Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

After years of popularity on The Daily Show and a successful summer of filling in as host, Oliver has his own show. Ah, I remember first seeing him and his cute British accent taking part in a Civil War reenactment whereupon he fell and broke his nose; yep, you've come a long way baby--or has he? This new news show recaps the week's events in the same comedic style as The Daily Show but it is just him and thus lacks for any back-and-forth banter or diversity in style. After a month of watching I'm not sure how impressed I am (yes I am, not very), especially since this isn't basic cable and the show could go bat sh!t crazy. UPDATE: So now I've watched many of the 24 shows of his first season and I have to retract my earlier statement. John Oliver has gone pretty bat sh!t crazy and when he does it really work. Yes, it does lack interaction and he stumbles now and again, but it is good to see some actual intelligent reporting on the air that isn't afraid to express itself and get critical.

Osborn: Evil Incarcerated - Kelly Sue DeConnick

Seeing how Halloween is coming up, it feels like a good time to post a review of this tale of true evil. Norman Osborn, you may recall, was once "little more" than the Green Goblin, a Spider-Man villain, and I loved him as that. Then he gets put in charge of the most powerful spy agency in the world (still fuzzy on that, something with Skrulls) and then he gets overthrown and arrested (even more fuzzy on that, something with Asgardians). I really didn't follow it enough to love or hate it, but I was looking forward to what happened to Osborn post all that. The story had potential; Osborn is in jail, the government wants him to disappear, a secret cult is taking action, and the evil genius has his own plans. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of Emma Rios' art (something about the lips just freaks me out) and there was a whole cast of characters that I never heard of and probably won't every again. DeConnick tries to mix a Hannibal Lecture and All the President's Men vibe to the book and somehow it just didn't work. I guess in the end I didn't believe that Osborn was a mad genius, just mad.

The Nightly News - Jonathan Hickman

An organization named the Cult of the Voice is killing news reporters in their war again the lies and hypocrisy of the media. Hickman presents an interesting tale filled with facts, fictions, and ambiguity laid out in an unorthodox display more akin to multimedia than traditional comic pages. The problem, I find, is that the story is better as an idea and might have truly materialized with another rewrite or more editing, perhaps even allowing the tale to unfold over a few more issues (now there is something I rarely espouse). As is, the work left me unsatisfied considering its promising beginning.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Comedians/talk show hosts/activists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a rally in DC which was a cross between a mediocre comedy show, a parade of B stars, and an attempt to show the country that not everyone is a bombastic lunatic who thinks anyone who doesn't agree with them politically is a traitor (I mean, in my case people who don't agree with me ARE traitors and should be executed, but that's not the way it is for everyone). I had considered going, but the last time I went to our nation's capital my bus broke down and I figured I could skip that happening again. Also, I actually never been to a rally and didn't know what to expect, so it seemed it might be better just to watch it on TV. As mentioned, it wasn't too thrilling, although maybe that's just how all rallies are. I do really like the idea behind the event and am quite glad it took place. Pity so many (supposed) news organizations decided to ignore it because they didn't want to seem reporting an actual political event.

Revisiting: Action News - The Election

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There's an election coming up. Other than "Obama: Bad :: Tea Party: Good" do you really know anything about it?

I created this cartoon back in early September 2001. After the attacks on the World Trade Center, there was a brief period of time (I'd say 3 weeks) when television news media got serious and started to display some actual---informative, relevant---journalism. And then it was right back to the fluff.

Look, I'm not against entertainment---I read comic books, for god's sake---but why can't I find any program on the hundreds of tv channels that will give me basic information on the upcoming election (like who is running and what they actually stand for)? Yes, I know the "news channels" spend hour upon hour examining the horse race and the latest evil thing the Democrats have done. But they don't give you any real information. And unlike horse races, elections have consequences that affect your life.

The media claim that "we're only giving the people what they want!" But even if that were true (and I'm dubious), sometimes you have to give people what they need. It's enough to make me think that someone wants to keep us ignorant.

Fun with Graphs

The Drawing Board This idea is blatantly stolen from Cej (see, Cej, you mom is right; you shouldn't talk to me). Since the midterm elections are coming up, I wanted to do something social/political, which I haven't really done since the ABCs of the USA. Obviously, I can't draw, but I've always said that the art is secondary in comics (and start flaming...NOW!), so I've made a cartoon in the XKCD style. (I suppose now there are two people looking to sue me.) The comic itself is deliberately sloppy. The comic isn't in the art, so any attempt to make it "neat" seemed out of place.

Dear Media

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I realize that it's a lot of work for journalists to describe what is happening in the world, especially when it's so much easier to act as stenographers for politicians and corporations. The idea that the media is still calling this "a spill" two months into the crisis proves to me that they're reading talking points from BP.

BP has gone out of it's way to hide and obfuscate what's going on, both under the water and on the beaches. Why is it when a famous person is on trial, the media sue to be let into the courtroom; but when tens of thousands of barrels of oil a day (even by independent early estimates) are spewing into the Gulf, why is no one suing BP for accurate information---or access to beaches? I guess that information qualifies as a "protected Corporate secret." Besides, it's not like we need that data to make decisions or anything.

Other alternatives to "spill":

  • "a gusher"
  • "an underwater volcano"
  • "a fucking disaster"
  • "free market capitalism"
  • "what happens when you deregulate everything"
  • "Reaganomics at work"

Hey, maybe we can use the invisible hand of the marketplace to plug the hole!

Sign of the Times

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This one has been bouncing around in my head for years. I decided to do it now, upon hearing that The Washington Times was likely going out of business. No, it's not that the paper is no longer making a profit---it never has made one. It's that the Times' is losing its sugar daddy (the Unification Church).

The Washington Times was the "answer" to the "liberal" Washington Post. And because of its rightward leanings, conservatives have been willing to overlook its dubious heritage. To wit, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon---who (no shit) says he is the Second Coming of God---has owned and kept the financially failing paper afloat since its founding 1982. And as long as the paper kept beating up on Communists and liberals (because, really, what's the difference?), conservatives have been able to ignore the cognitive dissonance of being fed propaganda about the virtues of the American free market by a company that only survives through welfare from a foreigner.

Personally, I don't care what you read. It's a free country. But I don't know how anyone who writes for the paper can take themselves seriously, much less look themselves in the mirror.

Drawing Board

Thanks to Mark for help with the wording. I also (sorta) incorporated some of his thoughts on the pictures. Thanks to John for posing as the Yellow Peril. For more on the background, see the original Drawing Board Post.

Panicology: Two Statisticians Explain What’s Worth Worrying About (and What’s Not) in the 21st Century – Simon Briscoe & Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Sick of newscasts where reporters try to freak you out (“Is America losing control of its borders and allowing al-Qaeda terrorists with dirty bombs access to your children’s cell phones? We distort, you comply.”)? These two authors briefly discus a cornucopia of issues and break them down scientifically into levels people are panicking over them, how dangerous they truly are, and the degree people could actually—if oddly—benefit from the situation. Are they correct and the news wrong? I can’t be 100% sure, but their arguments, for example, on how the decline in savings is leading to catastrophic results and that impending doom by rogue asteroids is almost meaningless are interesting. Panicology

Evil of Facebook

I use Facebook, I like Facebook, but why doesn't it like us?

Facebook will put your photos in ads on other people's pages, and use your information in other applications etc. To avoid this: 1. Settings 2. Privacy 3. News Feed and Wall 4. Click on “Facebook Ads” 5. In the 'Appearance in Facebook Ads' box, click “no one”! Pass it on.

Thanks Cris.

Media Translation

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Edwards who? Clearly, my laziness makes it difficult to keep up with current events. Still, in this cartoon, the media is the message, not the specific candidate. And the media will still suck long after this presidential primary campaign is over.

I thought about making this another Soapbox comic, but it occurred to me that I may have more media-specific rants in me. Just gotta keep overcoming the laziness...