Monday, December 6, 2010

Smelling the Roses

Very rarely am I completely happy with a cartoon as a visual piece of art. Usually there is something I wish I had drawn better or composed more elegantly, but had to call it good enough because of the constant pressures of deadline. But I'm quite proud of how this cartoon turned out.

Of course the message isn't exactly hard-hitting political commentary. But visually, the image is simple, I really like how I captured Bucky's pose and I like how few words I used in the cartoon. You might not gather this from how laden with text some of my cartoons are, but a cartoon that makes a point visually, without any words or labels, is my ultimate goal.

Some might have labeled the badger "Bucky" or "UW Football", or labeled the roses as "Rose Bowl," but in this instance, that wasn't necessary. Granted the words "sniff, sniff" appear in the upper right hand corner, but I liked those more for visual composition than anything else.

Plus, onomatopoeia are fun, and sometimes a cartoon doesn't have to move mountains, or carry some weighty political message. Sometimes, a cartoon should just be fun.

The Fat lady is warming up.

There are several members of Madison's city council who are particularly fond of the sound of their own voices. They like to talk late into the night about overarching philosophical matters.

Since I don't have to sit through these meetings, this usually doesn't bother me. But it's worrisome when they practice this procrastination with a deadline fast approaching.

That's what's going on right now with the Overture Center. Banks and donors have agreed to erase $28.6 million in debt that the art center has piled up, if the city can come up with an operating agreement by the end of the year. But, instead of hammering out the details of how to operate the center, some council members feel it necessary to blabber on and on about the role of the arts in the city.

If a deal doesn't get done, Madison taxpayers could be on the hook for some $6 million in debt payments, or about $70 a household. This is money that individual families don't need, and in many cases can't afford, to spend.

But the bigger danger of not finding a solution is that one of the city's greatest assets could be shut down, which would be a blow to the arts community and a spit in the face to generous philanthropists, like Jerome Frautschi, who bankrolled the project.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dane County Marijuana Reeferendum

Like most people in Wisconsin, I believe that people who want to use marijuana for medicinal purposes should be allowed to do so.

Dane County will put the question to the voters in the fall on an advisory referendum (or reeferendum). Dane County supervisors unanimously supported the referendum (that's right all 37 of 'em), and officials expect the about 70 percent on county voters to support the measure.

Now it would be nice if the referendum actually had some teeth, but I guess it's a baby step in the process to give people access to the medicine they want.

I understand that in many states where medical marijuana is legal, the system has been abused. I've heard stories from places like California and Colorado where unscrupulous doctors will give anybody and their dog a prescription for marijuana, provided the patients pays a hefty fee. Some doctors will see hundreds of patients a day.

But at the same time the only thing particularly dangerous about marijuana is that it is illegal. I find stoners and potheads really annoying, but I'd feel safer with a stoner driving in the car next to me on the freeway than with a drunk.

And even though I wouldn't touch the stuff if it were legal, I'm excited that California is looking into legalizing and taxing pot. Advocates think the state will save money on police enforcement, earn money from taxes on pot, and shut down a portion of the black market for drugs that funds the murderous cartels in Mexico.

And I'm inclined to agree.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day's midlife crisis

Here is the cartoon I decided to draw for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. I liked it because it made a good point about the current state of American political discourse. I drew another Earth Day cartoon that I sent off my state-wide and national subscribers and I have attached that toon to this blog post. It’s not a bad a cartoon, but it doesn’t have the same edge.

It is sad that the environment and science itself has become such a partisan political issue. We need to be having a debate about what is the best way to address global warming, not whether or not it is a hoax.

Denying climate change is really a position for political wimps.

It is difficult to decide what is the best method of curbing green house gasses(i.e. what are the roles for the private sector and local, state and federal government, and what sort of mechanism such as cap and trade or carbon taxes are best at controlling carbon). It's much easier to stick your head in the sand and pretend that there isn't a problem.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Deer Hunting and socialsm

I'm not a hunter, and I was not raised around hunters or wildlife (although wild pheasants used to roam around the vacant lots near where I grew up in Detroit). But since moving to Wisconsin, I've tried to embrace the proud outdoorsman tradition that is so important to this state's identity.

There are many hunters out there who are true conservationists. These folks are excited that wolves are starting to thrive again in Wisconsin, and might reclaim the role as primary predatory to the white-tailed deer population.

But there are other hunters who only see the wolves as a threat. If the wolves cull too much of the already over-counted herd, then the DNR might have to consider rolling back the deer season in November. And certain hunters would rather see the wolves extinct, than to have their excuse to drink beer and play with guns in the Northwoods cut short.

As you can see from my editorial cartoon, I have less respect for these hunters.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friendly Wisconsinites

Wisconsin has had the highest response to the Census of any state. Almost 80 percent of state residents have filled out the little forms that help determine where federal funding goes, and how many congressional districts we will have.

This wasn't major news because it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Wisconsinites were more likely than residents of other state to perform their civic duty.

I'm not originally from Wisconsin, but I've really learned to love my adopted home state. Wisconsinites have a very strong and specific state identity and they take their civic responsibilities seriously (We are also always towards the top for highest voter turnout in national elections).

But the people here are just darn friendly, too. Shortly after moving to Madison from Detroit, I had a stereotypical Wisconsin experience – a lengthy conversation with a person on the other end of wrong number.

And while the big shots from the coasts or Chicago might think the folks here are naive country bumpkins, the world would be a better place if everyone was from Wisconsin.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health care reform

I don’t usually draw cartoons on national issues, but I thought this cartoon did a pretty good job of summing up my feelings on our new health care bill.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the Democrats passed a health care reform bill.

It's good that insurance company's can no longer cry "pre-existing condition” and drop paying customers as soon as they get sick. I'm glad kids won't be denied insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions anymore, and it's good that millions more Americans will have access to health insurance.

But for as massive as this bill is, there is very little in it that will actually make health care cost less and that is the crisis we are facing. Health care is too darn expensive, whether or not you have insurance to pay for it.

This bill needed to include serious tort reform and incentives to end the obscene practice of paying doctors by the amount of tests they order and not by the health of their patients. If you could somehow add provisions like these the bill, it would have been a lot better.

Of course these are conservative ideas, and the GOP was too busy orchestrating the president’s Waterloo and calling everyone and their dog a socialist to seriously help craft good legislation

Monday, March 22, 2010

Edgewater Bracket

It's in our contract as cartoonists to do a bracket-themed editorial cartoon in March. Well not really, but it feels like that as the editorial cartoon websites are inundated with March Madison cartoons. Some of them are pretty good, some of them pretty lame. I thought this one was pretty funny, but it was hard to fill out all of the slots.

I had about 12 great ideas for matchups, but I needed to fill out 18 slots for a full bracket. I had blank slots on the bracket pretty late into the afternoon on Friday, even after I'd finished drawing the rest of the editorial cartoon.

Luckily, my editor, Scott Milfred, was able to track down Dean Mosiman, the Wisconsin State Journal's city government reporter, to find out who would be an appropriate pairing with "TIF money." Sometimes, it takes a village to draw a funny and accurate cartoon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blog updates

I haven't been updating this blog, because I've been working a blog for the Wisconsin State Journal. Go get out the blog at From now on I'll try to post updates on this blog as well.

Here is today's entry:

It’s been fun drawing cartoons about Jeff Wood. Wood is a state lawmaker from Chippewa Falls who thinks it’s OK to drive around town when you're three sheets to the wind or hopped up on pain pills and cough syrup. This is the third cartoon I’ve drawn about him, and I think the meanest (I’ve linked those other cartoons to the blog).

The cartoon is mean because I feel betrayed by Jeff Wood.

I saw an interview with Wood several weeks ago on TV and actually started to feel sorry for the guy. He fessed up to his mistakes and was in the process of confronting his demons. He had publicly said he would not be running for reelection and entered treatment.

That was several weeks ago.

Now, Wood is fighting for his job, and is hinting that he might run again (Wood said his constituents support him and he believes he can be "an example of how you overcome your obstacles rather than let them defeat you."). He is even fighting two of his three DUI charges, saying that it's not his fault because he can't remember the incidents.

The man who at one time was taking responsiblity for his actions, now is trying to deflect the blame and play the vicitm with an eye toward the fall election.

I don’t know how Jeff Wood’s struggle with addiction is going (and for his sake, I hope it’s going well) but as a politician he’s definitely relapsed.

Friday, January 29, 2010


With the launch of the ipad, we've entered a new era...of distraction.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Carpe Diem

Officials from the Great Lake states are concerned about Asian carp (an invasive fish species that can grow up to 5 times the size of other carp) invading Lake Michigan, and eating the natural aquatic wildlife out of house and home. Commercial fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry on Lake Michigan alone and tourism that the lakes generate is a god-sent to struggling rust belt states like Michigan.

Several governors and attorney generals from the Midwest are asking for a summit at the White House to address the issue. The President, whose hometown of Chicago could stop the invasion by sacrificing some shipping lanes and closing some locks, seems remarkably unconcerned about the issue.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Here is this week's Youtoon, send me your funny captions.

State of the State

Tonight is Governor Doyle's final State of the State Address.

I don't expect him to say anything earth-shattering or fess up to the many mistakes he's made dealing with the state's budget mess.

On a separate note, I really enjoy drawing the politicians behind Doyle during the state of the state. I think they should be holding signs that say "hi mom."

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Cost of Speech

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions can now directly fund campaign ads. This flawed conclusion stems from the flawed premise that money is equal to speech, and limiting somebody's ability to spend money on a campaign limits the fundamental right for the super wealthy to speak.

Current campaign finance laws limiting spending don't keep anyone from speaking or voicing their opinion, they simply limit how much money you can spend to make that opinion heard. The first amendment promises a right to voice political viewpoint, but it doesn't give corporations the right to make us listen to them.

As the cartoon suggests, I'm worried that individual voices and opinions will be drowned out by the deluge of corporate and union money on political campaigns.

I ended up drawing this cartoon on the fly and super fast. I drew a cartoon on a change to campaign finance rules in Wisconsin, that became irrelevant after the supreme courts ruling Thursday morning. I drew this cartoon in about 2 hours on Friday afternoon, in time for Sunday's paper.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome Home Troops

Over 3200 Wisconsin National Guardsman have returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq. I hope that the liberals in Madison will work as hard to make them feel welcomed and help them transition to civilian as they work to end the war.

The reproduction of the cartoon in today's paper was pretty crappy. I likely need to talk to somebody at the Wisconsin State Journal to make sure my cartoons look as good in the paper as they do on the page in front of me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boston Tea Party

Here is a cartoon I finished earlier today on the election in Massachusetts. I thought this was a pretty good image to go the message of the cartoon, and I'm actually kind of surprised I haven't seen more cartoonists with similar ideas.

I really enjoyed drawing the ship. It's a combination of a bunch of vessels I saw online, but it turned out quite nice and has the right feel to it.

Monday, January 18, 2010


This was another cartoon I did on the tragedy in Haiti. I think this is pretty nice and simple image. While there have been some reports of violence, it sounds the people of Haiti are amazingly resilient.

Good luck to the survivors. Our thoughts and prayers are with every Haitian.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tragedy in Haiti

As if Haiti didn't have enough problems, now the capital has be devastated by a massive earthquake.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Road Kill equity

This is a topic that seems like it was made for an editorial cartoon. The state legislature wants people to be able to tag and take home their roadkill. Currently only deer can be tagged and taken home after getting run over.

My editor thought the truck was too high. I think it's funny. I guess all of my vehicles are driven in Hazard county.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Packers Lost

The Packers got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs. The team scored 45 points and mounted a valiant if unsuccessful second half comeback. But they were sloppy with football and the defense was ineffective. That is not the way to play football the Lombardi way.


Here is this week's YouToon. Please share your funny captions.

Recent Cartoons

Here are some recent editorial cartoons.

Obama is not worried about Asian Carp destroying the great lakes habitat.
Traffic deaths are the lowest since the government rationed gas in 1944 during WWII. 545 people died on Wisconsin last year. That's down from the highs in the 1970s when over 10,000 people on Wisconsin roads yearly. The numbers are even more dramatic when you consider that today there are over 5.6 million people in Wisconsin. There were only 4.4 million Wisconsin residents in the 1970s and fewer than 3.1 million Cheeseheads in 1944. Keep these stats in mind the next time somebody tries to reminisce about the good old days before car seats and seat belts and everything turned out alright.
Gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann has thrown out some unlikely proposition of imposing term limit on all of the Wisconsin's elected officials. It's just a ploy to get attention for himself. Even if he were elected governor, he would have no power to impose term limits on the State lawmakers. Only lawmakers have the authority to put themselves out a job. And that's real likely to happen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Icy Madison Roads

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman is putting together a bill that would put the state government in charge of plowing and de-icying Madison's roads. The bill comes in response to the city's inability to get the roads clear after a massive storm dumped over 15 inches of snow in the capital region. Freezing temperatures ensued and through a series of poor decision by city officials, the major arteries in Madison remained nearly impassible for several days after the storm.

Grothman blamed the liberals in the city whose constituency is made up of "people who walk to their job at the co-op." Obviously, Grothman has a sense of humor about the topic which is good, because his proposal is a joke.

Not only does this bill by a Republican have almost no chance of passing both democrat-controlled houses in Maidson, but I doubt the state would do a better job of getting the streets cleared. It was only last winter when incompetence by the state Department of Transportation left hundreds of motorist stranded on I-90 after a snowstorm.

The city made mistakes handling the storm, and amazingly has admitted to those mistakes and put in place in policies to reform those mistakes. Grothman's bill is mostly blusterous hot air.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Years resolution

Happy New Year.

Here is a resolution that I'd like to see our state Supreme Court Justices make. The real tragedy is that they have to reform their rotten behavior in the first place.