“Support me on Patreon or there will be no more cartoons,” said the Boy who Cried No Cartoons. But the people didn’t support him on Patreon, and yet there kept being more cartoons, and that’s how everybody knew the Boy Who Cried No Cartoons was bullshit. So everyone in town got together and dragged the Boy out of bed and beat the Boy with sticks, until the Boy burst open and hundreds of new cartoons burst out, and then everyone had all the cartoons they could eat and more they could burn for warmth and life was good.
I’ve been working on this cartoon gradually since the day the Dobbs decision (overturning Roe v Wade) was officially released.
This is the third cartoon of this format I’ve done – the previous ones were “The 24 Types of Libertarian” and “36 Annoying Anti-Feminists You Will Meet On The Internet.”
Of course, I didn’t create this format. I was inspired by some of Matt Groening’s “Life In Hell” comic strips, where he’d list “types” of people, like The 9 Types of High School Teacher. (I doubt Groening originated the format either – it seems like too useful a gag structure to have never existed before the 1980s.)
A few years ago, some folks on Tumblr spread the word that I was a racist who had plagiarized this format from a Black writer who did some of these “list” gags (although hers weren’t in comics form). I pointed out that not only did I swipe the format from Groening, who probably was using it before the writer in question had even been born, but in fact my “Libertarians” strip was published before the first list they were claiming I stole the format from.
Of course, once I appraised them of the situation, they apologized and posted retractions. I kid! They just blocked me so I couldn’t contact them anymore. Yeesh.
There’s not much for me to say about reproductive rights beyond the cartoon itself – especially since this the fourth abortion-related cartoons I’ve done since the Dobbs decision, so I’ve already written about this topic recently. But a few notes specific to this cartoon:
Panel two, “Woman’s Body Knower,” is a combination of things that sitting Republican congressmen have actually said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” was said by Representative Todd Akin. Representative Joe Walsh claimed that there isn’t “one instance” of an abortion being necessary to save a woman’s life. And during a congressional hearing about abortion rights, Representative Vito Barbieri had this exchange:
“Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?” Barbieri asked.
[Doctor] Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.
“Fascinating. That makes sense,” Barbieri said, amid the crowd’s laughter.
Since all three of the people I based the dialog on were Representatives, it would have made sense for the reporter to say “Thank you Congressman,” but there wasn’t much room and “Senator” has fewer letters in it. :-p
Panel 5, “Race Obsessed Whitey”: Why do so many right-wingers present their “evidence” in the form of YouTube videos that would take hours and hours to watch? If you’re a close friend of mine, then perhaps I’d be willing to watch a video that’s more than a minute wrong – perhaps – but otherwise, it’s not gonna happen.
Panel 6, “The Special One”: Many clinic workers have written about pro-lifers who protest abortion, then have one themselves when they get pregnant, then go back to protesting abortion.
Panel 9, “Justice is Shameless” is of course based on multiple conservative Supreme Court justices who, during their confirmation hearing, refused to say that they’d vote to overturn Roe but instead said platitudes about the importance of precedence.
They didn’t technically lie, and they never promised not to overturn Roe; but they were deliberately being less than candid, in a way that allowed allegedly pro-choice Senator Susan Collins to claim not to have voted for Judges who’d overturn Roe, even though she and everyone else knew she had.
Panel 10, “Poor oppressed male”: I probably shouldn’t bother making fun of men’s rights activists (MRAs), because they’re too obscure to be worth making fun of. But I can’t resist.
To be fair, although I have seen MRAs argue to ban abortion in the name of men’s equality, usually they argue the other way – they say fathers should be able to have “paper abortions,” also called “choice for men,” freeing them of all responsibility for their children. This is an idea which sounds okay on its face but gets worse and worse the more you think about it.
Panel 14, “Crisis Pregnancy Scare.” It took me so long to write this panel! It’s really hard to get a gag like this across in only 27 words, but there’s not room for more words than that in these teeny tiny panels. So I rewrote and rewrote, trying to find a more concise formulation. And even so, I had to make the illustration tinier than it is in most of the panels, so I could fit in the dialog.
Panel 15, “Really Cares About Women.” I’ve used this punchline once before, but it’s been over five years and it really fits in here, so I decided that it would be okay.
While writing this patreon post, I looked at my previous two cartoons with this format, and saw that I didn’t color those. Probably because drawing a strip like this takes forever., even without the colors. I’m pretty pleased with how the art in this one came out, though (at least right now).
Thanks to my friend P.H. Lee, who made a suggestion to me that eventually turned into panel 12.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has twelve panels, arranged in a 3×4 grid. Each cartoon has a large caption, and below the caption, a character that the caption refers to.
At the very top of the cartoon, large letters in a friendly font say:
A BRIEF TAXONOMY OF PRO LIFERS
A woman is weeping so copiously that the air around her is being filled with dozens of flying teardrops.
CAPTION: CRY BABY
WOMAN: Poor babies! Babies, babies babies! I’ll support anything to save babies!
WOMAN: (Just the unborn ones.)
An older man wearing a suit and tie is speaking to an off-panel reporter (although we can see the reporter’s hand holding out a microphone. In letters so tiny no one will ever read them, a logo on the mic says “LOGO”).
CAPTION: WOMAN’S BODY KNOWER
MAN: In a rape the woman’s body just shuts that down, abortion is never needed to save a life, and if a woman swallows a pill it comes out her vagina. It’s just science!
REPORTER: Thank you, Senator.
A man with a mustache holds up one hand, palm out, while his other hand holds a bible against his chest. He has his eyes closed and looks reverent. In the background, we can see some church-style fancy windows.
CAPTION: DEFINITELY NOT A THEOCRAT
MAN: I only want to force everyone to follow my religion’s rules. How does that make me a “theocrat”?
A redheaded woman is, through a cartoon effect, turning her head rapidly and showing two different expressions. The first expression is angry (and she’s shaking a fist on that side); the second expression is extremely calm, and she’s holding up an index finger as if making an academic point.
CAPTION: THE SLUT SHAMER
WOMAN: DIRTY SLUTS MUST BE PUNISHED!
WOMAN: I mean, “take responsibility for their choices.”
An angry white man, with messy hair and radiating waves of angry energy, is holding up his smartphone facing towards us, as he yells at us.
CAPTION: RACE OBSESSED WHITEY
MAN: Some Blacks have abortions which makes liberals the real racists MARGARET SANGER RACIST GENOCIDE!
MAN (smaller letters): Watch these videos they’ll only take 3 or 4 hours.
A teenage girl looks at the reader with wide, sincere eyes. She’s holding a big sign which says “Abortion Murders Babies.”
CAPTION: THE SPECIAL ONE
GIRL: I’m different! I needed my abortion! My whole life could have been upended!
A woman wearing a ringer tee-shirt with a smiley-face “Woman” symbol on it speaks angrily towards the viewer, waving her arms.
CAPTION: THE PRO-LIFE “FEMINIST”
WOMAN: Nothing’s more sexist than allowing women to make essential personal choices for ourselves!
A handsome man with tidy hair is grinning hugely as he speaks to us. He’s sweating copiously and his tongue is hanging out of his mouth, both cartoonese for “this person is a horny pervert.”
CAPTION: SADIST BY JESUS-PROXY
MAN: BABY-KILLER! Jesus will burn you in hell for a million years! Endless pain in the flames!
MAN (smaller letters): heh heh heh yeaaah
A man with well-coiffed hair, wearing a gray suit with a black tie, is sitting at a long table of the type Justices sit at during Senate confirmation hearings. He’s smiling and speaking into a microphone attached to the table.
CAPTION: JUSTICE IS SHAMELESS
MAN: If confirmed, I will overturn Roe, and we all know it. But I won’t be confirmed if I say that, so I’ll just say “it’s precedent.”
A man with short-cropped hair and a small pointed chin-beard is typing furiously into a laptop. His word balloon points to the laptop, indicating what he’s typing.
CAPTION: POOR OPPRESSED MALE
MAN: Men can’t have abortions! So abortion has to be illegal! That’s what equality means!
A hand is holding a smartphone. On the smartphone screen, we see a man with tidy hair and a worried expression cupping an ear with his hand, as if he’s miming listening to something.
CAPTION: DEAD BABIES LIVE MONEY!
MAN ON PHONE: Listen carefully and you’ll hear the unborn babies talking to you! They’re saying “donate $50 today!”
This panel shows two people standing side-by-side, a man and a woman, speaking directly to the reader. They are both well-dressed, him in a suit and tie, her in a blouse with puffy short sleeves, and carefully done makeup and hair. They’re both smiling.
CAPTION 1: THE HUMANITARIANS
MAN: So our laws make doctors turn away victims of pregnancy complications and child rape…
WOMAN: Well, boo hoo!
A woman stands alone in a field, talking directly to us with an angry expression while she points to something on her smartphone. She has curly black hair and is wearing a black dress with a square-cut neckline.
CAPTION: MISS PRIORITIES
WOMAN: Sure, our abortion bans might kill people – but what’s REALLY horrible is that a columnist used the term “pregnant PEOPLE!”
A young, wide-eyed teen is talking to an adult woman who is waring a white coat and has her hair in a bun. The woman is grinning but also pointing an accusing finger at the teen.
TEEN: Your ad said to come here for information about abortion?
WOMAN: We’re here to provide non-judgmental help! So tell me, why are you considering becoming a baby murderer?
CAPTION: CRISIS PREGNANCY SCARE
This panel has two captions, a title caption at the top like the previous fourteen panels had, and a smaller caption floating in the middle of the panel. The panel is otherwise blank.
CAPTION 1: REALLY CARES ABOUT WOMEN
CAPTION 2: No examples found.
Could I suggest that the last caption be changed to “genuinely cares about people who can get pregnant”? It’s wordier but more accurate. (Not that the average “pro-life” person cares about post-menopausal cis-women, trans-women, or cis-men either, but that’s a different comic.)
Dianne – that’s more accurate, but I think the point of the last panel is that anti-choicers claim to care about women. Most of them don’t believe there are other people who can get pregnant, and those who do accept that don’t usually claim to care about them. So the panel works as a contrast with their position by using their terminology.
Note that almost every other caption in the panel cannot be taken literally either, and the comic’s title uses the term “pro-lifer”, which is also inaccurate in any objective sense.
Good points, Eytan.
Oh dang! That reminds me of the time someone on the internet insisted Dvořák STOLE “New World Symphony” from John Williams’ soundtrack to Jaws.
The earliest such satiriacl list that I know of is the believed to have been composed in the 1950’s – BCE.* It is the ancient Egyptian Satire of the Trades (a.k.a. the Teaching of Khety), the body of which is a list describing why various trades are inferior to that of scribe (often copied by students studying to be scribes). It isn’t numbered, but each entry begins with a line in red ink to set it apart. The satirical list begins after a short introduction, with section four:
So, I suppose one could argue that such lists were originally an African form. However, I think it is far more likely that it is a common way for human minds to organize information, which is virtually ubiquitous in human cultures and probably predates writing.
*All surviving copies date to the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom ca. 1550-1070 BCE).
** All caps designate use of red in black-and-white translations of ancient Egyptian texts.
“Of course, once I appraised them of the situation, they apologized and posted retractions. I kid! They just blocked me so I couldn’t contact them anymore. Yeesh.”
You’d think people engaging in anti-racist activism, admirable in spirit even if they got this specific case wrong, would also be better at self-reflection, amicable concession and so on.
Görkem – you shouldn’t assume that just because someone accuses someone else of racism on social media, that the accuser is engaged in anti-racist activism. Especially when the accussee, like Barry, is someone who has publicly taken anti-racist positions. There are plenty of people who just like to cause chaos by throwing around accusations, and don’t actually care about the issues involved. There are some people who just want to be part of the crowd, and if their corner of tumblr is anti-racist, then they’ll make racism accusations because that’s what their friends do, even if they themselves don’t understand the issues. And finally there are also people who deliberately target progressives, trying to find evidence of “hypocrisy”.
The people who made the accusations against Barry might have belonged to any of the above groups. Or maybe not, but there’s no way of knowing.
You’re right Eytan, I think we can tell by their behaviour towards Barry that they’re not real anti-racists and don’t care about racism. Thanks for calling me out.
I’d suggest adding another: “The Clueless Blunderer” or maybe “The Responsibility Dodger”
This is this guy here: https://twitter.com/mjs_DC/status/1562093978488639489
South Carolina Rep. Neal Collins. I don’t want to bash him too hard, because he DOES recognize that he’s voted for something horrific that’s doing unspeakable violence to women, and yay for him for recognizing that!
But on the other hand, he should have known that beforehand, there’s no way he wasn’t told that this was the outcome many many times beforehand, and it’s the 100% predictable outcome of his actions.
Like, I’m glad he’s shocked at the damage done to women when he pointed a gun at them and pulled the trigger. I’m glad that he finds that upsetting. I just don’t understand why he’s surprised.
It’s the same thing with 14 year old girls forced to carry their rapist’s baby. It’s the same thing with ectopic pregnancies. Is it offensive to say that that’s what conservatives in favor of total abortion bans want? That they want to force teenage girls to be forced to carry their rapist’s baby, that they want women to die of ectopic pregnancies?
Maybe, and I understand attributing open malice and cruelty may be beyond the pale, but like … they got what they voted for. We told them this is what would happen. They ignored us and voted for it. Now this is what happened. It’s maddening to hear them say now, “but I didn’t want this!”
Seems like a real, “who shit my pants,” kind of situation.
Insert Arrested Development Dead Dove GIF.
Yeah, SC Rep. Collins recognized the link between the law he passed and a child losing her uterus, and cried “Dear God, What Have I Done!” After all, who could have foreseen the harm these laws can do?
The cynic in me thinks that he was crying over the loss of the uterus, not the harm to the young girl. After all if the child had (*sarcasm on*) the decency to die (*sarcasm off*) he could make a sock puppet saint of her. Since she did not die, he recognizes at some level that it will be harder to “speak” for her.
Re, the “good” Representative.
I think it unlikely that he will get this law rolled back, much less anything to address the issue of unwanted pregnancy. Except maybe to tut-tut about the subject, or possibly stage a performative vote while his caucus torpedoes it.
I put him in the “Cry Baby” division.
As Alexandra Erin says (https://twitter.com/AlexandraErin/status/1004404704867246080)
How dare you imply that I want 14 year olds to be forced to carry their rapist’s baby? How could you think I’m so cruel and sadistic to actually want that, merely because I voted for it over and over, and insisted that carrying the baby was a moral imperative, and supported politicians who wanted that, and I still support it, and I won’t vote against it ever? I mean, that doesn’t mean that this is what I wanted.
The way you people on the left demonize a simple difference of opinion is appalling. You’re the real monsters.
I think Gorkem is doing an excellent job of showing the weaponization of superficially civil discourse in this thread.
(I also think some anti-racists are jerks because all anti-racists are humans and some humans are jerks.)
I assume this is sarcasm.
Should it have been sarcasm? Was I out of line?
(Genuine question, I’m not sure)
No, I was not being sarcastic and I am confused as to why somebody would think I was!
Because it seems obvious to me that being jerks towards me, and being anti-racist, are unconnected things. (Like Mandolin said.)
Nothing about the act of falsely accusing me of plagiarism is, in and of itself, either racist or anti-racist. As Eytan said, “The people who made the accusations against Barry might have belonged to any of the above groups. Or maybe not, but there’s no way of knowing.”
[edited to add: whoops, cross-posted with Amp, whose points I all agree with :) I’ll leave this be though since it approaches things from a bit of a different angle]
@Görkem in 17 — I think the confusion has stemmed from the final sentence, in which you thank Eytan Zweig for “calling you out,” rather than, say “pointing that out.” I didn’t think you were being sarcastic — but I had to read the comment a few times to come to that conclusion. I think, usually, people use the phrases “calling someone out” and “callout culture” in a way that indicates their concerns with or distain for that (perceived) behaviour, so that’s why it was less clear how you yourself meant it.
Dragon_Snap is right, that’s definitely part of why I thought the comment was sarcastic.
Well I did intend to put myself in for some self-criticism since on reflection what Eytan said was quite obvious and I would have realised that if I had engaged my brain before my typing fingers. So yes, I did feel I was being called out. Not that I’m complaining! I’m grateful for the opportunity to improve myself!
But to clarify a bit further, Amp, I get that somebody might accidentally accuse you of plagiarism while genuinely being an anti-racist. What makes me realise these people are not genuine anti-racists is their inability to realise they were wrong and apologise. That’s a level of arrogance and closed-mindedness that is just not compatible with genuine anti-racism.
John Scalzi had this to say along these lines, for people who want to say they didn’t support something:
Slightly off topic for this specific comic, but weren’t you saying this earlier?
Thanks, Dianne! That’s this cartoon. I’ve updated the post with your link.