I did a post a couple days ago about what I dislike regarding this cartoon by Pat Oliphant. A few people have commented by this point. One fellow, anonymous, argues that the cartoon’s slobby Joe Sixpack isn’t workers in general, just the workers that Sarah Palin is aiming at. I don’t know, maybe. Isn’t that kind of idea specific enough that it would be indicated by some modification of Joe Sixpack? Or maybe only condescending Republican sleaze artists would use the “Joe Sixpack” phrase in the first place, and thus the six beers show we’re dealing with a GOP concept, not with workers in general. 

On the whole I doubt anonymous’s interpretation, just because the Oliphant cartoons I’ve seen don’t go in for nuance and have no problem with contempt. He strikes me as someone who could very easily talk about “Joe Sixpack.” But here I’m arguing a general impression as support for a particular impression. So either I can line up the evidence or say who knows.

Something I have to admit: at the top of my first post on Oliphant, I should have said his basic gifts are brilliant. Oliphant’s been around so long that his drawing skills are easy to take for granted, meaning I take them for granted; what stands out for me is his oafishness, which is persistent and extreme. But he’s still very talented. Look at his Palin. Instead of drawing stinky feet, he draws a particularized character, her tiny head spinning with vainglory. She’s lithe and full of energy, and her being such a vivid little wire simply highlights her vacancy. (Also check out his McCain, a frustrated stubby doll that’s got its face creased up for a slow burn.)

 From what I’ve seen of his late stuff, the Palin cartoon is a bit of a switch. What we have here is a good cartoon with a gigantic blotch. Most often, late-O material showcases its blotch, with the central fault being either stinky-feet attacks or weird opacity or a combination of the two. The good stuff is pushed to the sides; it doesn’t have a place. It becomes a sort of reverse blotch, the thing that doesn’t belong. 

On the other hand, that McCain cartoon is good.

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