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This cartoon was drawn by the one and only Kevin Moore!
Hello from the east coast! When I originally wrote these words (in December 2021), I was in upstate New York (Ithaca is upstate, right?), visiting my family and basically not leaving my sister’s house at all (because plague).
The trip from Portland was okay. I’m someone who usually enjoys layovers and doesn’t mind a long trip, so I booked a flight that include two 4-5 hour layovers without giving it much thought, bringing the whole trip to about 19 hours – long even for me, but not impossibly long.
What I hadn’t considered is that, although in the past I haven’t much minded spending long trips like that, that’s because in the past I didn’t need to wear a mask the whole time. I don’t find surgical-style masks that uncomfortable – I even sometimes forget that I’m wearing a mask at all – but 19 hours is a reallllllllly long time to go masked. It made me feel very lucky to have a job that I can do unmasked from home.
From a creating-cartoons perspective, the big news about this trip – and by “big,” I mean, “it matters to me and no one else in the entire universe has any reason to care” – is that for the first time in well over a decade I’m traveling without my Windows Cintiq tablet. I recently bought a used IPad Pro I found on Craigslist, and I decided I could do with just the IPad this trip.
Pros: So lightweight! The IPad weighs much less than the Windows tablet I draw most of my comics on (which is a Wacom Mobilestudio Pro 13, for those of you wondering), plus it doesn’t require a power brick to be hauled around. With the Wacom I‘d never take it out of my bag unless I was at a table and knew I’d be planted there for at least an hour, because it was too unwieldy; with the IPad I can take it out, use it for five minutes, move on, etc., without giving it a second thought.
Cons: I actually miss Windows. Maybe it’s because I’ve been using Windows for so long, but many extremely simple tasks that seem intuitive to me on Windows – like knowing where files are saved and being able to open them easily from any compatible program – can be weirdly difficult and finicky on the IPad.
Anyway, so far, so good.
In a column about how news media frames “the homeless problem,” Adam Johnson writes:
This Sept 24 NBC4 Los Angeles segment entitled “Streets of Shame” led off with the anchor telling the viewer that, “NBC 4’s John Cádiz Klemack spoke with some homeowners who say they are looking forward to fewer tents and fewer trash.” Needless to say, no homeless people or homeless advocacy groups were quoted in the story. It’s simply taken for granted that the most important moral constituent in a story about displacing homeless people (some of whom may or may not end up in shelters, according to the report) is the “homeowner,” rather than the party clearly suffering from massive social failures of the state and housing market.
I’ve noticed and read about similar biases in how news reports on labor issues and on sex workers – the sources are almost always business owners, the chamber of commerce, police, “rescue” agencies. Labor unions and sex workers are rarely quoted, and even more rarely are their views used to frame the story, the way business owners and cops‘ views are routinely used to frame stories. And of course, fat acceptance advocates are virtually never part of any story about “the obesity crisis.”
I’ve wanted to do a strip about this for a while, but the ideas I’ve had – all focusing on the news anchors – never seemed right. The issue is fundamentally about the news, and who it leaves out – but doing a strip focused on journalists seemed to just be another example of what I’m trying to criticize. It wasn’t until I thought of focusing on the people the news usually leaves out, listening to the news, that I had a strip that I thought was worth completing.
The protest signs in panel 3 weren’t made up by me; I saw them all in photos of sex worker demonstrations. The “fuck the patriarchy but not for free” sign in particular was too great not to use.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has five panels, each of which shows a different scene.
Three people sit on the ground, warming themselves around a small fire burning in a large tin can. We can see their tento behind them; from their clothes and context, we can infer that they’re homeless. All three of them are watching the screen of a smartphone that the woman in the center is holding. A TV Anchor’s voice comes from the smartphone.
ANCHOR: Welcome to WMSM, where we bring you the objective news!
ANCHOR: Tonight’s stories begin with homelessness! Our reporter spoke with homeowners who say they want fewer tents and trash. No homeless people are interviewed.
A fat man sits in a coffee shop (we can see the coffee shop’s logo on the window behind him). He’s holding an open laptop in his lap, and watching the screen. The News Anchor talks from the computer.
ANCHOR: A new report on how the obesity crisis is crushing America! We’ll interview a weight loss guru and the author of a new diet book.
ANCHOR: But no fat people, let alone fat acceptance advocates.
A group of protestors, dressed in warm winter clothing, stands outside of a building, holding up protest signs. The signs say “sex work is work!,” “Outlaw poverty not prostitutes,” “rights not rescue,” “nothing about us without us,” and “fuck the patriarchy but not for free.”
In the foreground, a woman with pink hair and cat eye sunglasses is frowning at her smartphone as she watches something on it. A news anchor’s voice comes from her phone.
ANCHOR: We’ll then have a segment about prostitution, which will quote “rescue” groups and the police—
ANCHOR: But no sex workers or sex worker advocates.
A waitress in a diner is about to pour coffee into a customer’s mug, but has paused and is giving major side eye to a news anchor on a small TV placed on top of a display case filled with pies. The waitress is wearing an apron over her outfit, and a name tag, and we can see a pen tucked behind her ear. This is the first time in this cartoon we’ve seen the anchor’s face, which is grinning hugely.
ANCHOR: Next, the minimum wage: Does it mean you’ll never work again? To find out, we’ll interview restaurant owners—
ANCHOR: But no workers or union organizers.
This panel shows the news studio where the anchors – there are two of them, the man we saw on TV in panel 4, and a woman sitting next to him at the news desk – are speaking to a large TV camera. A bored looking cameraman stands behind the camera. Behind the anchors, we can see a backdrop showing a graphic of skyscraper silhouettes, and to the side is the backdrop for a weather report. Both anchors have huge, inane grins, and the female anchor is giving the camera the finger.
MALE ANCHOR: WMSM news — we literally could not be any more objective!
FEMALE ANCHOR: And if anyone says otherwise, you won’t see them here!
Hm. Out here in Chicago I’ve certainly seen labor organizers and workers interviewed about minimum wage legislation. I can’t recall very many stories on prostitution and obesity much (except when Cook County had the idea to impose a 1 cent/ounce tax on beverages – that didn’t go well for the Cook County Board members at all). And while there’s certainly homeless people in Chicago, we don’t see the huge encampments that you do in cities where it doesn’t get below 0 in the winter. They tend to congregate in areas such as underneath overpasses or bridges where they are out of the wind and there’s not a lot of private property owners or pedestrians to complain. You don’t see city streets lined with tents such as I have seen in San Francisco, so it’s “out of sight, out of mind” for a lot of people.
I love that the sex workers are smiling, save the one looking at the news of course. I searched for photos and found there were many smiling protestors in the photos of workers at protests.
Thanks! I honestly can’t remember if I specified smiling in my script or if Kevin just went that way, but I agree that it’s better for being done that way.