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This week1 I’m moving out of the studio I’ve been in for… 12 years? Longer? (Update: ten years.) A very long time. It’s been an amazing space to work in, but the building owner has new uses in mind. And all good things end eventually.
Me and some friends already have a new studio rented, but I’ve put off actually packing and moving until the very last moment. (My lease on the old space runs out this Friday!).
So I lettered this cartoon, and am typing this message to you, from an oddly empty room, with most of the furniture gone and piles of packed cardboard boxes around. It’s a bit surreal, but moving always is.
So anyway… This cartoon! The art is by Becky Hawkins, who did an amazing job. I just love the variety of expressions and little movements she put in there. (It was also Becky’s idea to have it be a cable TV yapping show of some sort; in my original sketch, it was just three people talking on zoom.)
This cartoon is about a specific aspect of the so-called “cancel culture” issue – pronouns and the supposedly apocalyptic results of getting a pronoun wrong. Many of my friends and acquaintances are transgender in various ways, and – being a big dork – I’ve more than once gotten people’s pronouns wrong. It’s something I’m especially liable to do if I haven’t known the person long, or if I have known the person long but they’ve only recently announced their pronoun preference.
Nine hundred and ninety nine times out of a thousand, there’s really nothing more to it than saying “oops, sorry” and moving on. But that’s not how right-wingers – most of whom have never known any out transgendered people outside of Twitter – tell it. Their interest – both emotional and, in the case of media personalities, financial – lies in demonizing transgender people as much as possible. And they egg each other on to greater extremes. (“Transgenderism is the new fascism” is something I actually saw somebody say!)
So this cartoon is an attempt to illustrate – and make fun of – that dynamic.
The original last line of this cartoon was “Thanks! So, about lunch…,” but that line rang really untrue in the age of Covid, so I changed it to them talking about a YouTube video.
With Portland so much in the news this month, I’ve more than once found myself reassuring out of state friends and relatives that I’m perfectly safe and things are actually very quiet here (everything you see on the news takes place in approximately six blocks of downtown). It reminded me of this cartoon Becky and I created almost a year ago. But looking at the last panel of that cartoon actually makes me sad, because that entire style of living has been cancelled, and who knows for how long, by Covid.
(A very, VERY minor silver lining: I do feel that my visual vocabulary for showing people talking over the internet has really been expanded by Covid.)
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels, plus an additional tiny “kicker” panel underneath the cartoon.
The first three panels all show some sort of news or talk show, in which the screen is divided “zoom” style to show three pundits who are talking to each other from separate locations. There’s a large window, for whomever is currently speaking, and then two smaller windows with the other two pundits.
The three are: A white man with a beard and mustache, in front of a cityscape background; a white woman with brown hair and a blue blouse, in front of red-white-and-blue stripes; and a white woman with blonde hair and an off-white blouse, with a framed something on the wall and a houseplant behind her. I will call these characters CITYSCAPE, STRIPES, and HOUSEPLANT.
At the bottom of the largest window, a chyron – which is the word for captions at the bottom of news programs – displays changing messages. It is presumably scrolling, so not all of each message fits on screen at once.
Cityscape looks angry; the other two look grimly concerned.
CITYSCAPE: These “transgenders” jump down your throat if you don’t use their “preferred pronoun.” That’s why I’m not friends with any.
CHYRON: …ew study proves liberals are stupid…
Houseplant, in the main window, is making airquotes. Stripes is screaming, her fists raised in the air. Cityscape has his arms crossed and looks serious.
HOUSEPLANT: I don’t know any “gender nonbinaries,” but I heard that anyone who uses the “wrong” pronoun is fired and blacklisted!
STRIPES: Transgenderism is the new fascism!
CHYRON: …God hates who you whate, says sour…
Stripes, now in the main window, looks very frightened and wide-eyed, like she’s about to cry. In the smaller windows, Cityscape looks sad and Houseplant is shaking her head with her arms akimbo.
STRIPES: Can you imagine the Hell of actually associating with these people? Watching every word… Living in constant fear… Knowing that the slightest misstep means you’re cancelled! Forever!
CHYRON: Scientist: Watching Fox cures cance…
This panel shows a person with curly hair in a low ponytail and a purple shirt holding up a tablet. On the tablet’s screen we can see the other person in the conversation, who has glasses and bright pink hair. Ponytail looks concerned, Pinkhair is smiling and looks cheery.
PINKHAIR: By the way, you said “he.” I use “they.”
PONYTAIL: Oops! Thanks, I’ll try not to do that again.
PINKHAIR: Thanks! Hey, did you see that turtle video?
TINY KICKER PANEL UNDER THE CARTOON
An angry short-haired white man is yelling and pointing at Barry, who looks taken aback.
ANGRY MAN: This cartoon is bull! I “misgender” transgenders for fun on twitter all the time, and lots of them get angry!
- Actually, this was written and posted to Patreon back in July. [↩]