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Funny Books - Now Who Do We Blame? - Tom Toles

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Now Who Do We Blame?
Political Cartoons
Tom Toles
Andrews McMeel Publishing 2005
143 pages

Now Who Do We Blame is a collection of political and editorial cartoons by Tom Toles, the editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post distributed nation (United States) wide. Unlike most other comic strip or cartoon collections, the nature of this book itself demands a good and fairly complete understanding of the various political, social, and economic issues that have been front page items in the United States over the last three years or so. In many ways, these cartoons are doomed to be ephemeral as they are the daily take of Tom Toles on the issue of the day.

Reading Now Who Do We Blame is sort of like listening to a comedy CD by the Capitol Steps. The commentary is there, the jokes are there, the humor is fairly balanced, you really have to know your recent American history, and you know that in a few years a lot of those cartoons (or songs) will have lost their charm because you will no longer remember the details that make the joke funny or the comment pithy. Keeping that in mind, this is a very good collection of editorial cartoons.

This collection covers the years 2003 to very early 2005. Interestingly, the political cartoons are presented not in historical order but by subject matter. You get editorial cartoons about politics and the election, gays and religion, laws and regulations, the press and media, health and education, science and the environment -including a few cartoons about evolution vs. creationism, social security, the economy and budget -where the Bush administration takes a beating, security, and weapons of mass destruction and more. The commentary seems pretty balanced: the Democrats take a beating for being such wimps, losing the election, and being indecisive (or are they?). Republicans get it for George Bush -whose is drawn with such big ears he almost looks like a cartoon ass--, and their help the rich and anti-environment policies.

Being more familiar with Canadian editorial cartoons, especially the great Aislin of the much less great Montreal Gazette, the cartoons in Now Who Do We Blame did take me a bit of time to getting used to. Most Canadian cartoonist make a point of giving an almost picture perfect representation of their subject while Toles has rather generic pinhead characters and that weird looking George Bush. Still if the success of such a cartoon is based on whether or not the cartoonist is able to get his point and commentary across in one frame, Tom Toles is pretty good.



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