Comparative Imagery

Posted by on September 13th, 2010 at 1:25 PM

The image of the Gigantic Obstructionist Pachyderm is one that has been deployed effectively by more than one editorial cartooner.

(If the image is too small to read—which, for most of us, it is—the recommended procedure is to click on the image and it enlarges. For some inexplicable and presumably temporary reason, when you do that here, you and the picture are merely transported to another plane, where the picture resides more-or-less alone, same size as before; but if you click on it again, there, it’ll get much larger—large enough, usually, to read. Try it: you’ll like it.)

Both Rex Babin and Signe Wilkinson rely on the simple bulk of the GOP to make their points. David Fitzsimmons uses the Pachyderm, too, but his cartoon is a bit more complicated.

Fitzsimmons’ cartoon employs two images in concert: the image of Obama as Superman alludes to our expectations for him to perform superhuman-like feats, adding a dimension to the metaphorical imagery of the picture; and the GOP, portrayed as saying one thing and doing another, is in itself a more complex indictment of the Republican behavior than the simple roadblock obstructionism in Babin and Wilkinson.

Imagery in this pictorial medium is seldom as complex as it is in Fitzsimmons. Here are a couple of simpler formulations, but both, I think, effective.

Jeff Danziger’s picture of a couple stoned to death is a grim and powerful image, one that will stay with us (even though it’s not entirely accurate: people being stoned are usually buried up to their necks or waists, depending upon their gender and offense; and if the culprit can wriggle free of his encumbrance before dying, he/she can escape).

On the right, Pat Oliphant—who loves drawing complicated and detailed pictures lately—gives is the GOP “Idea Machine,” which, for all its complexity, has failed to produce anything down the chute where expectant personages gather. Punk, the tiny penguin, underscores Oliphant’s meaning: “But what do it do?” he asks. “Do?” says the little man, incredulous. The GOP “Idea Machine” isn’t expected to do anything. It’s all for show.

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