Cartoon: Generations

This cartoon was drawn by the remarkable Nadine Scholtes.

I don’t believe in generations.

Or at least, I don’t believe in generational personalities. It’s like astrology; it’s fun to make huge sweeping generalizations about big groups of people. More than fun, it’s sort of a human instinct. And as harmful as this instinct is sometimes, it’s probably not too harmful when it comes to astrology. Or generations.

And now that I’ve typed that, I’m filling up with doubts. Surely going through huge events – like 9/11, or the Great Depression or the rise of the Internet – has an effect on people’s personalities?

Maybe. But on the other hand, it’s not there was only one generation around and being influenced when 9/11 happened. There are six living generations, as they’re generally measured, around at any moment, and all of them are potentially being changed by big events.

Plus, it’s not as if any of us have a mass mind. (Not until Lex Luthor succeeds in creating his massmindification device, anyway). So, sure, I went through a lot of stuff other folks of my age went through, but that doesn’t mean I have much at all in common with most of them. Honestly, I can’t even make conversation with most people my age. (Or any age.)

But one thing that is eternal is that a lot of folks in older generations – and, having had my fifty-fifth birthday just yesterday as I write this, I have to ruefully admit that I’m approaching “older generationhood” myself – will be absolutely convinced that the current young adult generation is ruder, stupider, and less capable than their own generation was.

It’s silly and wrong. But on the other hand, those young adults will have their chance to grow old and condescend to the youngsters, too, so in a way it all evens out.


This cartoon has four panels. Each of the panels shows the same two characters; a doctor, who is a white man in his forties, and a patient, who looks to be in his sixties at least. We’re in a medical examination room; the patient is sitting on the examination table, while the doctor stands.


The doctor is holding an otoscope (which is that thing they use to examine ears). (Did you know that thing’s called an otoscope? I didn’t, I had to google it). The patient is not yelling or anything, but he’s sort of ranting a little.

DOCTOR: Hold still while I look in your ear.

PATIENT: i bought a coffee and this young “barista” was so rude!


The doctor, wielding the otoscope, is peering into the patient’s ear with an expression of concentration. The patient is warming up to his rant.

DOCTOR: Mm hmmm

PATIENT: i swear these millennials are the worst!


The doctor has crossed the room and is putting the otoscope away in a drawer (which means I won’t have an excuse to repeat the word “otoscope” in the next panel, alas). He has kind of a bored expression. The patient looks very surprised by what the doctor is saying.

DOCTOR: Actually, sir, I’m a millennial. We’re old now.

PATIENT: Really?


The doctor is now holding a clipboard. (Instead of an otoscope.) (Ha! Found an excuse!) The doctor is looking amused, while the patient looks affronted, with his arms crossed.

DOCTOR: Yup. We’re all picking on gen Z now. but in a few years we’ll switch to gen Alpha.

PATIENT: Dammit! Why didn’t I get the memo on this?


Chicken fat are meaningless details that cartoonists sometimes put into cartoons to amuse ourselves. In this case, there’s a framed poster on the wall in the background. In panel 1, the poster has a realistic image of a human heart, with the caption “YOUR HEART” and then in smaller lettering “is kinda gross looking.”

The poster isn’t in frame in panel two. In panel three, the poster shows a cartoon doctor (who looks like a Muppet to me) glaring out at us. The caption says “Please tell the doctor your self-diagnosis you found online. Doctors love that.”

In panel 4, the poster of the doctor is still there, but the caption has been replaced with a lot of tiny, tiny text. The tiny text says: “I can’t believe you’re reading this tiny print, it’s not at all interesting. Watch tv instead. I honestly feel a bit guilty putting this here because I’m totally wasting your time. It’s just meaningless background text. On the other hand, it’s not like you’d be curing cancer if you weren’t reading this. But that’s okay. You’re good as you are. Read tiny print if you want to.”

Generations | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 3 Comments  

Cartoon: G.O.P. Approved History

Welcome back to artist R. E. Ryan! This is the second cartoon he’s done with me; I certainly hope there’ll be more.

In 2019, the New York Times published The 1619 Project, an anthology of essays and other works arguing that slavery has had an enormous impact on U.S. history. (The title is a reference to the first year enslaved Africans landed in the colonies).

Republicans immediately set out to ban The 1619 Project from public schools. From Wikipedia:

Donald Trump, in his final few months as president of the United States, vowed to ban the 1619 Project from state curricula, accusing educators of teaching their students to “hate their own country.” Echoing Trump’s proposal, Republican lawmakers also sought to ban the project from state curricula; bills were introduced by US Senator Tom Cotton at the federal level, by State Representative Mark Lowery in Arkansas, by State Representative Skyler Wheeler in Iowa, and by Senator Angela Burks Hill in Mississippi. By the end of the summer of 2021, 27 states had introduced bills echoing the language and intent of Cotton’s bill.

Under Ron DeSantis, the 1619 Project was banned from being taught in Florida public schools, first by a 2021 Florida State Board of Education amendment banning critical race theory and again in 2022 by the Stop WOKE Act.

Some Republicans have proposed laws to ban teaching lessons that could make white students feel bad. From CBC:

A Florida state senator is pushing back on a bill aimed at protecting white people from feeling “discomfort” or “guilt” while learning about racism in the nation’s past.

The Republican bill — called “Individual Freedom” — would prohibit private businesses and public schools from training staff or students about racism in U.S. history in a way that makes them feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

One thing I found telling about the criticism of The 1619 Project is how many of their arguments were about how innocent white people were. For example, a well-known science fiction writer argued that the slaves brought to Virginia in 1619 were “captured by Africans and sold by Africans.”

That’s somewhere between misleading and just false. The enslaved people in question were from Ndongo. The particular soldiers who captured them were a mix of Africans and Portuguese. But who ordered them to do that?

The person who pushed gave the orders was Luís Mendes de Vasconcellos, who Portugal had placed to be governor of Angola. De Vasconcellos chose to go to war specifically because he wanted to profit from capturing and selling slaves.

De Vasconcellos was white.

His underlings who administered the sales were white.

The money from the sales went to white people. (And, ultimately, the king of Portugal.)

That’s hardly the only example. Well-known conservatives have argued that the people brought to Virginia in 1619 were indentured servants, not slave. (False.) They have argued that in 1780, Pennsylvania was “the first time that any country, any government, any legislature” had passed anti-slavery laws. (Ridiculously false.)

What this all has in common is a desire, among conservatives, to teach an alternate history in which white people are always totally and completely innocent.

This cartoon attempts to make fun of that, in ways that are completely silly and that I enjoy a lot.


This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a different scene with different characters.


A bald white man wearing a brown suit is speaking directly to the reader. He has a gun-shaped flame lighter in one hand, a flame coming out the end, and a book in the other hand. The book’s title is “Woke Gender Stuff,” and the book is on fire.

MAN: You’ve probably heard woke liberal media lies about Republicans banning books from schools. But we love learning! We just want students to hear the truth! So sit down and learn some G.O.P. APPROVED HISTORY.

(The last three words of the Man’s dialog are in huge, friendly letters, forming the title of this strip.)


Two Black men are wearing Victorian-era suits and ties; one is wearing a tall black top hat. They are seated in plush armchairs in what looks like an exclusive men’s club; they are smoking cigars and drinking from wine glasses. 

The first man grins as he speaks to us; the second man is leaning forward in his chair, as if he’s intent on us getting this point.

1st MAN: I’m a Black African in 1526! My friends and I created the intercontinental slave trade and whites had nothing to do with it!

2nd MAN: Remember that, kids – whites are totally innocent!


A modern-looking boxing ring. There are two boxers in the ring. The one on the left, who doesn’t look very strong, is wearing a royal crown over a white powdered wig, red boxing gloves, and a “Che” t-shirt. The one on the right has red hair, is shirtless (and has huge muscles), has stars-and-bars themed boxing gloves and shorts, and has a giant tattoo covering his back which says “We The People” in the distinctive handwriting of the Declaration of Independence. 

Let’s call them KING GEORGE and THOMAS JEFFERSON. George looks tired, while Thomas looks very energetic and is grinning at us.

KING GEORGE: I’m King George (they/them), here to fight Tom Jefferson!

JEFFERSON: I’m Tom Jefferson! I invented freedom. I’m so kind to my slaves, and did I mention I’m definitely not a rapist?


Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Jesus have their arms around each other as they smile out at us. Abe is wearing his signature top hat and holding a can of beer. Jesus has a halo floating over his tricorn hat, is gently glowing all over, and is wearing a yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” t-shirt.

LINCOLN: I’m Abe Lincoln, and I’m a Republican! That’s all you need to know about me.

REAGAN: I’m Abe’s best friend Ronald Reagan!

JESUS: And I’m Jesus! We’re all Republicans!

GOP Approved History | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Colonialism, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Education, Free speech, censorship, copyright law, etc. | 10 Comments  

Cartoon: Some Things Straight People Can Stop Saying

This cartoon is by Becky Hawkins and I.

Quite a while ago, I did a cartoon like this about Cis people, and someone on Facebook (someone I knew at Oberlin in the late 80s, who is himself gay) commented “PLEASE do one of these but for straight people.” It went into the idea folder and sat there quite a while, gradually building up more scripted panels over the years, until there were enough panels I felt confident about to be a whole cartoon.

I offered this to Becky to draw, because I know she likes drawing what she calls the “bunch of jerks genre.” Becky also wrote panel seven (the “don’t want to look good” panel), which is now my favorite of these panels.

(“Wrote it?” says Becky. “I lived it!”)

Panel eight – the “what a waste” panel – went through the most redrawing after Becky had completed pencils. Here’s how Becky initially drew that panel:

As usual, Becky and I discussed the work in progress in chat. Here’s some of our conversation:

BARRY: My only critique is the “what a waste” panel. I feel that people usually say it as though it’s a compliment – “you’re so pretty/handsome, it’s a shame it’s being wasted” – rather than aggressively or angrily, like this guy. And also, his left arm looks WAY bigger than his right.

BECKY: This has nothing to do with any Lasso/transformation alternatives to redrawing on my part 😅

BECKY: I can turn “what a waste” hornier 😆

BARRY: Yes, “hornier'” was the word I should have said.  😛

(After Becky redrew the face a bit.)

BARRY: I feel like the eyebrows are moving the expression away from horny.

BECKY: Eyebrows updated.

(Barry pastes an image of a horny face into the chat.)

BARRY: “So what did you do at work today, son?”  “I google image searched for horny faces.”

BECKY: 😬 I don’t know if it feels better or worse that we needed to go outside our selves to get that face right.

BECKY: 😓 I’m an ACTOR! I can DO horny!

BARRY: LOL I can’t. When I was at summer camp, we were doing a sketch for a camp show, and my character was supposed to do a “oh my God she’s so hot I’m dying” comic reaction.

BARRY:  And I. Could. Not. Do. It.

BARRY: I remember Dave Wain, Craig Wedren and Stuart Blumberg – who all went on to successful show business careers – at rehearsal, demonstrating to me over and over what comically horny looked like, and I kept trying to imitate them and failing, until we finally gave up and rewrote the sketch.

As always, thanks for supporting these cartoons. It means a lot to me – it makes my life possible, it means I can pay awesome collaborators like Becky, and most of all it means that there are people out there who appreciate the work we do. Thank you!

Extra thanks this time to patron Aiko Bethea (who is also thanked in the sidebar). Aiko, if you’d like a digitally signed print of this cartoon (or any other cartoon you choose) mailed to you, let me know!


This cartoon has nine panels, arranged in a three by three grid, with nine different brightly-colored backgrounds making a sort of patchwork effect. Each panel shows a single character talking directly to the reader.

Below the bottom of the cartoon is an additional tiny “kicker” panel.


A smug-looking guy with a beard and curly hair is waving a miniature queer pride flag (specifically, the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Pride Flag, which has a circle on top of a series of triangles on top of colored stripes) as he speaks.

GUY: Look at what a great ally I am! I totally get what you people go through!


A blond guy with wide eyes is pointing back and forth at us (as if moving his pointing finger rapidly between two people), and is grinning past a hand held in front of his mouth.

BLOND: So who’s the man and who’s the woman?


A large man with spikey brown hair and a chin-only beard is waving a hand, his other hand on his hip, as he speaks with a somewhat aggrieved expression.

MAN: When’s straight pride? Huh?


A young woman with her brown hair in a high ponytail, and with a tattoo of a fairy (er, the magical creature) on her upper arm, sticks her tongue out and makes a disgusted expression.

WOMAN: That’s so gay.


This is the center panel, and a bit over half of it is taken up by large, friendly lettering which says: SOME THINGS STRAIGHT PEOPLE CAN STOP SAYING

Below that, an older woman with gray hair and glasses looks a little bit confused.

WOMAN: But you don’t look gay.


A young woman (or a teen) with blonde hair is talking to us with a big grin and pointing rapidly at three different off-panel people.

GIRL: Do you think he’s hot?

GIRL: How about him?

GIRL: How about him?


A woman sporting carefully done hair, cascading down to below her shoulders, a made-up face, and large earrings, looks confused as she speaks to us.

WOMAN: Can you explain to me why lesbians don’t want to look good?


A middle-aged man wearing a polo shirt grins lasciviously at us, one eyebrow raised, as he pulls at the side of his collar in a “wow it’s hot in here” gesture.

MAN: You’re a lesbian? Man, what a waste.


A woman with an annoyed expression is holding two children – a baby in one arm, and a toddler in the other. The baby’s onesie has “Heartbreaker” printed on the front, and the toddler’s t-shirt says “Ladies Man.” 

WOMAN: Why must you people flaunt it?


A man wearing glasses and a green shirt is talking to Barry. He’s pointing up and to the left (towards panel one). Barry is looking really nervous as he replies.

MAN: By making this cartoon, aren’t you like panel one?

BARRY: It’s different because… um…

Some Things Straight People Can Stop Saying | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues | 8 Comments  

Cartoon: Why We Need Don’t Say Gay Laws

This cartoon was drawn by the wonderful Nadine Scholtes. The unicorns and rainbows were Nadine’s idea, and I love them.

From the Associated Press:

Top officials at a Florida school district ordered the removal of all books and material containing LGBTQ characters and themes from classrooms and campus libraries, saying that was needed to conform to a state law backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”

Charlotte County Schools Superintendent Mark Vianello and the school board’s attorney, Michael McKinley, were responding to questions from the district’s librarians at a July meeting asking whether the bill, officially the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, required the removal of any books that simply had a gay character but no explicit sex scenes.

(After a lot of outcry, they allowed a handful of books with lgbtq characters into high school libraries.)

PEN America maintains an index of school book bans. They found that, in one year, 1,648 different books were banned. The largest category of banned books – 674 books, or 41 percent – were books that “explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+ (this includes a specific subset of titles for transgender characters or stories—145 titles, or 9 percent).”

As far back as the 1980s, I remember noticing that conservatives treat straightness as incredibly fragile; the slightest little contact with homosexuality, or even the idea of homosexuality, would turn any child queer faster than you could say “Liberace!” Or that’s how they acted, anyway.

In the present day, the idea that queerness is contagious is pushed especially hard by transphobes. Hugh Ryan writes:

Conservatives have been pushing two related theories to explain this uptick. First, there’s the “social contagion” theory, which holds that in a world drowning in representations of heterosexuality and cisgenderness, meeting a single trans person, reading a book with a bisexual character in it, or encountering nonbinary pronouns on TikTok can totally destabilize the identity of an otherwise “normal” child. It’s amazing how fragile heterosexuality and cisness are in this formulation—almost like they’re socially manufactured identities, backed by huge amounts of ideological infrastructure, peer pressure, media recruitment, and social policing. Well, I guess conservatives aren’t wrong about everything.


This cartoon ahs four panels, plus a tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the cartoon.


Two teenagers are standing in a library, and talking directly to the reader. Billy, the boy, is wearing a football uniform and carrying a football. The girl, Sally, is wearing a cheerleader outfit. Billy has his arm around Sally’s shoulders, and Sally is affectionately holding the arm.

BILLY: Hi! I’m Billy Allamerican, and this is my girlfriend Sally.

SALLY: We’re both extremely typical heterosexual high schoolers!


A person wearing a rainbow-colored sweatshirt, matching their rainbox colored hair, and wearing a big peace sign pendant, and a pinback which says “THEY THEM,” comes in, talking to Billy and Sally. They’re holding up a book with a sparkling cover with the title BE GAY. Billy looks surprised, and Sally looks puzzled.

BILLY: Oh look, it’s Ms Woke, our school librarian!

WOKE: Hi, Kids! Have you read this gay book?

SALLY: What’s “Gay”?


This panel has a large caption at the top, which says “LITERALLY ONE DAY LATER” in pink lettering.

The panel shows Billy and Sally, standing out on a field. There are smiling unicorns with rainbow manes and tails rearing up on either side of them, and a rainbow behind them. Everything is sparkling.

Billy is now dressed and posed as a stereotypical flaming gay man, wearing a pink shirt and tan capris. Sally is wearing black boots with big buckles and dark shorts and shirt, and is holding an electric razor and shaving one side of her head. Even though it’s been barely a day and her legs were totally hairless in panel one, we can see hair growing on her legs. 

BILLY: Now that we’re gay, Sally, I’ve quit the football team to become a communist florist!

SALLY: That’s so cool, Billy! I’m going to shave my head and become a witch!

The panel border between panels 3 and 4 is a thought balloon.


The right panel border of panel 3 is a thought balloon border, which leads to the head of the first speaker in panel 4 (indicating that panel 3 was in his imagination). There are two guys here; they’re sitting at a bar, with beers in mugs.

The first man is a gray-haired man with a beard and mustache, wearing a white button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a red necktie. He’s holding up one finger as if he’s making a point. We’ll call him NECKTIE.

The second man is bald and a little chubby, with a beard and mustache, and wearing a red plaid shirt. We’ll call him PLAID.

NECKTIE: And THAT’S why we need “Don’t Say Gay” laws!

PLAID: Makes sense.


Necktie and Sally (with a crew-cut and wearing dark makeup) are talking; Necktie is in a panic, while Sally is cheerful.

NECKTIE: Why would anyone be straight if we let them know there are other options?

SALLY: Exactly!

Why We Need Don’t Say Gay Laws | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues | 3 Comments  

Cartoon: Our Loss, Your Gain

This cartoon is by Becky Hawkins and I.

The book Diets Don’t Fail, by Jascha Fishburn, says (in its jacket copy):

A diet has never failed anyone; however, many people fail diets, again and again every day.

This attitude is extremely common among diet advocates, although they don’t always say it so baldly. It’s also pretty common among health care professionals.

Dieticians in Stone and Werner (2012) research expressed feelings of frustrations with their fat clients; “and this situation repeats itself, this frustration of people coming and not losing any weight. This frustration of knowing that I did my best, and I kept my end of the deal, and now it’s your turn [the patient’s]”

The evidence is overwhelming that for the vast majority of people, deliberate weight loss – especially the huge weight loss required to turn a fat person into a non-fat person – is not sustainable. All diet plans (including “lifestyle change” plans) seem to work for a while, but in the long run nearly everyone gains the weight back, and often wind up weighing more than before their diet began.

Legitimate research has consistently found this result since before most of us were born. A 2015 British study found that fat people had a less than 1 in 100 chance of becoming “normal” weight: “In simple obesity (body mass index = 30.0–34.9 kg/m2), the annual probability of attaining normal weight was 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women, increasing to 1 in 1290 for men and 1 in 677 for women” who were fatter.

But people simply refuse to believe what studies have found for decades. In many cases, this is because of ideology or just the difficulty of unlearning what we’ve been told all our lives. But for diet companies, there’s the additional barrier that they make money out of believing the lie and convincing others of the lie.

It’s been improving – compared to a decade ago, more healthcare professionals and mainstream journalists seem willing to admit that dieting fails – but it’s a long, slow slog.

In the original script for this, the weight loss program was called “Slenderiffic,” which was the first thing I thought of. But when Becky was drawing the box in panel two she asked if we could use something at least a little shorter, to better fit on the box.

We bounced ideas back and forth. I suggested a whole bunch of shorter possible names, including “Willoow.” Becky suggested “Willow,” and then I suggested making it “Willo-We,” and Becky thought of the crowning touch of a macron over the O.

As Becky pointed out, “Willō-We” feels much more contemporary; “Slenderiffic” sounds like it’s making fun of a weight loss snake oil from the 1960s.

And because we had that process, that back and forth, the brand name “Willō-We”™ is now my favorite thing in this cartoon. I’ve come to realize that I really, REALLY love doing collaborations. Becky’s especially great to work with, because we seriously share a wavelength, but I enjoy working with all the other Leftycartoons folks as well.

When Frank Young first came on and colored some of my cartoons, I told him to imitate my coloring style (extremely limited palette, often non-naturalistic colors). But over time, he evolved back to using something closer to his natural style, and I’ve come to really love the way it looks (and accept that it’s okay that it doesn’t look as if I’d done it).

For your enjoyment and edification, Becky’s reference selfie for panel two:


This four-panel cartoon shows a conversation between a casually-dressed woman – tank top, casual pants, sneakers, ponytail – and a woman who either is a doctor or is trying to be mistaken for one, with a white lab coat with a name plate, and slim pants and high heels. We’ll call them SUSAN and FAUXDOC.


Susan is smiling happily, and pulling the waistband of her pants forward to show a gap – i.e., that she’s lost weight. Fauxdoc is grinning even bigger as she talks to Ponytail.

SUSAN: Wow! I’ve lost twenty pounds!

FAUXDOC: Congratulations, Susan! And all thanks to the Willōw-We™ Lifestyle Change™ Program System!


A close-up of Fauxdoc shows her grinning as she holds up a box with “Willōw-We™ Lifestyle Change™ Program System” written on it in large letters.

FAUXDOC: Because you couldn’t have done it without us, right?


Susan’s smile has dimmed a bit, but she’s still smiling. Fauxdoc has produced a huge professional-looking camera and is preparing to take Susan’s photo.

SUSAN: Um… I guess?

FAUXDOC: I’m taking your picture! Everyone will see how Willōw-We™ made you lose weight!

FAUXDOC: All credit to Willōw-We™!

FAUXDOC: Do the waistband thing again.


Time has passed, and Susan has definitely gained weight. Susan looks sad and a little bewildered; Fauxdoc is glaring at Susan and pointing at her accusingly.


SUSAN: The weight came back…

FAUXDOC: DAMMIT, SUSAN! You failed and it’s all YOUR fault!

Our Loss, Your Gain | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Women Need To Be More Warm And Approachable

I saw this exchange on Twitter. For context, “David” is an anti-feminist with 7,000 followers, and Andrew Tate is a famous misogynist:

David’s sentiment is common among incels and anti-feminists (two groups with significant overlap) – if young women would only spend more time ministering to the emotional needs of male strangers, there’d be fewer incels and shootings and we’d be living in a better world.

It’s a view that makes sense if you don’t care about fairness to women. Making the mental health of bitter romance-starved men somehow the responsibility of women means being indifferent to the well-being of women.

In the replies to that tweet, “Nacritis_writes” wrote “What happens is you end up with stalkers and people tell you it’s your fault for being warm and welcoming.” I read that and this cartoon popped fully formed into my mind. (Nacritis is thanked in the sidebar – thanks, Nacritis!)

I wish the only people who held these anti-feminist views were Twitter writers with 7000 followers. But you can find similar views stated by people with more prominence – most obviously, Jordon Peterson, an anti-woke activist/guru with millions of followers. From a New York Times profile:

Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married.

“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”

Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.

Peterson is extreme – although I suspect his extremity is less in his views, and more in what he’s willing to say out loud.

One of my favorite things in this cartoon, odd as it may sound, is the bench in panel 2. I was browsing google images looking for details that would say “college quad” to readers, and came across a photo of a quad with those concrete benches, and it was just the perfect combination of “good specific detail” and “not beyond my drawing abilities.”

I like the way panel two breaks the pattern of the rest of the cartoon – the only panel with no background, the only panel with a vertical shape, and the only panel in which an element in the panel breaks the panel borders. I also like how her eyeline leads back to the foreground dude in panel one.

And of course, Frank Young did his usual bang-up job with the colors.


This cartoon has five panels.


We’re looking at a few students standing on a grassy area, with paths and trees, between large academic buildings. In the foreground, a good-looking student with neatly combed brown hair and a purple polo shirt is reading something on his phone. In the background, two more students – a woman with orange curly hair (I’ll call her Claire), and a man with a small beard and his hair in a ponytail (I’ll call him Ponytail)- are looking at the foreground student. Claire looks concerned, Ponytail is in cheerful lecture mode.

CLAIRE: That guy’s in my sociology class… He’s bitter and angry at women. Why are some guys like that?

PONYTAIL It’s because too few women are warm and approachable.


A close-up of Claire shows her looking back towards the man she pointed out and smiling.

CLAIRE: Hmmm… Excuse me a minute.


Claire has walked up to the guy in the purple polo shirt; we can now see he’s sitting on a public bench. He’s pleased and very surprised that she came up to him. She waves and smiles as she speaks.

CLAIRE: Hi, I’m Claire. We’re in Sociology together.


A caption at the top of panel four says A FEW WEEKS LATER.

Panels four and five both show Claire and Ponytail sitting together at a round table in a cafe of some sort; there are framed photos on the wall, and large windows behind them, showing an area with a big tree. Claire has a coffee mug in front of her, and Ponytail is looking at a newspaper he’s reading.

In panel four, Claire is talking a bit angrily on her cell phone, waving her other arm a bit.

CLAIRE: Look, I don’t owe you being your girlfriend because I was nice to you! Just leave me alone!


Ponytail hasn’t moved at all, speaking without looking up from his paper, Claire has laid her head on the table in a despairing sort of way.

CLAIRE: Great. Now I have a stalker.

PONYTAIL: It’s your own fault for being warm and approachable.


“Chicken fat” means easily-overlooked and meaningless details in a cartoon the cartoonist put in, which maybe you (and they) find amusing.

Panel one: Not really a gag, but Ponytail’s t-shirt has a traffic light design, which I rather like and think would make a good shirt.

Panel four: In the background, there’s a photo of Wilma Flintstone on the wall.

The headline of Ponytail’s newspaper says “Background Detail Monthly.”

Panel five: The photo on the wall in the background has changed to being Pearl from “Steven Universe.”

The headline on the paper now says “I think therefore I nsomnia.”

The coffee mug on the table, in panel four, had cartoon lighting on it; it now has a cartoon rainstorm on it.

Outside the window, Michael and Janet from the TV show “The Good Place” are looking in.

There’s also a squirrel.

Women Need To Be More Warm And Approachable | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, misogyny, Sexism | 4 Comments  

Cartoon: The GOP Tax Policy Cycle!

Bobby Kogen, at the Center for American Progress, writes:

Long-term projections show that federal debt as a percentage of the U.S. economy is on a path to grow indefinitely… House Republican leaders have used this fact to call for spending cuts, but it does not address the true cause of rising debt: Tax cuts initially enacted during Republican trifectas in the past 25 years slashed taxes disproportionately for the wealthy and profitable corporations, severely reducing federal revenues. In fact, relative to earlier projections, spending is down, not up. But revenues are down significantly more. If not for the Bush tax cuts and their extensions—as well as the Trump tax cuts—revenues would be on track to keep pace with spending indefinitely, and the debt ratio (debt as a percentage of the economy) would be declining.

It’s good that CAP and others have pulled together the data, but what they’re proving is very intuitive: Cutting revenues leads to increased debt.

Which is an unfortunate reality of our current political system, but also, a perfect opportunity for another “cycle” cartoon! I really love doing the cycle cartoons -When they work, they’re elegant and fun, and a nice change from my usual non-cyclic layouts.

The visual simplicity of this cartoon was a perfect opportunity for me to play around with a more illustrative style. In other words, I crosshatched the heck out of this one. 

I don’t normally do this much cross-hatching because it’s time-consuming, but it’s also so much fun! We’ll see how it looks to me in a year, but right now, I’m very happy with how this cartoon looks. (Future Barry who is preparing the reprint book that includes this cartoon: Use this space to say if the cartoon still looks good to you.)

I actually completely colored the figures, and then I took the coloring away, because I think it looks better (and starker) as just black and white illustrations with some red spotting.

I even like looking at the cross-hatching without the lines:


This cartoon is laid out in a circle, with each panel having an arrow leading the reader to the next panel. So in principle, any of these four panels could be panel one. But for purposes of this transcript, I’ll start out with the topmost panel.

Each panel shows the same powerful-looking middle-aged man, wearing a suit with a red striped tie.

In the middle of the cartoon is the title, printed in large friendly letters. The title i: THE GOP TAX POLICY CYCLE.


The man – who I’ll just call GOP – is looking at a piece of paper he’s holding and jumping up with a horrified expression on his face.

GOP: HORRORS! The U.S. is running a DEFICIT!


The man steeples his fingers in front of him and has a big smirk, as he closes his eyes. He looks very content.

GOP: We HAVE to make BIG cuts to social welfare programs!


The man is now dancing in place, one foot kicked off the ground, arms raised, and has a big grin.

GOP: Then we’ll give rich people and corporations HUGE tax cuts!


The man is now leaning against the side of the cartoon with one hand. The other hand holds a piece of paper, which he’s glaring at.

MAN: Mysteriously, those tax cuts were followed by less tax revenue, which means…

(Panel 4 is followed by an arrow leading back to panel 1.)


The man – who I’ll just call GOP – is looking at a piece of paper he’s holding and jumping up with a horrified expression on his face.

GOP: HORRORS! The U.S. is running a DEFICIT!

The GOP Tax Policy Cycle | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Economics and the like | 64 Comments  

Cartoon: Service Animal Blues

Another collaboration with Nadine Scholtes, who has quickly become a fixture. I asked Nadine if there were any topics that she’d particularly like to do a cartoon about, and she surprised me by saying “something about service dogs. Like people keep distracting them.”

That’s a little out of the usual for my cartoons – it’s an issue, to be sure, but is it a political issue?

But then the punchline to this cartoon came to me, all at once – the bewildered editor, the paw-printed paper – and it made me laugh aloud. And so I wrote this cartoon and emailed it to Nadine.

The train setting is Nadine’s – I think my script just listed several places where a person might doze off in public – and so was the choice of a bi-colored Australian Shepherd for our main character.

This cartoon oversimplifies the issue a bit, because the gag works better if the dog’s owner isn’t involved with any of the action in this cartoon. But after reading the accounts of a bunch of people with service animals, it seems that the rule isn’t “never ever talk to or touch a service animal,” so much as “never touch or talk without the owner’s permission.” Some owners are happy to let people pet.

On the other hand, moments after writing that, I came across a different person saying that being asked “can I pet your dog?” all the time “gets really fucking annoying really fast.” So maybe it’s more like “never pet without permission, and use your best judgement for whether or not the animal’s owner would mind being asked, and life is always risky so what can you do?”


This cartoon has four panels.


We’re looking at three characters on a train.

The first character is a attractive man in his 20s or 30s, wearing jeans and a button-up shirt with rolled-up sleeves. There’s a suitcase on the floor next to him. 

He’s smiling and leaning down to talk to the second character, a very handsome dog – specifically, a black and white bi-colored Australian Shepherd. The dog is wearing a red harness which includes a sign on the front saying “service dog.” The dog is looking straight ahead with a serious expression.

The third character is the dog’s human, sitting (we know she belongs to the dog because she’s got the loop of the dog’s leash around one wrist). She’s dressed in desaturated red pants with a short of puffy fringe on the cuffs, a pink front-button blouse, and is holding a purse in her lap. Most importantly, she’s asleep; her head is leaning against a wall, and she’s drooling a bit.

MAN: Aww, who’s a good dog?

DOG (thought): Dude! C’mon! I’m at work!


A close-up of the dog, who is leaning its head to one side, away from the man’s hand. The dog has an annoyed expression.

DOG (thought): I’ve got responsibilities here. Don’t distract me!

DOG (thought): Do I come up and pat your head at your job?


The man’s hand is now firmly petting the dog on the top of its head. The dog closes its eyes and endures.

DOG (thought): You’re lucky I’m a professional, or I’d so growl at you right now.

DOG (thought): But I will be writing a very sternly worded letter to the editor!


The setting has switched to a newspaper office. Two people – a 30 or 40ish bald man struggling to hold a bunch of papers, and a 50 or 60sh woman in a brown business outfit – are standing in front of an partly open door with a sign that says “editor.” The woman is holding a letter open in front of her, with the torn-open envelope in the same hand, and is looking at it with bewilderment.

MAN: What’s that?

WOMAN: It’s… A piece of paper covered in paw prints?

Service Animal Blues | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Disabled Rights & Issues | 7 Comments  

Cartoon: Reality vs Imagination, Trans Kids Edition

Recently, the journalist Jesse Singal – who has a well-earned reputation for being anti-trans – made an error that he thought was understandable, but to many people – me included – seemed ridiculous. He came across an interview with a trans girl and her mother, during which the mom said:

“So the pediatrician at the time talked to Cam for maybe 10 minutes and then said, Well, I think Cam knows what she needs and let’s get her an appointment with an endocrinologist to move forward with treatment.”

Singal – who has written multiple articles and blogs implying that there is an epidemic of young people being pushed too fast into transitioning without examination, although he’s never documented an actual example – then tweeted:

“Pediatrician with no specific training in gender/developmental issues approves hormones after a *10-minutes* assessment.””

Virtually any trans person – and for that matter, anyone who knows trans people and has listened to their stories – would hear that quote and assume that there was more to it than that ten minutes. And they’d be right. Indeed, the patient herself, understandably annoyed, responded to Singal:

“A substantial amount of time passed between coming out to my mom and that doctor’s visit. I actually had been seeing a therapist for years, and the doctor had those notes indicating my experience with dysphoria.”

“During those *months of waiting* I met two separate psychologists and spoke to them about dysphoria. There aren’t details in the interview about that because it was traumatic, but if Singal wanted to ACTUALLY hear about my experiences he could have asked me…”

“I wasn’t “approved for hormones” as Singal claims. I was referred to THRIVE for an *informational session and evaluation* at their endocrinology clinic.  A majority of patients at these clinics don’t receive HRT.”

So why didn’t Singal – who considers himself an expert on all things trans – double check with anyone before running with an obviously implausible “ten minutes” narrative?

Singal lives and works in a bubble of anti-trans misinformation, which has given him a warped misunderstanding of how the transitioning process works – so warped that, despite years of writing on this subject, he can’t even recognize an obviously implausible story, if the story aligns with his misconceptions.

This cartoon wasn’t inspired by Singal alone. There’s nothing special about Singal’s mistake; so many anti-trans people share his misinformation bubble they’re gonna have to build new high-rise housing.

This one was a challenge to write. I wanted to have nine panels of how gender affirming care works in reality. Nine panels is simultaneously a lot of panels – necessary because I wanted to emphasize that a lot goes into this – and also not nearly enough room to give more than a gloss on a process that for most people is long and complicated, and really isn’t the same for everybody. I ended up rewriting those nine panels a whole lot of times.

The other difficulty with those first nine panels is trying to avoid nine panels of the same character talking at the reader. Panel five is my favorite; I’ve heard multiple people who came out as kids talk about how amazing it felt to finally be supported in having the right hair and clothing, and I always find it touching.


This cartoon contains ten panels; the left half of the cartoon is a three-by-three grid, containing nine panels, while the right half is a single large panel.

A big caption above the left half of the cartoon says, in large friendly lettering:



A young man is speaking directly to the reader. He has hair that’s carefully combed on top and buzz-cut on the sides, a short beard, and is wearing a reddish tank top and a black leather wrist band. He’s smiling and friendly. Let’s call him “Bob,” because why not.

BOB: The process isn’t always the same, but here’s how it went for me.


In the foreground, we can see a child with hair in a ponytail. The kid is sitting across a table from two people (presumably Bob’s parents), who both look stunned.

BOB (in a caption): When I was ten, I finally told mom and dad I’m a boy. They were, um… surprised.


Bob is again speaking directly to the reader, smiling, hands on hips.

BOB: But eventually they got me an appointment with a trans-friendly therapist.


Bob raises one hand in a classic “cartoon explaining hands” motion.

BOB: After months of sessions with the therapist, my parents agreed to the next step…


A shot of kid Bob, in a short boy’s haircut, wearing an Elmo t-shirt, jeans shorts, and red high-top sneakers, grinning and glowing with pride, with his chest puffed out.

BOB (in a caption): A new name, new clothes and a new haircut!


A hand is sticking into the panel, holding up a letter. The letter says “Dear Doc, YUP! HE TRANS! yrs, Therapist”

BOB (in a caption): Armed with letters from two therapists, we contacted a gender clinic…


Bob – narrator Bob now, not kid Bob – is sort of emerging from a calendar, leaning his head on one arm. He looks a bit sad.

BOB: But there was a waiting list… I lived as myself over a year before I got in.


A hand is holding a prescription bottle, although it looks a bit more complicated than most pill bottles do, with an oversize cap, and we can see it has a big stopper. (This is because it contains injectable liquid, not pills.) We can see that the bottle is labeled “Leuprolide.”


We’re now seeing Bob from head to toe, as if the camera is backing away. He’s continuing to talk, but each successive word balloon has slightly smaller lettering, as if it’s fading into the distance.

BOB: That was only the start! It was years before I began hormones.

BOB: So next I…

BOB: And then…


This is a huge panel, taking up the entire right half of the cartoon. A small girl, with her hair in pigtails and holding a teddy in one hand, is in what’s obviously a medical office of some kind, standing in front of the counter and talking to the person behind the counter.  Her eyes are wide.

The woman behind the counter is leaning forward, almost over the counter, and looks rather predatory. She’s wearing blue scrubs over a black shirt.

A big caption at the bottom of the panel says “HOW THEY IMAGINE IT HAPPENS.”

LITTLE GIRL: My teacher says I’m a tomboy.

WOMAN BEHIND COUNTER: That means you’re a boy! We’ll start you on hormones right now!

Reality vs Imagination, Trans Kids Edition | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 45 Comments  

Diets Don’t Work Therefore You Must Diet

This cartoon, drawn by Becky Hawkins, is a straightforward adaptation of a Michael Hobbes tweet (with Michael’s kind permission).

Michael, for those who don’t know, is a popular podcaster, whose three podcasts (past and present) are You’re Wrong About (a history podcast), If Books Could Kill (about “The airport bestsellers that captured our hearts and ruined our minds”), and Maintenance Phase, a really fun fat acceptance podcast that focuses on debunking anti-fat nonsense. He also writes a great Twitter feed that drives a certain brand of centrist absolutely batshit.

I pretty much imagined panel two as just the doctor talking at the reader. Becky, understandably, thought that would be a bit boring to draw and so decided to do a collage instead. The guiding principle of this collage isn’t “what possible causes of weight gain do Barry and Becky think are the most important” so much as it is “what possible causes of weight gain can Barry and Becky even think of a visual icon for.”

For instance, I personally have doubts about if “food deserts” actually have any connection to weight gain (although they’re still bad for other reasons). But a lot of credentialed experts think there might be something there, so it’s in character for our doctor character to say that, and most importantly, we were able to think of a visual gag for it

I also had fun thinking about what makes a caricature of Freud read as Freud. So away went a sofa and a notepad, and in came a cigar and a triangle beard.

The pamphlet in panel three is 100% Becky, but I really enjoy it.

My favorite art in this cartoon is probably panel four, just because that domestic scene Becky drew is so wholesome and cute. I suspect it’s inspired by Becky’s own life; I know that Becky and her extremely cute partner Naomi really love cooking together.

Becky writes:

This is the first cartoon I’ve drawn entirely in Clip Studio Paint! It’s a big step for me. I don’t like learning new computer programs, but this one has too many comics-specific time-saving art-improving features for me to continue sleeping on it. How much do I dislike learning new computer programs? I once tried a free 90-day Clip Studio Paint trial, couldn’t figure out how to log into the program, and let the entire 90 days run out without opening the dang thing. I finally took an 8-week Zoom class where local cartoonist Jonathan Hill talked a bunch of students through all the basic features of Clip Studio Paint verrry slowly. It was exactly what I needed. I’m excited for one of my ongoing comics gigs to be all-digital!

Barry offered this script to me because he knows I’m a fan of Michael Hobbes. I actually did fanart when he was on You’re Wrong About:


This cartoon has six panels.

Panel 1

A doctor (surgical scrubs, white lab coat, standing in a standard doctor’s examination room and holding a manila folder filled with papers) talks directly to us. He is neatly groomed and very likable and trustworthy looking, with a very friendly expression.

DOCTOR: The way public health experts think about weight is changing! Here’s some things we now all accept:


Although the doctor’s monologue continues, we don’t see him in this panel; instead we see a collage. There’s a desert with a road sign saying “Next Food 1200 Miles”; a DNA helix; a prescription pill bottle with “side effects may include weight gain” on the label; Sigmund Freud, reading a notepad and holding a cigar; and a cupcake.

DOCTOR: People are fat for a wide variety of reasons.


The doctor is holding a pamphlet out to us (which due to foreshortening takes up most of the panel). The pamphlet cover says “BMI: How do YOU compare to a small group of white male Europeans 200 years ago?”

DOCTOR: BMI is an imperfect measure of health.


A couple of happy-looking fat people are cooking; in the foreground, a woman chops onions, while in the background we can see a man flipping the stir-fry in a frying pan like a pancake. In the background, we can see the Doctor on a tablet screen on a shelf.

DOCTOR: Health markers like blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol can be improved without weight loss.


A close-up of the tablet, with the Doctor talking on the screen, now with a concerned expression.

DOCTOR: The vast majority of diets fail because people regain weight. Losing and regaining over and over can harm your health.

DOCTOR: And most importantly…


In a contrast to how calm the Doctor has been up to now, he’s now screaming in panic and waving his hands like Kermit the Frog.


Diets Don’t Work Therefore You Must Diet | Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat | Leave a comment