Cartoon: Media-Man To The Rescue!

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Hi! Sorry for the long pause in cartoons – I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder (I’m right-handed) and could barely move it for about a month. Even once I could move it, I didn’t draw until the shoulder was completely better, because I was worried I could cause a setback.

Also, I avoiding typing much, and honestly my concentration while all that was going on was not the best. No drawing, no writing, no Beat Saber – it was a very boring month for me, and I don’t recommend the experience, one star review on Yelp.

Everyone I talked about my shoulder issue to asked the same question – “what happened? What did you do?” And the frustrating truth is, I have no idea. Maybe I just slept on it wrong? If my shoulder would only speak clearly and tell me what it is I did, I’d try not to do it again, but it just has terrible communication skills.

This is, at least, an advantage of me charging per cartoon rather than per month – none of you were charged for March, since I didn’t post any cartoons. Let’s hope this month is better! (I mean, it’s already better, because here I am, posting a new cartoon.)

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Judd Legum in The Guardian writes a tale of two crimes:

In the United States, only certain types of theft are newsworthy.

For example, on 14 June 2021, a reporter for KGO-TV in San Francisco tweeted a cellphone video of a man in Walgreens filling a garbage bag with stolen items and riding his bicycle out of the store. According to San Francisco’s crime database, the value of the merchandise stolen in the incident was between $200 and $950.

According to an analysis by Fair, a media watchdog, this single incident generated 309 stories between 14 June and 12 July…. The theft has been covered in a slew of major publications including the New York Times, USA Today and CNN.

Just a few months earlier, in November 2020, Walgreens paid a $4.5m settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit alleging that it stole wages from thousands of its employees in California between 2010 and 2017…. So this is a story of a corporation that stole millions of dollars from its own employees. How much news coverage did it generate? There was a single 221-word story in Bloomberg Law, an industry publication. And that’s it.

Media considers white-collar crime – no matter how consequential – boring and unreportable. Meanwhile, crimes like shoplifting and fare-jumping are endlessly fascinating to reporters and editors. 

The result of this is a pattern in which crimes typically committed by rich people are barely acknowledged, no matter how many millions are involved, while crimes typically committed by poor people are put in the spotlight. The media paints a very deceptive picture, and unfortunately, many Americans are fooled.

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The main character of this cartoon was so much fun to draw! I don’t get to draw superhero bodies that often, and it’s a fun challenge. And I think the TV-screen head is visually striking and hilarious (although who knows if any of you will agree). I wouldn’t be surprised to see this character show up again.

The one thing that disappointed me is that there were no close-ups, so I couldn’t do any chyron gags (the lettering would have been too tiny to be read). Another reason to bring this character design back!

When I did my first pass at penciling the superhero character, I tried drawing him with carefully rendered and specific muscles. You know – like a superhero. But he  looked weird and stiff, especially in the panels where he’s interacting with other characters. On the next pass I tried to make him smoother and cartoonier, with big swooping lines, and I was much happier with the results.

I really dreaded drawing a cityscape at first, because I was planning to draw the buildings realistically (why is that always my first impulse), and that sounded boring. Eventually I jettisoned that entire approach and instead tried to draw the city in a fun, jazzy style. There are definitely a zillion cartoonists who draw better cityscapes than me, but I had fun.

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This cartoon has five panels, plus an extra tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the strip.


A superhero – in a classic blue-and-red outfit, a bit like Superman’s – is flying over a city, his arms extended in front of him. But instead of a head, he has a big flatscreen TV on top of his neck. The TV screen is showing a head-and-shoulders shot of a news anchorman type, wearing a brown suit and tie.

This character is Media-Man.

MEDIA-MAN (here and also in all the other panels, Media-Man speaks from the TV screen): Bored bored bored… If only there were some crime I could report!


Media-Man looks downward, excited and glad, as a voice calls out from below.

VOICE: Media-Man! Help! I’m being robbed!



Media-Man is coming down for a landing on a sidewalk. Two women are on the sidewalk looking up at him. One of them is wearing a red tank top, a skirt, and sneakers. The other, who looks annoyed, is dressed more expensively, in a suit and heels.

TANK TOP: Media-Man! Thank god you’re here! My boss is refusing to pay me for all the hours I worked!


Media-Man, an annoyed expression on his TV screen, holds up a palm in a “don’t bother me with this” gesture. The woman in the tank top is bewildered by Media-Man’s indifference, while the woman in the suit looks pleased.

MEDIA-MAN: Wage theft? Boring! I’m not gonna report on that!

TANK TOP: But– Wage theft costs $15 billion a year?


Media-Man is once again flying high above a city. He looks bored, and is yawning, with one hand held over the mouth area on his TV screen. The voices of unseen people are coming up from below, but Media-Man pays them no attention.

VOICES (there are four voices, and they all say the same thing): Help! Wage theft!


Media-Man, still looking annoyed, is talking to Barry (the cartoonist).

MEDIA-MAN: I only report important crimes! Like shoplifting!

This cartoon on Patreon.

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Media criticism. Bookmark the permalink. 

5 Responses to Cartoon: Media-Man To The Rescue!

  1. 1
    bcb says:

    I have a solution for shoplifting: All shareholders of big retail store chains who claim to be victims of shoplifting must take standardized tests. They shall be required to take 4-6 tests every year. Police officers will be evaluated based on the test scores of the retail-store-owners in their district. This evaluation will apply even to police officers who don’t work on shoplifting cases.

    Any police departments whose retail stores perform poorly must have it’s budget reduced so they can do more with less. If they fail to turn around test-scores in their district, the low-performing police departments should be shut down and replaced with charter police departments, funded entirely by the retail store chains and without the legal authority to use force or arrest people.

    Also, it’s obvious the police can’t stop shoplifting when they are too busy propagandizing for their political causes. Hence, all police must be banned from promoting controversial ideologies, like Blue Lives Matter and Controlled Substance Theory. Any police officer who promotes such an ideology must be fined $1,000,000 per incident for each black or queer person they hurt.

    Also, get rid of police unions.

  2. 2
    JaneDoh says:

    Hi Amp! Glad to hear you are feeling better!

    I liked your jazzy city-scape. It gives the background a nice energy!

    I also found Media-Man hilarious. One of my kids wanted to make a similar costume for Halloween one year (minus the cape), so it is funny to ponder how it might have turned out. Alas, covid.

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    Shoplifting and fare-jumping (and carjacking and organized theft rings, which is what a lot of the shoplifting actually is) are a lot more straightforward to report and easier to explain than wage theft. That means it takes much less time to report and you can fit more stories into a given show.

    You can justly complain about the media on this but the audience has to take some of the blame as well; people are a lot less likely to listen to and follow a more long-form story.

  4. 4
    Dianne says:

    @bcb 1: Works for me. How about we use the old “literacy” tests that they used to give (certain) people at the polls before allowing them to vote as the standardized tests? Anything less than a perfect score is, of course, failure.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    I forgot to add that these days there’s often video for various street crimes (again, like carjacking or gang shooting) and that always plays for ratings on TV. The best you can hope for in white collar crime is a perp walk where the well-dressed man or woman is walking into or out of court with a coat over their hands to hide the cuffs. That only plays well if people can be expected to recognize them, and even then it’s kind of boring. We get a lot of that in the Chicago area because you can often recognize the person involved from their last campaign pictures.