My editor, Antonio Fins, rejected the above cartoon in sketch form this morning. His rationale:
"The devil waiting for Dick Cheney to autograph a book? Yeah, ok. Ho-hum.
"I’m not a fan of Satan comparisons. I didn’t find this cartoon to be that clever or creative. Dick Cheney is great fodder for a cartoonist, and I don’t think this cartoon maximized that potential.
"It’s a subjective decision on my part. No doubt.
"So, in deciding whether I made the right call, here is what you need to consider. After I rejected the devil-in-line cartoon, Chan came up with a replacement – the one about the Bachmann cocktail. Admit it. The latter was a much, much better cartoon.
"So I think I made the right call.
"Because when I compare what I gave up vs. what we ended up with, the replacement was a better, more clever cartoon.
"I am a brilliant Decider."
My take: Personally, I thought the Cheney cartoon was on a par with the Bachmann cocktail number (linked above, as well as being the previous blog posting). Maybe Tony isn't a fan of Satan comparisons because, in this case, he didn't want to offend Satan.
Weigh in and let me know what you think.
We haven't had a candidate for the rejects pile for quite some time, either because my work has been so superlative that no fault could be found in it, or because as a cartoonist, I failed to push the envelope far enough to go over the edge with my editor.
Judging by some reader comments, it certainly wasn't the former.
Anyway, the one you see here was spiked for several reasons: my editor felt that it was too risque for starters, but also allowed that he "didn't think it was that funny. Almost, dare I say it, obvious." Normally he'll stretch the taste envelope if the cartoon has enough merit. Evidently, this one did not.
Not every cartoon needs to be funny. They can be poignant, trenchant and serious, as long as they make a point. This cartoon makes a point, but it isn't a deep one, so its success does rely more on humor.
Maybe it's a certain pride of authorship, but I thought it was funny, particularly in the South Florida context. So did several of my colleagues.
What do you think? Was my editor right?
This sketch is what I submitted to my editor, the estimable Antonio Fins, last week, right after Allstate got slapped by the state for trying to jack up its rates again. I thought it would be clever to depict an insurance executive getting a taste of his own medicine on Judgment Day.
Tony gave the drawing a shrug. I was miffed, because I was so impressed by the sharpness of my own commentary as displayed in the cartoon. Baffled by his obtuseness, I ran it past my colleague Gary Stein, who allowed as how it didn't do much for him, either.
Humbled, I returned to my office and produced the piece you see below, which Tony liked a whole lot more. Since I'm unable to decide which I prefer, and certainly unwilling to admit that Tony might have made the right call, I present both versions here for your review and possible discussion. Below it is his own take on the contretemps.
Admit it, I got this one right.
The original sketch for the Allstate cartoon lacked punch. I saw the devil and the punchline and I thought, Yeah, whatever. It wasn't grabbing in any particular way.
This one was much better. And it was better suited for color on the Internet version -- which is something even I take into consideration.
Too bad we can't get color on our editorial page. It could happen if, say, the publisher were to see it and really like it and make it so.
Or, having now called out the publisher, I might end up getting whacked like Allstate. Then Chan would really have something to write about in this blog.
This submission, while well-intentioned, didn't see the light of day. I'll let my editor, Tony Fins, explain--while I think his point is valid, I do take slight umbrage at the first sentence, specifically, "even Chan," which implies I'm an insensitive monolith. Only my wife can talk to me that way. Herewith:
The problem on this one was so obvious I can't believe even Chan didn't see it. Though not Chan's intention, it suggests that all Muslims are whackos. We all should know that's not the case -- and we have enough problems already with people that can't make that distinction without extending, through misinterpretation, the stereotype.
The cartoon would have worked if Chan had drawn an unassuming profiling victim who looked as unassuming as the way he drew Terry Nichols. That would have been an effective cartoon.
Tony's right that I wouldn't want to suggest Muslims are whackos. In fact, as I implied by using Terry Nichols as my example, there are more than enough Christian whackos to go around. I did intend to make the point, though, that the profiling law was bound to be misused, and that it was precisely Muslims and others of Arabic descent who were most likely to suffer the consequences of its abuse (people who are afraid act in less-than-responsible ways). The guy in the cartoon is startled by having the spotlight thrown on him, not nuts. To draw a generic, unassuming victim would have eviscerated the point of the cartoon, in my opinion.
I will concede, however, that it's an editor's job to make the call on whether a cartoon is likely to be misinterpreted.
That's right--another brilliant effort, brutally snuffed by a Pollyanna-ish bigwig. This was inspired by the Bush Administration's decision that restoring the mighty River of Grass should no longer be a federal priority. Nice way to treat the state that put you in office, but we won't go there yet again. I thought this was a succinct, bitingly appropriate comment on the President's callous attitude.
My boss, Dr. Antonio Fins, had other ideas, to wit:
"The Bush bashers would have loved this one, no doubt. But, sorry, no. This one got axed for the same reason that another one, of Uncle Sam throwing up over the side of an aircraft carrier, or some Navy ship, got axed. Bodily functioned-themed cartoons really just aren't for our pages.
"That said, one of a poodle peeing on someone's leg, Tony Blair maybe?, got in 'cause I took it to our editor on appeal and he thought it was fine. But I follow the precedent set by my predecessor, who sided more with clever, original humor.
"I enjoy a good laugh as much as anyone, and Chan can testify that humorous cartoons are my preference. But punch lines driven by someone peeing on someone or puking on someone are cliche and overdone."
My take: These are EDITORIAL CARTOONS, for crying out loud. It may be overdone--that's my business, after all. But cliche? I take umbrage.
With whom do you agree?