I scrolled through the pictures I had just received in an email. I looked at them again. And again. The subject line, I realized, went straight to the point: “The Simpsons go to Auschwitz” — a series of drawings by the controversial Italian artist Alexsandro Palombo, depicting the popular yellow cartoon family as famished inmates of the Nazi death camp.
Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa and Maggie wearing yellow stars, in striped prisoners’ garbs, and undressed in what seems to be the inside of a gas chamber… you get the idea. The “Arbeit macht frei”-sign, the emaciated legs, the fake showerheads — no question, the imagery was painful and upsetting to look at. And the bright, big-eyed cartoon characters with the funny-shaped heads definitely felt out of place.
Well, I thought, let’s try to find out what the artist’s message is. “We must educate the new generations and tell them what happened,” Palombo said, at least according to the email sent out by his press office. And then: “We have to do it without filters, bluntly, over and over again, through the memory of facts and terrifying images that reflect the horror of the Holocaust and the extermination of millions of human beings.”
While I agree (and who wouldn’t?) that future generations need to be taught about the Holocaust, I don’t think that doing it “bluntly” and “over and over again” is the right approach.
On the back flap of his new book, Victor Navasky is portrayed in a kinetic caricature by the illustrious Edward Sorel. It’s one clue about Navasky’s deep connection to political cartoons explored in “The Art of Controversy,” a personal history as well as learned survey of the form.
The former editor and publisher of The Nation, Navasky first published political cartoons as editor of Monocle, a “radical sporadical” satirical journal he founded in the late 1950s. More recently, he engaged with the infamous “Muhammad” cartoons that sparked rioting across the Muslim world, choosing not to run them in this very book, a decision he explains at length. With lucid, funny takes on artists from William Hogarth to Ralph Steadman to Doug Marlette — and an entire chapter on Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda magazine whose vicious cartoons demonized Jews — Navasky brings the art form’s power to life. The Arty Semite spoke to him from Manhattan.
Michael Kaminer: What is it about cartoons that spark such emotional reactions?
Every frame in Rachel Loube’s “Every Tuesday: A Portrait of the New Yorker Cartoonists,” now screening at the Boston Jewish Film Festival, together with “The Art of Spiegelman,” threatens to dissolve into cliché. There is the premise itself: Every Tuesday, New Yorker cartoonists, young and old, submit their work, and then go for lunch. It is a beautiful, invisible New York tradition, the kind that Gay Talese would have celebrated in luxurious prose, the kind that the media is intent on reminding us no longer exist. The restaurant is appropriately shabby. The food scenes are all set to jazz.
There is no question that if “Every Tuesday” were any longer it would become unbearably familiar and impossible to watch. But at 20 minutes, it’s perfect. The cartoonists come alive in short bursts. Zachary Kanin, a Harvard Lampoon alumnus, is legitimately hilarious. Their very different apartments and workspaces quickly tell us about their different styles and approach to the craft. We watch some cartoonists revise and edit their work on imposing Apple Monitors, and others retrace their cartoons on top of a light box. Some aim for perfection, while others have started to embrace artistic imperfection. Wouldn’t it be better if a rectangle weren’t so rectangular?
“Every Tuesday” is everything you want in a short film: It brings you into a unique world, gives you enough information to make you feel like you understand the key issues, and leaves you absolutely wanting more.
Watch a teaser for ‘Every Tuesday’:
Israel’s “tent protests” have joined the ranks of America’s recent sex scandals by earning the attention of Taiwanese animators.
Cartoonists for the country’s NMA media company have depicted the protests in a new video, which provides background about the demonstrations in the local language, as well as in English subtitles. The clip features a look-alike of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as references to Daphne Leef, one of the key organizers behind the movement, which is fighting for more affordable housing, among other issues.
Appearing as a Taiwanese cartoon has become something of a rite of passage — often a dubious one — in recent years. Sex scandals involving Tiger Woods and former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner have gotten the cartoon treatment, as have topics such as the life and career of Steve Jobs.
A representative of the company tells Israeli news site YNet that a team of 300 animators produces 32 minutes of video each day. Previous videos related include one about an Israeli polygamist named Goel Razon.
He was a Portland Jew who dropped out of high school to find fame and fortune in New York. And while he never became a household name, his alter egos — Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Pepé Le Pew, and Barney Rubble, among hundreds of others — became part of pop culture lore.
Now, voice actor Mel Blanc is the subject of a new exhibit at the Oregon Jewish Museum in Portland. “That’s All, Folks: The Mel Blanc Story,” which runs through September 11, “is a sunny exhibition about a genuine local celebrity who also seems to have been a genuinely nice guy,” reports the Portland Oregonian. “It abounds in photographic, documentary and voice-recorded memories of Blanc’s life and times in Portland and Hollywood (he died in 1989), including recorded reminiscences by other top voice actors, photos of Blanc with the likes of Jack Benny, and animations and other material from those Warner Bros. cartoon days.”
This article has been sent!Close