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Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it! And to those of you that don’t celebrate it but do enjoy saying “merry Christmas!”
I love doing pro-union cartoons, and I’m proud that my cartoons have appeared in various union newsletters over the years.
It’s not a subject I see often enough in political cartoons. And not only are unions essential in and of themselves, they’re also a powerful force for progressive politics – or they can be.
The idea for this cartoon is pretty basic: Elves at the North Pole try to form a union, and management (Santa) tries to stop them using anti-union arguments and techniques corporations use in the real world. It’s an easy-to-understand premise that can support a lot of gags.
The nice thing about a cartoon like this one is that doing a gag per panel gives me several bites at the funny apple. Joke in one panel doesn’t strike you as funny? Well, then, go try the next one. And the one after that. Surely at least one of these will amuse you!
This one took a while to draw, primarily because there are 20 different figures (or partial figures) visible in the cartoon, and they all had to fit in smaller-than-usual panels with quite a lot of dialog. (And then Frank Young had to color all those figures. Sorry, Frank!)
Santa was very easy to draw. Rudolph took more effort, but it was totally worth it. I don’t know why, but that’s the panel in this cartoon that makes me laugh.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has six panels. Each panel has a large caption at the top, in a big friendly font that’s colored black, red, and green.
CAPTION: How Bosses Try To Beat The Union
The panel shows seven angry-looking elves who are either demonstrating or on strike. Behind them is a large banner that says “Elves United Cannot Be Defeated.” One elf holds up a sign which says “No Justice No Toys!,” and another holds up a sign which says “Santa Unfair!”
CAPTION: Playing the Family Card
This panel shows Santa, with a big smile and arms stretched out like he’s about to hug someone, talking to a skeptical-looking elf with crossed arms. Santa is wearing the traditional Santa red pants and black boots, and suspenders and a white tee shirt.
SANTA: I’ve always thought of us as family, not as boss and workers.
ELF: What’s my name?
SANTA: um… Elfie? Elfo?
CAPTION: Predicting Catastrophe
In the background, we see Santa standing at a lectern, making a speech and looking stern. In the foreground, one elf cheerfully whispers to the elf next to them.
SANTA: If the elves form a union, that will be the end of Christmas forever!
ELF: Don’t worry. Hannukah would hire us in a second!
CAPTION: Divide and Conquer
Santa, grinning big, is talking to Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, raising a finger to make a point. Rudolph, looking a little angry, talks back.
SANTA: Get the elves back to work, and you’ll lead the sleigh every year, fog or no fog!
RUDOLPH: No deal, Santa! Rudolph ain’t playing your reindeer games!
CAPTION: Manufacturing Dissent
Santa is sitting on the floor, wearing the full Santa outfit, plus a fake long nose and fake pointy ears, in a pathetically bad attempt to disguise himself as an elf. He’s talking to two elves, one of whom is slapping their forehead in a “I don’t believe this” gesture, while the other is grinning (almost laughing) and talking to Santa.
SANTA: Speaking as an ordinary elf, I don’t trust these unionizers! No sir!
CAPTION: But Eventually…
In the background, we see two children, looking happy, next to a Christmas Tree. They have packages on the floor around them, and one of the kids is holding an open box, and looking at a slip of paper he presumably just pulled out of the box.
In the foreground, Santa, wearing the full traditional Santa outfit and with a big bag slung over one shoulder, is walking away from the kids, but he turns his head back and speaks, looking grumpy.
CHILD 1: It says “Proudly manufactured by union elves.”
CHILD 2: Cool!
SANTA: Ah, shuddup!