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This cartoon was originally published by The Nib.
When one of my cartoons is published by a site – in this case by the wonderful folks at The Nib – I don’t have any control over when the cartoon is published. This cartoon, for example, was drawn months ago. But since it’s not connected to anything in the news cycle, The Nib held on to it until they had a hole in their publication schedule (or so I assume). Which is fine with me – the cartoon is seen by many more people this way – but it’s odd to be waiting for my cartoons to show up, like a bus that doesn’t keep to any particular schedule.
Anyhow, they’ve published it now (yay!).
One thing that made this cartoon weird experience is that, a couple of months after selling it, I couldn’t find the email where I’d discussed it with The Nib folks, and I started worrying that I’d just imagined selling it. I finally gave up and emailed my editors at The Nib to ask them if I’d really sold it or if I’d just been having freelancer delusions. That was an odd email to write.
Anyway, about this cartoon: Everyone who I’ve shown this cartoon to has had the same reaction – a rueful nod or chuckle by the time they read the third panel, since by then it’s pretty obvious where this is going, and then they smile and say “yup, exactly” or something like that.
For literally my entire life, there’s been this push/pull between the Democratic party and its constituents from marginalized groups. It’s easy to see the electorial logic behind this – the Democrats want to win, and one way to do that is to go for the marginal voters, that tiny minority of voters who could go for either party. But that alienates the base – and rightly so – and the Democrats can’t win without their base, either. Part of the fight is always fighting to keep the Democratic party from triangulating its base right out of the party.
(Every time I read an interview with a group of could-go-either-way voters I get depressed, because they generally don’t follow politics closely and have virtually no idea of what either candidate’s positions are, and these ignorants are the people who decide who runs the country.)
As far as the art goes, I think it’s all right. At the time I finished this cartoon, I was exhausted from drawing all these tiny figures and decided that adding more detailed coloring (shading and highlights) would take forever and not actually add anything to the gag or the readers’ experience. But looking at it now, months later, I wish I had done the shading. Maybe I’ll go in and add it sometime.
I do like the way that some characters who are barely visible in panel one get gradually revealed as the strip goes on.
Transcript of Cartoon:
This panel shows a diverse group of people, all listening to a smiling white man in a suit and tie. In the background is a light blue curtain.
SUIT DUDE: If the Democrats ever want to win again, we need to focus on core issues, not secondary issues! Let’s start by putting reproductive rights behind that curtain.
The same scene, but now a woman who was in the front of the crowd in panel 1 is now gone.
SUIT: That’s better. Oh, and let’s put immigration issues behind the curtain. Black Lives Matter and all that race stuff better go too.
The same scene, but several more people – including a Latinx family and a Black man – are now out of sight. There’s now only eight people in the much-shrunk crowd (counting a baby held by a man in the crowd).
SUIT: Poverty issues and unions and lgb issues and single parents and definitely trans issues – get behind the curtain.
Now everyone is behind the curtain (which is bulging a bit due to how many people are crowded behind it), except the man in the suit. He turns to the viewer, and with a big grin and an expansive arm gesture, says:
SUIT: See? Now this is a winning coalition!