Cartoon: Hey did you hear? Biden is old!

One of my occasional non-evergreen cartoons.

I’ve drawn “Media” as a guy with a TV for their head at least once before. But the design of the character is definitely evolving. And in this cartoon, a lot of that comes down to Frank Young‘s coloring choices, which I love. I had no idea he was going to do any of these wacky things (the pop art color patterns in the backgrounds, the static behind the face on the TV screen, the grayscale body) until he sent me the finished work!

Frank writes:

As colorist for Barry’s cartoons, I work with a set of stylistic expectations. Anything that might be dimensional in real life merits light and shadow; colors are a touch more subdued than often seen in comics. I am conscious not to repeat myself with each new cartoon, as I keep in mind the style that Barry and I have set, and which seems to work well.

This cartoon presented me with three “easy” panels: a literal talking head against an empty space. I felt the shrillness of the absurd message being hammered by the media influencer. That made me think of 1960s Pop Art and the cult 1980s TV series “Max Headroom.” Don’t ask me how I jumped to those random parallels; I couldn’t tell you. I have learned to trust these leaps-of-synapse; they’re my brain doing a lightning-round of free association and they often have real meaning.

To realize these two styles, I used Photoshop filters which I’ve learned to adjust and control: Color Halftone and Mezzotint. Used as is, both effects look gaudy and unpleasant to my eyes. These effects can be toned down and made useful. Against a Pop Art background of zingy patterns and lurid colors, the speaker, who’s in color on the TV screen, which has a background of bright signal noise, is monotone in the “real life” of these panels. This felt right to me to capture the brassy vibe media pundits often exude—and the circus-like tenor of much news reporting and analysis.

In the final panel, which takes place in a recognizable space—a coffeeshop—I decided the pundit should still be in monotone, to suggest his real personality was the media presence that gets into everyone’s ears with its shouty, hey-looka-me style. Color can be an effective shorthand to impart a mood or feeling to the reader. If I have succeeded in making a visual analog to the clamorous din of news media, I’m happy with my work here. And I always look forward to the next cartoon and its new set of challenges.


This cartoon has four panels, plus an additional “kicker’ panel under the bottom of the cartoon.

Each panel features the same central character, who I’ll call “Media.” Media is a white man wearing a suit and tie, and carrying a microphone. But instead of a head, he has a flatscreen TV on top of his neck, and on the TV is a picture of a TV anchorman-type against a background of static.

In the first three panels Media is standing against a background of abstract and colorful pop-art shapes.


Media is leaning forward a bit and has a concerned expression.

MEDIA: Biden’s old. Biden’s old. Biden’s old. Biden is old. Biden’s old. Biden’s so old. Biden’s old. Biden is old.


A closer shot of Media, now with a cheerful, chatty manner.

MEDIA: Biden’s old. Biden’s old. Biden is old old old. Biden’s old. Biden is old. Biden’s old. Biden’s old. Biden’s old. Biden is too old.

MEDIA: Trump’s old too.


Media now looks a little panicked, spreading his arms and almost jumping up and down.

MEDIA: Biden Biden Biden! OLD OLD OLD!


The scene now changes to a coffee shop. Media’s body is in casual clothes – slacks and a black polo shirt. (Although Media’s head and shoulders, on the tv screen, is still wearing a suit.) Media is sitting at a table, with a coffee mug in front of him, looking annoyed as he vents to a friend.

MEDIA: How can these people call me biased? Didn’t they hear me call Trump old, too?


Media is talking, a bit angrily, to Barry the Cartoonist.

MEDIA: I’m pretending you said I shouldn’t report on Biden’s age at all. And I’m appalled you’d say that!


“Chicken Fat” is cartoonist slang for unimportant details the cartoonist sticks in for the fun of it. In this case, all the chicken fat is in panel four. First of all, on the shelves behind the counter in the background is the decapitated head of Charlie Brown from “Peanuts.” (Poor ol’ Charlie Brown.) Secondly, on the wall is a framed picture of Zoidberg from the TV show “Futurama.” (I’m a big fan of both Peanuts and Futurama).

Media: Biden is Old Old Old Oldy McOldface | Patreon

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

12 Responses to Cartoon: Hey did you hear? Biden is old!

  1. 1
    LanceThruster says:

    In the Dem primaries, it was one of the arguments against Bernie, especially after his heart attack. Once the party backed Biden, that argument was largely forgotten. One of the ways they dealt with that was indicating that he was expected to be a transitional office holder and probably only serve one term. Biden himself mentioned that. What changed? Is Kamala not ready yet?

  2. 2
    Dianne says:

    Biden’s age=whatever. He’s been a competent president. Trump’s age=also whatever, but he was a corrupt disaster. Who cares about their age? (I don’t care about Bernie’s age either, but if he can’t win the primary, how’s he going to be more likely to win the general?)

  3. 3
    Lauren says:

    Biden’s age=whatever. He’s been a competent president. Trump’s age=also whatever, but he was a corrupt disaster.

    I think politicians in power tend to skew to old on the whole, but since both candidates are old, age shouldn’t be a deciding factor. The issue now, as beautifully illustrated above, is the way the media has made Biden’s age a uniquely problematic part of his candidacy while not really seeming bothered by Trumps. To me, its another way of creating a “both sides have issues” narrative to fuel the horse-race approach to the election and the appearance of “objectivity”, instead of actually examining the vast policy differences and committing to pointig out the objectively horrid results that would come with a second Trump presidency.

  4. 4
    Avvaaa says:

    “Is Kamala not ready yet?”

    I believe opinion polls show she is slightly less popular than Biden, so “Solve Biden´s unpopularity by replacing him with Harris” isn´t a very appealing option from a purely electoral calculus point of view.

    Which is not to say anything negative about Harris as a person or a politician. But I see why she doesn´t seem like a solution to those who are worried about Biden´s electability.

    I mean speaking more broadly, the biggest argument against replacing Biden on the ticket is that there is really no obviously credible successor. All other nationally prominent Democratic politicians are equally unpopular, sometimes more unpopular.

  5. 5
    Cody says:

    What a self-pitying comic. Biden didn’t have to run. He chose to. Get mad at people noticing how old he is all you want, his campaign is gonna have to deal with it.

  6. 6
    Petar says:

    Get mad at people noticing how old he is all you want, his campaign is gonna have to deal with it.

    Him being old is not an issue at all. Sanders is older, but seems in better possession of his facilities. But Biden… He often sounds confused, and sometimes starts talking, without preparation, about things that he is clearly ignorant about. Then he sounds like any rambling, senile trustee who has reached his level of incompetence.

    On the other hand, I do not think that his campaign needs to deal with it. Trump’s campaign certainly does not seem to need to deal with the perception that Trump lacks any control over his temper or desires, states as fact easily dis proven drivel, cannot hold a thought for 10 seconds, and mixes up people, places, and historical events daily.

    Furthermore, both candidates supporters seem to find their Chosen’s lovable peccadilloes perfectly acceptable, and his opponent’s horrible gaffes a clear sign of being unfit to hold a dog catcher’s office.

    So at the end, at least for me, it comes down to whether I want to vote for a right-of-center corporate figurehead who will keep shoring up the status quo and presiding over the greatest wealth transfer in the world’s history, while decrying the excesses and channeling any desire for change into issues that cannot affect his sponsors’ bottom line… or for the fascist who I think will accelerate the enshittification of the country, and more importantly endanger my daughters future.

    Their age? The only issue I see with their ages is that if either of them dies, it will be bad for the country. They both would be replaced with worse people.

    (I’m not saying that they are so great that it would be hard to find a better person. Hell, a lottery among their respective supporters would produce better candidates. It’s just that anyone likely to be advanced by their respective parties will lead to worst outcomes for the country, in my opinion.)

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    Get mad at people noticing how old he is all you want, his campaign is gonna have to deal with it.

    You’re almost embodying the kicker panel.

    I think it’s fine for people to notice he’s old. He IS old. In fact, he’s so old, he and Trump could have been in high school at the same time.

    What I disagree with is the extreme focus on only one candidate’s age when they’re both ancient.

  8. 8
    Duncan says:

    That’s all very well, Barry, but let me point out something you’ve overlooked, something that the MSM don’t want you to know: Biden is OLD. That’s OLD, OLD, OLD! (Should I tag this as sarcasm?)

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    (Should I tag this as sarcasm?)

    It was a close thing, but I think I figured that out.

  10. 10
    Avvaaa says:

    Remember how at about this stage in the 2008 election cycle it was all about Obama´s pastor, but when the actual election came along he wasn´t really discussed, not even by the McCain campaign? I feel that the whole “Biden is old” thing might follow the same trajectory.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    OMG, I’d completely forgotten about Obama’s pastor! (Which goes to support your point.)

    I hope you’re right and this turns out to be like Obama’s pastor, rather than being like Hilary’s emails.

  12. Pingback: Link Love | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *