Cat drawing! Just Wander’s face this time when he was an adolescent with a half-grown mane.
Cat drawing! Just Wander’s face this time when he was an adolescent with a half-grown mane.
Waiting in the cold,
trying not to let my mind
rush when all is calm.
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For at least forty years, police budgets have been going up. From GovTech:
All sorts of needed city services are starved for funding, but we keep spending a huge and ever-growing amount on policing. Luke Darby in GQ writes:
There’s little evidence, if any, to suggest that more police actually correlates to fewer crimes—and more aggressive policing, like so-called “broken windows” policing and New York’s stop-and-frisk policy, seems to only increase arrests for extremely minor offenses while stoking violent interactions between police and minorities. Yet the hard numbers show that public officials have favored police department funding over public health and other concerns.
Los Angeles is a prime example: Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 2020-2021 city budget gives police $3.14 billion out of the city’s $10.5 billion. That’s the single biggest line item, dwarfing, say, emergency management ($6 million) and economic development ($30 million). Garcetti is also planning to raise the LAPD’s budget by 7 percent—to support bonuses for officers who have a college degree—while he’s also trying to institute pay cuts for more than 24,000 civilian city workers (to cope with budgetary fallout from the coronavirus outbreak).
In New York, which has the largest budget for any police department in the country, Mayor Bill de Blasio has called to reduce the NYPD’s budget by $23.8 million—a step in the right direction, but only 0.4 percent of the department’s $5 billion budget. As Brooklyn College sociology professor Alex Vitale writes in the New York Post, “New York City spends more on policing than it does on the Departments of Health, Homeless Services, Housing Preservation and Development, and Youth and Community Development combined.”
More money for cops is less money for everything else – including some measures that might improve society and make police less necessary.
This was fun to draw. I de-emphasized drawing backgrounds so I could devote more time to drawing people – there are about 20 figures in this cartoon, which is a lot for me.
I had a particularly nice time drawing panel four. My favorite is the cop who is doing John Travolta’s famous finger-up pose from Saturday Night Fever.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
(New drinking game! Every time I make a typo, take a drink. Don’t play this game if you have to drive later.)
This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a different scene, and has a different color palette.
This panel, drawing with an orange-ish palette, shows a woman talking on the phone, looking a little panicked. Beside her, a wide-eyed child watches, looking very worried. Above them both is a large caption, in big green letters.
CAPTION: HOW CITY BUDGETS WORK
WOMAN: A six year waiting list? But we’re homeless now!
This panel is colored in shades of purple.
A middle-aged woman wearing glasses and a striped dress is talking to a middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie. She looks wide-eyed and worried; he looks angry, glaring into space as he talks.
Behind them we can see a big window; various shapes (a banana, an apple, flowers, a star) have been cut out of paper and taped to the window. In front of them, we see mostly the heads and faces of a crowd of children, variously talking, smiling, making a peace sign, and dozing off (with a bit of drool).
WOMAN: But we can’t fit another 30 chairs into this classroom!
MAN: Chairs? City Hall says kids can stand.
This panel is colored in very dreary shades of green.
We are looking through a doorway at a man with slightly shaggy hair, who sits unhappily at a cheap rectangular table in an otherwise empty room. Outside the room, leaning back as if he’s just calling something into the room while rushing past, a man wearing glasses and a jacket and tie, talks to the shaggy-haired man.
RUSHING MAN: Hi! I’m your public defender. Unfortunately, I’ve been assigned so many defendants that introducing myself is all the time I have for your case this month.
RUSHING MAN: See you at your trial!
This panel is colored in shades of blue, except for the cash, which is colored in green.
A group of cops is dancing merrily while grinning. One cop waggles his midsection; one imitates John Travolta’s disco pose from “Saturday Night Fever”; a couple dances in a pair, arms on each other’s shoulders; a few others are kicking and throwing their arms up into the hair. It’s a celebration. Green cash is filling the air, raining down on them.
COPS (said by several in unison): MONEY DANCE!
This poem was published in a poetry anthology memorializing Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s composed from scraps of her writing, cut up, pulled apart, and stitched in different ways to create an elegy.
Upwards Toward the Light
We have nothing but freedom:
not a gift given, but a heavy load
of permanent, intolerable uncertainty
that binds us beyond choice.
To be whole is to be part.
We all have forests in our minds,
stories in the middle of living.
When we are finally naked in the cold,
we who are so rich, so full of strength,
we breathe back the breathe that made us live,
we give back to the world all we did not do,
we are left only with kindness.
To see how beautiful the earth is,
you must choose to see it like the moon.
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Supporters see most of my cartoons early – they saw this one back in November.
I read a thread on Twitter by a woman whose father had recently died of covid. When her father got sick, her brother convinced their father that going to the hospital and receiving treatment would be a fatal mistake. The brother also believed that the reason the father had gotten sick was that he had gone to a family funeral where there were many vaccinated people, and vaccinated people are spreading disease in some fashion.
After the father died, the brother got sick with covid, too. His sister (thousands of miles away) begged him over the phone to go get treated. He went to the hospital, but then checked himself out and died at home a couple of weeks later.
Whether it’s a deadly disease or climate change, people on the right seem increasingly immune to argument. Climate change is a hoax. Covid is a plot. January sixth was just a bunch of tourists in the capital to snap some photos. Trump was the actual winner of the election.
Of course, some on the left are also immune to argument. But the right-wing immunity to argument isn’t just on the margins of the conservative movement; it dominates their party. Donald Trump was their last candidate for President, and very will might be their next candidate too. And no evidence – not even death – can convince them they’re wrong.
Wow, is this post a bummer. But thinking about this stuff led to the image of a right-winger standing in a blasted hellscape crowing that he’d won. And that thought led to this comic strip, which I think is pretty funny.
My biggest worry, drawing this strip, was making the right-wing character recognizable to readers even after he’s gone through an enormous change in circumstances. Hence the red hair, the widow’s peak, the chin-only beard, and the distinctive glasses frames. I think I did enough so that most readers will recognize that it’s the same character without having to think about it.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels.
A woman and a man walk on a path in a hilly park (drawn mostly in shades of green and blue). The man, who has red hair and a red chin-only beard (no mustache), is walking ahead, not looking back at her as he talks. He’s wearing a white button-up shirt with a necktie, brown slacks, and glasses. The woman has black hair, and is wearing a white v-neck shirt with red arms, jeans, and red sneakers. She is holding her hands out imploringly as she talks to the man’s back.
WOMAN: This shouldn’t be a partisan issue! We’ll all suffer if the world is destroyed! But if we work together-
MAN: You’re wasting your breath.
The man, who has crested the hill, turns to look back at the woman, who is still climbing the hill. He sneers with contempt. The woman looks taken aback.
MAN: Don’t show me articles from the New York Times or whatever. Fox told me I can’t trust mainstream media!
MAN: Don’t quote “experts.” Newsmax warned me that those people lie!
A close-up of the man’s head as he speaks, grinning and intense.
MAN: I know everything outside my bubble is false. Nothing you can say will reach me, and there’s no evidence I can’t dismiss as fake.
MAN: Face it — I’ve won.
A caption says “YEARS LATER.”
We’re looking at the wreckage of an absolutely destroyed town or city, drawn mostly in shades of brown and orange. There are tree stumps, and telephone poles which have fallen to diagonal positions, wrecked buildings in the distance, a dark brown smog rising into the air from those buildings. Closer up, there are tree stumps, a window lying on the ground, bricks and pipes and a shattered smartphone and other junk scattered around.
Sitting on the concrete slabs of a broken sidewalk is the man from earlier in the strip. His clothes are torn and ragged, and his hair is grown much longer and looks tangled. One lens of his glasses is shattered. He is grinning (missing a tooth) and pumping a fist in the air in front of him.
MAN: Well, I certainly told HER!
makes a cold, pretty morning–
gentle, short-lived light.
Bitter, windy, dark,
clattering cold strikes the rain,
This is one of the images I used in Scragamuffin, the chapbook I released as October’s exclusive Patreon reward. I thought it might be fun to release the pictures with the photos that inspired them.
This strip was drawn by Becky Hawkins.
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I was a bit surprised when Becky told me she was excited about drawing this one, because – looking at the script – it seemed visually unexciting to me. It’s just a guy talking to the reader for four panels, I thought.
I didn’t get it until Becky showed me her roughs for this strip, which blew me away. It hadn’t remotely occurred to me to use the backgrounds like that – it was 100% Becky’s idea – and I absolutely love it. It’s so much fun to have a collaborator who I trust to make up her own things to add to these strips.
I asked Becky if she remembered where the idea came from, and she said, “I like drawing buildings and hadn’t done an exaggerated “big bad city” before. So I pictured how fun it would be to draw a ridiculously cute old timey small town main street and an almost abstract caricature of an urban hellhole.”
I still do the lettering and word balloons on the strips Becky draws. When it came time to letter this strip, my first step was finding words to cut from panel 3, since fewer words meant covering up less of Becky’s art. Then I did a word balloon that closely followed the shape of the letters, which isn’t a style I usually love, but it did cover up much less than an ordinary balloon would have.
Becky finds references through online searching and through exploring on Google Streetview. Here are a couple of the many reference photos she used when drawing this strip.
Becky’s reference folder also contains several photos of Hillbilly Elegy author and current Senate candidate and Trump suck-up, J.D. Vance. It was Becky’s idea to base the character’s appearance on Vance.
Becky can’t remember why she changed the character’s hair to blonde, but I think it really helps him pop out from the backgrounds.
The subject of this strip is something that’s annoyed me for so many years – the constant right-wing complaints that blue-staters are snobs who make fun of red-staters. To make this case, the same few quotes are recycled endlessly. Earlier this month I read a conservative fuming about Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” comment – which Obama said in 2008, thirteen years ago.
Meanwhile, conservatives constantly trash blue states – and in particular, cities and the people living in them – in much harsher terms. Not just random conservatives, either – important conservative leaders, including President Trump (who has spent most of his life living in New York City, but I think that he’s forgetting about that and frankly most New Yorkers are happy to forget that too).
I’ve sometimes been accused of attacking strawmen in my strips. To show that this strip is not attacking strawman, I’ll be pasting some relevant quotes at the end of this post.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels, plus an additional tiny “kicker” panel under the fourth panel. Each panel shows the same man talking directly at the reader. He has neatly combed blonde hair with a full beard, and is wearing boots, jeans, and a bright red button-up shirt with a brown vest over it. His outfit says “rural salt of the earth by way of L.L. Bean.”
The man is talking cheerfully to the readers, one forefinger raised to make a point. Behind him, we can see a street lined with stores or businesses; the buildings are all one or two stories tall, a bit quaint, and all but scream “small town charm.”
MAN : I tink the best of America is in the small towns – the wonderful little pockets of what I call The Real America.
The same man, but now he’s suddenly standing in front of an enormous pile of garbage; we can make out a few things in the pile, like a fish skeleton, a concrete block, a wishbone, and a pile of poop. Rising up behind the garbage pile, we can see a group of ugly brown high-rise apartment buildings. A large plume of smoke (we can’t see from what) rises into the sky.
MAN: Elite liberals are destroying American with their terrible “New York” values. That’s why their cities are burnt-out shells!
The man is suddenly much closer to the viewer, yelling, his eyes large and bulging. Behind him we can see a chaotic jumble of big-city ills: A red-eyed rat, buildings on fire, a grocery cart filled with someone’s possessions in bags, a syringe, another pile of poop, and a person wearing a mask and a black hoodie who is about to throw a flaming Molotov cocktail.
MAN: DEM CITIES ARE DISGUSTING, RAT-INFESTED HOLES THAT NO HUMAN COULD LIVE IN!
The man is suddenly on a bucolic, hilly farm. A sheep lies on the ground, munching the green grass, and there’s a black-spotted cow wearing a bell around it’s neck. Further back, we can see a classic red barn with a grain silo beside it, and a hill that’s been tilled and has some crop growing. The man, no longer in tight close-up, is grasping his hands together and looking a bit upward, almost like he’s praying; he has a sad expression, and a single tear falls from one eye.
MAN: And why do coastal elite snobs say such hateful things about their fellow Americans?
TINY KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP
Barry the cartoonist, raising a finger to make a point, is talking to the man from the strip. The man has a “I’m so above this nonsense” smug expression, eyes closed.
BARRY: Don’t you live in a coastal city? And didn’t you go to Harvard?
MAN: In my heart I’ve always lived on a farm.
Some quotes that inspired this cartoon.
(There’s nothing else left in this post, so you can skip the rest if you’re not interested in the quotes!)
Some of these quotes are very recent, and some extend back as far as the 2008 presidential campaign. There are many similar quotes which I’m not including here, but I think this is enough to make my point.
* * *
“As I travel the country here in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, everyone knows what New York values are,” Cruz told ABC News White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl minutes after delivering his victory speech. “It’s the values of the elite liberals that have done enormous damage to New York and they’re a bunch of cops and firemen and hardworking men and women in the great state of New York who are fed up with the out-of-touch values of Manhattan.
* * *
If there was one clear theme to emerge from the Republican National Convention, it was President Donald Trump’s firmly-held belief that whatever ails American cities is the fault of Democratic control. In some ways, his attack last year on Baltimore as “disgusting, rat and rodent infested” was just a warm-up. Now, he’s calling himself the “law and order” candidate and in his acceptance speech vowed to crack down on “rioting, looting, arson and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities.”
* * *
“God bless real Michigan. God bless real America. God bless the greatest president in our lifetime, Donald Trump,” Ted Nugent recently declared at a Michigan rally.
It’s ironic that Donald Trump, the first president born and raised in New York City — or any major city — since Teddy Roosevelt, has hitched his presidency to the idea that “real America” is not to be found in urban areas.
Real America — a term beloved by Richard Nixon — probably tops the long list of conservative catchphrases capturing the sense of grievance dominating so much of the right these days.
* * *
“Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2019
* * *
We first started hearing about “real America” from Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign.
We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.
The inverse of that sentiment is what drove this tweet from Matt Drudge yesterday.
FINAL TALLY: Trump won by 3 MILLION votes outside California, New York… https://t.co/3eVKo4rr3a
— DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT) December 21, 2016
In other words, California and New York don’t qualify as “real America.” And so, if you discount their votes…Trump wins.
* * *
“Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizable lately,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Something must be done before it is too late. The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country!”
Trump went after Rep. John Lewis, who represents part of Atlanta, for pledging not to attend his inauguration in 2017. Trump wrote on Twitter that the city “is in horrible shape and falling apart.”
“Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.,” he added in another tweet. “I can use all the help I can get!”
* * *
On Saturday, for instance, McCain advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer suggested that although northern Virginia may have “gone more Democratic,” “real Virginia” (the “part of the state that’s more Southern in nature”) will be “very responsive” to McCain. Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) joined the chorus, telling the crowd at a McCain rally, “Liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.”
Hayes, like Palin, later forswore his remarks, but on Tuesday in western Pennsylvania — one of the few parts of the state where Barack Obama doesn’t hold a clear lead — McCain worked the same theme: Western Pennsylvania “is the most God-loving, most patriotic part of America.”