I created this piece for the recent Alternative Facts show at Works/San José. This is a reaction to the Trump and GOP campaigns hinting at violence against those who disagree with them, and feigning ignorance about what they promoted. I used the visual language of the intertitles from a silent movie, The Birth of a Nation, for two reasons: because of its melodramatic emoting, and because of its role as white supremacist propaganda.
The Birth of a Nation (1915) by D.W. Griffith is remembered for both its dramatic and film innovations as well as its demonization of black people and promotion of white supremacy. This film stereotyped black people as unintelligent and sexually aggressive. It showed the KKK as a heroic force fighting against their participation in society from voting to mixed-race relationships. While there were protests and calls for censorship, this distorted story was also adopted by the KKK as a recruiting tool.
The tactics of urgently stoking fear of “others” incites violence and continue to be used by Donald Trump and the Republican party that supports him. These vague threats justify policies that are actively targeting African-Americans, muslims, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people.
“I don’t know if I’ll do the fighting myself, or if other people will.”
Trump at a press conference reacting to Black Lives Matter protestors taking over at a Bernie Sanders rally – August 9, 2015
“Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
Trump at a rally in Birmingham, AL – Nov 22, 2015
“I love the old days, you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out in a stretcher, folks.”
Trump at a rally in Las Vegas, NV – Feb. 22, 2016
“They used to treat them very, very rough, and when they protested once they would not do it again so easily.” At press conference: “The audience hit back and that’s what we need a little more of.”
Trump at a rally in Lafayette, NC – March 11, 2016
“I’m just expressing my opinion. What have I said that is wrong?”
Trump in an interview with Chuck Todd, Meet the Press (NBC) – March 13, 2016
One year later, in response to provably false allegations used to support policy changes:
“So what have I said that was wrong?”
Interview with Michael Scherer, Time Magazine – March 22, 2017
As a way to emphasize “small”, I’ve made this a tiny gallery on its own. Each piece in here looks like a frame, complete with mat and label. The art itself is on Artist Trading Cards, a nice small format, drawn with black and gray markers.
The gradation on the mat is not an optical illusion. I’ve had this aqua-colored mat board for years, and at some point realized it had become faded by the sun along one edge. I like the effect here where the color is draining away.
Over the course of four years I drew editorial cartoons for the Mustang Daily, the student-run daily newspaper for Cal Poly State University (San Luis Obispo). Since this was back when the paper was print only I haven’t had access to them…until now! Cal Poly recently digitized the entire 100-year run of the paper. I tracked down all of my illustrations – nine quarters’ worth, from ’96-’99, 231 cartoons in total.
The deadlines for a newspaper, especially a daily newspaper, are pretty grueling. I’d usually follow the same routine:
The cartoons ranged from very local concerns (campus politics, things happening around San Luis Obispo), to typical college woes, to US and world politics. I’ll be writing posts about a half dozen or so themes I’ve gleaned from looking at all of them together and some of the context around them. In the meantime, here are a dozen of my favorite illustrations that showcase some of the variety of topics.
Super Bowl 50 is upon us in the Bay Area, and one of the teams is staying at a hotel just down the street from the Works/San José gallery. I created this piece for their upcoming show titled SUPER Hunger Anti-Valentine BOWL Games Part 50. The call for entries encouraged “commenting on sport and the season” so I took more of an editorial approach to this one.
I like to watch football with friends, especially when they’re involved in fantasy football due to the constant shifting of allegiances and opinions about particular games. While there’s plenty to criticize about the sport, the topic I kept coming back to is the recently updated bag regulations for NFL stadium events. It bothers me because it uses an inconsistently-applied logic about security, and in a spot of doublespeak, promotes its awkward guidelines as a “convenience”.
Public events typically have guidelines about what can and cannot be brought in from the outside. In 2013 the NFL released an updated set of guidelines about how items can be brought in. These guidelines are a puzzling mix of size, visibility, and brand restrictions. A bag must be transparent unless it’s as small as one’s hand…and a transparent bag cannot show any logo expect club and NFL official logos.
These restrictions limit bags only. They do not limit carrying items in jackets, cargo shorts, or other pockets. Most people do not wear pocket-laden clothing in daily wear, and the trend in women’s clothing is to have shallow pockets (2-3” deep) or no pockets at all. In practice, these guidelines primarily impact women (purses) and parents (diaper bags).
It’s disheartening that female fans are singled out to change their behavior and appearance for the sake of seeing a live football game. It is insulting to imply that this is safer or more convenient for anyone. The only convenience here is the convenient side effect of selling more NFL-approved merchandise.
Is your bag (or wallet? or phone?) smaller than your hand? If not, would be comfortable carrying your possessions in a clear plastic bag for everyone to see? Before attending a live football game you now should read up on how to stay safe on gameday given the new guidelines. Or these amusing ways to beat the bag ban. Funny how none of this is an issue for hockey, or soccer, or other organized sports.
The middle area shows the smaller-than-your-hand bag criteria in real size. There is a mirror inset here to reflect on how purses are a part of one’s identity. This size is far smaller than a standard purse – so to belong, you must conform to the right size.
The large dotted area is the 12″x12″ transparent bag maximum. Since anything you’ve got in there is free to be seen, I covered the area in eyes. There are 32 eyes, to be precise: a woman’s eye to represent each of the 32 NFL teams. They are (roughly) laid out in the cardinal directions to reflect the AFC/NFC team divisions, and each one reflects each team’s colors.
Purses are normal. These foolish guidelines treat them as uniquely threatening, and they reflect poorly on the NFL’s attitude towards its own fans.
Nothing like deadlines to get motivated! The Union of Concerned Scientists puts out a calendar every year with editorial cartoons about scientific integrity. I learned about the contest a couple of years ago, and somehow, each year, I let the deadline slip away from me. This year, the day before the deadline I realized it was about to happen again–and it occurred to me that the only way to break this was to treat this with the same urgency as the cartoons I drew for the Mustang Daily.
When I was doing this every day, the absolute fastest I could create a cartoon from start to finish (picking a topic, figuring out what to say, sorting out the layout, pencilling and inking) was an hour. I decided that I’d give myself twenty minutes to think of something to do. If I came up with something decent, I’d see it through. In college I used to run through the AP wire for story ideas; for this, I browsed through the UCS website to get a sense of the topics.
After twenty minutes, I had two ideas very roughly sketched out. Enough to go on! I drew these two cartoons in just under two hours. The siren lobbyists made it to the finals, which means they’ll be in the calendar. Will they end up on the cover? Perhaps, if I get enough votes!