Monday, June 30, 2008

New Army Report

I read in the paper this morning that the Army has officially released a report saying what just about everybody in America has known for years. An in-house analysis found that the Army did not plan properly or have enough troops to adequately keep the peace in Iraq after the initial invasion in 2003.

While it's good that everybody now is on the same page about the mistakes that the Army and the Bush Administration made, I'm worried that some folks, especially those important people in D.C. will come to the wrong conclusion.

With this report in hand, some advocate of regime change could argue that it is not the doctrine of preemptive war that was a failure, but rather the army's execution of that doctrine. In other words our preemptive invasion could have worked, if only we hadn't messed up on a b and c.

If we can point out exactly where we went wrong we might try to invade another country (there is this place called Iran just up the road), with a fool-proof plan to handle the aftermath of our initial shocking and awing this time.

But even if we don't make the same mistakes we made in Iraq, we will make new ones. One would hope that the disaster that has become the invasion of Iraq, would have taught us that invading another country without being provoked is always a bad idea.

Over 4000 American troops have died in Iraq. We can't let them die in vain. But we also must make sure that we learn from the mistakes that our civilian and military leaders made that caused those casualties so that other fine young Americans don't suffer the same fate.

And now here are some editorial cartoons that are completely unrelated to this post.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cartoon from Sunday

Here is the cartoon from this Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal.

I apologize for the infrequency of recent posts and will attempt to do better in the future.

Don't mess with the Catholics

So check this out dawg... Bishop Robert Morlino of the Madison Archdiocese, has been sued by a firm he hired to conduct a survey. According to the lawsuit, Phoenix Fundraising counsel was hired to conduct a confidential survey of priests and parishioners, to gage the possibility of raising $70 million to replace the cathedral in the Diocese that was destroyed by fire. But the Bishop refused to pay the firm the agreed upon fee of $350,000, because the Phoenix group refused to disclose the names of folks who participated in the CONFIDENTIAL survey. Apparently the bishop didn't like the results.

Here is the cartoon:

I thought this cartoon was pretty tame, and in no way as good and harsh as another idea which involved a reference to the inquisition, but apparently I'm now decidedly anti-catholic according to several Wisconsin State Journal letter writers. Morlino apparently is above criticism that one might bestow on a regular public figure.

Here is a sketch of the killed cartoon I wanted to do.

And here is a quote from my favorite letter:

In promoting slander and unproven conjecture, Hands' cartoon exposes a current of anti-Catholicism that lies under the guise of "opinion" and editorial writing. The State Journal would do well to return to objective truth and journalistic standards rather than print what borders on libel.

Come to think of it, catholics are particularly sensitive to being depicting in editorial cartoons, let alone criticized in them. I did a cartoon several weeks with a nun in it, and received several letters denouncing the cartoon, despite the fact that the nun was taking my own editorial viewpoint and criticizing Wisconsin's stupid legislators.

Here is that cartoon.

Oh, and here is the cartoon I wanted to do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Ventriloquist

Amazingly Florida Governor Charlie Crist now thinks the Oil Companies should be allowed to drill off the Florida Coast, despite having opposed the idea for years. I'm sure his flip-flop has absolutely nothing to do with him being on the short list of possible vice presidential candidates for John McCain.

I tried a little more color today. I think it's working well. I also am a big fan of the McCain caricature in this drawing. I haven't drawn him much yet (basically only when he comes to Wisconsin) and I think this is slightly better than some of my earlier attempts.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Brats in China

According to the newsstand in today's editorial cartoon, Johnsonville, everyone's favorite manufacturer of Wisconsin's other official food, is opening bratwurst restaurants in China. (Which begs the question, why don't we have bratwurst restaurants here)?

This was fun, I think the concept is sound and creative, considering how many mediocre and obvious cartoons a topic like this can inspire.

I also had to do some real research for this cartoon. Originally, I had the guy from Wisconsin sporting a classic Cheesehead, only to discover that Cheeseheads are proudly made in Wisconsin.

Here is that sketch:

My editor was so worried that I'd tick somebody off by implying that their product was not made in the USA, he sent me down to the sporting good stores on State Street, where I spent about an hour looking at tags on hats, shirts and foam fingers to verify that these products (or at least products that were "substantially similar" to those pictured in the cartoon) are actually made in China.

In addition to the sporting goods research, I also had to figure out the Chinese characters for delicious. I found this cool website that not only gave me the translation but also showed me the proper brushstrokes to make the characters look authentic. Google can be truly amazing.

I also really enjoyed working in color again, and I think I'm perfecting a good coloring technique which doesn't take that long. I'm real excited about that.

This cartoon also ran in black and white in the newspaper and looked something like this.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Flooded Wisconsin

Much of southeastern Wisconsin and a good chunk of the mid-west was drenched with record rain fall last week. The ensuing flood likely caused 100s of millions if not billions of dollars in damage. Several counties in Wisconsin have been declared federal disaster areas, but luckily there have been very few injuries and only one or two deaths have been linked to the flooding.

With all of this destruction we need to remember what really is important in life, and hence this was the cartoon in yesterday's Wisconsin State Journal.

This idea seemed very obvious to me, and I was hesitant to submit it to Wisconsin State Journal editorial page editor Scott Milfred, who usually approves my cartoon ideas. But I became desperate after multiple cartoon ideas were rejected and so I caved and sent this to him at about 6pm Thursday evening. I must admit, I was actually surprised with how well the cartoon worked when I finished it. Scott really pushed me to draw a cartoon that captured and the moment and sent a powerful message. Thanks Scott.

For the curious folks out there, here are some of the rejected cartoon ideas.

Friday, June 13, 2008


A porn star was convicted of trafficking obscene movies in Tampa this week. A jury ruled that Max Hardcore's movies, which apparently featured urination, vomiting and violence against, violated Tampa's standards of decency.

That sounds about right to me, but it's disconcerting that jury decided to sell their story to a publisher before they declared their verdict. I bet their book wouldn't do as well if they had acquitted the porn peddler.

Here is the rough draft of that editorial cartoon:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

And the rain rain rain came down down down....

When I started this cartoon yesterday morning, folks around southern Wisconsin were dealing with wet basements, and flooding that while inconvenient and expensive to deal with, was in no way a disaster. By the time I had finished, four houses had been destroyed when the man-made Lake Delton breeched it's banks and emptied itself into the Wisconsin River. Now dozens of resort home encircle a stinking lake bed, strewn with garbage.

I must say the press conference where they announced the Lake's drainage, was rather amusing. Some official steps up to the podium, and proudly states that rumors suggesting that the Lake Delton Dam had failed were entire false. The dam was fine and stable. Only after explaining the good condition of the dam, did the official acknowledge that the lake behind the dam had cut a new channel around the dam to allow the flood waters to poor into the Wisconsin River.

Now I'm no dam engineer, but aren't dams supposed to allow a certain amount of water through so that the lakes they create don't cut new channels around them? It seems to me that the dam failed to prevent the new channel from forming. And considering the tourism that once thrived on Lake Delton, that is a damn shame.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Another Weekend of Cartoons

Here is the cartoon from Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal.

Conceptually, I'm really quite happy with this cartoon. I took a cartoon cliche of the food chain and turned it on its head to make a a statement about the state of the American Automobile industry.

GM announced last week that they cease production at their plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, about 40 miles south of Madison. From what I gather it wasn't a huge surprise because the Janesville plant, was one of GM oldest and specialized in building big SUVs, those cars that are being devoured by smaller imported automobiles.

Nonetheless, it tough when over 2000 people lose their job at the same time, through no fault of their own. The people who lost their jobs in Janesville, did not decide to build obsolete SUVs at the plant, and it wasn't their fault that GM and the other American car companies have failed build the small fuel efficient car that Americans are now desperate to buy.

People will blame cheap foreign labor, unions, or America's broken health-care system for the loss of these jobs, and their partially right. But the real reason auto workers are losing the jobs across this country, is that the American car corporations simply are not developing and making the cars for the future.

Here is the cartoon from Saturday:

The Madison city council, particularly Alder Julia Kerr, have been stalling a plan to turn a block of vacant buildings across the street from Camp Randall (University of Wisconsin-Madison's football stadium) into a hotel and a bar. The developer has reworked the plans several times to accommodate the concerns of Kerr and residents of the nearby neighborhood that she represents. The residents are concerned that the hotel's bar will become a haven for drunk football fans.

This is ridiculous.

The neighborhood is already a mess on Football Saturdays, with passed out and drunken party animals strewn about the street. This hotel and bar (and might i add city tax payer) won't make a noticeable difference on the party scene. Besides, the drunks are something you should expect to deal with when live in the neighborhood. If you live in the neighborhood and don't like the noise, go to the movies or the mall on those 8 Saturdays when their are football games. If you can tolerate the party crowd, charge 'em to park in your driveway and quit your whining.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend Cartoons

I had a couple of cartoons appear on Sunday opinion pages this week. This cartoon about $4 gas and suburban isolation ran in the Tampa Trib on Sunday.

I really like this cartoon. I drew it from a different angle, and really challenged myself. The composition is really interesting, but might be a little too busy and confusing for some readers.

In terms of the message, I really like how I portrayed the isolation caused by urban sprawl, and how foolish it was to build the American dream on the assumption that gas will forever remain cheap.

This cartoon ran in the Wisconsin State Journal on Sunday:

This was the second time I got to draw a closeup of a hand for the State Journal this week. (See Mosquito cartoon). I think after 10 years of struggling, I've finally figured out how to expressively depict the human hand.

Wisconsin's Supreme Court is such a mess. Ziegler, who repeated violated the ethics code, was elected to the Supreme Court nonetheless. Now, she's being reprimanded by the Court. It is the first time the Wisconsin Supreme Court has punished one of its own, but the reprimand is a little more than slap on the wrist.

Ziegler should have been suspended, if not removed from the court for her baffling inability to recuse herself from cases involving a West Bend Bank where her husband served on the Board, and earned tens of thousands dollars a year doing so.

From my understanding any judge would have ruled in favor of the bank in the cases in question, but the outcome is unimportant, the fact that Ziegler didn't recognize the conflict of interest is the real problem.

In deciding to rule on the cases, Ziegler proved that she lacks THE essential skill that one needs to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court; Good judgement.