28 Feb 2009, Comments (15)

The writer and the cartoonist

Author: Helen

Last year, some cartoons which accompanied two of Miranda Devine‘s articles caught my attention. One article (they’re both in the SMH, as always) is about feminists – they all hated Sarah Palin ‘cos they’re nasty. The other is about cougars. You know- women of a certain age who are desperate to partner.

In the Sarah Palin vs. feminism article, Devine asserts – and I hope you’re not eating breakfast while you read this – “in her brief starring role on the global stage [Palin] has been a powerful psychic enema, flushing out the poison at the heart of establishment feminism for all to see.” Now newcomers to Devine World will be saying “But, Sarah Bernhardt and Kathy Lette are not exactly spokespersons for feminism. And US feminists defended Palin against sexist commentary while a lot of male commentators wallowed it it”. Well, Devine is Strawfeminists R Us, so let’s not waste too much time on her under-researched opinions.
Edd Aragon, 1

What intrigued me was the cartoon; it’s so over the top. Well, the “feminist” depicted isn’t the Full Stereotype, judging by the heels and dress, although the hair looks as if it’s long and grey – an absolute no-no for Western women- but the depiction of the “feminist” is so, for want of a better word, hectic. Mad, tongue lolling, muscles like a skinned rabbit; Over-coloured, gesticulating wildly, jumping up and down on the face of the hapless Palin.

Hmm. Now for the other article, about cougars in the city of Sydney trying to find love. Miranda begins with the well-worn old starting point that women aren’t partnered these days because they’re too damn fussy, then points to one of those risible “statistical surveys” that our MSM love so much, suggesting that these fusspots should simply move to different suburbs to beat the odds. But! that doesn’t mean they should be, god forbid, calculating, like her old School Chum from Ascham, who persists in having preferences (Devine refers to this as having a “shopping list”). Never mind that the demographer Bernard Salt, refers to men as “product”.

Edd Aragon,2

Here, the cartoon shows a woman who’s just doing femininity in an ordinary way: a nicer haircut, pearls, drop earrings, lipstick, manicure… but the image is, if anything, more terrifying than the picture of the “feminist”. The woman’s huge, over-life size teeth are actually chomping onto the tiny man. The poor, tiny, powerless man! This woman will eat you alive.

Because, remember, in the eyes of the lecturing Miranda, you’re damned if you’re feminist and damned if you’re not. (If women were so powerful and terrifying, why should they have to move house to find a partner?) The image says something else – men, some men, fear strong women. Really fear them.

I googled the cartoonist, and discovered he has a blog. Does he hate women? Far from it, if his blog is anything to go by. You can easily find other caricatures he’s drawn which don’t show the subject as fearsome or terrible. So, what gives?

Do cartoonists tailor their artwork to the piece of writing it’s going to be published with, or does the writer exhort the artist to make an image nicer, naster, scarier to fit what they’re saying? I can’t work out why these images are so horrible; they don’t really jive with the artist’s whole body of work.

As I said, no particular reason for this post except that I realised how little I know about the mechanics of articles-with-cartoons and whether, or how, the writer and the cartoonist communicate to put across the message. I’d be interested to hear from any cartoonists if there are any reading!
Crossposted at Hoyden About Town

Update 1/03/2009: Pavlov’s Cat writes an interesting response from the writer’s side of the fence.

Comments (15)

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    I baked you a comment … but I eated it.

  • Helen says:

    nom nom nom

  • Kath Lockett says:

    It’s also a bit sad that the picture accompanying the article is always the most prominent and influences the reader much more than reading the first paragraph or two. It can therefore completely unravel whatever the story is about. …….Although maybe not in the two cases you mention.

    …he hasn’t exactly done a flattering portrait of Cougars, has he? They’re normally depicted as bottle blonde, pneumatically-enhanced sexpots in leopard skin and heels and not like the angry Myra Hindley depicted here.

  • Jennifer says:

    While I agree that the cartoons are over the top, even for Miranda Devine, to me they’ve channelled her essence a bit. She seems to be getting angrier and angrier. So even if they’re over the top for these columns, I think they’re pointing to exactly what Miranda Devine is about. Have a look at her appalling opinion piece blaming the greenies for the bushfires …”it is not arsonists that should be hanging from lampposts but greenies”


    That cartoon was clearly by the same person, and I think captures Miranda Devine’s hatred and bile.

  • Caroline says:

    Good point Jennifer. Heh.

  • Fignatz says:

    Yeah, I agree with Jennifer – Miranda Devine is evil (have you seen her own blog at http://mirandadevine.com – yike!) and these images are probably perfect illustrations of her ugly mindset.

    Only slightly off-topic, you might like to check out a training video made for retailer Gamespot about how to deal with those weird and stupid things called female customers. I’m just a guy, so I’m not sure if it’s offensive or laughable. It’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BqkPm0owi4&feature=related

  • Amanda says:

    Shirley mirandadevine.com is a spoof?

  • Fignatz says:

    No, Amanda, it’s not a spoof, it’s just Miranda off the Fairfax leash and running completely feral. Be afraid.

  • Amanda says:

    Hm. I reckon its a spoof.

  • Amanda says:

    Hm. I reckon its a spoof.

  • M-H says:

    I reckon it’s a spoof. Point of evidence 1: “Miranda Devine is a cult Middle-Australian icon and darling of the populace.” Point of evidence 2: That sketch is very unflattering; much less flattering than the photo that Fairfax uses. Point of evidence 3: Look at the list of her ‘friends’. Spoof.

  • Fignatz says:

    Re the Miranda Devine site: Actually yeah, I’ve gotta learn to read the fine print – specifically the disclaimer at the bottom of the site’s page. My grovelling left-leaning red-faced apologies to Miranda for thinking she could be responsible for extreme crap like that. Or is that maybe the whole point?

  • Carmen says:

    I was googling Edd Aragon’s image and was fascinated by your blog entry. Being the artist’s wife, i have been a first hand witness to the autonomous editorial illustration process. It is a curious creative talent built over 30 years, which Edd has attempted to describe a few times in his earler blog posts:
    December 10, 2007,
    January 25, 2008,
    and more interestingly October 15, 2007,
    September 21, 2007,
    and June 1, 2007

    You are right, the Illustration or illo as kind Edd calls it, serves to catch the reader’s eye to an otherwise boring text. Why not email edd at aragon.edd@gmail.com.

    Here’s my last take as a partner and (currently unemployed) business supporter: Edd has drawn thousands of caricatures (he does not distort faces for commission work) as gifts or event entertainment. Surely he can draw a smile and a crowd for you: http://www.eddaragon.com

    cheers, Carmen

  • Helen says:

    You are right, the Illustration or illo as kind Edd calls it, serves to catch the reader’s eye to an otherwise boring text.

    That’s very interesting! And as you can see it certainly caught my eye. I’ve checked out his work both on the blog and website and most of it is very different to what’s on the Devine article.

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