Holidays, like any major or potentially historical news events, are usually good times to check in on political cartoonists, as they usually occasion a certain uniformity in subject matter. For example, today was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so naturally a large swathe of our nation's top political cartoonist drew something on the subject of MLK, giving us the opportunity to see how different cartoonists interpret things differently (and how they differ in style and approach).
A lot of today's cartoons were not very good, although I suppose I could cut the drawing table jockeys some slack: Martin Luther King isn't exactly a side-splitting subject.
Let's turn to Daryl Cagle's invaluable Political Cartoon Index and see if we can't find some depressing and/or horrifying examples of political cartoons (ignoring completely the class of cartoons that simply show portraits of King or uses of his words to serve as simple "Hey, it's Martin Luther King Day!" illustrations instead of providing any additional commentary.)
Did you know that the Martin Luther King's initials are MLK? And that's practically the word milk?
Henry Payne of Detroit's Michigan News does! Here he's appropriated the long-lived "got milk?" ad campaign, misspelled it and attached it to King's massive stomach. (I much prefer the version on Payne's blog, which attaches the slogan to a place one's more likely to see advertising slogans, and I like the way he draws men in profile).
Is there a way to make the "got mlk?" joke, but be a lot grosser? There sure is, and Joe Heller of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has found it!
Martin Luther King believed so strongly in equal rights for all that he meticulously shaved his mustache to read "EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL," thus constantly advocating for just that any time anyone glanced at the lower half of his face.
Or wait, is his EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL-stache supposed to be like the famous milk mustaches of the "got milk?" ads, formed by the drinking of milk in a sloppy, child-like manner? Did King just drink a cup of black milk, which somehow stained his face with...You know what? Let's just move on. I don't really want to look at King's mustache any longer, whether it's his special day or not.
Aaaauuuggghhh! What...what's going on here?! What is Gordon Campbell trying to tell us? That King has now been dead so long that his tombstone has taken on the characteristics of the man buried beneath it? Is that why it's developed King's face and mustache? Can...can it talk...?
Wait, here's some more horror:
This image comes courtesy of Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (a cartoonist who has one of my favorite lines). It depicts the tiny, glowing ghost of the still-living President Barack Obama haunting the birthday cake of the long-dead Martin Luther King for...for some reason.
Happy MLK Day, I guess.