Cartoon: Might As Well Face It, We’re Addicted To Fear


If you like these cartoons, you can help me make more by supporting the Patreon.


The marketplace is a terrible way to produce news. Because it the end, being the market, it’s not about what viewers need. Or about what viewers (think they) would prefer to see. It’s about giving those viewers who are willing to spend money whatever content makes them watch the most, because ratings means selling commercials means profit.

Any news that isn’t doing that is driven out of the market. It’s not enough to just be making a profit, because sooner or later the station or network will be bought out by someone whose interest isn’t in making a profit, but in making the most possible profit for the least cost.

And the easiest way to get viewers to read or click or watch is to make us feel like we’re in a violent crime wave.

Goodbye, in-depth reporting. Hello, “if it bleeds it leads.” From the Oxford University Press blog:

In the United States in the 1970s, local “action news” formats, driven by enhanced live broadcast technologies and consultant recommendations designed to improve ratings, changed the nature of television news: a shift from public affairs journalism about politics, issues, and government toward an emphasis on profitable live, breaking news from the scene of the crime. The crime rate was falling, but most Americans didn’t perceive it that way. From 1993 to 1996, the national murder rate dropped by 20%. During the same period, stories about murders on the ABC, NBC, and CBS network newscasts rose by 721%.

I initially misread that as murder stories rising by 72%. But nope. Seven hundred and twenty one percent.

It’s not just the news – it’s also the entertainment. TV shows and movies and novels often base their plots around murder, multiple murders, even serial killers. I myself watch lots of this violent media – because it really is compelling. (And fun!)

And what we see makes us afraid. To quote one study (among dozens that have found similar results):

Results indicated that exposure to tabloid front page stories was significantly associated with avoidant behavior and higher levels of fear of violent victimization. Moreover, people who exposed themselves to many different sources of crime news were more likely to fear violence than those exposed to fewer crime stories. These findings remained significant after controlling for personal and vicarious victimization experiences.

This cartoon makes the media much more virtuous than it is in real life, which (hopefully) just adds to the absurdity of the cartoon. I wrote it this way because I wanted the cartoon to focus on us, and our drive to watch this stuff, rather than on the media.


Drawing this cartoon was so much fun! I really wanted this cartoon to feel energetic, so I deliberately scribbled a lot while drawing, trying to produce spontaneous lines instead of perfect lines.

I’m pretty pleased with how this came out, and I’ll definitely want to try this approach again.


I want to make a “my best cartoons of 2022” list. If you can remember any cartoon we did in 2022 that you thought was especially great, please let me know, directly or in comments. Or on the Discord, which I really should mention more often.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. They all show the same scene: A middle-aged man, balding and with a beard, is watching (and yelling at) his television set. He appears to be at home; he’s sitting in a cozy armchair, and we can see a little side table with a lamp on it. The room seems pretty barren otherwise.

PANEL 1

The man squirms in his chair as he angrily yells at the TV.

TV: Stay tuned for nuanced reporting about crime, with important context and reasonable statistics.

MAN: No! That’s NOT what you’ve conditioned me to want!

PANEL 2

The man is now standing on the seat of his armchair, leaning forward and waving the remote control in a threatening manner as he yells. The TV leans away from the man as it responds.

MAN: I’LL CHANGE THE CHANNEL!

TV: But… Don’t you think accurate news is important.

PANEL 3

A closer shot of the man as he jumps up above his chair, yelling even bigger than before. (The TV speaks from off-panel). The remote control, forgotten, flies into the air near his hand.

The coloring in this panel is done in shades of red, emphasizing the man’s fury.

MAN: You KNOW what I want!

MAN: GIVE IT TO ME NOW!

TV: Okay! Okay!

PANEL 4

The TV, leaning forward aggressively, speaks in red lettering. The man, looking sated and happy, collapses back into his cozy chair.

TV: YOU’RE SURROUNDED BY VIOLENT CRIME! YOU’RE IN DANGER! YOUNG PEOPLE WILL RANDOMLY MURDER YOU!

MAN (thought balloon): Ahhhh… THAT’S the stuff.


Might As Well Face It, You’re Addicted To Fear | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Media, Media criticism | 7 Comments  

Cartoon: Things We Can Stop Saying To Fat People Already


If you like these cartoons, help us keep making more by waring blue on alternate Tuesdays of anniversaries of the ending of important wars and sporting events and also any day that  you’re wearing an odd number of shoes. That’s not a typo; I’m not saying you should wear blue, I’m saying you should beware blue. Hide from the sky, the sky is out to get you, so the nicer the day the more crucial unbrellas are. And for God’s sake never watch Blue’s Clues, no matter how your children beg. This will be your only warning.


Phew, this one took a long time to draw. And then it took a long time for Frank to color.

(At one point Frank texted me to say “Oh, those shopping carts! Whoo-ee!”).

(I responded, “OMG those fucking shopping carts!”)

Part of the reason this strip took so long me to draw is I made the mistake of thinking “I can just wing the perspective here” in the panel in the supermarket and so spent a lot of time freehand drawing the shelves and the tile floor, work that I eventually threw away so I could redo the drawing using actual perspective lines and vanishing points.

And two panels later, I made the exact same mistake drawing the panel with the bike rider.


That panel also contains a car. Cars, as longtime readers may remember me mentioning, are my cartooning nemesis. I can’t draw good cars, but I want to be able to. So every time I have to draw a car, I wind up with rejected car sketches like this.

A couple of these look okay – except that they’re drawn at the wrong angle. We’re viewing them from above, which means that I wouldn’t be able to put the bike rider in the foreground the way I wanted to (unless we assume the bike is 15 feet tall or in a tree or something).

I did manage to draw one from the correct angle – the one on the upper right. But it looks wrong to me. Like the metal is twisting and the parts don’t fit together right.

So then I eventually gave up, found a photo of a car from an angle that would work, and traced it. Then I hid the photo, and traced the tracing, changing some of the car’s features as I went. Then, for the final drawing, I traced the tracing of the tracing, again not looking at the original photo. This is all to help the final cartoon look like something drawn, rather than something traced.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that the front of the car would be outside the panel border, and the back of the car would be hidden by the bike rider. Oh well!


Drawing tattoo sleeves is always fun.


Not related to this cartoon, but I saw Glass Onion, and it was really smartly written and structured and funny and sharp. If you enjoy murder mysteries, it’s worth checking out. (It’s a sequel to Knives Out, but it really doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the previous film or not.)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has nine panels. The central panel (panel five) has the words “THINGS WE CAN STOP SAYING TO FAT PEOPLE ALREADY” written in large, friendly, somewhat psychedelic-style lettering.

Other than the center panel, each panel features a different scene showing one or two characters speaking.

In addition to the nine panels, there’s a small additional “kicker” panel under the bottom of the comic strip.

PANEL 1

A thin woman stands outdoors, wearing a plush winter vest over a plaid shirt, with a knit hat. She’s smiling too large and clasping her hands together in front of her chin. Behind her we can see pine trees on a snow-covered hill.

WOMAN: You’re not fat! You’re gorgeous!

PANEL 2

On a sidewalk in front of a storefront, a man in green pants and a polo shirt looks very surprised, eyes wide, one hand against his cheek. He’s speaking to a fat woman with a rolled-up yoga mat strapped over her back, and a gym bag; she’s wearing athletic shorts and a tank top. She looks somewhat taken aback.

MAN: You do yoga?

PANEL 3

A woman stands in a kitchen, looking at the reader with a face full of concern, her forefinger pressed against her chin.

WOMAN: Are you sure you should eat that?

PANEL 4

A man stands in front of a shoulder-high brick wall. There’s a grassy area, the height of the wall, on the other side of the wall; there are bushes and trees and a wide-eyed dog. The man is holding a hand up in a “no big deal” gesture and looks certain.

MAN: My cousin’s friend’s wife’s barista lost 200 pounds by drinking one less coke a day.

PANEL 5

This is the center panel. It contains the title of the strip, “THINGS WE CAN STOP SAYING TO FAT PEOPLE ALREADY,” written in large, friendly letters.

PANEL 6

In a supermarket, a thin, older woman is pushing her cart next to the the cart of a fat man wearing a baseball cap. The woman  is leaning over to examine the contents of the man’s cart. (Sharp-eyed readers might notice that the two carts contain exactly the same food items.)

The woman is smiling, the man looks taken aback.

WOMAN: Well, that explains things.

PANEL 7

Two men, one thin and one fat, are jogging next to each other on a suburban looking sidewalk. The fat man, who has a shaved head, is wearing two layers of shirt (a black tee shirt over a mustard-brown long-sleeved tee shirt) and sweatpants. The thin man is wearing running shorts and a striped tee shirt. The thin man’s expression  is surprised and maybe a little hostile; the fat man’s expression is annoyed.

THIN MAN: You’re not trying to lose weight? Really?

PANEL 8

In the foreground, we see a fat woman riding a bike and looking annoyed. Nearby, in the street, a driver is leaning out of his car window to yell at the woman. His expression is hostile.

MAN:  You’re FAT!

A small caption at the bottom of the panel says “this really happens!” (And it does! It’s happened to me numerous times! I have no idea why people are like this.)

PANEL 9

A thin man is holding out his palms and speaking directly to the reader, looking puzzled and concerned. He appears to be in a den or living room – we can see a little table with a tea cup and flowers, and a comfy looking armchair, in the background. The man is wearing a button-up shirt with a polka dot pattern open over a black tee shirt.

MAN: Have you heard of eating less and exercising more?

SMALL KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE CARTOON

A thin man wearing a black shirt is talking to a fat man with a beard and a pony-tail who looks like Barry (the cartoonist). Both of them have friendly, smiling expressions.

THIN MAN: I’m sure they didn’t mean anything. You’re being too sensitive.

BARRY: You can stop saying that, too.


Things We Can Stop Saying To Fat People Already | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat | 19 Comments  

Cartoon: Why Won’t Leftists Just Be Civil?


Imagine a world without these political cartoons. Would life even be worth living? Obviously not. We’d all just sit around staring blankly at our piles of unwashed dishes and laundry waiting to die because nothing means anything. Oh, and, uh, patreon support blah blah blah.


I’ve made fun of the “civility” issue before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again. It’s just such an irresistible lump of hypocrisy. Plus, people being overdramatic means fun facial expressions to draw.

I’m an extremely civil person, outside my cartoons. Even on Twitter, I work hard to be polite, even when I’m arguing with right-wingers. In college I was on the debate team (my only sport!), and being polite is crucial in competitive debate.

So I’ve got a lot of sympathy for people who call for civility because that’s their aesthetic preference (which is where I’m coming from). Or because they believe that being civil goes hand in hand with kindness, and kindness is good, even when dealing with jerks (also where I’m coming from). Or because they personally have issues dealing with other people’s anger and contempt, and so they’re able to function more comfortably in an environment with politeness, even if it’s moderator-enforced politeness. (For a third time, that’s me.)

My eyes only start rolling when calls for politeness are used as a partisan cudgel, Because there are rude people on all sides, and anyone who can’t see that is either being disingenuous, or is so far sunk inside of a partisan bubble they probably won’t see sunlight until the asteroids wipe us all out and dinosaurs take the Earth back.


This one was so simple (only two panels!) that it was a pleasure to draw. I got to spend a lot of time trying to make her hair look lively and right, and working on her expressions.

The next cartoon I’ll post is a nine-panel strip. I usually have multiple strips written and waiting to be drawn. So I’ll tend to do the relatively quick to draw strips alongside ones that take forever, and hopefully it averages out to something like a reasonable workload.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has two panels. Both of the panels show a white woman with a stylish haircut, wearing a striped shirt with a calf-length skirt and black tights. She speaks directly to the reader.

PANEL 1

The woman looks sad and distraught. She’s holding one palm up in a bewildered fashion, and has her other palm pressed against the side of her face.

WOMAN: I was arguing with a liberal and she said…

WOMAN: I can hardly even SAY it, it was so AWFUL!

WOMAN: She said my argument was “RACIST.”

WOMAN: She actually used THAT word! About ME! How can anybody be so MEAN?

PANEL 2

The woman now looks angry, her hands balled up into fists.

WOMAN: Why won’t these lying libtard soyboy cuck groomer baby-killing totalitarian leftists just be CIVIL?


Why Won’t Leftists Just Be Civil? | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Civility, Civility & norms of discourse, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc. | 4 Comments  

Cartoon: The Knife Cuts Both Ways


If you like these cartoons, please support them on Patreon!


Another collaboration with Becky Hawkins.


There are oddly similar visuals between the “woman trapped in a man’s body” trope and the “you’ve got a thin person inside you” trope.

The “woman trapped in a man’s body” is how some trans women (or vice versa, for trans men) describe their experiences. But often the media treats this as the Universal Trans Narrative, probably because it’s a way of conceiving being trans that cis people (and cis reporters and editors) find easy to understand.

The “you’ve got a thin person inside you” trope is just pro-diet propaganda. But it’s an image that many fat people have internalized (as it were). We’re taught to consider our actual bodies warped, unlovable and wrong, and to imagine we have a true self who is a thin self, waiting to burst out of our fat cocoons.

I find the common visual of a person trapped inside a wrong body intriguing. But of course there are enormous differences between the lived experience described by each cliché.

One difference we shouldn’t forget is effectiveness: There’s a great deal of research showing that treatments like gender confirmation surgery are extremely effective at providing relief for gender dysphoria.

In contrast, all weight-loss programs, including bariatric surgery, usually fail in the long term. The weight comes back, the fat person remains a fat person, and the “thin person inside” either never emerges, or emerges only temporarily.

Another big difference is the direction of social pressure. Trans people face enormous social pressure to not change their body’s initial status quo; they are told to stay closeted and continue identifying with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Fat people, in contrast, face enormous social pressure to change our bodies, as quickly as possible, and damn the consequences.

And that brings us to this cartoon.


Kivan Bay writes:

I have heard from multiple trans people that they’ve had their surgery withheld while being pressured to undergo bariatric surgery.

And surgery isn’t the only treatment withheld:

This is from people seeking breast enlargement, people seeking vaginoplasty, people seeking estrogen, people seeking testosterone, and people seeking mastectomies. It absolutely impacts the all genders in the trans community who are seeking transition related medical care.

In another essay, Kivan wrote:

We must recognize the terrible pressure trans people are under to lose weight, and we must relieve that pressure. Statistics show that diets simply do not work, and that dieting to lose weight discourages the dieter and makes it more likely that they will gain more weight. There’s nothing wrong with being fat but there’s definitely something terrifying about being dysphoric and untreated because of your body.


Despite differences, there’s a lot in common in how society treats fat people and how it treats trans people (not forgetting that these two groups overlap). Katelyn Burns writes:

Visibly trans bodies are considered unworthy of dignity or respect and are marginalized from society in many of the same ways that fat bodies are. Fat people are constantly told that being fat is based on their own irresponsible decisions. Society says to just eat right and exercise and then they’ll consider your feelings or respect your bodies. Society demands transgender bodies look like cis bodies and then they’ll consider you a “real woman” or a “real man.”

Quenby writes that internalized fatphobia made it hard to realize that they’re trans.

For me, this discomfort in my body didn’t make me realise I was trans. As a fat person I’d internalised that I should be disgusted by my body; the idea that I could ever feel comfortable in my skin was laughable to me.


While writing this, I came across a 2016 romance novel called The Thin Person Inside; the publisher’s description includes this screamingly awful sentence: “Sean thinks it’s tragic that a pretty girl is trapped inside such a huge body.” It would take a team of academics a month to unpack everything wrong with that sentence.


While Becky was working on this cartoon, I doodled some suggested body language options for a figure in panel four. I think I was putting off doing some work I actually needed to do, but I had fun.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same scene: Two women on a sidewalk talking to each other. They’re standing in front of a storefront. Posters on the storefront read “Peace, Mindfulness, a smaller BUTT” and “YOGA – Because YOU could be BENDIER.”

The woman on the left is fat. She has reddish-brown hair, tied loosely on top, and is wearing a green blouse with a floral pattern paired with a brown skirt and low-heeled boots. Let’s call her FLOWERS.

The woman on the right is thin. She has blonde hair, cut just above the shoulders, is wearing a purple tank top and blue capris, and is carrying a rolled-up yoga mat strapped to her back. Let’s call her MAT.

PANEL 1

Flower is talking on her cell phone, looking annoyed as she tells a story, one fist on her hip. Mat, overhearing, eagerly jumps in, one finger raised high.

FLOWER: My doctor gave me this total sales pitch for bariatric surgery. I told her “hell no.”

MAT: Surgery to make you thinner? You should do it!

PANEL 2

Flower lowers her phone, calm but annoyed. Mat keeps on cheerfully explaining, her hands held in front of her, palms-up, in classic “explaining hands” gesture.

FLOWER: Excuse me?

MAT: Why be stuck with your body, when doctors can fix it?  You’ll be so much happier!

PANEL 3

Flower puts the hand holding the cell phone on her hip, and makes a negatory “stop” gesture with her other hand. Mat rolls her eyes and holds her hands in front of her in an “all right, all right, I give up” gesture. (There are so many hand gestures! Seriously, I use them all the time, and Becky does too – everyone in our comics talks with their hands.)

FLOWER: I’m fine with my weight. Okay?

MAT: Sigh. Okay.

PANEL 4

Flower talks, for the first time looking eager and happy. Mat looks horrified. Both of them make appropriate palms-up gestures.

FLOWER: What I asked for is gender confirmation surgery.

MAT: Gasp! NO!! You can’t let doctors mutilate your sacred body!


The Knife Cuts Both Ways | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 21 Comments  

Cartoon: Selective Heartlessness, aka, On Employers Who “Can’t Afford” Paying A Living Wage


The fall of Rome was caused by not enough Romans supporting my Patreon. So sad! If only there were some way of preventing our civilization from suffering the same terrible fate…


I penciled a bunch of this one during a plane ride from California. And let me tell you, I was pretty proud. No more wasting plane time reading a Jack Reacher novel for me, no sir! I was productive!

And the person sitting next to me seemed very impressed with my drawing skills, which honestly is always fun. It’s like a very slow party trick.

I had to do some other work for a few days. Then, when I returned to this strip –  man, those pencils were awful! I tried to fix a bunch of figures, and then eventually gave up and redrew panels from scratch. It felt like I’d somehow forgotten how to draw.

I worked through it – although I did change the planned background (walking through a city) to a park walk, because drawing park walks is… What is that expression? It means when something is really easy and pleasurable.

But even the park came out badly the first couple of times I tried. But I kept at it, and eventually I pushed through it, and acceptable drawings were coming out of my stylus again.

It happens like that sometimes.

Then it became now, and I’m writing this text on one screen and looking at the cartoon on another screen, and it seems like every time I look at it there’s something I need to fix. It is friggin’ endless.

Seriously! Since the time I declared this cartoon done and sat down to write this text I have paused to correct:

1) Coloring the path so it’s different from the grass around it.

2) Fixing the lettering layout a bit in panel four.

3) Adding the sidebar thank you.

4) Turning the layer with the hatching lines back on because I turned it off back during correction one and forgot to turn it on.

5) Fixing his vest in panel four so it has a back panel like it does in panel one.

6) Fixing the path in panel 1 so it stops being twice as wide to the left of the boulder.

7) Coloring the plant next to the turtle in panel one, which I know I’ve done already, but I guess that change got lost at some point.

8) Color the dandelions in panel two.

9) Wait, what happened to the plant color in panel one I just did a couple of minutes ago? Why did it disappear? Aaargh. Redo that. Oh, the mushrooms lost their color too, fill that in.

10) And while I’m here anyhow, might as well color that plant on the right in panel four.

Each of these changes takes very little time to do, but it adds up and begins to feel endless. And, honestly, very few readers would notice if I hadn’t made these changes. But on some level, I think readers do appreciate the care, even if they naturally aren’t as attuned to the details as I am.

(After writing the previous paragraph, I noticed I’d drawn in clouds in panel four but not in panels one or two, and I went and fixed that).

I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m complaining. I find this kind of work extraordinarily satisfying. And it is potentially endless, in that I could keep on finding little things to fix, or add, or improve.

But at some point you just have to stop and let people see the strip.


I know in real life people seldom walk around in vests. But I really like drawing vests.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same two people chatting as they walk through a hilly park. One, the person walking in front, is wearing a vest and tie, and has one of those beards that’s done with a very thin strip of beard. (There’s probably a word for it?) The other is an older woman, with curly white hair, a striped shirt, a calf-length skirt, and cat-eye glasses. Let’s call them VEST and SKIRT.

PANEL 1

Vest is in front, taking big strides and scowling a little as he talks. Skirt follows a few steps behind, listening with a look of concentration.

VEST: Workers who aren’t paid a so-called “living wage” aren’t earning one! If they can’t handle wages set by the free market, a more productive worker will take their place.

PANEL 2

A close-up of Vest’s face; over his shoulder, still several steps behind, we can see Skirt holding up a finger to make a point. Vest looks crabby, and honestly, Skirt looks a little crabby too. These two may not be destined to be close friends.

VEST: I can’t stay in business if I pay my employees more than I have to!

SKIRT: Think of it this way…

PANEL 3

A close-up of Skirt, who is holding up both hands at shoulder height, “talking with her hands,” and smiling as she gets into what she’s saying.

SKIRT: If an employer can’t figure out how to pay a living wage, they don’t deserve to stay in business. A more productive entrepreneur will take their place, right?

PANEL 4

For the first time in the strip, Vest has turned around to face Skirt. He looks very distressed, his eyes huge, and he’s yelling. Skirt, startled, takes a step back.

VEST: HOW CAN YOU BE SO HEARTLESS?!?


On Employers Who Can’t Afford Paying A Living Wage | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Class, poverty, labor, & related issues, Economics and the like | 19 Comments  

Link Farm and Open Thread, Much Mucha Edition

  1. The case for replacing elections with sortition – The Boston Review.
    “Sortition,” for those who don’t know (I didn’t), is a word for government by representatives chosen by lottery. It wouldn’t be a perfect system, of course, but the question is, would it be any worse than our current system? It would definitely be more representative, especially when looking at class.
  2. The Myth of Humanitarian Intervention – DAWN
    “States almost never intervene in atrocity situations primarily for humanitarian reasons—not even when they have the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. And when states do intervene, for humanitarian reasons or otherwise, they almost always make the situation on the ground worse.”
  3. Student Debt Cancellation Is Progressive
    “In this brief, we argue that critiques of student loan cancellation as regressive are based primarily on five empirical and conceptual errors: the inclusion of private student loans, conditioning analyses on borrowers only, focusing primarily on income rather than wealth distributions, highlighting the value of debt to the government rather than benefits to households, and ignoring the racial distribution of debt.” I actually don’t feel certain about this issue, but since I’ve seen several arguments that it’s not progressive, linking to a counterpoint seems worthwhile.
  4. Opinion | Why I Changed My Mind on Student Debt Forgiveness – The New York Times | And an alternate link.
  5. My friend has been lying about being poor for years. How can I ever trust them again? | Xtra Magazine
    “…rather than face the fact that we can be both oppressed and complicit in oppression at the same time, some people feel the need to choose a simpler story where they are always an underdog hero and never a villain.”
  6. Oklahoma is set to kill Richard Glossip, but he’s almost certainly innocent. Even Republicans are revolting.
    Even SOME Republicans are revolting would have been a more accurate title; others are determined to see Glossip die in one of the most painful ways imaginable. But it’s nice to see some elected Republicans not being bloodthirsty sadists for once. That aside, this story does illuminate how our judicial system just can’t be trusted with a death penalty.
  7. The End of Friedmanomics | The New Republic
    Surprisingly interesting overview of the late economist Milton Friedman’s career and influence.
  8. The College Wealth Premium Has Collapsed – The Atlantic
    “The spiraling cost of higher education is choking Millennial families, and more young people would be able to go to college—and get the full financial benefit of getting a degree—if they were able to do it for the same price as their parents paid.”
  9. How the Ballpoint Pen Changed Handwriting – The Atlantic
    “Fountain pens want to connect letters. Ballpoint pens need to be convinced to write, need to be pushed into the paper rather than merely touch it.”
  10. Fear of a Black Hobbit – The Atlantic
    “It’s worth noting how rapidly right-wing language about colorblind meritocracy melts away when it does not produce the desired results. Perhaps the actors cast were simply the most qualified?”
  11. The People’s Joker, a hilarious trans riff on DC characters, shut down over ‘rights issues’ – Polygon
    The movie is an EXTREMELY transformative parody that no reasonable person could mistake for an official Joker movie. But as often happens, the question is less “is my movie legal?” than it is “can I afford to be sued by a huge corporation?” I hope the creator will find some way to make The People’s Joker legally available.
  12. Alabama GOP chairman refused to show a license to vote.
    “When a poll worker fussed, the chair pushed to have him removed as a poll worker. Now he’s not a poll worker anymore.” The ex-poll worker is a Republican who seems to genuinely believe in photo I.D. laws.
  13. Misconduct settlements have led insurers to force police reform – Washington Post (And an alternate link.)
  14. How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step – The New York Times
  15. The promise of cultivated meat – by Noah Smith – Noahpinion
    Short overview of the current state of meant-grown-in-a-vat technology. The best hope may be a hybrid product of plants and cultivated meat.
  16. These 526 Voters Represent All of America. And They Spent a Weekend Together. – The New York Times. And an alternative link.
    Very few participants felt they changed their mind on policy positions, but many felt they came away thinking of their opposition as more reasonable and less evil than they had believed.

Posted in Link farms | 74 Comments  

Cartoon: June Davis Finally Wins, Which Is Not Allowed


This cartoon was thought of by Grace, co-written by me and Grace, drawn by me, and colored by Frank Young. A team effort!


If you support these cartoons on Patreon, that will tip the balance of the universe just enough in the right direction so that Thanos will lose. I’m not saying that if you don’t pledge and then fifty percent of all living creatures are killed, then it’ll be your fault. But I’m not not saying that, either.


Grace writes:

I love this cartoon.

I love collaborating with Barry, because it’s real collaboration.  He listens to my cartoon ideas, he listens to my scripting ideas, and we collaborate especially well in the word-by-word fine-tuning which we often do at the end.  Barry does the real heavy lifting with all of the cartooning, of course, which is not just “drawing”, but as I’ve come to learn from him also includes pacing, and what works to deliver a punchline.

And in this case, “punchline” is particularly apt, because for me, this one delivers a gut punch.  If I’m in a physical competition, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve lost.  It doesn’t matter how hard I’ve worked.  It doesn’t matter that people don’t know how low my testosterone levels are (and the T levels of trans female athletes are usually very low, well below the values for cis female athletes).  If I win, once, it was unfair.

This cartoon beautifully illustrates this, both confirmation bias and cherry-picking.  People believe what they believe, and they rationalize in support of it, and there’s no better way to rationalize than to cherry-pick the evidence and present only the evidence which supports your argument.

This cartoon does what the best advocacy cartoons all do:  it illustrates the point of a nuanced argument with a pithy example.

Thanks for making it real, Barry!


There was a photo circulating a couple of years ago, of two trans girl track athletes in Connecticut leading a footrace. It was circulated a lot among social media, and even printed in a couple of UK newspapers, with the implication (or, sometimes, explicit statement) that it was unfair for them to compete, cis girls had no chance of winning, etc..

The families of two of the cis girls who didn’t win that race even sued.

But a race isn’t a season. The two girls went on to lose some races (oddly enough, no UK newspaper reported that), and – as the judge wrote in his decision – statistically, there was no sign that other girls couldn’t beat them. By the end of the season, a girl who sued did so much better than them in one event that she became state champion.

That was very much in my mind as Grace and I batted the script for this back and forth, and as I drew it.


This one was fun and interesting to draw. I don’t draw sports or jocks often, so it’s well outside my comfort zone. I wanted to show how lean and muscular serious runners are, but I didn’t want to draw muscles in so much detail it looks like an anatomy book.

I think Frank had a challenge, too, since he had to subtly make each panel’s color atmosphere look different enough so that readers could see them as taking place on separate days. Frank did a really nice job here; he used white highlights to really pop June out, and did nice details like the subtle clouds behind June in panel two.

I’m also pleased that I got to do a “stacked” layout for three of the panels. It’s the sort of layout trickery that comics can excel out, but which rarely seems called for in political cartoons.


I drew June with one enormous hand, as big as her head, in one panel, and didn’t notice until after Frank had colored the cartoon. When I pointed it out to Frank, he said he hadn’t noticed, but now he couldn’t not see it. (We fixed the hand.)


Yet Another Example of Pervasive Anti-Billionaire Bigotry is now available for anyone to buy, in either softcover or hardcover.

It’s really big – about 8.5×11″, containing about 200 cartoons, plus a ton of process drawings and prose. It could conceivably be a great birthday present for a progressive you love, or for a conservative you hate.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has eight panels. Every panel shows a runner on a track, and in all but the last panel she’s actively running a race. She has her hair done in two afro puffs, and is lean but muscular. Let’s call her June.

In every panel but the last two, June is wearing a different outfit, but all her outfits consist of a tank top with shorts. She also always has a paper taped to her shirt with a number on it, but the number changes form panel to panel.

There’s an additional tiny “kicker” panel under the last panel of the cartoon.

PANEL 1

We see three runners during a race, but the panel is laid out to focus on June, who looks tired and not like she’s winning this race. (One of the other girls we can see is well ahead of her.)

UNSEEN ANNOUNCER: And here’s June Davis in fifth place!

PANEL 2

A profile picture of June running; we can see bits of the runners ahead and behind her, but they’re mostly off panel. June again looks tired, her mouth open as if she’s gasping for air, cartoon sweat beads flying.

UNSEEN ANNOUNCER: …June Davis in sixth place!

PANEL 3

A close-up of June running, looking very determined. It’s raining, and big raindrops splash off of her shoulders and head.

UNSEEN ANNOUNCER: …in second place!

Panels four through six together take up the space of any of the other panels in the cartoon, as if one of those panels had been divided into three panels. This is meant to indicate that a lot of time, and a lot of races, are passing.

PANEL 4

A longish shot, showing June from the upper legs up. Again, June runs and we can see other runners behind and in front, although they’re mostly cut off by the panel borders. June looks determined but also annoyed.

UNSEEN ANNOUNCER: …in fourth place!

PANEL 5

A closer shot, showing June from the elbows up. She looks like she’s working hard, with a determined expression and her arms pumping hard.

UNSEEN ANNOUNCER: …in third place!

PANEL 6

A long shot shows June’s whole figure as she runs hard (and again, with girls in front and behind). She’s leaning forward, a picture of speed, with the background done as horizontal speed lines.

UNSEEN ANNOUNCER: …in fifth place!

PANEL 7

A shot of June, arms raised, happy but exhausted looking, as she hits the… What is that called? The big ribbon that the runner in first place gets to run through and break? Whatever that’s called, June has hit it; it’s stretching around her, about to rip.

UNSEEN ANNOUNCER: …it’s June Davis in first!

JUNE DAVIS (thought balloon): Finally!

PANEL 8

In the foreground, June is sitting on the track, leaning back on her arms and looking tired and sad. In the background, we can see two middle-aged people, both of whom look angry. They’re both dressed in “casual nice” clothing. The man has a black mustache and his arms crossed; the woman is raising and shaking a fist.

MUSTACHE MAN: Dammit! The trans “girl” won!

WOMAN: Unfair advantage! Real girls have no chance!

TINY KICKER PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP

The mustache man is talking harshly to June, sticking his finger in her face. June, again, looks tired and sad.

MUSTACHE MAN: You can’t have a chance to win. It wouldn’t be fair.


June Davis Finally Wins, Which Is Not Allowed | Barry Deutsch on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues, Sports, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | Comments Off  

Cartoon: A Living Wage For Everybody


Another collab with Becky Hawkins.


I want to point out that the new cartoon collection, Yet Another Example of Pro-Billionaire Bigotry, is now available on Amazon!


If you like these cartoons, then you’d probably also like running your tongue along a gritty dark staircase bannister, but that sounds gross and people wouldn’t understand so you keep it secret. It’s not a sex thing or anything, it’s more about texture. Also, patreon.


Becky says:

My biggest challenge was drawing hands convincingly holding up the protest signs. I looked up photos of fast food workers protesting. While I was looking for unwitting hand models, I noticed that a lot of the protesters wore their work uniforms and protested outside of their workplaces. This gave me the idea to give everyone matching red and yellow shirts, and to draw the suggestion of a brick fast food restaurant next to a huge parking lot.

I also took photos of myself holding a large sketchbook to mimic the specific sign-holding poses I wanted to draw. (Barry, if you want to show the nice patrons a reference photo, there are a few in the file.) I probably did equal parts tracing and fudging the hands in the end.

Barry and I both go back and forth between drawing big-headed cartoon characters, and people with more naturalistic proportions. Unfortunately, sometimes we go back and forth in the same comic strip. The first version of this cartoon had two big-headed panels and two small-headed panels. I was happy with each individual drawing, but in order to get them consistent, I sized the heads up and down in Photoshop before doing the final art.


(Back to Barry.)

This is so atypical of my political cartoons, because it’s nice. There’s no bad guy, and everyone is happy and friends by the final panel. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve done a cartoon this nice before.

It’s also unusual in having two silent panels. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before, either.


The moral of the cartoon is, workers are better off banding together against bosses than fighting each other. And that’s true, even if it’s also a really, really, really obvious point.

Unions – the most powerful form of worker solidarity – even increase wages for non-union workers. From an Economic Policy Institute report:

By bringing workers’ collective power to the bargaining table, unions are able to win better wages and benefits for working people—reducing income inequality as a result. …

When unions are strong, they set wage standards for entire industries and occupations; they make wages more equal within occupations; and they close pay gaps between white workers and workers of color.

Even employers who don’t have to deal with a union directly, still have to compete for workers with unionized workplaces, forcing them to raise wages higher than they would if unions didn’t exist.

Over the long term, nothing has been worst for progressives in the US than the decline of unions.

Unfortunately, workers in the US simply don’t have enough protections for the right to unionize. The Protecting The Right To Organize Act (aka the PRO Act) has passed the House twice, and is supported by 59% of likely voters. But business groups oppose it, and because of the filibuster the PRO Act can’t pass in the Senate.

Meanwhile, pursuing non-union ways to improve workers’ situations – like living wage bills in the states that can pass them – is one way we can move forward, despite the filibuster.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, all showing the same scene – a white man wearing a tee shirt (the shirt front features an illustration of a bald eagle) is talking to a black woman holding a sign. Her sign says “Fast Food Workers Need A Living Wage!” She has short dark hair and is wearing hoop earrings and cat’s-eye glasses.

Behind her we can see other demonstrators, with signs that say things like “Fair Pay” and “Raise the Raise” and the like. All the demonstrators are wearing bright red shirts with yellow collars, suggestive of fast food worker uniforms.

A building partly visible in the background has the sort of architecture I associate with fast food restaurants.

PANEL 1

The man is talking to the woman, looking a bit angry and raising a forefinger in a lecture-y fashion. The woman is listening thoughtfully.

MAN: If burger flippers get a “living wage,” they’ll make more than me! How is that fair?

PANEL 2

The man has folded his arms and is listening but with an obviously hostile expression. The woman has lowered her sign a bit and is speaking with a bit of fervor.

WOMAN: It’s not fair! Because if people getting a living wage are making more than you… Then you’re being seriously underpaid.

PANEL 3

The “camera” backs up, so we’re now at a bit of a difference. The man looks extremely taken aback. No one speaks.

PANEL 4

Apparently a little time has passed. The man, now smiling, has joined the protestors, standing next to the woman (who is also smiling). The man is now holding a sign which says “A Living Wage for Everybody!”


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Union Issues | 7 Comments  

Cartoon: Fat Suits in Movies


If you like these cartoons, then if you support them you’ll get a warm glow of well-being, fizzling outward from your brain until you can feel it tingling in your toes, and then you’ll feel really confident and cheerful about talking to strangers and then you’ll decide to go out dancing and wait no that’s not supporting my cartoons that’s just being on drugs never mind.


I went back and forth on if the actor in this strip should be female or male. Either way seemed to be too specific. Then I remembered that in Doonesbury – especially in older strips – Garry Trudeau would sometimes draw strips that were four panels of nothing but Mike Doonesbury in an armchair and watching a TV. Because readers saw the TV from the side, we didn’t actually see what was on the TV screen – which somehow made it funnier,

Never let it be said that I hesitate to swipe from my betters.

(I always find it disturbing how close Mike sits to the TV in those old strips. You’re gonna destroy your eyes, Mike!)

(Of course, nowadays we all sit that closer or closer to our computer and tablet screens.)

I also decided to swipe Trudeau’s signature small smile appearing on the character’s face in the fourth panel. Having the character only react in the final panel encourages readers to see the character as a stand-in for themselves, sharing their amusement – or at least, that’s how I interpret it.

And what the heck, I stuck a framed picture of Zonker Harris, one of the Doonesbury characters, on the wall.

(I love Doonesbury, by the way. Very few cartoonists match Garry Trudeau’s record of being consistently funny and good for fifty years. Half of everything I knew about politics in the 70s and 80s, I learned from reading Doonesbury.)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a woman at her kitchen sink. Although each panel shows the same scene, each panel is shown from a slightly different angle, which would have required redrawing the perspective every panel. Gosh, that probably was a whole bunch of work by the cartoonist. I’m just saying that as a neutral observation from an objective observer, it’s not like these transcripts are written by the cartoonist himself. Cough. Cough.

The woman is fat, and is wearing blue jeans and a pink tee shirt that shows a planet sticking its tongue out on the back, and has the words “don’t panic” written in large friendly letters on the front. Her orange hair is in a messy bun.

On the countertop next to her is an open laptop, and throughout the cartoon the voices we hear are coming from the laptop. The laptop is positioned with the screen facing away from the “camera,” so we can’t see what’s on the screen.

PANEL 1

The woman is washing a dish over the kitchen sink. Voices are coming from her laptop, but she doesn’t appear to be paying attention.

VOICE 1 – TV HOST: You’ve been on People’s “hottest celebs” list six times… but in your new movie, you wear a fat suit! It’s a ”huge” transformation!

VOICE 2 – CELEB: Ha ha! It was quite a learning experience.

PANEL 2

The woman continues to wash dishes, but glances at the laptop screen.

TV HOST: Interesting! Can you tell us some things you learned?

CELEB: First, it’s disturbing to play a part designed to let audiences enjoy being grossed out by “my” body.

PANEL 3

A close up of the laptop on the counter.

CELEB: Second, I learned it’s exploitative to wear a marginalized person’s body as a costume. And I learned there are plenty of fat actors who’d love this opportunity but weren’t given a shot.

PANEL 4

The woman has stopped washing dishes and is leaning against the counter and watching the laptop screen. She looks amused.

CELEB: Finally, I learned that no one should see this stupid movie. Excuse me, my manager appears to be having a coronary.


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat | Comments Off  

If Mom Hadn’t Gotten That Abortion I Wouldn’t Be Here


A PoliCartoon by Becky Hawkins and I!


If you like these policartoons and would like to help us make more, go join a secret government facility where you’ll go through intensive training to become a highly effective and remoseless assassin. Be prepared to have your current identity wiped out and your fingerprints burned off. Be prepared to show you’re serious by killing your junior high school principal. Then, once you’re fully trained, break out of the facility, leaving bombs behind to wipe out your trainers and all the other assassins, then go on a killing spree murdering all political cartoonists aside from me and my collaborators, so I’ll have no more competition. You better make all the deaths look like accidents, though, so no suspicion falls on me. That would be really helpful, thank you in advance.


Becky says:

For some reason, I read this script and immediately decided it takes place in a food cart pod. We’re still having pleasant weather in Portland leading up to the rainy season, so I guess sunshine and picnic tables are on my mind. Also, it makes sense as a place where a child might be unattended for a minute, while the parent is waiting for the food to be ready.

Barry’s stage directions in panel 4 say, “The girl’s parent shows up. There’s a few ways to take this – one is having the parent be a big, intimidating looking guy, maybe like a biker.” I modeled him after a coworker at my day job, because when I think of a combination of “nurturing” and “could probably wrestle a bear”? Children’s theater stage crew!

I thought about defining “food cart pod” for those of you who don’t live in Portland, but then I realized there’s no need: Becky’s drawing makes it perfectly clear what a food cart pod is. I don’t know how many food cart pods are in Portland – dozens – but they’re wonderful. Like mall food courts but with better food (more variety and almost all independently owned) and your foodie friends won’t refuse to go.


It always frustrates me when I hear pro-lifers make the “what if your mom had aborted you argument?”

Partly it’s that obviously, if my mom had aborted me, I would never have known or cared. That’s what never existing means.

But also because most people who have abortions are also parents (either currently or in the future). For many, they’re not choosing never to be parents; they’re choosing to control when they become parents.

Two people I love – probably more than two overall, but two that I know of – would never have been born if their mother hadn’t been able to control the course of her life by having an abortion.

Sure, any aborted fetus might have grown up to be a wonderful unique person. But any aborted fetus could also mean that a different but also wonderful person will be born later on. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t see any reason to consider one potential life more valuable than another.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same scene: A bright sunny day, a seating area with several round picnic tables with attached seating, and in the background many brightly colored food carts. In the foreground, a little girl – to me she looks about nine years old – is sitting at a table, talking with an adult man with orange hair, who is carrying a sign that says “PRO LIFE.”

PANEL 1

The little girl is sitting facing a table, but turning around to face the pro-life guy, who is earnestly talking to her.

PRO LIFE DUDE: Have you ever thought about if your mother had an abortion? The wonderful, unique person who is you wouldn’t exist! Isn’t that sad?

PANEL 2

Now the little girl is earnestly talking to the pro-life dude, who listens, surprised by what she’s saying.

GIRL: Years before I was born, my mom did have an abortion. That’s why she could go to college and meet my dad. I exist because mom got that abortion!

PANEL 3

The girl, smiling, waves one arm enthusiastically and points to herself with her other thumb. The pro-lifer grows angry.

GIRL: So since I’m a wonderful unique person, isn’t it good that my mom had the abortion?

PRO LIFE DUDE: NO! No one should ever have an abortion!

PANEL 4

A huge man – he’s very tall and also has very thick, strong-looking arms, and has a thick beard all the way down to his broad chest – is walking up to the table, his arms laden with food from the food carts. He’s smiling amiably. The little girl has turned to the huge guy and is shrugging. The pro-lifer is smiling as best he can but also comically trembling with fear.

HUGE GUY: Hi Munchkin! Who’s your friend?

GIRL: I dunno, but he was just saying I should never have been born.


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc | Comments Off