look like it’s probably a college campus in autumn. Centered on the panel, A man with glasses is talking to a woman (the woman is wearing a pink triangle button).  This panel is pretty much how I remember protests at Oberlin College in the 1980s.

MAN: Feminism used to be about fixing inequality…

PANEL THREE

A hillside in what looks like a public park on a warm, sunny day. In the background, we can see groups of young people sitting on the grass. In the foreground, we see a man and a woman dressed as hippies – her in long straight hair, loose floral dress, flower headband, and holding a tambourine, him with long hair and a full beard, wearing a necklace of large beads, and a vest, and holding a guitar.

MAN: But now that’s all solved…

PANEL FOUR

We are inside a cave, looking at two stereotypical cartoon cavepeople, one female and one male. They are holding big drumstick-looking pieces of meat and sitting around a small fire.

CAVEMAN: …and it’s just about giving women unfair advantages!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 1 Comment  

Cartoon: Corporate Diversity Training


If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on Patreon.


This cartoon is, I think, pretty self-explanatory.  I don’t have much to say about this issue, to be honest; I read a couple of articles about it and thought “hmm, might be a cartoon there.” Then I thought of the ending and it made me giggle, which is enough to put a cartoon into my “to be drawn” folder.

The most fun here was panel three. I think this is at least the third time I’ve a what-the-camera-sees-versus-the-reality gag – they’re pretty irresistible, in a year when zoom has suddenly become a regular fixture of my life. It’s also the sort of gag that I know many readers won’t notice, but it’ll be fun for readers who pay more attention to the pictures.

I drew panel three gradually – I’d work a while on one of the other panels, then take a break and draw some more trash somewhere in panel 3, over and over until the panel seemed to have enough trash in it to work.  I told Frank “I’m so sorry, dude” when I sent it to him to color, but Frank said he loves coloring things like that. I love that Frank caught my Charlie Brown reference without me pointing it out to him and went along with it in his colors.


Something about the way this strip is written really reminds me of Doonesbury.  I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading it, but being the funniest comic strip with the most distinctive approach to writing for decades is quite an accomplishment, and I still admire Doonesbury a lot.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, showing a zoom conversation between someone who looks like a successful middle aged executive (vest, tie, bald on top, drapery in the background) and someone who looks much younger, with a light yellow polo shirt and deferential body language. Behind him we can see a neat, uncluttered room with a plant on a bookcase and some sort of framed certificate or degree on the wall.

PANEL 1

We are looking at a laptop, open; on the laptop’s screen, we see a zoom-style conversation with two people, who I’ll call the executive and yellowshirt. The executive is holding up a finger as he gives out an assignment, and looks demanding. Yellowshirt is holding up a hand as he tries to explain something.

EXECUTIVE: This company needs to say it’s done something to become more diverse.

YELLOWSHIRT: Sir, I’ve been reading the research on this.

PANEL 2 

A medium shot of Yellowshirt, now raising both palms as he warms to his subject.

YELLOWSHIRT: Quickie “diversity seminars” don’t help, and can even make things worse because of the resentment factor. We won’t become really diverse until we commit to changing how we recruit and mentor, starting from the top.

PANEL 3

A long shot of Yellowshirt. We can now see that the room outside the view of his webcam is actually incredibly sloppy; there’s an open pizza box, a pile of laundry, a half eaten apple. a sock hanging off a bookshelf, an empty soda can on its side, and other sorts of junk. Yellowshirt, arms spread, is looking enthusiastic as he warms to the subject.

YELLOWSHIRT: It’ll take years of hard work. We’d have to change our company culture. But if we do it, we can make our company more diverse and more profitable.

PANEL 4

Back to the split-screen showing both the executive and Yellowshirt. The executive is leaning forward, towards the camera, and is holding a flat hand out in a “cutting you off now” gesture. Yellowshirt is face-palming.

EXECUTIVE: Listen to my words. We need to say we’ve done something. To SAY it.

YELLOWSHIRT: I’ll schedule a diversity seminar right away, sir.

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 7 Comments  

Cartoon: Triheads vs Squareheads


This cartoon is a collaboration between myself (script and lettering), Becky Hawkins (classroom scenes), and Naomi Rubin (Triheads vs Squareheads scenes).


If you like these cartoons, help me make more (and help me pay my swell collaborators!) by supporting my Patreon. Thanks!


I’ve known Naomi Rubin for many years. She’s a wonderful cartoonist and one of the best people I know, and I’ve always wanted to do a strip with her – but although she’s helped me as an advisor on countless strips, the right strip for her to draw never seemed to come up.

When I wrote this strip, I knew I wanted the two worlds of the strip, the storybook world and the classroom world, to be drawn in different styles. Having it actually drawn by two different cartoonists seemed fun to me, and then the idea of asking Naomi and my most-frequent collaborator Becky Hawkins to draw it appeared in my brain, shiny and bright and beautiful, and I gasped and fell to my knees and tears appeared in my eyes and my housemate Charles said “what’s wrong” and my other housemate Sydney said “oh geez, Barry’s being drama again, ignore him.”

(I’m always amazed that people support this patreon. But I’m especially amazed after writing a paragraph like the preceding.)

Anyway, Becky and Naomi were up for the collaboration; they chose to have Naomi draw the storybook while Becky drew the real world. After Naomi showed me her pencils, I loved them but thought they were looking crowded, so I made what had been a tall strip an even taller strip so the art would have more breathing room.

I’m very happy with how this strip came out. And also very happy that I’ve finally done a cartoon with Naomi.


As children (at least in America), we encounter many stories which paint racism as being two groups who are really just the same but are hung up on some trivial difference in their appearances and so hate each other. Even if one group is more powerful than the other at the story’s start, by the end we’re told that both sides are equally to blame, and all that’s required is for everyone to stop focusing on silly differences and just be nice to one another.

Examples include Dr Seuss’ story “The Sneetches” (in which the society is organized around who does or doesn’t have a green star on their navel), The “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” episode of Star Trek (in which aliens with faces divided in half, black and white, are at war because one group has black-left white-right, while the other group has black-right white-left), and the song “Savages” in Disney’s Pocahontas, which blames the Native Americans just as much as the armed invaders.

(Wow, has that movie aged badly).

I had noticed this, but not really put it together until I read a couple of viral tweets by the writer Christina Holland, back in August. Ms Holland wrote:

I think a big problem with kids’ allegories for racism is it’s like “the green people and the purple people hated each other just for being the other color, isn’t that silly?” and not “the purple people kidnapped the green people and treated them like livestock for 100s of years”

A lot of grownups learned about it more or less like that and that’s why they think “just ignore color” or “stop having hate in your heart” or “we need examples of opposite-color people being friends” will fix things, because it would, if it was the first kind of situation.

The thought really stuck with me, and I began mulling over how to illustrate it in a cartoon. I hope you like the result. (And if you’re on Twitter, please go follow Christina Holland!)

P.S. If you’ve never seen Lindsay Ellis’ video about Disney’s Pocohontas, it’s really worth a watch.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels. Each panel shows a schoolteacher reading from an illustrated children’s book; in some panels, we also see images from the book.

PANEL 1

This panel shows a teacher, who is white, reading aloud from a book. Above her, we can see the illustration from the page she’s reading. The illustration shows a bunch of cartoon people, some of whom have triangle-shaped heads, some of whom have rectangular heads. They are smiling and shaking hands and putting arms on each others backs in a companionable manner. In front of them, two children – one with a rectangular head, one with a triangular head – kick a ball around in the grass.

TEACHER: “And when they saw Jumball Trihead and Bigapie Squarehead playing happily together, the grown-ups realized it was silly to hate each other just because they looked different!”

TEACHER: “And that’s how they all stopped being racist!”

TEACHER: Any questions?

PANEL 2

The “camera” zooms out a little, and we can see that there are small children seated on the floor listening to the teacher. One small girl, who is Black, has gotten up and is handing the Teacher a book. The teacher accepts it cheerfully.

IMANI: Miss Martin? My mommy wrote more about the triheads and bigheads. She said it’s a “corrected version.”

TEACHER: Oh, it’s about the same characters! How marvelous! Thank you, Imani.

PANEL 3

The teacher, with a concerned and slightly frightened expression, is reading aloud from the new book. Above her, we see an illustration from the book: A Trihead, speaking straight out to the reader with an angry expression, slams a fist into a palm. Behind him, in silhouette, several Squareheads are trudging along, bowed and weary, chained together chain-gang style.

TEACHER: It says, “The story you’ve heard about the triheads and squareheads is lies. Here’s what really happened.”

TEACHER: “The Triheads kidnapped the Squareheads and enslaved them for hundreds of years.”

TEACHER: “Oh dear.”

PANEL 4

We see the children listening with wide-eyed, somewhat stunned expressions.

Above them, we see an illustration from the book. Two Squareheads lean against a gray wall, as if preparing to be frisked. A Trihead wearing a police or prison guard uniform glares at them. They all seem to be in a barred area. In front of the bars, another Trihead sits at a desk, reading a copy of “The Bell Curve.”

TEACHER: “It took a whole war to free the enslaved squareheads. But even after the war, triheads used laws, violence, and prisons to crush squareheads.”

TEACHER: “This was racism. It was too big and structural to be fixed by Jumball and Bigapie playing together.”

PANEL 5

A close-up of the teacher, who now looks very frightened but keeps on reading aloud. Above her, we see an illustration from the book. A Trihead is lying on the grass, head leaning against a tree, crying a spout of tears from each eye. Next to the Trihead, a standing Squarehead rolls their eyes, arms folded. And next to the Squarehead, a second Trihead is talking to the Squarehead with an accusatory expression, while pointing at the crying Trihead.

TEACHER: “Whenever a Squarehead complained about all the racism, Triheads yelled “How dare you accuse me of racism! Stop imagining things!”

PANEL 6

A shot of the classroom, no illustration. The teacher is turning towards Imani and asking her a question.  The teacher looks worried. Imani, now sitting cross-legged on the floor, replies with an “I don’t know” shrug.

TEACHER: “Another hundred years later…”

TEACHER: Imani, when does this story end?

IMANI: Mommy says we don’t know yet.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues | 23 Comments  

Cartoon: Teaching Cops To Be Healers


This cartoon is a collaboration with Kevin Moore.


Help me make more of these cartoons (and to pay collaborators like Kevin and Becky!) by supporting my Patreon! Even a $1 or $2 pledge really matters.


I get a lot of suggestions for cartoons, and I take almost none of them. But once in a rare while…

Back in August, patron Brian Balk wrote:

Hey Barry, I hope you’re well. I’m just writing to share a cartoon idea I had, of police officers using CPR training dummies to practice choke holds.

I wrote Brian back saying, essentially, “maybe.” But the idea kept coming back to me, and I mentally played with structuring the gag a few different ways. When one of the ideas made me chuckle, I wrote a script for it and put it in my “to be drawn someday” folder.

I offered it to Kevin Moore to draw – his slightly grotesque style seemed to fit well with these slightly grotesque characters – and, happily, Kev said yes.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. In addition, there’s a tiny fifth “kicker” panel under the comic strip.

PANEL 1

A middle-aged politician-looking dude wearing a suit and tie, and with thick hair neatly parted in the middle, is standing behind a podium with microphones on it. Behind him, we can see a building with a large sign above the entrance saying “City Hall.” Let’s call this guy “Mayor.”

MAYOR: The protesters say the police cannot be reformed – that police culture is beyond saving. That we must abolish and start over.

PANEL 2

A couple of hands are holding a tablet; on the tablet, the mayor, raising a finger and with a very serious expression, continues speaking.

MAYOR: The protestors are wrong! Nothing’s wrong with police culture. We don’t need major reform, just some slight adjustments!

PANEL 3

Another panel showing the mayor at the podium. This is a wider shot, and we can see that the “City Hall” building behind him is just a flat image on a backdrop.  In front of him is a large professional looking video camera, and next to the camera a man with a mustache is grinning and giving the mayor a “thumbs up” signal. The mayor is grinning and pumping one fist victoriously in the air.

MAYOR: For example, the city just purchased new CPR dummies for police to train on. We will show people that police can be heroes and healers!

PANEL 4

We’re in a new location – a large empty room with wood-paneled floors (or vinyl with a wood pattern, more likely), like some gymnasiums have. There are three men here, all wearing blue police tees and shorts. The nearest cop is holding a CPR dummy in a chokehold. Next to him, another cop, wearing a helmet and visor, is raising a nightstick to hit the CPR dummy with. In the background, a third cop is watching and taking notes in a little notepad.

FIRST COP: Okay, let’s train! I’ve got the dummy in a choke hold… Harry, you beat it with your nightstick.

HARRY: Can’t I shoot it instead?

SMALL KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP

The third cop from panel 4 – the one who was taking notes – is asking the mayor a question. The mayor looks at the cop with a somewhat distressed expression.

COP: Do CPR dummies come in Black?

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 1 Comment  

Cartoon: Now!


I can make these cartoons because of readers supporting my Patreon. Join us!


I hope all of us who celebrate it are having a good Passover. My household held our Seder Sunday night. There were six at our table, and we set up a zoom with some of the households who’d normally be sharing a Seder with us, so we could at least read the Haggadah together. And for the second year in a row, we finished the Seder by saying “next year in person!”

I’ve gotten my first vaccine shot, and so have a lot of people I know. A few people I know – teachers and older people – have gotten both shots. I feel a bit guilty for being an American (we’re getting shots so much faster than so many) but also a great deal of personal relief.

Despite this cartoon’s pessimistic ending, I’m optimistic that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel (those of us in the States and a handful of other countries – the New York Times has a tracker). But it would happen quicker, and with less death, if so much of the country wasn’t made up of people who think denying reality is a virtue. Some of those people are governors.


This cartoon doesn’t have a punchline, really – it’s less a gag, and more of an attempt to describe how the country feels to me, right now, in cartoon form.

This is one of very few cartoons in which I’ve drawn people wearing masks (I’ve instead acknowledged our new reality by drawing more cartoons in which people are talking on screens).

I’m hesitant to draw masked characters partly because most of my cartoons are intended to be “evergreens” that will still be relevant for years to come. But an even bigger reason is because I use “dot eyes” on my characters – which means that I rely on mouths to make my characters expressive.

(This is a problem I have in real life, too. I rely on smiles to communicate with strangers all the time – smiling at a driver to acknowledge them stopping so I could cross the street in front of them, or to let someone who has accidently bumped me know I’m not mad. And I can’t do that anymore because I don’t leave the house without a mask.

(I still reflexively do smile at people in these situations, actually, but then another part of my brain points out that I might as well be waving at someone wearing a blindfold.)


 

Thanks to Frank Young for his colors here! This one looks to me like something I could have colored myself – Frank is definitely adapting his style to my style. Although there are still little things he does – like the fade at the top of the sky in panel  four, or the white mist in panel 3 – that I wouldn’t think to do. (Except now maybe I will, because they look good!)


Normally I wait a few weeks (or months) before posting a new cartoon in public, so the folks supporting my patreon get to see them way in advance. But in this case, I’m hoping the cartoon will be less and less relevant with each passing week, so I’ve waited less than a week to post in public.

Thank you to my patrons, as always, for making it possible for me to produce weird cartoons that use the “F” word and don’t even have a punchline. That I can make cartoons without having to worry about editors or publisher rules (aside from the Patreon Trust and Safety team) is such a privilege.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. All four panels show two people, one bald and stubbled, the other with shoulder-length black hair and glasses, walking through a hilly park area. Both of them are wearing face masks. A third person – not with them but a little distance away – has neatly combed hair and is not wearing a mask.

PANEL 1

Stubble and Glasses walk and talk. Glasses is holding up a finger to make a point, and Stubble is clasping his hands together and looking skyward in a hopeful manner. Well behind them, Combed is waving a hand and yelling towards them.

GLASSES: People are getting vaccinated! If we can stay safe for another three or four months, we can beat Covid!

STUBBLE: I dream of eating in a restaurant again!

COMBED: I want restaurants open now!

PANEL 2

Stubble and Glasses walk on, Glasses looking a little worried, and Stubble glancing back over his shoulder at Combed, who is now definitely following them.

GLASSES: I wish it was quicker. But we can mask a little longer.

COMBED: I don’t want to wear a mask.

PANEL 3

Now Glasses is glancing back. Stubble is facing forward and walking quicker. Behind them, Combed is jogging after them and yelling.

COMBED: I have a right to live like nothing has happened!

COMBED: I DEMAND NORMALICY! I DEMAND IT NOW!

STUBBLE (quietly): Just keep walking.

PANEL 4

In the foreground, Glasses and Stubble are walking on without looking behind them. Glasses is saying something to Stubbles; Stubbles is looking downcast, with his hands shoved into his jacket pockets. Well behind them, Combed is no longer following them, and his just screaming and railing at no one in particular.

GLASSES: We are so fucked.

COMBED: NOW! NOW! NOW! NOW!

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 4 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Quarter-Eating Mechanical Owl Edition

  1. Biden’s COVID-Relief Bill Is a Big F**king Deal
    “This is how progressives have been begging their party to govern for more than a decade: Ignore the Beltway’s fetish for bipartisanship and deliver big, clear gains to the American people. The Democratic leadership has now affirmed that counsel in both word and deed.”
  2. 5 Simple Things Restaurants Can Do to Be More Accessible to Fat People – Fluffy Kitten Party
  3. ‘I Miss My Mom’: Children Of QAnon Believers Are Desperately Trying To Deradicalize Their Own Parents
    Without any success. :-(
  4. Brazilian butt lift: behind the world’s most dangerous cosmetic surgery | Plastic surgery | The Guardian
  5. Opinion | ‘There’s No Natural Dignity in Work’ – Ezra Klein And an alternate link.
    “Bush’s comment was an extreme expression of a common — and bipartisan — sentiment: Work is good, more of it is better and policy should be a conveyor belt from the moral torpor of idleness to the dignity of wage labor.”
  6. …But see also this thread responding to Klein by Jill Filipovic on Twitter.
    “But while the argument that at-home work is just as valuable as paid work may be morally correct, in our capitalist reality, not working outside of the home leaves women incredibly financially and physically vulnerable.”
  7. Study of Racism and Confirmation Bias
    53 partners from different law firms were asked to evaluate a young lawyer’s legal memo. It was the exact same memo, except half identified the writer as Black, half as white. The “Black” writer’s work was consistently seen as less competent, by evaluators of every race.
  8. Raya and the Last Dragon’s Kelly Marie Tran Believes Her Disney Princess Is Gay | Vanity Fair
  9. The deadly cost of charging patients more for prescriptions
    “… the conventional wisdom in health care has been that charging patients small copays will lead them to make better decisions about what care to get (or not get), and their health won’t be harmed. But a new study suggests giving patients too much “skin in the game” can actually lead to the greatest health harm of all: death.”
  10. The Fed should give everyone a bank account – Slow Boring
    Everyone should have access to a bank account’s basic features – including electronic banking – even if they don’t have enough money to open an account at a commercial bank.
  11. The Most Ambitious Effort Yet to Reform Policing May Be Happening In Ithaca, New York | GQ
    “…calls for service will be evaluated to determine whether an armed or unarmed respondent is necessary, or another public agency altogether would be best to respond. Mental health calls would be outsourced to a standalone unit of social workers based on the CAHOOTS program pioneered in Eugene, Oregon. The goal, ultimately, is to have far fewer encounters between citizens and armed government agents.”
  12. Cats rival dogs on many tests of social smarts. But is anyone brave enough to study them? | Science | AAAS
    “Brave” is an odd way to put it, but the article makes the point that cats are harder to study than dogs in part because cats are less likely to put up with being bored. “In the first study to directly compare how cats and dogs communicate with people, he and colleagues conducted the pointing test at pet owners’ homes. The cats performed as well as the dogs. But, foreshadowing a headache that would plague the field of feline social cognition, several cats “dropped out” of the study, according to the research paper. Some stopped paying attention. Others simply walked away from the testing site.”
  13. Immigration arrests have fallen sharply under Biden, ICE data show – The Washington Post
  14. What the GOP voting restrictions actually do vs. what proponents claim – The Washington Post
    What legitimate purpose is served by outlawing bringing water to people standing on long poll lines? The GOP would outright ban voting if they could.
  15. Supervision, once intended to help offenders, ups mass incarceration
    “Almost 25% of people entering prison in 2017 were incarcerated for a technical supervision violation, rather than a new offense.”
  16. Photos by Ronan Furuta on Unsplash

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Cartoon: Covid and the Moon, a true story


I can only make these cartoons because people support them on Patreon! Most only pledge a dollar or two – but collectively, they make these cartoons happen, which is awesome. Join us! One of us… one of us… one of us…


Many thanks to Jake Richmond (who also drew the Capitalism/Socialism cartoon back in April) for the great job he did with this strip. Jake’s a terrific cartoonist who knows me very well in real life, so he was a natural choice to draw this strip, and I’m very happy with how it came out.

Although it’s always a bit weird to see myself in a comic strip drawn by someone else.


I don’t do much autobiographical cartooning (although I did do this comic strip, “My Life As A Duck,” years ago).

What’s left out of this cartoon is the significant amount of chatting that went on before the conversation touched on Covid. This was someone I met (in the online way) on a board for discussing musicals. (As those of you who know me in real life know – which reminds me, welcome, Paul! Hi! Thank you! – I’m a complete freak for musicals.)

I don’t know what age or (at first) what sex they were, since unlike the comic strip, we were texting rather than video conferencing.  We talked about musicals (of course), Stephen Sondheim, food, movies, and other things… A pleasantly meandering conversation.  And I’d say, judging from that conversation, that this person seemed well-educated and was certainly smart.

We had been texting for over half an hour before Covid came up. So their belief in some seriously ridiculous conspiracies took me totally by surprise.

It goes to show that even smart people can be unbelievably stupid. And I still find it disturbing. The truth is, logic and facts often have almost nothing to do with what people believe.

The conversation died shortly after that, and I haven’t run into them again.


 

 

TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has five panels. The first four panels are square-shaped, arranged in a two by two grid. The fifth panel is twice as wide as the other four.

PANEL 1

Large, friendly lettering at the top of panel 1 says “A TRUE STORY.” Below that, we see someone’s hand pressing a key on a laptop. On the screen of the laptop is some sort of split-screen video conferencing, on which two people – a red headed woman and a dark-haired man with a beard, who is me, Barry – are talking. They both look cheerful.

REDHEAD: Hospitals made up COVID! Becuase they can charge more for COVID than for a flu.

PANEL 2

We’ve switched to another room, where Barry is sitting on a chair in front of a desktop computer. On the computer screen we can see Redhead. Barry, smiling, has his hands in front of him in a “let me explain” gesture while he talks.

BARRY: But between nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators, there’d have to be tens of thousands people in the conspiracy!

BARRY: Something that big can’t be kept secret! Hundreds of people would have leaked it by now!

PANEL 3

We see Redhead, sitting in front of her open laptop as she responds. She’s holding a cat in her lap with one hand, and with the other she’s holding up a forefinger in a “let me make this telling point” sort of gesture. She’s smiling cheerfully, almost laughing. The backside of the laptop is facing us, so we can’t see the screen, but Barry’s word balloon points to the laptop.

REDHEAD: I read a doctor saying it. So it hasn’t been kept secret.

BARRY: You can always find a few people saying anything! Some people say the moon landing was faked!

PANEL 4

A shot of Barry at his computer; Barry looks very taken aback (open mouth, wide eyes). We’re looking at the back of the monitor, so we don’t see Redhead on the monitor, but her word balloon points to the monitor.

REDHEAD: Well, yeah. The moon landing was faked.

PANEL 5

A complete change of scene. We are now out in a park, with trees and green grass and wooden picnic tables. Barry and a friend (not the same person as Redhead) are talking. They are both wearing masks; Barry is standing, and about six feet away, his friend is sitting at a picnic table.

Barry’s wearing a different shirt now, so probably at least a day has passed since panel 4.

BARRY: So that’s when I gave up on arguing with people.

FRIEND: Mmm

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc. | 19 Comments