Help Needed: Teleprompter

This comic is basically done, but if you have any suggestions on how I could make a better title or tweak the wording, let me know. My main concern is that I'm trying to expose the hypocrisy, not participate in it. I think the comic might be misread/misunderstood.

A Brief History of Obamacare

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By their own admission, Republicans in Congress made keeping Obama to one term their primary agenda: not jobs, not fixing the housing situation, not getting the economy under control. No it was stopping Obama. So any legislative victory had to be prevented, even when the legislation was a gift to Republicans.

That’s why passing healthcare reform was such a struggle. Of course, let’s not forget that Obama and the Democrats were fairly tepid about the fight---they completely eschewed the public option---and once the Affordable Care Act did pass, Democrats ran away from it as quickly as possible, because the Republicans had made it toxic with their non-stop mantra of Socialism, Communism, and Death Panels (regardless of how much sense their “argument” made). And because the Democrats were too scared to explain the new law---much less promote it---health care reform lingered as a problem in the public’s mind.

Which made it all the more infuriating, because when you actually talk about the specifics about the evil scary Obamacare, it turns out that Americans largely like what’s in it. (Which is probably why the Republicans wanted to prevent any type of rational conversation.)

So I’m glad to see that Democrats are finally starting to embrace the pejorative “Obamacare” label. Because for all its faults, the Affordable Care Act is a huge leap forward for America. And twenty years from now, when we’re fighting the next progressive battle, we’ll need to (again) remind people that it was Democrats, not Republicans, who have been looking out for their interests.

Flashback: Dear Mr. President...

Let's face it, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") is a far cry from the public option for universal health care, and its provisions are practically straight out of the 1993 Republican playbook (how it went from "the conservative alternative" to "socialism" is beyond me), but it's a good day when more people can get health care. So in (modest) celebration of today's ruling, here's a little gem from 2010.

Your Guide to the Budget

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I don't understand how the Republicans have any credibility when it comes to the budget. They label themselves as fiscally responsible, but history belies that claim. (And, yes, for fairness and balance, many Dems are also bad.)

As with my last cartoon, it is ridiculous for people who ignored deficits under Bush to suddenly discover them under Obama. Moreover, it is even more hypocritical when you remember that the Bushies couldn't wait to spend the surplus fast enough. If we had saved (or invested) that surplus, we might not be where we are now.

Everyone claims to want a balanced budget (especially easy when you are in the minority party), but no one acts that way. And when we did have a balanced budget in 1998, the Republicans were busy impeaching the president.

Sleep Deficit Disorder

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This one has been churning around my brain for a few months. And really, it could be used to call out conservatives on just about any issue that they conveniently ignored under the Bush reign; but deficit reduction is probably their most laughable hypocrisy. Plus it's easier to make a pun with.

And Obama (et al) are such pussies for caving so easily on this issue. Yes, we need to address the deficit; but let's get the economy moving first. Then it'll be much easier to pay down the debt.

Obama claims that, "like people, the government needs to tighten it belt," but that's exactly wrong. Unlike households, the government is in a unique position to drive the entire economy. Governments should step on the gas (spend) when the economy slows down and ease off (save more) when the economy is going gangbusters.

Remember the hole Reagan and Bush I dug for us? Remember the surplus Clinton left us with? What the rise of the internet did under Clinton, "green" tech can do under Obama if we just use the stimulus money in targeted ways.

Dear Mister President

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Drawing Board

Since I had to do some clean up because of bad scans, I decided to go ahead and fix a few other things about the comic.

The pacing of the comic was not quite working. Resizing the panels allowed me to make it more like a syllogism: Tier 1: they hate you; Tier 2: it doesn't matter, you can still do great things; Tier 3: therefore, do great things. Okay, it's not quite a syllogism, but I think the pacing is a little better.

This was a comic that I was creating as I was working on it. I had a loose script, with no punchline (or kick line as the case may be). It was closer to 13 panels, but I cut out some of the lesser needed info. I drew it piecemeal in that each of the images was drawn on a separate page, which allowed me to more easily re-size and move things around (as will be obvious if you look at the earlier draft below).

I'm still working on my cartoon Obama. I realized after I inked the first image that if the prez is supposed to be tall, his pants should be too short rather than rolled up into cuffs. He's in rolled up shirtsleeves and jeans, because I actually think he does work hard (as opposed to some pResidents I've drawn).

The comic doesn't come close to saying everything I'd like to about Health Care Reform, but I think it basically gets my point across about Obama's (so far) failure to get it done. If you don't lead strong, others will fill the vacuum.

Recent History

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Drawing Board

Now my fellow 'Racers may argue that this meager diagram can't count as my monthly comic contribution. I agree,  but I want to point out that this image, in its own little way, is the epitome of a good cartoon.

Now I'm not arguing that this IS a great cartoon. You either like it or you don't. But as someone who writes and edits for a living, I make use of a lot of  charts and diagrams specifically because they can impart a great deal of information very quickly and easily. And as cliche as it may sound, a picture is not only worth quite a few words, it sometimes does the job better because you get everything you need to know in an immediate holistic way that sentences simply can't convey.

One of my struggles as a cartoonist is figuring out how much information is necessary to get a point across. Typically, I start with too many words and image details; and I keep stripping it down until I feel like the cartoon can't lose anymore and still be clear. (And then Mark tells me to take out even more).

So I really appreciate an idea expressed simply.

(By the way, I cut out a lot of detail in this one, too. I had more year markers, and more intricate labels, and more text, and....)

The Sleeper Agent

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Drawing Board This one was inspired by all those emails I got when Obama was running for president that breathlessly tried to warn me that Obama was secretly a Muslim, that he was out to take over the government, that he'd bring chaos to America, and undermine our way of life.

And I'd just think..."Oh my god! He might start an illegal war based on lies! He might send thousands of Americans to their deaths! He might let an American city and its people drown! He might destroy the economy while enriching all his friends. He might explode the deficit while undermining government services! He might spy on American citizens and openly flout the law. He might..."

Well, you get the picture. Republicans have no sense of irony.

It has been awhile since I did a more involved comic, and with Bush thankfully out the door, I figured I shuld get this one in quick. I tried to contain my anger (and examples) to 9 panels, as well as keep the agent a mystery until the end. The dark face is both to maintain his secret identity as well as to hint strongly that the agent is Obama.

This one's a mix of pen and brush, with some Photoshop/Illustrator thrown in for the panel outlines and text. Overall, it's a bit muddled; and I'm not sure you'll get it without the explanation. But overall, I'm happy with it.


Click to enlarge.

Drawing Board

As is probably obvious, this "comic" was inspired by the Obama/Hope poster. Frankly, I'm surprised that I haven't seen this already. Surely, someone beat me to the punch. In any case, my first thought was to do one of McCain with the word "Fear," but as that bit of unpleasantness is behind us, I figured I'd get in another shot at everyone's favorite leader.

The comic was done entirely in Photoshop. After lots of "research," I found an image of George that seemed appropriate. That step was probably the hardest. After that, it was really just a case of deciding what to aspects of George's mug should be red, white, or blue. I tried to keep my version close to the Hope poster, but I didn't quite match the colors or font.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with the little Obama "O." I tried making it a frowny/confused face, but I settled on the Ø because it works as both the "empty set" symbol or the "NO" sign.

Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with the New Guy

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So How Did You Make That Card?

STEP 1: THE IDEA The first step was probably the hardest. How do you come up with an idea that will be fun and fit on a card? Usually, something finally pops into my head.

STEP 2: THE SKETCH Next came the sketch. This one started on the back of some scrap paper. I doodled around, trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. Step 2 is really just an extension of Step 1.

Once I had an idea of what I wanted, I sketched the image out "full size" to get a sense of how things would fit together for a card shape. I also doodled around trying to get the right look for the faces.

STEP 3: THE DRAWING Next came the actual drawing. I took a large sheet of tracing paper, and sketched out the image. This is where I worked out all the "issues" that came up. For example, you can see that I decided to cut off these guys' legs (since they don't add anything to the image); and I decided to have Obama wave off the gift rather than take it (because that's funnier). These are big changes (especially when drawing hands), so it's best to work it all out first.

Next, I took a sheet of Bristol (a heavy paper), and using a lightbox, I lightly traced the image, leaving all the mistakes on the tracing paper.

Light box

STEP 4: INKING Next I went over all of the pencils with ink. Some people think this means "tracing," but it's not. Inking adds a whole different character to the image. I used a brush to vary the line weights (compare Bush's chin line to his nose line) and to add some depth to the image.

Ink & brushes

Once all the ink was dry, I erased any left over pencil lines.

STEP 5: SCANNING Next I scanned the picture into my computer. This process turns the image into a digital computer file.


I took the scanned image and opened it in a software program called Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These program allows me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing. With Photoshop I resized the image to make it card-ready. With Illustrator I created the word balloons and the text. It wasn't that difficult to come up with 12 "gifts" from George, but setting it to music was a little trickier. I also created the back of the card.

STEP 7: PRINTING Then it was off to the copy store to print the card. I had them print 2 images on a page of card stock and then cut the page in half.

STEP 8: MAILING Then JoAnn and I just addressed, stamped, added something witty like "Merry Christmas," and dropped the cards in the mail. See how easy it is! Anyone can do it!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Visions of Christmas Cards Past:

2007: 2007 2006: 2006 2005:

2004: 2003: 2001:

2000: 1999: 1998:

If you didn't get a card this year it probably means we don't love you we don't have your address. Send it to us!

A Brief History of the Last 8 Years

A Brief History of the Last 8 Years click to enlarge.

Drawing Board

Concept Anyone paying attention to politics and even slightly left-of-nutso should have no trouble understanding this comic. Those who don't are the ones I'm making fun of.

Of course, as bad as the right wing has been, the "left" probably will play nice. Let me say that I have no trouble with bi-partisanship (pre-Newt Gingrich), but it really irks me that the Dems allows the Republicans to set the agenda even when they (the Dems) hold all the cards.

Layout I was originally planning on more panels, but decided (once again) that less is more. In fact, this comic could probably be distilled down even further, but I'm relatively happy with the current panel count.

Drawing & Inking I tend to draw too big for smaller paper. So I've started using some 14" x 17" Bristol. Still, after I sketched this one out, I realized that the larger paper was probably overkill---especially for  drawing(s) without any backgrounds. On top of that, I got a smooth finish paper, and when I erased my sketch lines after inking (which was done in pen rather than brush), I pulled up a lot of the ink as well. Argh.

Lettering I'm less happy with the lettering. While I love that I'm able to do all the lettering on the computer, I'm getting a little tired of the LetterOMatic! and Arials fonts. Panels 1 and 5 are especially annoying to me. I wasn't sure how to do the "Obama wins" panel in a simple way. My first thought was to be all fancy with balloons and Obama graphics, but I decided that would detract from the point of the joke. Still, my solution seems overly dull.

Winning Strategy

McCain's Message Drawing Board

Concept It seemed to me that McCain started getting some traction in his campaign around the time he stopped harping on experience and started harping on that somewhat ambiguous platform of "change"---Obama's signature slogan.

Putting It Together As is probably obvious, this is largely a PhotoShop job. But it was actually a little more difficult than I thought it would be. In looking for an Obama "change" sign on the internet, I found that this particular sign was not available (or at least I couldn't find it). So in order to get the sign that I wanted, I had to piece together 2 separate images, along with all the requisite color matching and clean-up.

I originally just wrote McCain's name myself, but then I got the wild idea that I might be able to find a copy of his actual signature on the internet---and, assuming it was legible, I could use it. That way I'd be stealing/appropriating from both candidates. I have no idea if what I found is a legitimate McCain autograph, but it looked better than my original, so I decided to use it. Initially, the autograph and the cross-out was in black, but red showed up better.

UPDATE: I incorporated Mark's suggestion of changing the "M" to "Mc"

Goodbye FISA

In honor of the Democrats (including Obama) who still run in fear of a lame duck president who is hated by 80% of Americans and who have no problem gutting the Constitution by providing retroactive immunity to telecom lawbreakers---and by extension, the Executive Branch---the ArmzRace proudly re-presents the following comic. Click to enlarge. Goodbye FISA


Just So We're Clear...

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I hate to even comment on the "bitter" topic, because I hate to lend it any credence. Can we please talk about some issues? I swear, even if the economy, the environment, and the war weren't tanking, I'd still find these "conflicts" ridiculous. It truly seems as if the media trying to torpedo the very idea of an honest debate. They aren't even pretending to care anymore...