Cartoon: The Adventures of Timmy the Six Week Fetus!


This one’s a collaboration with Kevin Moore.


Tonally, this is very different from my usual strip, but I hope the change-up is fun.

I literally dreamed this up while lying half-asleep in bed. When I imagined the drive-by shooting done by lefties on bicycles, I laughed aloud, and that woke me up enough to get out of bed to write the idea down.

I wish they’d all come this easily!

I knew Kevin Moore’s wonderfully slightly-grotesque characters would be just right for this cartoon. Kevin’s had less time for drawing cartoons lately, due to a shiny new job, but happily he had time for this one.


Kevin says:

“What I enjoyed most about drawing this strip was the variety of absurd elements: a talking fetus, a tut-tutting Jesus, an antifa drive-by shooting — I even forgive you for making me draw bicycles and machine guns, Barry!

This is a very silly strip on otherwise serious issues of reproductive rights and gun violence. Right wing ideology has such upside down priorities — how can you not mock them?”


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels.

PANEL 1

This panel shows two teenage boys. One of them, John, has floppy blonde hair and is wearing a red t-shirt with a big horizontal yellow stripe. The other, John’s friend, has messily-cropped orange hair, zits, and a blue t-shirt.  John is rolling his eyes and looking aggrieved.

JOHN: I’m going out to hang with the boys, Ma!

MA (off-panel): John, you can go if you take your little brother.

JOHN: Aw, Ma, do I have to? Timmy’s such a drip!

PANEL 2

This panel is mostly taken up by the title, which is written in a big, cheerful-looking font that’s colored red and pink, with shiny white highlights.

THE ADVENTURES OF TIMMY THE SIX WEEK FETUS

Below the title lettering is a drawing of Timmy, a six week fetus, which looks sort of like a red lizard curled up into itself. Timmy has a little cartoon smile. A little curly label pointing to Timmy says “1/4 inch.”

TIMMY: I’m just like any other kid!

PANEL 3

John’s friend, in the foreground, is leaning forward and peering through a magnifying glass. In the background, John has his hands shoved into his pickets and is pouting.

FRIEND: You brought your stupid little brother with you, John?

JOHN:  It sucks! Ma made me take him!

PANEL 4

This panel shows two men with bandanas covering their lower faces riding by on bikes. They’re each holding a machine gun of some sort (I’m sure that someone will let me know that it’s not really a machine gun, it’s technically an [insert specific type of gun here], and let me assure you in advance that I really don’t care) , which they’re firing towards the sidewalk. Sound effects by the guns read “brapp brapp brapp.”

CAPTION: Suddenly… A random drive-by Antifa shooting!

ANTIFA DUDE: Ha ha ha! Take this!

PANEL 5

A shot of John, looking shocked and frightened. A bullet is on a path to hit John in the heart, but Timmy (who is too small to be seen, but we can see the zip line indicating his path) jumps in front of the bullet, which bounces off Timmy to the side.

JOHN: Gasp! Timmy jumped in front and took the bullet for me! And now Timmy’s dead!

TIMMY: Gak!

PANEL 6

In the foreground, John is kneeling, holding his cupped hands in front of him, as if he’s holding Timmy’s invisibly tiny body in them, and has raised his face towards the sky. John is weeping hard.

In the background, on one side of John, we see John’s friend lying on the ground in a spreading puddle of blood. The Friend has little “x”s for eyes, indicating that he’s dead. (I told Kevin that he could choose drawing the friend alive but shocked and sad, or dead, but I was 99% sure Kevin would go for the corpse option.)

Also in the background, on the other side of John, is Jesus Christ, with his arms folded across his chest, looking very stern.

JOHN: Why didn’t I love you like you deserved, Timmy?

JOHN: WAAAAH!

JESUS: I’m so disappointed in you, John.


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Abortion & reproductive rights, Cartooning & comics | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: The Secret Private Lives of Teachers


Another collaboration with Becky Hawkins, who really went all-out with drawing classroom environments!


When you support the Patreon, you not only get the warm feeling of supporting the making of more swellish policartoons, you also get the warm feeling of an extra arm growing out between your shoulderblades, and admittedly I can’t think of a single situation in which that would be pragmatically useful but what a conversation piece!


If I hadn’t argued online with a few people who are claiming that “back when we were kids” we didn’t know anything about our teachers’ home lives, I wouldn’t have believed there was anyone like that out there. It’s simply such a ridiculous thing to say. Just calling a teacher “Miss” or “Mrs” told us something about their home lives!

I think Becky may have been the one to suggest doing a cartoon about this. The neat idea of having the teacher in panel 4, be there as Billy’s classmate in panels 1-3, was definitely Becky’s idea.


Becky writes:

This comic was personal to me because as a former kid, WOW I hate being admonished to “let kids be kids” when that translates to “Stay in the closet around kids, and encourage all kids to act like they’re cis and straight til they’re no longer kids!”

I like drawing historical *cough* haircuts and clothing. I thought of Billy and his classmate Susie as my peers when I read the script, so I sketched early-90s outfits and hair in panels 1-3 without thinking. Then I read the caption for panel 4, which originally read “Fifty years later.” I did the math and realized that panels 1-3 would take place in the early 70s. It’s true that a lot of the people freaking out about “teachers bringing their personal lives into the classroom” are too old to have elementary-school-aged children. (I encountered one on Facebook shortly before drawing this comic!) So that would be realistic. But I also assumed that Billy was in the classroom in panel 4 as a parent. After checking with Barry, purely for my drawing preferences, I changed it to “forty years later.”

I looked at a lot of bowl cuts and feathered hair last week. The feathered hair gave me grief, actually. I haven’t drawn it much before, so I had to figure out how to try and capture the shapes with simple lines. A lot of the men’s haircuts that popped up on Google Image search were for boldly-coiffed musicians or actors. For the teacher in panel 2, I looked up “NASA engineer” because I figured that an old NASA photo would be an accurate “desk-dweller who doesn’t have time for fashion.”


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a schoolroom, although not always the same schoolroom. There’s also a tiny “kicker” panel under the bottom of the strip.

PANEL 1

A schoolroom (I know, I know, I just said that). In the background, A freckled, red-headed little girl wearing a red shirt is peering into a fishtank. There are big windows, and outside the windows we can see the tops of green trees.

In the foreground, BILLY, a reddish-blonde-haired little boy, is smiling as he talks to the teacher, Billy’s wearing a black v-neck tee shirt and green shorts. The teacher, MRS ABEL, is also smiling, leaning down to talk to Billy.

All three of them have feathered early-80s hair.

BILLY: Do you remember me from last year, Miss Thompson?

MRS ABEL: Of course, Billy! But I got married this summer, so now you should call me Mrs. Abel.

PANEL 2

A different classroom and a different teacher – but we’re still looking at Billy and his freckled classmate. They’re both leaning on the teacher’s desk; Billy is pointing to a framed family photo on the teacher’s desk. Freckles is wearing a red vest over a collared shirt, and Billy is wearing a green shirt.

The teacher is smiling and gesturing with an open hand as he replies to Billy. In the background, there are large classroom windows, and out the windows we can see the trees are yellow and orange – it’s now Fall.

BILLY: Mr. Smith? Who are the people in this picture?

MR SMITH: They’re my family, Billy!

PANEL 3

We’re back in Mrs Abel’s classroom, looking at the same people as panel 1 – Billy, his freckled classmate, and Mrs Abel. But time has passed; the trees out the window are green again. Also, Mrs Abel is now very obviously pregnant, and has a hand on her belly as she talks to Billy. It looks like Freckles was playing with a toy school bus, but she’s paused to listen to Billy and Mrs Able.

The girl in the background is wearing a red shirt under jeans overalls, and Billy is wearing the same green shirt, but with different pants.

BILLY: But why won’t you be teaching us next month, Mrs Abel?

MRS ABEL: Because I’m having a baby, Billy!

PANEL 4

A caption box at the top of the panel says “BILLY, FORTY YEARS LATER.”

An adult Billy, with a tidy beard and mustache and his hair going white at the temples, is in a classroom, yelling at a teacher, waving his arms. Billy has green pants.

The teacher, who has short red hair, freckles, and is wearing a button-up red shirt, is leaning back against her desk, away from Billy. She looks unhappy and surprised. On her desk, there’s a photo of her with a woman, presumably her wife, and two children.

BILLY (yelling): When we were kids, we never knew anything about teachers’ private lives!

TINY ADDITIONAL PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP

Adult Billy is talking to the panel 4 teacher, looking a bit histrionic.

TEACHER: But we always knew about–

BILLY: We didn’t! That would have destroyed our childhood innocence!


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Things To Stop Saying To Autistic People


This cartoon is another collab between me and Becky Hawkins.


If you like these cartoons then these cartoons like you too. They sit up at night thinking about you, but not in a creepy way. But they do it all the time, and that is a little bit creepy. Thinking… thinking… thinking… Maybe if you supported them they’d stop? But when I put it that way it sounds a bit like blackmail. Um, never mind.


A reader emailed me a while ago to say that he really appreciated the cartoons I’ve done about disability issues – about ableism, really. (And that was striking to me, because at that time I think I’d done only a few cartoons about ableism, plus another couple that touched briefly on it.)

(I haven‘t done many more since then, alas. You can see all of them at this link, if you’re curious.)

The reader, who identified himself as autistic, mentioned that he’d really like to read a cartoon by me focusing on issues experienced by autistic people. I said what I always say when I get requests like that – ”That could be a really good idea for a cartoon, but I can’t control where my inspiration goes. But I’ll see if an idea comes up.”

For me, inspiration often comes from listening to people complain. So I began listening, both by lurking on relevant public forums, and by talking to some of the autistic people I know. Some complaints about things neurotypical people say to or about autistic people waaaaay too often began occurring again and again, and presto: A comic strip. (Honestly, there was enough material for two comic strips, so you may see a sequel someday).

Once this strip is public, I’ll search through my email and try to find the person who wrote me, so I can point the strip out to them. I hope they’ll be pleased. (Defaulting to “they” because I don’t remember what pronouns they prefer.)


I was planning to draw this one myself, but Becky saw it in my scripts folder and asked if she could do it, because (she said) drawing eight jerks would be fun. I couldn’t argue with that logic! And she did her usual great job. I especially like the way she used limited color this time (because I love comics done with limited color, as I’m sure many readers have noticed).

It was Becky’s idea to have the “Have you tried Yoga” character go on and on and on and on, appearing against a background of endless words. I loved that idea, and I love Becky’s drawing in that panel – all that chunky jewelry looks great.


 

TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has nine panels, arranged in a 3×3 grid. The central panel has nothing in it but large, cheerful letters, which say:

THINGS TO STOP SAYING TO AUTISTIC PEOPLE

Each panel features a different character speaking directly to the reader.

PANEL 1

A young person with a jeans vest over a white shirt with torn short sleeves – essentially looking like a modern person who for some reason is dressing like a 50s greaser – is speaking to the reader with a wide-eyed, sincere expression, one palm held up.

GREASER: A kid at my son’s school is autistic! I feel so BAD for the parents.

PANEL 2

A middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie, with a beard that screams “I am an intellectual,” is looking a little puzzled, one hand stroking his beard.

MAN: You don’t LOOK autistic.

PANEL 3

A balding man with white hair is holding out a hand in a “please stop that” gesture.

MAN: Could you stop flapping your hands? It’s weird.

PANEL 4

A woman with carefully-messy-styled hair and wearing a full makeup job is holding her hands with their palms against each other in front of her chin. She’s smiling very large.

WOMAN: Autistic? That’s VERY fashionable these days.

PANEL 5

This is the central panel, which has nothing in it but a caption, in large, cheerful letters.

CAPTION: THINGS TO STOP SAYING TO AUTISTIC PEOPLE

PANEL 6

A man with an enormous beard, and nice glasses, glares suspiciously at the reader, with arms akimbo.

MAN: My niece is autistic and noisy rooms don’t bother HER.

PANEL 7

A middle-aged woman with a somewhat hippy-ish vibe is smiling and talking to the viewer. She has fluffed-out white or blonde hair, and is wearing at least three rings, six bracelets, and four necklaces, nearly all of which are large and chunky.  She’s speaking so much that it forms a wall of words behind her, most of which we can’t make out because she’s in the way, but we can read enough to get the gist of it.

WOMAN: Have you tried yoga? Not eating sugar? Not eating dairy? Sun… celery juice?  …matory diet? … Acupunct…. Quitting sm…. Float?

PANEL 8

A young guy carrying a drink with a straw is grinning and pointing to himself proudly with a thumb.

GUY: I know ALL about autism. I’ve seen “Rain Man” AND “Big Bang Theory”!

PANEL 9

A middle aged woman leans forward towards us, a concerned expression on her face. She‘s dressed nicely in a jacket over a blouse and a simple necklace. She’s got one hand aside her mouth, as if she’s whispering to us.

WOMAN: Have you just TRIED acting NORMAL?


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Disability Issues, Disabled Rights & Issues | 3 Comments  

Cartoon: The Right-Winger’s Guide to Labor Economics


For want of a shoe the shoelace was lost. For want of a shoelace the shoefly was lost. For want of a shoefly the flyover states were lost. For want of the flyover states the state of grace was lost. And the only way to get the state of grace back is to support these cartoons on Patreon. Weird how that works.


This cartoon really started out with what ended up as panel 4 — I wanted to make fun of the idea that high unemployment could be linked with laziness. But – at least, in what came to my mind as I was working on this strip – the laziness thing never seemed to become an entire strip. (Maybe I was just too lazy to figure out how. Ba-dum-dum. Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.)

So instead I made a cartoon that‘s really just a grab bag of some pop economics ideas about labor that too many on the right seem to believe.

I decided that I liked this cartoon better as one character monologuing rather than having a different character in each panel. Since just one figure talking at the reader could get visually boring, the challenge is to make each panel look and feel different, even though they’re really just the same thing six times in a row.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels. Every panel shows the same man, a white man with a mustache and thick hair that’s going white around the temples, who is speaking to the reader in front of an abstract color backgound. He’s wearing tan slacks, a light blue collared shirt, and a red striped necktie.

PANEL 1

A caption at the top of the panel, in big red letters, says:

A RIGHT-WINGER’S GUIDE TO LABOR ECONOMICS

The man in the necktie is looking sincere, his hands pressed together in front of him almost like he’s praying.

MAN: CEOs are infallible and holy and the government must get out of their way.

PANEL 2

The same man is suddenly exploding with anger, stomping his feet and waving his hands and yelling.

MAN: Workers are the worst! They need the constant threat of unemployment, homelessness and starvation to do anything!

PANEL 3

In a closer shot, the man looks out at the reader with an expression of bewilderment, as he shrugs.

MAN: If Luisa’s boss is illegally paying her $3.50 an hour, then $3.50 is exactly what she’s worth! I can think of no other explanation!

PANEL 4

Now the man has switched into a wise-professor-explaining pose, face calm, a finger raised to emphasize his point as he speaks.

MAN: High unemployment happens when millions of people get lazy all at once. It stays high until they all suddenly stop being lazy. Until the next recession, when they’re lazy again.

PANEL 5

A sudden, extreme closeup shows the man‘s face contorted with furry as he yells. (Wait, no, contorted with “fury,” not “furry.” I don’t know or want to know what being ”contorted with furry” is.) We can see that he’s trembling, and a little caption with an arrow pointing at him says “trembling with rage.”

The background, which up until now has mostly been a cool light purple, is bright red/pink in this panel.

MAN (yelling): When unions force rich people to pay employees more, that’s literal armed robbery!

PANEL 6

The “camera” pulls back to a full-figure shot, and his expression is now calm and smiling and a little smug. He’s got his arms crossed and is standing with one foot on the heel in a jaunty sort of pose.

MAN: Everything I say is the objective truth because I am super logical and definitely not just rationalizing my ideological beliefs and if you don’t agree then you suck at economics! LOL!


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Conservative zaniness, right-wingers, etc., Economics and the like | 6 Comments  

Check Out My Favorite Bit of January Fifteenth

Hey everyone, 

It’s been about six weeks since my novella, January Fifteenth, came out. I can hardly believe the amazing and generous reception it’s getting. Thank you to everyone who’s read and/or written about it.

Recently, I wrote about “The Voices of January Fifteenth” as part of My Favorite Bit, a feature on the blog of the awesome Mary Robinette Kowal where authors talk about some of the pieces of their projects they love most. 

graphic with text on the left and front cover of January Fifteenth on the right. text reads: My Favorite Bit, What Authors Love About Their Books. book cover of a person walking down an alley with an umbrella and the following text: January Fifteenth, “Money Changes everything–except people.” Rachel Swirsky, “One of the best speculative writers of the last decade.” –John Scalzi

What I loved most? Developing the characters’ voices.

January Fifteenth is written from the perspectives of four different women as they go through the day when they collect their Universal Basic Income payments that will help support them through the year. Each character has a different way of thinking about and interacting with the world. I love figuring out how to embody that in prose.

Here’s a couple snippets from what I wrote at Mary Robinette’s:

HANNAH

Hannah’s on constant high alert. If fear causes fight, flight, freeze or fawn, Hannah’s in the freeze camp… Anxiety makes some people terse, but Hannah’s sentences are long and detailed. She’s too nervous to decide at a glance whether something is a threat or not.

JANELLE

Janelle and Nevaeh are a blast. They’re quick-witted chatterboxes. Even inside her head, Janelle plays with words, goes on dramatic tangents, and trawls for jokes… Itried to balance the lengths of the novella’s threads, but it’s definitely not split into perfect quarters. Janelle and Nevaeh are part of the reason why. They want to talk forever. 

book cover of a person walking down an alley with an umbrella and the following text: January Fifteenth, “Money Changes everything–except people.” Rachel Swirsky, “One of the best speculative writers of the last decade.” –John ScalziThe full piece has more about Hannah and Janelle, as well as about the other two characters–Olivia and Sarah. 

Once again, here’s a link to my post. Check it out, along with the other wonderful content on Mary Robinette’s blog.

January Fifteenth is available in stores and through several online booksellers, including Powells, Booksamillion, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Bookshop.

Posted in Fiction, January Fifteenth, Mary Robinette Kowal | 1 Comment  

Cartoon: Regarding Those Largely Imaginary Cis Men Pretending To Be Trans Women


If you enjoy these cartoons, then you’d be interested to know that many of history’s most famous people are also huge fans of my work, including Abraham Lincoln, Ada Lovelace, Margaret Thatcher (who wrote me only last week to let me know that I am objectively the greatest artist in all of history), and Ulysses. And all of them support my Patreon. So be like them!


This isn’t the most important or the most prominent anti-trans argument. But it’s one I’ve heard a whole bunch of times over the years, and it always bugs me that even taken on its own terms, it makes no sense. Nothing about restricting what bathrooms trans people use can stop predatory men from being predatory, or cis men from lying.

The entire argument is a pretext (even if not everyone making the argument is consciously aware that it’s a pretext). For the proponents of these laws, the mere existence of trans people is threatening, and so any law that strikes at and ostracizes trans people – even if the arguments are gibberish – is supported.

And that, in the end (literally in the fourth panel) is what this cartoon is really about – not a single nonsensical argument, but the way that this and other arguments, boiled down to their essence, are rationalizations for othering and harming trans people.

They also like fear mongering with that image of predatory men wearing dresses while attacking women – an image that goes back in pop culture at least as far back as Hitchcock’s Psycho, and probably much further.


I asked Frank Young (my frequent collaborator who does colors) to give the right-hand character colored streaks in her hair, and I really love what he did with that.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, all featuring the same two characters, who are chatting on a suburban looking sidewalk.  The character on the left is a blonde woman with neat, shoulder-length hair, a white shirt with a black collar, and a purple skirt.  The character on the right is a woman with straight hair on top, dyed in streaks of orange and greenish-yellow, while the hair on the sides is orange and buzz-cut.  She’s wearing below-the-knee shorts and a tank top, and one of her arms is covered with tattoos.

For the purpose of this transcript, I’ll call these characters SKIRT and TATTOO.

PANEL 1

Skirt is talking animatedly to Tattoo, smiling and stretching her arms it to make her point. Tattoo listens with her arms crossed and a neutral expression.

SKIRT: Bathroom bans aren’t about screwing over trans people. They’re about protecting women from cis men. Otherwise, cis men would pretend to be trans to get into women’s bathrooms.

PANEL 2

A slightly different angle, so we’re now seeing Tattoo from the back. Skirt continues to smile as she explains; we can’t see Tattoo’s face, but from her body language she’s disturbed by what she’s hearing.

SKIRT: That’s why we need a law saying people can only used bathrooms that match their sex at birth. And if it just happens to harm trans people… that’s only an unfortunate side effect.

PANEL 3

A close up of Tattoo shows her frowning as she thinks, one hand rubbing her forehead.

TATTOO: Even if that were a real problem, with your law couldn’t cis men just say they’re trans men to get into women’s bathrooms? Wouldn’t it make it easier for them, since they wouldn’t need dresses or makeup?

PANEL 4

Skirt takes a step back, looking a little irritated and holding up a hand in a negating gesture. Tattoo, looking angry, is holding up her hands and yelling.

SKIRT: But if we look at it that way, there’s no reason to screw over trans people.

TATTOO: WHY IS THAT A PROBLEM FOR YOU?


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 38 Comments  

Cartoon: Equal Opportunity, Not Equal Outcomes


If you like these cartoons, you’ll probably also like sticking your toes into a mud bank and wiggling them until the neon worms come to nestle between your toes. If you can manage to stay like that for 30 hours straight despite the exhaustion and increasing pain from not moving (lifehack: bring a pillow to sit on), you’ll gain the power to walk across water. The downside is, you’ll leave glowing neon footprints everywhere you go, making it easy for the secretive government agency to track you down and throw you into their secret facility for studying people with powers. And the worst part is, the smooth-faced people in low-end businesswear who run that agency don’t like cartoons at all. So to pre-emptively get revenge on them, remember to subscribe to my patreon before they lock you up. (And say hi to the neon worms from me!)


“We should want equal opportunity, not equal outcomes” is something I’ve heard people say for decades, especially regarding the racial wealth and wage gaps.  It’s something that sounds extremely sensible until you really delve into it – and, many times, people don’t delve.

Despite the harshness of my cartoon, I don’t believe that everyone who has ever said “equal opportunity, not equal outcomes” is a racist. But there are racial implications to the idea that need to be unpacked.

What does “equal opportunity“ mean? Martin Luther King Jr, in his book Why We Can’t Wait, wrote “It is obvious that if a man is entered at the starting line of a race three hundred years after another man, the first would have to perform some impossible feat in order to catch up with his fellow runner.”

Equalizing opportunity is a worthwhile goal – but it’s difficult. Truly equalizing opportunity would require making radical changes to our society at many levels – in inheritance laws, and education, and health care, as the cartoon points out. And in many other ways – we’d have to look at housing, at access to jobs, in access to financing, and so on.

(And we’d have to ask what to do about intangible inheritances – the advantages aside from material goods someone gets by being the child of people who are already well-off. Like learning from example, since birth, to be fluent with navigating systems set up for well-off people; like speaking with an accent that says “I am well off and must be treated well” to stores and employers and government officials. I don’t know how we’d even start to equalize that stuff.)

But usually, if you bring these things up, it becomes clear that virtually no one who says “equal opportunity” wants the changes required to equalize opportunities. On the contrary, they’re usually defending the status quo. They’re arguing against affirmative action, typically, but also against other ideas meant to mitigate the effects of racism, like reparations.

What they’re saying, in effect, is that we should just declare that opportunities are now “equal” because the laws are equal, and therefore current-day racial inequality isn’t something we can or should try to fix. Dig a little deeper, and many of them subscribe to so-called “race realism” – the view that Black people are inherently intellectually inferior and so cannot and should not hold an equal place in society. (A more genteel version of the same argument made by slavery apologists in the 1800s.)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same two people walking on a path on a hillside as they talk. The person walking in front is a Black man, with a mustache and beard, wearing a t shirt with a sort of smiley face on it, except the face has a neutral expression rather than a smile. The second person is a white man with black hair in a tidy haircut, and a plaid sweater-vest over a collared shirt. For purposes of this transcript, I’m calling these two characters TSHIRT and VEST.

PANEL 1

Vest is speaking seriously as he talks to Tshirt. Tshirt is very enthused about what he’s hearing, smiling big and spreading his arms expansively.

VEST: It’s stupid to expect equal outcomes, because not everyone is equal. Some people are just born with less ability than others. What we need is equal opportunity.

TSHIRT:  “Equal opportunity” sounds great!

PANEL 2

A close-up of Tshirt and he turns to look at Vest, enthusiastically smiling as he holds up a finger while making a point.

TSHIRT: Let’s start with a massive inheritance tax. Nothing‘s a more unequal opportunity than some people being born with millions while others start with nothing.

PANEL 3

A longer shot shows more of the environment; we can see plants with long leaves in the foreground, and trees in both the foreground and background. Tshirt, still very enthused, slaps a fist into a palm as he anticipates what might be done.  Vest looks panicked, holding up his palms in a “whoa there!” gesture, eyes wide.

TSHIRT: We can use that money to make other opportunities equal. Like free college! And free health care for all! And—

VEST: STOP!  I didn’t mean any of that stuff! I just mean Black people are less intelligent so we shouldn’t try to fix race inequality!

PANEL 4

Tshirt, looking calm but also angry, has turned to face Vest, with his hands on his hips. Vest has turned away from Tshirt, arms crossed, nose held high in a snooty expression.

TSHIRT: Oh, so you’re just a complete fucking racist.

VEST: Intolerant reactions like that are exactly why I prefer to say “equal opportunity.”


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Fight Medical Tyranny!


If you’re enjoying these cartoons, you might also enjoy being on a lush tropical island where friendly locals come up to you with a dish of fresh strawberries, which is for themselves, because they’re not here to serve you and mean sheesh why would you even assume something like that? Anyway, those locals all support my patreon, and maybe if you did they’d give you a strawberry.


The point here is obvious – if vaccinations are a terrible imposition on freedom, then why isn’t forced childbirth? A tiny pinprick is nothing at all compared to forced birth, after all.

I can already hear the right-wing objection – “if forced childbirth is wrong, why isn’t forced vaccination also wrong, you lefty wokescold libtard snowflake cuck?”

And the moment the government begins criminalizing turning down a vaccination and threatening to throw people in prison if they turn down the shot, I’ll be the first to say that’s going too far. But of course, that’s not happening.

It all comes down to not treating women and trans men as fully human with all the rights everyone else gets.

In our society, no one can be forced to give up bodily autonomy to provide another person with body parts or any sort – no one is legally forced to donate blood or a kidney to save another person’s life. Not even if that other person is their child.

The idea of involuntarily taking one person’s body (or parts thereof) to save another person is so repulsive to us, it’s a trope in horror films and is considered a human rights violation.

Even corpses have the right not to be involuntarily used like that. If I don’t want my body parts to be donated to save lives, then it’s illegal to take the parts, even if I’ve died.

Everyone but pregnant people.


The biggest hitch, creating this cartoon, was that when it was 75% done I suddenly realized that it was very similar to a cartoon from four months ago, “We Must Ban Treating Meningitis In Kids!”  Ooooops. This has happened before, and as long as the subject matter and art is different, I don’t mind – I do a lot of these cartoons, and it’s natural that some tropes recur. But usually those “repeats” happen years apart, not just four months!

I thought about throwing this cartoon away, or at least putting it in a folder for a couple of years. I decided not to for two reasons: First, right now is when cartoonists (and everyone else) should be banging the abortion rights drum and banging it often.

And second, I like this cartoon a bit better than I like the meningitis cartoon. The set-up is less strained; it’s at least imaginable that some readers won’t see where the cartoon is going before reading panel four. (Although I’m sure most of you did see where I was going, because y’all are sharp.) Plus, panel two! Drawing panel two was so fun!


I wasn’t sure how to color this cartoon, and I asked folks on Discord for advice, which eventually led to the decision to make the big glove in panel two blue. I had originally colored it red, which I liked because it seemed so threatening. But people pointed out that blue is a more iconic color for medical folks to wear. I liked the red, but less than I like clearer storytelling, so blue gloves won.


After some discussion with supporter Darren Zieger (thanks Darren!), I’ve decided to go back to having a five-day gap between when I post cartoons online and when I post them in public. That’s what it was when the Patreon began, and the reason it shifted to a gap of months isn’t that anyone asked for that, or that I planned it. It just sort of happened that I put off posting in public, and put it off, and put it off, until the gap was months long.  (I’m pretty sure it’s an ADHD thing).

I really hope everyone’s okay with that!


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels. Each panel features the same character: A white guy with a windbreaker (one of the ones where the sleeves are a different color than the body), open over a t-shirt with a big number “1” on it. He’s talking directly to the reader.

PANEL 1

This panel shows the man on a blank background, speaking directly to the viewer, raising his hands for emphasis. He has an aggrieved expression.

MAN: A forced vaccine mandate is a slippery slope to totalitarianism!

PANEL 2

The same man, but now he’s holding a shield (painting in an American flag motif), which he’s using to fend off a HUGE vaccination needle being aimed at him by a GIGANTIC hand. The hand is wearing a blue latex glove, of the kind that many nurses and doctors wear. His word balloons are at an askew angle, for drama or something, but also because doing it that way let me fit in the word balloons without blocking off the drawing of the giant needle. Cartooning secrets revealed!

MAN: We can’t allow liberals to steal our right to make our own medical choices, based on our own values and religious beliefs!

MAN: Everyone must stand against tyranny!

PANEL 3

The man leans very close to the “camera,” so close that the top of his head and the bottom of his chin are both cut off by panel borders. He now looks angry, and he’s raised his voice. The background has turned red, reflecting his anger.

MAN: Even if the vaccine saves lives, government still doesn’t have a right to deprive individuals of our freedom!

MAN: Never! Never ever EVER!

PANEL 4

The main is smiling gently and raising a palm at the reader. The background appears to be a cozy living room; we can see framed pictures on the wall, a comfy couch with a couple of throw pillows on it, a side table and a potted cactus on the floor.

MAN: Unless they’re pregnant, of course.


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 16 Comments  

Link Farm and Open Thread, Metal Creatures Edition

  1. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Moore v. Harper. It’s a grave threat to US democracy. – Vox
    “Moore v. Harper is a grave threat to US democracy, and the fate of that democracy probably comes down to Amy Coney Barrett.”
  2. Democratic Strategies that Don’t Court Disaster | The Forum | David Daley & David Faris
    “How have Democratic leaders been so stolidly resistant to facing up to the true scale of this threat in anything other than fundraising appeals? Regrettably, advancing age and the institutional complacency that often comes with it play a major role here. The members of the Democratic Party’s leadership caste continually yearn for the long-vanished shade of “The Party of Lincoln.” They pine for the camaraderie of Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan and the difference-trimming compromises struck in the Senate cloakroom half a century ago—and by indulging in these clubby reveries before the public, they continue to transmit the message that the GOP is a normal political party, committed to upholding basic constitutional rights, freedoms, and power-sharing norms.”
  3. A New Study Contradicts a Washington Post Poll About How Native Americans View the Redskins’ Name – Washingtonian
    A much cited 2016 poll found that 90% of Native Americans have no objection to naming a football team “Redskins.” But other polls – including a new academic study which fixed some methodological flaws in the WaPo survey – have had radically different findings.
  4. The perception of rhythm in language by Anne Cutler (pdf)
    Short and impressive three-page paper about how we hear words.
  5. The Trouble with Promoting “Joyful” or “Enjoyable” Movement
    “Look, it’s ok to pick something you hate the least, and do the bare minimum you need to do for the benefit you want to get.”
  6. White Parents Rallied to Chase a Black Educator Out of Town. Then, They Followed Her to the Next One. — ProPublica
    They weren’t even doing this in response to what she said – they were pre-emptively getting rid of her because of what she hypothetically might say.
  7. There’s no denying the data: Rent control works | The Hill
    This is interesting; I’ve long had the impression that the case against rent control rested on solid data, but it’s actually much shakier, at least according to this article.
    Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn seemed to think defining a woman is easy, then they tried do do it – The Washington Post
    “When the reporter asked him whether a woman whose uterus was removed via hysterectomy was still a woman, he appeared uncertain: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?””
  8. Journalists need to do better when it comes to doing PR for the police. –Parker Malloy
    “Maybe if the police didn’t think they could so consistently get away with horrific acts and utter incompetence, they’d actually do a better job. Maybe if they didn’t have a boatload of legal loopholes they could hide in, they’d actually do a better job. Maybe if they didn’t get written about like action heroes by lazy journalists, they’d actually do a better job. The problem is the lack of police accountability, and journalists should be working to make them more accountable, not less.”
  9. The Risks, Rewards and Possible Ramifications of Geoengineering Earth’s Climate | Science| Smithsonian Magazine
  10. Four myths about testosterone levels and athletics – @KirstiMiller30
  11. Hotel Housing: America’s great forgotten solution to high rents and house prices.
    “While you won’t solve your homeless problem just by building SROs, you can’t solve your homeless problem without them.”
  12. Opinion | There Are 100 People in America With Way Too Much Power – The New York Times (and an alternative link)
    “The idea is to move the locus of policymaking back to the House of Representatives (which I would like to enlarge to at least 600 members), and to make it the most important chamber in the operation of government.”
  13. Mandatory Reporting Is Exactly Not What Victims Need (and an alternative link)
    “She wants to talk to her trusted professor, and yet she cannot do so while maintaining control over her privacy and her life. The policy has taken away her autonomy, her right to consent.”
  14. He Built a Home to Survive a Civil War. Tragedy Found Him Anyway. – The New York Times (And an alternate link.)
    A congressman believed that society is about to collapse and the only safety for him and his family was to have a private bunker. Tragically, he wasn’t the only person to believe that. (CW: murder.)
  15. On Capabilitarianism – by Ozy Brennan – Thing of Things
    In which Ozy explains their “weird contrarian ethical system.”
  16. Text Exchange Shows Clueless Boss Expecting Fired Worker To Keep Helping Out
    A similar (but more extensive) exchange happened between a frequent “Alas” comment-writer and their ex-boss.
  17. The F.D.A.’s Misguided War on Vaping – by Clive Bates
    “The government is putting stricter restrictions on vaping than on smoking. That’s bad for public health.”
  18. The photos are by Ukranian sculptor Igorigo, and are included here with their permission. Check out their Etsy shop!

Posted in Link farms | Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Anything to Fix the Housing Crisis!


If you like these cartoons, then you’d probably like my cousin Edna. And if you like my cousin Edna, you’d probably also like her special tuna noodle casserole made with tabasco sauce. And if you like my cousin Edna’s special tuna noodle casserole made with tabasco sauce, then the police are interested in talking with you about an incident on Berlington Circle Avenue last Tuesday, but they say you’re not a suspect and no need to hire a lawyer. But if you do hire a lawyer, cousin Edna knows a guy. And that guy supports these cartoons on Patreon.


There’s this thing I do in my cartoons where, anytime part of me decides to do something to save time, another part of me immediately rush to fill that void.

Like, “this cartoon doesn’t need backgrounds. Not every cartoon needs to have a background. Calvin and Hobbes often didn’t have backgrounds.” (My personal guide to if something can be good cartooning or not is usually “did Calvin and Hobbes do it?”)

…Which led to the decision to not do backgrounds. What a timesaver!

…Which led to the decision to take advantage of the faster drawing time by adding in two more panels, meaning four more figures.


At this moment, I’m actually pleased with the art. I feel like the body language and the inking doesn’t look as stiff and over-controlled as my stuff often does.

(To be clear, I don’t really think my work is unusually stiff and over-controlled, as comics go. But it is stiff and controlled compared to how I’d like it to look.)


I can’t believe that after (mumble mutter) years doing political cartooning, this is the first time I’ve done a cartoon about nimbyism!

The housing crisis hurts, and in the end, the only way of addressing it is to build more housing and make our cities – especially the cities that lots of people want to live in – denser. It’s as simple as that.

But it’s also impossibly complex to implement, because the system in the US for building more housing has so many places where changes can be vetoed. And when most of your life’s savings are tied up in a house – which is the situation many homeowners are in – any change can seem threatening.

(And of course, there’s also racism and classism in the mix. There always is.)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has six panels. All the panels show two women, one with spiky hair and one with curly hair, talking to each other. The spiky-haired woman is wearing a red and pink striped v-neck tee shirt, shorts, and sneakers. The curly-haired woman is wearing an orange tank top and a purple skirt with a pattern of large dots.

PANEL 1

Spiky is looking distressed, holding her hands to her head; Curly looks determined, pounding her palm with her fist.

SPIKY: The affordable housing crisis gets worse every year!

CURLY: Let’s fix this – I’ll do anything!

PANEL 2

Spiky is enthusiastic, lifting a pointer finger in the air as she makes a point. Curly turns away, holding up a palm in a dismissive way, looking annoyed.

SPIKY: Our biggest problem is the zoning laws. If we allowed taller buildings with units reserved for low-income–

CURLY: I don’t want to live close to those people!

PANEL 3

Spiky is taken aback, and makes her new point with a lot less confidence in her body language. Curly keeps her back turned to Spiky and crosses her arms.

SPIKY: Um… Let’s at least ban single-family zoning. If people could build “granny apartments”–

CURLY: That could change the “feel” of my neighborhood.

PANEL 4

Spiky clasps her hands in front as she makes a new suggestion, almost looking like she’s begging. Curly has turned back to face Spiky and looks angry, arms akimbo.

SPIKY: If we got rid of minimum lot sizes…

CURLY: Ugh! Houses built close together are ugly!

PANEL 5

Spiky makes another suggestion, looking unhappy, and Curly angrily rejects that suggestion.

SPIKY: How about eliminating parking minimums for new housing?

CURLY: And make parking spaces harder to find? Never!

PANEL 6

The characters are drawn smaller, as if we’re exiting this scene. Now Spiky looks annoyed, and her arms are akimbo. Curly looks cheerful and spreads her palms as if she’s making an obvious point.

SPIKY: So when you said you’d do “anything”…?

CURLY: Anything that doesn’t change anything.


This cartoon on Patreon

Posted in Cartooning & comics | 50 Comments