Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Rick Perry at odds with newspaper over cartoon

ohman cartoon

Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna interviews Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand that the newspaper apologize for an April 25 cartoon in which the politician is depicted boasting that “Business is booming in Texas!” beneath a banner that reads, “Low Tax! Low Regs!,” juxtaposed with an image of the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas. “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon,” Perry wrote in a letter to the editor. “While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reportedly called for Ohman to be fired.

“Gov. Perry was being criticized in Texas and elsewhere for the Texas regulatory climate,” Ohman told Cavna, “and he found a way to change the conversation in the media cycle. I have never seen anything like this in my 35-year career. Not just in reaction to my work, but to anyone else’s.”  The cartoonist explained on his blog that he wasn’t mocking the deaths of 14 people, but rather wondering whether the tragedy could’ve been prevented by more inspections and better zoning regulations: “The Texas chemical plant had not been inspected by the state of Texas since 2006. That’s seven years ago. You may have read in the news that Gov. Perry, during his business recruiting trips to California and Illinois, generally described his state as free from high taxes and burdensome regulation. One of the burdensome regulations he neglected to mention was the fact that his state hadn’t really gotten around to checking out that fertilizer plant. Many Texas cities have little or no zoning, resulting in homes being permitted next to sparely inspected businesses that store explosive chemicals.”

Sacramento Bee Editorial Page Editor Stuart Leavenworth responded publicly to Perry’s letter, while the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has accused the governor of attempting to intimidate a journalist, saying, “attacking the cartoonist is the kind of reaction we’d expect from a leader in North Korea, not one from Texas.” [The Washington Post, The Daily Cartoonist]

Leslie Chew cartoon

Leslie Chew cartoon

Legal | Chun Han Wong has more details on the case of Leslie Chew, the Singapore cartoonist who was arrested last week on charges of sedition stemming from a cartoon he published on Facebook. The cartoon criticized the government’s treatment of the Malay minority; Chew was arrested based on a complaint from a member of the public that his cartoons were “racially insensitive.” [The Wall Street Journal]

Awards | The 17th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize has been awarded to Yasuhisu Hara’s historical manga Kingdom. Writer Scott Green notes the trend toward historical manga taking the prize in recent years. [Crunchyroll]

Creators | Here’s a report on a panel held Saturday at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., moderated by Michael Cavna, in which Eleanor Davis, Nathan Hale, Andrés Vera Martínez and Mark Siegel discuss children’s and young-adult graphic novels as a road to reading, as well as their own experiences as comics creators. [Comicsgirl on Tumblr]

Worlds Collide

Worlds Collide

Creators | Archie Comics writer Ian Flynn and Executive Director of Editorial Paul Kaminski discuss the upcoming Mega Man/Sonic the Hedgehog crossover. [GameInformer]

Creators | Jeff Lemire talks about Animal Man #20 and the evolution of Buddy Baker. [Hero Complex]

Creators | Reporter Igor Studnekov sits in on Mail Order Ninja creator Josh Elder’s comics workshop at a local school. [Niles Herald-Spectator]

Creators | Tom the Dancing Bug cartoonist Ruben Bolling talks about the video he put together for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which features a montage of works by different cartoonists, and why he thinks it is so powerful. [Comic Riffs]

Publishing | Ross Richie, founder and CEO of BOOM! Studios, talks about surprising Stan Lee, how he chose the name BOOM!, and the one property he wished BOOM! could be publishing right now (it might surprise you!). [Pop Cults]



Exploiting death and destruction in a small Texas town in order to score cheap political points against a governor (and a state) you despise anyway, then acting self-righteous when people (and the governor you directly attack) criticize you for exploiting the tragedy. Classy. Political cartoonists, the original trolls.

Rick Perry is the problem not the first amendment and I don’t see anything about that picture mocking deaths. Low Taxes, Low Regs is right. And there’s nothing self righteous about defending your right to have an opinion, even if it is dissenting. What the governor is trying to do is spin this into a tragedy that can’t be directly traced back to him and his policies.

It’s a powerful, harsh and uncomfortable cartoon, but I don’t see it as going for “cheap political points.” When Perry has been traveling the country touting fewer regulations in a bid to lure more businesses to Texas, it seems reasonable to ask at what price.

One of the first questions that came to my mind when news broke of the explosion is how in the world a plant like that could be located so close to housing, schools and a nursing home. What kind of zoning laws permit that?

Yep. How DARE anyone criticize or try to penalize a writer for his political views…unless its Orson Scott Card and then this blog practically demands his head.

The Governor is trying to exploit his state’s lax regulatory system for political gain. Well, lax regulations lead to disasters like the one in Texas. The political cartoon was making the connection explicit. Sorry, Eric. That’s fair game.

Had the Governor responded to this disaster by saying the state needed to reevaluate its safety regulations and zoning laws (a chemical plant located right across the street from schools and residences–great idea that) and taking otherwise meaningful action, this cartoon might never have been printed. Instead, one week later, he’s bragging about the lack of regulations in Texas. A class act, Rick Perry ain’t.

Political satire is a longtime tradition –If Perry can stand criticism,….well that yokel needs to be replaced anyway.

It’s funny how the cartoonist blames the death of Human beings on Gov Perry then cries like a little p@$&$ when he’s called out on it. Typical Liberal scumbag.

I’m a Texan. I’ve voted against Rick Perry… every… single… time. However. The cartoon is poorly timed and in poor taste. Like it or not, most cities are responsible for zoning. States are (should be) responsible for corporate health/safety regulations. Many people made mistakes in regards to the tragedy in West. But the message of this political cartoon is lost. All I see is a cheap opportunity and a cheap shot. Personally, I think the cartoonist should apologize to the people of West.

It’s free speech, as simple as that. Poorly timed? Poor taste? For the most part. But it’s not celebrating death, and if I recall there’s this whole “freedom of press” thing in the Constitution…

If the subject of a political cartoon doesn’t take offense, then the cartoonist isn’t doing his/her job properly.

That’s super tasteless. I think it’s ok to express outrage over a comic that turns a tragedy into a pun, and the only reason anybody thinks this is acceptable is because it’s taking a shot at a right-wing governor.

For those of you who can’t comprehend the First Amendment, you have my pity but not my sympathy.

Perry deserved it and the only problem is that it came too late. If REACTIONARIES didn’t SCREAM every time they were criticized, some of their idiotic ideological policy positions would not be law and people would not be DEAD.

Look I’m from Texas its home to me, but that doesn’t make me a fan of Perry. The problem I have is the timing is poor and in poor taste. I am a huge proponent of the first amendment, but it to that the cartoon was really insensitive to those who were truly touch by this horrible tragedy. Make fun Perry all you want (I find him to be a corrupt POS as it is), but at least let the dust settle on what happened before you decide to turn it into a pun. I think sometime we loose sight of the issue that transcends personal politics. Let people grieve and recover before you start using them to make a point. Trust me there’s plenty of other material to use to make fun of this particular politician with.

That cartoon is in pretty poor taste. A politician or even an elected official calling out the author on this is neither a violation of First Amendment Rights nor is it inappropriate. The government taking legal action against speech is a violation of First Amendment Rights, a politician using the bully pulpit to condemn speech they consider inappropriate is not.

I’m willing to bet that the people who say this is only acceptable because of it being aimed at a ‘Right-Wing’ Governor would be doing joyous back flips if it was about a ‘Liberal’.

This is an area where the artform of a political cartoon is not the wisest choice. The statement, “I wonder if the low regulations that Gov. Perry has been campaigning on might have led to the tragedy in West.” is a worthwhile question that deserves some thought. Showing it in this graphic way and going for a punchline keeps people from hearing the point and leads to outrage.

Sounds like both Mr. Perry and the cartoonist made their counter arguments. It didn’t sound like Mr. Perry made a convincing counter argument to me and sounded more like pointless political rhetoric to shrug off any criticisms levied at him.

Then you have all this hate and vitriol levied at the cartoonist. He makes good points. When regulations are lax, this stuff happens.

Anyone saying this isn’t appropriate is really off key. I thought of this within hours of it happening. The cartoon depicts what normal people were thinking already. The cartoon isn’t in poor taste at all. The fact is the truth hurts and some people don’t want to face the reality of ending and impeding regulatory compliance on companies. This is the stark reality of what happens in one of the most in your face kind of ways – and I’m referring to the explosion, not the cartoon. The fact OSHA hasn’t inspected the plant in 15 years says it all. The seems to correspond to a couple year period which is normal, and all of the Bush Administration’s years which truly caused this problem by messing with the regulatory agencies in the first place, plus Obama’s first term where it was unknown to be changed.

The cold hard fact remains this is what happens to workers when you remove regulation. No you say? Ask the workers in Bangladesh if they agree with you.

Tim Levine: “That cartoon is in pretty poor taste. A politician or even an elected official calling out the author on this is neither a violation of First Amendment Rights nor is it inappropriate.”

Polititicans and elected officials demanding the censure or firing of a jouranlist because they don’t agree with what he said about them is pretty much a textbook definition of violating the First Amendment. I’m kind of stunned how many people in this thread can’t grasp that.

I think the cartoon is exactly in the correct taste. it casts light on Perry’s actions and the fact that this disaster could have been avoided. There is so much going on here in TX that is just getting handwaved away.

It’s not supposed to make you feel snuggly and warm. It’s supposed to make you think.

People thought Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” was in poor taste too. Didn’t make his point less valid.

Jake Earlewine

April 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I think it is an excellent political cartoon. The truth hurts! The timing and taste of the cartoon is as appropriate as the timing and taste of people who demand gun control laws every time some mass-murderer goes on a spree.

Rick Perry, “It is with extreme disgust and disappointment I view your politics.” There’s something rotten in Texas.

I think that the cartoon is spot on. It is also a cartoonist excersizing his 1st Amedment rights. That’s right, Republicas, there was a FIRST Amendment before the second.

Whatever the cartoonist “intended” is pure nonsense…

15 people died in an explosion. That is tragic. And at the end of the day there are 15 families who have lost someone. Children who have lost parents.

And this @$$wipe turned it into a political cartoon to get a chuckle.

I don’t give a rat’s @$$ about anyone’s politics – it is wrong.

If you cannot understand that and can only come to the man’s defense, then you really need to take a moment to log off the internet and get a grip.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Typical leftist mindset. Perry can be offended but he can’t be surprised.

As others have said, the cartoon is spot on. As for those of you saying the timing is wrong, something’s wrong with you. When would be the right time? After the furor has died down and everyone is concerned about the next disaster or whatever news gets a hold of the public awareness? In this day and age it doesn’t take long for that and, as the old saying goes, it’s best to strike while the iron is hot. The cartoonist wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t.

“Whatever the cartoonist “intended” is pure nonsense…
15 people died in an explosion. That is tragic. And at the end of the day there are 15 families who have lost someone. Children who have lost parents.
And this @$$wipe turned it into a political cartoon to get a chuckle.”

Not to get a chuckle, son.
To make a point.

Rick Perry’s touted “lack of regulations” made the tragedy inevitable.
Blame Perry for creating the tragedy, not the cartoonist who pointed to Perry’s responsibility in creating it.

Yes, let’s shoot the messenger, that never means you’re uncomfortable with the message.

Whenever there’s a tragedy, let’s never allow any analysis or thought over why it happened, that would be “insensitive”. Can all these guardians of moral taste please let us know when is the correct time to talk about why these things happen? Be quick, before it happens again.


May 1, 2013 at 8:28 am

Arguments like “this is in bad taste/timing” and “turning a tragedy into political points” is something a side says when they know they can’t win the argument.

The conditions that led to this disaster were caused by politics so it is only fair to point out the politics of the issue.

That feeling of disgust and disappointment Perry is feeling is called “guilt”. He just doesn’t remember what it feels like so he’s calling it something else.

I despise Perry, but there’s absolutely no conceivable link between “low regulations” and the explosion. I mean… MAYBE, but at this point it’s so hypothetical that to lean on it is ridiculous. It’d be like saying “Obama is to blame for all of the school shootings because somethingsomethingsomething his policies have alienated the youth.”

The cartoon is stupid and obviously shows that the person behind it finds it difficult to consider Texans real human beings with real life and real feelings. It’s all just a goofy game of political points. Funny how people get up in arms for much, much, much less, but when it comes to exploiting a massive tragedy for a “funny” political cartoon, they don’t see the problem.

That said, OF COURSE the cartoonist has the freedom of speech to do this! OF COURSE! I definitely support his right! But he’s employed by a newspaper that should probably consider firing him unless they want to support people who put such crassness in their actual paid work.

As opposed to Orson Scott Card, who only said some crass stuff in his life, but apparently shouldn’t be allowed to write a non-political Superman story because of it. Let’s see: It IS okay for a newspaper to pay for cartoons that are dreadfully insensitive and exploitative of mass death, but it’s not okay for DC to hire someone who in their private life just doesn’t want to redefine the word “marriage” to mean something it’s never meant before in history. On the one hand, being paid to lampoon real-life death. On the other hand, thought-crime and political correctness.

But, again, I don’t like Perry at all.

The Gov asked for an apology not jailed anyone. So basically criticism back and forth.

But, it’s the same old story, you don’t like your state where you’re making a living move.

Forget the cartoon for a minute. Why aren’t these storage depots subject to reasonable safety regulations and strict zoning laws?

“There were no sprinklers. No firewalls. No water deluge systems. Safety inspections were rare at the fertilizer company in West, Texas, that exploded and killed at least 14 people last week.
This is not unusual.”
The Associated Press, April 22, 2013

People are dead. That’s funny! BWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!

As the editor of a left-leaning political magazine, Ohman is one of the cartoonists I get through syndication. Other cartoonists made similar comics on the subject, but this one in particular crossed the line of good taste for me. I’m pretty sure I didn’t end up using it. While I don’t disagree with the message, the delivery is still pretty insensitive.

Now, there are some indications the explosion was caused by a bomber, not lax safety regulations.

If that turns out to be the case, will the cartoonist, and this blogger, apologize?

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