Cartoon: The Existence of Trains Debate

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This one was a bit challenging to draw – I normally like having my characters move around a bit and “talk with their hands” and so on,  That really wasn’t a possibility here, so I had to rely on moving the “camera” around and facial expressions to keep things visually active.

I’m really happy with the “Crash” lettering – that was fun – except that I don’t like the way one leg of the “A” was drawn. I’m resisting the urge to go redraw that bit, because one great bit of advice for comics is “once a page is done don’t finish it.” But I might give in to the urge, if that “A” is still bugging me a few months from now.

Global warming is such a frustrating issue because we – liberals and conservatives – are tied together. And if you’re tied to someone who refuses to move, chances are, you’re not moving.

Republicans, by and large, are wedded to denying that human-caused climate change is happening at all. (This is very much President Trump’s opinion). This cartoon was me trying to get that “we’re tied together and that means even those of us who aren’t lost to all reason are screwed” feeling into a cartoon.

Transcript of Cartoon

This cartoon has nine panels, arranged in a three by three grid, with a small “kicker” panel under the bottom of the cartoon.

Panel 1

We see two people on the train tracks. They are not tied to the tracks, but they are tied together, so neither one could move without the other. One person has black hair in a pony tail; the other has wavy hair and is wearing capri pants. Ponytail has a panicked expression, while Capri looks wryly amused.

PONYTAIL: I can’t believe we’re tied together on the train tracks.

CAPRI: Are we sure these are train tracks?

Panel 2

Ponytail turns her head back towards Capri to urgently suggest a plan.

PONYTAIL: If we work together, we can crawl off before a train comes.

CAPRI: There’s no evidence any train is coming.

Panel 3

Ponytail shouts a bit, angry, and Capri laughs.

PONYTAIL: The train comes at this time every day!

CAPRI: HA! What’s happened in the past can’t predict the future.

Panel 4

Ponytail panics, yelling, and Capri responds with amused dismissal.

PONYTAIL: The tracks are shaking!

CAPRI: it’s natural shaking. Haven’t you heard of earthquakes.

Panel 5

Ponytail angrily yells, and Capri sneers. (It’s a mix of a grin and a sneer).

PONYTAIL: LISTEN TO ME! I’m a train engineer, and

CAPRI: Pfft! “Engineers” are just in it for the money.

Panel 6

A close up of their heads. Ponytail is terrified now, sweat droplets flying off her. Capri remains amused.

PONYTAIL: Let’s get off the tracks, just in case! HURRY!

CAPRI: Expend all that effort over what might be nothing?

Panel 7 

Ponytail yells, her eyes as big as dessert plates.


CAPRI: You’re being hysterical.

Panel 8

This panel contains only a sound effect, in big overlapping letters, with stars flying around: CRASH

Panel 9

The same two characters are hovering in the sky, in angel outfits, including wings and halos.  Capri is shrugging but still smiling; Ponytail is yelling angrily.

CAPRI ANGEL: Okay, maybe there was a train.


Small kicker panel under the bottom of the cartoon.

A bald guy talks to a fat guy with a ponytail and glasses (i.e., me, the cartoonist).

BALD GUY: Cute cartoon, but what if some readers don’t get that it’s an allegory for global warming denial?

BARRY: I’ll find some subtle way to let them know!

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4 Responses to Cartoon: The Existence of Trains Debate

  1. 1
    Petar says:

    Ampersand, the sound of a train engine hitting a couple of bodies is a splat, not a crash.

    By the way, nice cartoon exposing the evils of pacifism. If only the Hispanic girl had gotten hold of Whitey’s fingers, and snapped them one by one until the obstructionist was prodded into action…

    Sarcasm aside, you do not see the situation the way I do. In my worldview, the people who can do something are not tied to the tracks. They are sitting aside, vaguely aware that maybe they may will have look harder for servants once the train clears the tracks of plebs, but consoling themselves that the survivors will be desperate to be allowed in the train-proof (or at least train-resistant) enclaves.

  2. 2
    nobody.really says:

    I love this cartoon. I got to see it early, so I’ve had to wait until now to say how much I love it.

    I LOVE IT.

    And that kicker panel–have you no shame? At long last, sir, have you NO shame?

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Nobody has more shame than me, sir!

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    (Oh, and thank you. I’m really glad you liked this strip. :-) )