Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Just Like Tom Tomorrow's Blues
Tom: I'm very sorry if things haven't gone as you'd hoped with the new book. I'll buy it, I swear. I've bought a bunch of your other compilations, and I cherish them. I've been reading you for—well, over a decade, I guess. You were the first thing I turned to every week in The Austin Chronicle back when I lived in Austin; yours was one of the first websites I ever bookmarked. Hell, yours was probably the first blog I ever read, as you were doing the equivalent of blogging back before anyone knew what blogging was. Your distinctively text-heavy cartoons have been making me both laugh and think for years. Hell, your cartoons were one of the things that got me thinking critically about the media—and about the many shortcomings in its coverage of politics, economics, and everything else that matters to citizens of a democracy—back in the Nineties. If I have attained any wisdom at all about spin, scripting, talking points, fog facts, consent manufacture, etc. etc. etc., the thanks go in part to you—and I'm sure that there are thousands of people out there who could say the same. Our gratitude and respect for you are immense. You, sir, are an artist of great accomplishment. I am not an expert on the art of cartooning, but as far as I am concerned, you belong among such greats as Nast, Mauldin, and Trudeau for your distinctive contributions to the medium and for your unrivaled ability to use your medium to provoke both thought and laughter. If people like you find their work marginalized in this time and this culture, the fault is the time's and the culture's, not yours. (As the man once said, forgive them: they know not what they do.) Big-time liberal columnists might disappoint you, major newspaper writers might duck your calls, but thousands upon thousands of us out there know your value, cherish your work, and look upon you with the highest respect. You have more than earned it—and no amount of ducked calls, unwritten introductions, or five-watt interviews can ever change that. I know that the blues can be hard to chase away, but please keep this in mind the next time you get them.
Oh, and you're a damned good writer, too.
What do you think, hideous alien puppet pundit?