Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Candorville Nominated for the Glyph Award

This is turning out to be a great year for Candorville. It's one of the only strips adding papers right now (both the English and Spanish versions), the book sold out its first printing in record time (well, a record for me, anyway), and now Candorville has been nominated for the first annual Glyph Award, which is quite an honor. From the press release:


Since 2002, the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) has been an annual gathering for black creators and fans from all walks of life to meet and learn from each other. This year, ECBACC reaches further out into the comics industry at large in presenting the first Glyph Awards, for outstanding achievement in black comics. The awards ceremony will take place May 19, 2006, at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, with the convention to be held the following day, May 20, 2006, at Temple University’s Ritter Hall.

The Glyph Awards recognizes the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year. While it is not exclusive to black creators, it does strive to honor those who have made the greatest contributions to the comics medium in terms of both critical and commercial impact. By doing so, we hope to encourage more diverse and high quality work across the board and to inspire new creators to add their voices to the field.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I so wanted to steal this...

Times like this, the little kid in me who dreamed of being a cartoonist still thinks it's all a dream...

Thursday, February 23, 2006


The Brad Blog reports that California's new Republican-appointed Secretary of State has reversed the previous SoS's decision to decertify Diebold's electronic vote-stealing machines. And like any criminal, he did it when nobody was looking -- late Friday right before a 3-day holiday weekend.

Coincidentally, this appointed Secretary of State is up for election this November, along with Schwarzenneger and CA's entire Congressional delegation.

Looks like California may be painted red this November...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Office of Faith-Manipulating Initiatives

Candorville's Reverend Wilfred was a staunch Democrat (or so it seemed) until he was offered half a million dollars by the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. Afterward, Reverend Wilfred began to seem as if he were channeling Scott McClellan (or, more to the point, channeling Reverend Herbert Lusk) every Sunday.

One of the regulars at rec.arts.comics.strips (R.A.C.S.) is a bit uncomfortable with last Sunday's sermon given by Candorville's "Reverend Wilfred" character. The following is a brief part of the exchange, including my response (which, if read in context, isn't as flippant as it seems here):

When Jesus observed that it was easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than for the rich to reach heaven, He didn't conclude with "therefor seek ye Ceasar that the rich may be taxed into poverty and made worthy in the eyes of God."

And when the risen Christ told His disciples to feed and tend his sheep, He did not also instruct them to "seek ye Ceasar so that My sheep will be fed and properly tended."

Good point. But neither did Jesus say "seek ye faith-based-initiative money from Caesar."

Read the whole spirited discussion at R.A.C.S.

After Reverend Wilfred's first appearance, an evangelical group or two mounted a short-lived effort to have Candorville removed from a couple of its largest papers. But just as with charges of libel or slander, Truth is a defense against organized boycotts.

Be sure to read this week's strips, in which the good Reverend finally gets his check from the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (or does he?).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Google's Memory Hole

(I wonder if posts like this will get this blog shut down, since it runs on Google's Blogger service? Anyway...)

Here's an example of what Google's doing in China. Remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre of '89? This is what Americans see when we search for images of "Tiananmen." ...Compare that to what the Chinese see.

It would be more socially responsible to provide China no service at all than a censored service. In an information vacuum, at least people know the truth is being hidden. With censorship, it's easier to fool the people into believing they know all there is to know.

No American company - especially one that considers itself progressive - should be providing this kind of Orwellian service for a repressive government unless they want us all to wonder whether Winston Smith has a cubicle in their offices.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

WonderCon Appearance This Saturday

Just got the Wondercon schedule from the National Cartoonists Society. Wondercon is this weekend at Moscone Center West in the heart of downtown San Francisco. I'll be at the NCS booth signing Candorville & Rudy Park books from 10-11am this Saturday, if anyone wants to stop by for a visit. I don't bite (hard). I don't have a huge stockpile of books to sell (I only have about 25 Candorville books and ten of each Rudy Park book left). So, first come, first served...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Sedition?" Are they serious?

How's that old poem go again?

"First they came for the Department of Veterans Affairs nurses, and I did not speak out because I wasn't a Department of Veterans Affairs nurse..."

I thought investigating Americans for sedition merely for speaking out against government policies went out of style along with powdered wigs and muskets (except for when it came back for an embarassingly bad encore in 1918). I guess everything old really is new again. Jesus, what the hell is going on in this country?

From the Associated Press:

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico wants the government to apologize to a nurse for seizing her computer and investigating her for "sedition" after she criticized the Bush administration.


Berg, a clinical nurse specialist, wrote a letter in September to a weekly Albuquerque newspaper criticizing how the administration handled Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. She urged people to "act forcefully" to remove an administration she said played games of "vicious deceit."


Even if Berg had used an office computer, neither that nor her criticism approached "unlawful insurrection," said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU.

"Is the government so jealous of its power, so fearful of dissent, that it needs to threaten people who openly oppose its policies with charges of sedition?" he said.

Even the government should be able to understand the substantive difference between the word "forcefully" and the word "forcibly."

About those Mohammed Cartoons...

Lynn Johnston, the cartoonist behind one of the most-loved comics in history (a strip I've read since I was three feet tall), has issued a press release about the Mohammed cartoon controversy. Lynn, like most cartoonists, is torn on this issue. On the one hand there's the desire to defend freedom of speech, and on the other hand there's the desire to respect different cultures and faiths. It's a tought balancing act, and here's where Lynn comes down on the issue:

Kansas City, MO (02/07/2006) A Statement from Lynn Johnston, cartoonist of "For Better or For Worse"

As a cartoonist with over 30 years' experience, I am outraged by the way cartoons are being used to inflame a world religion.

Freedom of speech does not give us the right to ridicule, to flaunt power, or to invent explosive cover stories for the sake of sensationalism.

Freedom of speech allows a controversial point of view to be published. If this point of view is derogatory, is it "free speech" to then publish it again and again and again?

Like pornography, inappropriate material can be found if inquisitive people want to find it. I am therefore appalled by the lack of respect and total disregard for human life-- all for the sake of a headline.

People who wear the apparel of their faith live their faith 24 hours a day as a statement of their constant and unwavering devotion. Comedy and sarcasm of our concept of God may not be liked by many, but we have a history of tolerating it.

They do not. Can we not respect this deeply religious way of life?

I believe these cartoons have a right to exist. The media does not have the right to use them callously in the name of freedom. Freedom for whom? If one innocent person dies because of this capricious incident, publishers must accept the blame.

On behalf of conscientious humorists and illustrators worldwide, I want to say to the nation of people who have been understandably offended – an apology is due. This is not comedy. If a cartoon or a statement causes such pain, it enters the category of hate literature and should be treated as such.

Laughter is a language we can all understand. For the sake of decency and good taste – stop reprinting this inflammatory image and allow a people already in crisis to heal.
-Universal Press Syndicate press release

Most of the cartoons at the heart of this controversy are poorly-though out, childish, amateurish and off-target, as far as I'm concerned. Some are mild and inoffensive, unless you're the type who suddenly decided to get offended that the prophet has been depicted at all (despite the fact that centuries of artwork and sculpture depicting Mohammed have passed without any ensuing rioting and torched embassies).

That said...

I can't agree with what (I think) Lynn is saying. I respect when other people observe their own sacred edicts, for the most part (e.g. not depicting the prophet Mohammed in a derogatory light, fine by me... stoning women to death for adultery, not fine by me). I understand when the faithful demand that others of their faith respect such an edict. That's their business. But when people demand that those who *don't* share their faith also respect those edicts, that's where they lose my support.

It's the same reaction I had when Giuliani and some Catholic groups temporarily went ape-shit over a painting of the Virgin Mary that incorporated elephant dung (which is sacred in the part of Africa that inspired the painting) back in '99. The big difference is the degree of the overreaction, but the nature of that overreaction is the same. It's irrational to expect people of other religions (or no religion at all) to obey the rules of your own. People of any religion need to be disabused of the notion that their orthodoxy can be forced on outsiders. I think Lynn's approach - and the condemnation so quickly handed out by our government, does the opposite -- it only reinforces that deadly notion.

A couple of the cartoons are ok, but the offense committed by the majority of them is that they're boring. I wish the images at the center of this controversy were better cartoons (click on the image to the right to see them), but I don't believe you can effectively defend free speech if you only stand up for it when you agree with it. I also don't believe that suggesting something has the right to exist but shouldn't be shown to the public is the same thing as defending free speech.

And it's an odd suggestion that papers should stop reprinting the cartoons as part of their reporting on the story. Papers have to balance their mission against the desires of their communities, but their mission remains one of educating the public. You don't educate the public by hiding important facts. And speaking as someone whose cartoons have been misinterpreted by reporters, I believe when the story is about reaction to a cartoon, you have to show people the cartoon so they can decide for themselves.

Lynn and others who share her argument are essentially using the "yelling "fire" in a crowded theater" rationale. But that assumes that the cartoonists didn't believe what they were saying. How could they possibly know what those cartoonists believed? They forget that people have every right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater if they really think there's a fire.