Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 23, 2014

Indianapolis Star Alters Than Deletes Gary Varvel Cartoon

A Gary Varvel cartoon uploaded Friday that criticized the decision of President Obama to halt the deportation of several thousand immigrants was first altered, then deleted by the Indianapolis Star. A bunch of the on-line site that traffic in this kind of story as a main thing had articles on it over the weekend. Here's one. It includes both cartoons.

It's a news story, too, though, for sure. I would suggest it's the alteration that makes this a more interesting than usual story, as the decision was made to eliminate the apparently race-signifying mustache of the man climbing through the window with his family to join a family sitting down for Thanksgiving fare. It's hard to track whether or not the renewed objection was to the clumsiness of that move or to simply point out that the objected-to racism and general upset with the cartoons was more than an element of the surface depiction involved. It's probably both, and I'd lean towards the latter. No matter what you think about the policies involved, it's hard to engage with a depiction of those at the heart of the executive order being clownish freeloaders except in an abstract way that a cartoon fairly voids. In addition, I think that the Thanksgiving table is such a strong, iconic image of inclusiveness, good fortune shared and charity even for those who rarely think on those terms I would imagine that many would find denying anyone a place at the table as a markedly awful thing.

Making editorial cartoons on a regular basis is a really rough gig. Varvel's cartoon is a reminder that it's not just the changing political context in terms of what we stomach and allow as discourse that make it a tough assignment -- sometimes it's hard to articulate an opinion, and that's before it has to be drawn for others. All on a deadline, too.
posted 3:25 pm PST | Permalink

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