A few times here at the illustration blog I have linked to materials outside the focus of illustration, art, literature and entertainment. In other words material about real life. This Bill Moyers show is worth watching no matter what the political feelings you carry. It is a fascinating look behind the scenes of how this country works politically, how decisions are made and how wars are entered into. So many ideas are represented as facts, so many timelines presented with no questions asked, it’s scary. If you watch the entire episode I think you will find yourself hoping to hear someone have the bravery to come out and say, “This is a no win situation. Let’s save the lives of all these kids and get the heck out.” Maybe someone will this time.
From his site -
Bill Moyers considers a President’s decision to escalate troop levels in a military conflict. Through LBJ’s taped phone conversations and his own remembrances, Bill Moyers looks at Johnson’s deliberations as he stepped up America’s role in Vietnam.
Bill Moyers Journal, November 20th 2009.
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I drew editorial cartoons for the college newspaper at the UW Wisconsin and for the Capital Times in Madison. They were picked up from time to time nationally and my work was twice included in The Best Editorial Cartoons of The Year. My father was an editorial cartoonist at the St. Paul Dispatch so I grew up looking at, talking about and debating a good editorial cartoon from a bad one. But these days the field is in as sad as shape as newspapers in general.
I don’t think the public pays much attention to them anymore in this age of You Tube and the majority of cartoonists have turned towards straight-ahead comedy instead of real political content. Certainly most have given up on actually using the art form to its best advantage, where the art AND words carry the concept. Cartoonists have also divided pretty strongly along party lines. Which is sad, as historically the best American cartoonists played a valuable role of third-party. Calling out any public servant no matter what party they belonged to. But is this era of Fox News it is no surprise that cartoonists find their audience only among the converted. It seems no one wants to be forced to think about a political subject unless it has been prepared to appeal to ones political leanings already. And in this new era of ‘journalism’ media conglomerates like Fox have created a ‘shout at one another’ system where thought, introspection or the understanding that political judgment, like life itself, is delicate and filled with contradictions doesn’t make good ratings. There’s no room for gray on Fox. Remember, you’re either with us or against us. So much for negotiations…
That’s a long way of saying I don’t follow political cartoons much anymore. Except for…Pat Oliphant. He was one of the best 20 years ago and still is today.
He certainly does have a political POV, but he doesn’t make the point of his cartoons a cheap political ‘shot’. He lets the drawing speak as much as his words and his drawing even carries intellectual weight. I can’t think of a single editorial cartoonist working who has that ability anymore.
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