Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ted Rall Weirds Out Again

I kinda like keeping my finger on the pulse of some of the more loony left characters. Some folks like to go to the Democratic Underground, or The Daily Kos, or even Huffington Post. As for me, I have a couple comics subscriptions that include editorial cartoons. Which includes Ted Rall. So, I'm simple minded. Oh well.

When this cartoon appeared in my inbox this morning, I had a major WTF? moment. So, I did a bit of research. His quotes are from this article:

Q. Are you limited in your choices of editorial cartoonists? You seem to have a cadre of fewer than 10 -- some funnier than others -- out of all those cartoonists available around the country and the world. (This is a very mild criticism, as I am happy to see any editorial cartooning in The New York Times.) The same question applies to the choices of bits from the late-night comedians. It's always Leno, Letterman and Conan. Granted, they are the three top-rated and they are likelier to delve into politics, but why is there never anything from Craig Ferguson or Jimmy Kimmel? Is there a rights problem, or do you just not find them to your taste?

-- John Dillon

A. I'll leave the late-night comedians for the next set of questions. As for your comments about our selection of editorial cartoons, no, it isn't varied enough.

Thank you for your courteous tone. Most readers don't know this, but a whole subculture out there is permanently aflame over the syndicated cartoons chosen by us and other national publications like Newsweek.

Personal jealousy? Of course. Mike Luckovich of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the alpha male of this world, and they are all males, with one exception. But that's not the main reason our critics are so aggrieved. After all, we run a lot of other cartoonists, too: Mike Peters, Tom Toles, Dan Wasserman, Clay Jones, Bok, Signe Wilkinson (the only woman)....

The complaint is that we like cartoons to be funny and witty.

I thought that was the point. Apparently not. Funny too often turns into fluff, the critics say, and we're accused of avoiding hard-hitting political jabs. But what they consider daring and controversial is often sanctimonious, heavy-handed and obvious -- the Vultures-Over-Darfur School. Wit is far more powerful than finger-wagging.

At least I think so. All the Week in Review editors have had different tastes, but we've all been accused of loving the ha-ha-ha cartoon. Jon Landman, the deputy managing editor, who was at the Review from 1994-1999, once riled the cartoonists at their annual convention by telling them he thought too much of their work was dull and predictable.

What can we do to improve our mix? If things are tough for newspapers, they're even tougher for traditional newspaper cartoonists, and their ranks are dwindling. We've checked out Web-based non-establishment types. So far we haven't found much. We'll keep looking. Next month, we'll post updated guidelines and instructions for submissions. (Our print space is limited. But there's a large editorial cartoon collection, not chosen by us, on

If Luckovich is the Jay Leno (with two Pulitzer Prizes), then who are the Jon Stewarts and the Stephen Colberts?

There's a common complaint that liberals dominate the editorial cartoon biz. That's undoubtedly true. But the lockstep problem isn't political; it's creative.

By the way, why is there only one female editorial cartoonist for a big daily newspaper? Signe Wilkinson herself has one answer. "This is a job in which you cannot take criticism personally," she told The Chicago Tribune. "Women are struggling to be nice in a mean world, and cartoonists are struggling to be meaner in a mean world. Women, on average, take criticism a lot more personally than men do, and don't like giving it out for the same reason."

So, what is Ted's point? I'd say he feels his work is so much more serious and not fluff, so he's morally superior to Mike Luckovich. He's too busy trying to save the world to pander to the hoi polloi's taste for "fluff." Notice how Katy Roberts doesn't even mention Rall's name. Ouch.

Ted is upset by the sin of omission. He's an artist, dammit! He's also not funny, but that's beside the point. I'll probably be hearing from Ted's lawyers about this post - he's so sensitive, doncha know(if they happen to find me).

Plus, did you happen to notice this line:

There's a common complaint that liberals dominate the editorial cartoon biz. That's undoubtedly true. But the lockstep problem isn't political; it's creative.

Wow. That's some statement coming from a bastion of The Gray Lady. So, most cartoonists are liberal, and conservative cartoonists aren't as creative. Plus, I wonder if someone is going to take offense at her statement about women editorial cartoonists.


CGHill said...

Rall's best stuff these days is appearing in Mad magazine.

Make of that what you will.

Anonymous said...

Well, I've got news for Katy Roberts: Luckovich isn't all that funny very often, either.

Unfortunately, news syndicates can't make editorial cartoons out of blog threads (post included), but that's where I tend to find some of the most reliably laugh-out-loud substantive commentary.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Rall fails to grasp that angry-vs.-funny is not a straight either-or tradeoff. Some of the comments that have made me fall off my chair have been witty, inventive expressions of pure, white-hot fury.

I'd say to Rall, "It's not the anger, Rage Boy. You're just not very bright."