Archive for April, 2007

Silly Rabbit… No, Wait, That’s not the Right One…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 16, 2007

Sometimes when I’m drawing these things I think, “well this is very obvious. I won’t have to explain this in the blog.” This, this is not one of those comics.

Nestle, you guys know Nestle, right? “It thick and rich and chocolate. But you can’t drink it slow, ’cause it’s Quik!” The friendly little hyper Nesquik bunny who helps you mix chocolate powder into your milk then bogarts the whole glass in less than a second? Good times. Anyway, the truth is Nestle is a big ol’ multinational food manufacturer based in Switzerland, and they have two big gigs going on in Michigan.

The first is bottled water. Nestle’s Ice Mountain subsidiary pumps large quantities of ground water out of mid-lower Michigan and sells it to the thirsty masses (us). Not a bad thing, but some claim that Nestle is not so careful about the effects of all this water extraction. To wit, lakes and ponds near the pumping sites becoming markedly lower. Now Michigan is somewhat sensitive about our water. It’s one of the few advantages we have any more, and we cast a suspicious eye upon the states and nations with growing economies and limited water resources. Which is to say, everybody else. So the state has aggravated Nestle at intervals with giving them rules to follow, telling them to follow the rules, checking to see if they are in fact following the rules — annoying stuff like that.

And now, second, Nestle is acquiring Gerber Foods, which lives in Fremont, Michigan. Actually, Nestle acquired Gerber from another Swiss company, and Gerber US headquarters has been in New Jersey for some time. But a sprawling plant and deep, deep ties remain in its birthplace of Fremont.

So the thought occurred to me that if Nestle wanted to be really nasty, they could “consolidate” Gerber operations outside of Michigan or at least threaten to do so. I don’t think this will happen, but it’s a good piece of fear-mongering and that makes for a fine editorial cartoon. And who knows, if I keep scaring people and filling them with a sense of dread for what might happen, maybe Rudy Giuliani will sign me up to help with his presidential campaign. (I’m sure everybody got that, and I don’t need to explain….) 

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Bully for Michigan!…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 9, 2007

The state legislator in Lansing was putting together an “anti-bullying” bill for schools a couple of weeks ago. One of those things where I think hearts were in the right place, but minds… maybe not. It’s just difficult to enforce, and it adds more paperwork and more potential bureaucracy to already overworked educators.

It got me to thinking that the legislators were playing a bit of a bullying role. So I went with pretty much the first thing that hit my mind, and it turned into an okay comic. It looks nice. It’s very readable. Nice and short.

But, alas, just as I was literally putting the last ink down, I thought of a much better idea. It would have had legislator-looking people (men and women) in their suits and briefcases beating the crap out of city and county government people, saying stuff like, “I balanced my budget, you make the cuts, bitch!” and “You take the paperwork, I’ll take your lunch money, dork!” Lansing Bullies.

I hate it when that happens….


Coolness… I’ve be Frazzed!

Frazz, 04/03/2007

Frazz, 04/04/2007

Frazz, 04/05/2007

Check this out: “Auchtoon!” appeared last week in the syndicated comic strip Frazz by Jef Mallett. The t-shirt of Frazz is an ever-changing aside, a fun visual easter egg. Jef, as an artist of considerable wit and artistic skill, does this because, well, he can. Brilliant!

And, yes, I did double-check with Jef to make sure I wasn’t just seeing only what I wanted to see — you know, taking my own John McCain Baghdad walking tour. See for yourselves! Then do yourself a favor and click the comics to go to the site and read more Frazz!

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23 Is Enough, but 24 Makes Two Dozen…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 2, 2007

So for what seems like forever a Native American tribe has been trying to build a casino just south of Grand Rapids. This has irritated two different groups of Grand Rapidians: The business-people (who have invested buttloads of money in downtown GR and don’t want to see potential revenue drained away) and the religious people (who think gambling is sinful and wrong). I, myself, think casinos are stupid, attract stupid people, create stupid jobs, present stupid entertainers, and are generally a stupid idea. I’m not part of a group because groups are stupid.

These two groups got together and formed a bigger group called “23 is enough.” Not terribly intuitive, but the name means that Michigan already has 23 casinos, we don’t need another one.

Recently the state has lat last given the whatever-their-name-is tribe the okay to build the casino. (Turns out it’s difficult to sustain logic that says 24 of anything is too much when you’ve already allowed 23. Like with liquor licenses, the “but how come he got one?” argument eventually wins.)

This caused a schism within the “23 is enough” organization. The business folks thought, well hell, if there’s gonna be a casino, let’s get our own for downtown GR, and then that will be enough. The religious folks went, huh? what? Are you serious? But we thought… And then they all had to figure out what to do next, which leads us to this week’s comic.

Right. Now this has nothing to do with anything here, but Kurt Vonnegut died this week and if any of you have ever read Vonnegut you know that an interesting thought need never be held back just because it lacks context. I have so many favorite Vonnegut quotes, but this one in particular is a pearl because it promotes clarity, attacks establishment, and manages to skewer folks who may otherwise be part of his “group.” Which is to say, this is what an editorial cartoon aspires to be:

“It has been my experience with literary critics and academics in this country that clarity looks a lot like laziness and ignorance and childishness and cheapness to them. Any idea which can be grasped immediately is for them, by definition, something they knew all the time.”

–Kurt Vonnegut


But No Transcripts… What? Don’t You Trust Me?


I created this comic knowing full well that the Business Journal wouldn’t print it. Not that there was anything terribly objectionable with it. It’s just that I gave them this comic and the one in the previous post to choose from. That one was about state/local issues, and those are the ones they prefer.

So even though I liked this one better, I wasn’t disappointed. Plus it only took me about 10 minutes to do….

As for the comic itself. Well, words fail. I was astounded, astonished, outraged, blown-away, (I could go to the Thesaurus and get more) that the White House would offer to have Rove, Meiers, et al testify to Congress on the whole US Attorney debacle, but only if there was no record of the meeting, no transcripts, no accountability. Really. Seriously.

But then I said to myself, “Damn! How can I get in on some of that sweet no accountability action?!” Alas. I didn’t work for them, and it didn’t work for me….


Belts and Nooses…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, March 26, 2007

“Belt Tightening” is one of my least favorite expressions. As in “Budgets are cut — gotta do some belt tightening.” Now I certainly understand that in business or government or personal finance that revenue often does not meet expenditures and something has to be done about that. It’s unpleasant but part of life. I get that. What I don’t like is the idea of “belt tightening” to fix the problem.

The expression reveals the short-sightedness of the person saying it. To me, belt tightening means: “Instead of really solving the metaphorical problem by either finding another source of food or exercising more to take weight off (or both), let’s pull the belt another notch causing enough discomfort so I can effectively do neither.”

For this week’s comic I just took it one step further. In the run up to the next Michigan state budget, politicians with a measured seriousness have been talking ad nauseam of tight belts. I asked myself, how do they know that belt is around our waists and not around our necks?…


20 Year Anniversary…

Jane/John Wedding Program Cover

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No, You Cannot Have a Cell Phone…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, March 2007

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