Thursday, April 30, 2009

Patriotism and "Natural Manure"

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure." - Thomas Jefferson (November 13, 1787, letter to William S. Smith)

This was a fun one; I had lunch with my girlfriend at Lemon Grass (best Thai in Alaska), and doodled this out with a Sharpie right on today's newspaper. There was an article about the local Second Amendment Task Force folks having kicked up their rallies a notch by graduating first from a church, and then to a Carl's JR, to now the biggest arena in Fairbanks, the Carlson Center. This time the guests of honor were a couple of Montana statesmen, er, state legislators who authored a bill titled the "Montana Firearms Freedom Act." These guys were the redneck equivalent to pornstars for this crowd, as both Alaska and Texas (you might see a pattern here) has a similar measures up for vote.
Funny thing is the groups cheerleading this stuff who turn up after digging through a few pages of a Google search following the traditional conservative groups are the "resistance" "patriot" fundamentalist survivalist gun forum sorts who are rallying against the socialist Obama movement. Constitutional and state's rights i.e. sovereignty issues against the intrusive and evil federal guv'mint are effectively a thin veneer applied to the underlying fears of folks who as of now are backed into a pretty tight corner and feeling a bit threatened, or as some of these excerpted comments from the News-Miner thread illustrate, confused:
“While they profess themselves to be wise they are indeed become fools. Like little children taunting those whom they perceive a threat from. I guess while these higher educated intellectuals have learned to speak in words that most people don't communicate with and to control the argument through manipulation they don't posess the values of hearing and being considerate of any position but their own anti-christ views. I wonder if these are working for the gov't as ones employed to ridicule and oppose Americans speaking out againt tyranny … Guns are for ignant fools! … This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!" -Adolf Hitler, 1935 … I just read your pathetic liberal opinions when I need a good laugh. In my minds eye I picture liberals wearing shackles and chains in the future, or being used as human shields. They both make me laugh … Wow, you get a story like this and all the LIBERAL socialist whackjob conspiracy theorists come out of the woodwork … Only the elite will survive the coming oil wars … Try using your knowledge of the law and the issues, that is if you have any. Which I doubt you have. If you did you would be talking about the laws rather than spewing your hate speech out of fear of the unknown. Typical … Thanks for your time, don't you need to go braid your armpit hair or something?”
Now I suppose funnies like mine probably don't help matters much, but I do need to bring up the point about how eliminationist and separatist rhetoric is often a dog-whistle and calculated front for darker, more disturbing designs.
I'd be more supportive of such passionate protest, but for the absolute, deafening silence from these same quarters while Bush and his war made off with billions - I'm lead to strongly suspect the suddenly altruistic motives behind such patriotic displays. And don't even get me started on the war against drugs - well where the fuck ya been folks?

Politics aside, from start to finish this panel was about two hours, including the time spent emailing a 7meg file to the newspaper on my lowly 24k dial-up modem. Soon as I finished this, I had sent a low-res proof to my editor, and followed it up with a quick phonecall - he said that if I got a print file to him in time it'll run in Friday's edition. *Update: Actually I missed the deadline, so it's now bumped to Saturday* That's the first of my two allotted panels for May already, better hope nothing else happens...
Posted here are the transitional stages from thumbnail & original scan + the vectored Freehand file of preliminary coloring + the full-color Photoshop version + lastly the print version in black and white (grayscale TIF). Nice thing about having a blog is a chance to show here the "director's cut" in all its, um, Old Glory. When I got the go-ahead for it, I had to reopen the Photoshop CMYK file, convert it to grayscale, and begin punching back the range of values and alternately pulling out highlights. Ideally all my color work should in theory translate well enough to a black & white print, but when it appears on newsprint the background tone of the page will dull everything down a few steps, which is a factor to consider when digitally manipulating artwork. I try to think ahead by increasing the contrasts - on the color version the only real areas of white are the bullet holes, which I wanted to pop, and so there's a light carnation color on the stars and stripes, but not enough to lose the immediate color-coding that symbolizes a flag. Then with the tweaks banged out in a flurry of mouse clicks off it went.
That's pretty darn cool to have an idea go from concept rough to appearing before thousands and thousands of viewers in a matter of hours. Behold the power of the press! Maybe I should start my own First Amendment Task Force and openly carry my Sharpies around to these rallies. Since, as I assured my editor upon submission, they'll go gunning for the meddlesome cartoonists long before setting sights on editorial types. That's why I have a CCW permit (that's Concealed Cartooning, so back off punk).

I also had different caption initially: "Made in China - some assembly in Montana, Texas and Alaska." That's a snarky reference to cheapass imported flags and garments in general, but the second tagline won out as it heightened the differences (?) between the hippy flag-burning protester stereotype and this mirror-image secessionist militia movement. Now that the shoe's on the other foot it's a never-ending parade of parody - not only good fodder but job security for editorial cartoonists.
And as a bonus I reposted in it's entirety the full quote from Jefferson, the oft-cited "blood of tyrants" mantra, which is actually a tad bit more complicated than that convenient sound-byte implies.

"I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets." — Napoleon Bonaparte

No comments:

Post a Comment