Friday, September 23, 2005

A Bad Week For Political Cartoons

Time magazine included this in their weekly selection of three political cartoons:

Now, there are a lot of political cartoonists out there, so it's hard to believe that in any given week, the top three would ever consist of this guy.

Now, we're all aware that political cartooning is not an art form noted for its subtlety. But correct me if I'm wrong, but this one seems to be doing nothing more than stating a point of view outright. Isn't there supposed to be some kind of vaguely humorous visual metaphor, or some kind of joke to validate the expression of this opinion in cartoon form? The problem with this cartoon is that either there is no joke, or the joke is so hard to see that it's basically invisible. Is the point that it's bad that kids are being taught to certain tests, or-this is a stretch, so bear with me-or is the cartoonist trying to employ irony?

Could that be? Maybe this is ironic, and the girl doesn't realize that by learning how to take science, math and reading tests, she is in effect learning science, math and reading. The discrepancy between her complaint and what she is actually learning might then form some kind of ironic humor that makes a certain point-that complaints about testing are stupid.

Even if the school cartoon is actually attempting something as sophisticated as irony, it would still be bad, since as it is, it's not clear whether the irony is intended or not. However, judging by Bob Englehart's other work, it looks like Englehart prefers getting points across with comically oversized sledgehammers rather than through humorous implication:

If this is political cartooning, sign me up. We can all just draw stick figures with a word balloon clearly stating our opinions and change the text for each cartoon.

By the way, sorry to the Hartford Courant and Bob Englehart for violating your copyright by posting these cartoons. It was a lot of work. I would have far preferred to link to them, but that MSNBC page doesn't let me direct-link to specific cartoons. If they fix that, I'll be happy to take these down. Oh, okay, I'd take it down at the first threat of legal action. But seriously, make that website stop being a jerk.

I am also sorry for the Hartford Courant, since they have to run Bob Englehart's cartoons.

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1 comment:

Tommaso Sciortino said...

These cartoons really do suck. I only read the ones in the nytimes. Though Glenn McCoy realiably puts out "Democrats are happy when bad things happen to america" jokes, Tom Toles the rest are pretty decent. Maybe I'm just too partisan.

Then again, I like Non Sequitor so maybe I'm not the guy to ask.