Cartoons, cartoons, cartoons.... John Crowther's Cartoon Odyssey

I think of it as The Fool's Journey. I've been asked who the "fool" is. It's me, but in the classical sense of the court jester. Only the fool was allowed to tell the king of his follies. All cartoons are available as prints or originals, framed or unframed, through my website or e-mail. For mugs, t-shirts, and other products visit my gift shop at* (be sure to include the *).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It Must Be True, I Saw It On TV

One can only wonder with the dismay that comes when you already know the answer is yes whether the excesses of the 24-7 media news cycle will only get worse in the future. As the longest presidential campaign ever grinds on, the latest story to have the crap beaten out of it is the so-called "veepstakes," or who's going to be picked for the job that nobody wants so badly that every governor in America is slathering to get it. The vice-president's job is like clap to a high school kid, it's the last thing you want except that it's a badge of honor. Unless you're Dick Cheney, in which case you want to spread it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Naked Truth

This bit of X-rated doodling came at the suggestion of an acting teacher friend in Denver, who wanted to know the answer to the above captions. One of the most pervasive actor cliches is the expressed willingness to perform naked if the material has "redeeming social value" and is relevant to the narrative. Let's face it, naked is naked, and the minute an actor appears unclad on the stage, stared at by a theatreful of folks with their clothes on, narrative goes down the tubes. It's not even a sexual thing, nor is it voyeuristic. It's embarrassment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Big Bang Theory

If you ever find yourself afraid of something, think what it must have been like to be the food taster for the Borgia family. Likewise, on this date, July 29, 518 years ago, the small but fearless English fleet led by Sir Francis Drake took on and conquered the Spanish Armada. If nothing else, at least by checking in here once in a while one might learn something, albeit something utterly unnecessary to know.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Ages of Man

Harry Truman was once making a campaign appearance and asked a man if he could count on his vote. "I wouldn't vote for you if you was the last man on earth," the voter replied. Truman turned to one of his aides and said, "Put that man down as a swing voter."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Battle of the Sexes

When it comes to matters of sex, I know of nobody better to whom one should cede the podium than Plato. The philosopher wrote in The Republic in the 6th century B.C., " there any greater or keener pleasure than physical love? No, nor any which is more unreasonable." It would be another two thousand years before Shakespeare observed: "Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?" (Henry IV, Part II)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

While the Iron's Hot

Strikes puzzle me. The fact is, there's never been a labor dispute that hasn't been settled eventually, which means that an agreement is always out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered after both sides posture and strut and flex their muscles, or what they hope will be perceived as muscle. What I don't get is why they can't all cut to the chase. Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, the first one, had the right idea. When the garbage collectors struck the city and stinky trash was piling up everywhere he locked the negotiators from both sides, along with himself, in a room, and said nobody leaves here until this thing is settled. It got settled as fast as you could say discarded pizza crusts.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Few Good Men

During the McCarthy years an FBI operative showed up at Mrs. Brown's door. "I hear your husband has sworn loyalty to the Communist Party," the man said. "My husband has sworn loyalty to a party," Mrs. Brown answered, "but it's not the commies." "What party would that be then?" the man asked. "That party," Mrs. Brown snapped, glaring at him, "would be me."

This week The New Yorker redeemed itself for last week's clumsy, boneheaded cover depicting Barack Obama and his wife as a Muslim and a terrorist respectively. The new cover isn't political, but it's darn funny. I won't give it away here, but it must be seen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

To Be Or Whatever

A student of philosophy on a quest for the meaning of life trekked for weeks to seek out an elderly sage in the far reaches of the Himalayan mountains. When he finally found him he asked, "Master, what is life?" "Life,' said the ancient seer, his voice quavering, " is the smell of a fresh rose." "But," said the young man, "when I was in the Andes I sought out a wise man and he told me life is a slab of cold, hard granite. "Oh sure," the master answered, without hesitation, "that's his life."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oil Alone

The latest "big lie" out of Washington is the idea that expanding off-shore oil drilling is the answer to the fuel crisis. The only solution is putting the money and effort into alternative energy sources. The real problem is we're hooked on oil and need to get off. As the N.Y. Times said, expanding oil exploration is like trying to cure a crack addict by making more available so the price will come down.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Going Going Green

The U.S. government has announced it is facing a major budget shortfall when it comes to building and repairing roads. The problem is that the money comes from gasoline taxes, and with the prices so high people are driving less and spending less on fuel. So if we want decent roads we have to drive more and therefore consume more oil, which of course contributes to the crisis in global harming. We've all known about the growing problem for years. So my question is, what makes us think our leaders can fight a war or protect us from terrorists when they've bungled everything else so thoroughly?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Going Nowhere Fast II

Yesterday's cat fight in the pits between lady racecar drivers Danica Patrick and Milka Duno at Lexington, Ohio brought to mind one of my favorite TV interview moments. Janet Guthrie, the first woman driver ever to compete in the Indianapolis 500 was asked what it felt like to be out there on the track with men. "Would it be comparable," the interviewer wanted to know, "to playing football in the NFL?" Ms. Guthrie looked at the man incredulously and answered, "I'm driving the car around the track, not carrying it."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

To Tell the Truth

Oscar Wilde wrote in The Soul of Man Under Socialism, "There's only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. That is the misery of being poor." It's not a crime to be poor. The only crime is that poverty still exists in this society , thirty-nine years to the day since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Notice that of all the lofty rhetoric coming from our presidential campaigns, there's not one word about eliminating homelessness. Of course not, it doesn't win votes.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Block That Euphemism

I love the way the bloviators keep talking about consumer confidence, as in "consumer confidence is down for the third month in a row." What the heck does that mean, anyway?Consumer confidence is not down, guys, people aren't buying things because they don't have enough money.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Great Debate

The devil made me do it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Not even O.J. Simpson produced more overheated rhetoric from the bloviators in the media than the economy. Is it a recession or isn't it? Are Fannie and Freddie an item? Who's to blame, the speculators for buying too much, or the public for not buying enough? It reminds me of the story of the two men who were have a furious argument. Both got louder and louder, neither convincing the other because, of course, neither was really hearing what the other had to say. Finally one of them could restrain himself no longer and landed an angry punch, knocking the other down. The fallen man looked up from the ground stunned and asked, "Why didn't you say that in the first place?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Always Leave 'Em In Stitches

It had to happen eventually. A Beverly Hills veterinarian is offering plastic surgery for pets. Think about it, now your lowly dachshund can look like a King Charles Spaniel. It must be nice to be rich.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crossing the Line

"It's satire," the editor of The New Yorker magazine proclaimed smugly in regard to the controversy swirling around their current cover depicting Michelle and Barack Obama in the Oval Office. He's dressed as a Muslim, she's in terrorist garb. An American flag burns in the fireplace, over which hangs a portrait of Osama bin Laden. "Our readers are sophisticated, they'll understand it," insisted the editor. Understanding it and approving of it are two different things. But what bothers me most is the elitist attitude that separates the us who presumably are in on the joke like a bunch of Ivy League sophomores from the them who are too dense to get it.

"Thou canst not joke an enemy into a friend," said Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanac in 1739, "but thou mayst a friend into an enemy."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Revenge of the Confusers

My wife Carla finally got Skype, allowing us to talk via computer between Los Angeles and Rome. The microphone's not working yet, so thus far she can hear me but I can't hear her. It's amazing how annoying this very temporary inconvenience seems. I was flying from Rome to L.A. once by way of Milan, where a two hour delay was announced due to problems with the computers in Air Traffic Control. (And by the way, the Milano airport is named Malapensa, which tanslates as "bad thought.") A nicely dressed African gentleman next to me began to complain loudly. "Two hours," I said to him, "it used to take months to get there from here, and we're still going to arrive this afternoon." Nothing makes us more annoyed than the absence of something intended to make our lives easier. Real progress is when we learn to live with the momentary lack of so-called convenience.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Going, Going, Gone

For all his accomplishments, Horace Greeley is known best for six words, written in The New York Tribune, of which he was editor, on this date in 1865. To get the full irony of Greeley's iconic command for today's world, it's worth looking at them in context: "Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting, and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West, and grow up with the country." Alas, we've run out of West to flee to.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

At Wit's End

A fellow of my acquaintance is known far and wide as a wonderful joke teller. He 's one of those people we think of as the "life of the party," and invariably keeps his friends in stitches. To his consternation, however, his wife never laughs at his jokes. Recently he was at a gathering and told a joke that landed with a thud. No one laughed except, remarkably, his wife, who howled as everyone stared at her in icy silence. "Now that," she said when she had regained her composure, "was funny!"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Revenge of the Surrogates

Today's theme, it seems, is nuts. We've just been treated to the spectacle of Jesse Jackson ("Jesse Jackson Is Forever"), during a break in a TV broadcast, snarking into a live mike in a Fox TV studio, along with the appropriate gesture, that he'd like to cut Barack Obama's cajones off. I can't for the life of me believe that it wasn't deliberate. Rev. Jesse can't possibly be so complacent that he didn't know he was ripe for an ambush. It was Fox News, for heaven's sake, not the boardroom of Ebony Magazine. And Jackson is, after all, a stuntman. Meanwhile, over on the other side, Phil Gramm, McCain's doddering economic advisor, has gone nuts, using a mike he clearly knows is live to pronounce Americans a bunch of whiners when it comes to finanacial matters. Yeah, tell that to the airlines that are no longer showing movies so they can eliminate the weight of all that AV equipment and save on fuel costs, a savings, by the way, that is not being passed on to flyers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It Pays to Advertise

Here's a scary thought. In an 1887 sermon the Right Reverend Henry Ward Beecher proclaimed, "The advertisements of a newspaper are more full of knowledge in respect to what is going on in a state or community than the editorial columns are." He's probably right. One can probably learn more about our culture today from the TV ads than from the bloviated punditry on the yammer shows. Take this commercial for Ikea for instance: a woman runs out of an Ikea outlet, her arms loaded with purchases, screeching annoyingly and repeatedly at her husband to "start the car, start the car." It turns out there's a sale on, but she's convinced she's ripping them off. What's the message this sends to our kids about who we are?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And Nothing But the Truth

For a cartoonist, politics is the gift that keeps on giving. And just when you think the media's obsession with breaking the electorate down into smaller and smaller demographics can't get any sillier or more meaningless, they've now released the results of a new poll that shows a greater percentage of pet owners -- pet owners for heaven's sake -- prefer John McCain to Barack Obama. Could this presage the candidates shifting focus and pandering to PETA?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Art Is a Lonely Hunter II

Click on image to view enlarged (recommended).

One can't help the feeling, after visiting a few upper end art galleries, that it's all in the "mission statement." Here's an excerpt from one of my favorites (I'm not making this up): "One day while painting I was struck by the beauty of the left-over paint on my palette. I immediately started to draw and paint individual little sections of this paint mass.... working with this paint became a meditation on the overlooked details of life, on seeing the world in a grain of sand."
And another: "My work is the result of cultural consumption and equalizing regurgitation. It is also a means of investigating and balancing the psychological meandering brought on by the deficit of structure."
'Nuff said.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Art Is a Lonely Hunter

Click on image to view enlarged (recommended)

"What do I need to do to get into the Metropolitan Museum?" the young artist asked his teacher. "Take the Madison Avenue bus uptown to 81st Street, walk a block west and pay your admission like everyone else," the teacher replied. "Or if you work hard, and are inspired, in about 20 years they'll come to you."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fashion Sense

I felt a palpable sense of relief yesterday when I read that an Oregon man had completed his planned journey to Idaho and landed safely in his lawn chair that had been borne aloft by colorful helium-filled balloons. I had dismissed the story previously when I'd heard of the man's intentions. It was another of those loony undertakings that would undoubtedly go awry, and perhaps even end tragically. But everything went as planned, including shooting out balloons with a BB gun and jettisoning Kool-Aid to lose altitude at journey's end. I was especially charmed by the account of the Idaho farmer calling to his wife, "Hey, Martha, you know that guy with the balloon? He's landing in our cow pasture." It was a bit of enjoyable news in the tsunami of accidents, shootings, arrests, faraway wars, rising gas prices and gasbag politicians that the media serve up daily, and it made me happy, not just for the man but also for his wife and shivering chihuahua who had seen him off at the start.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


The average elephant lives longer than the average human being, which leads some people to believe that the secret to longevity lies in working for peanuts. Others, on the other hand, will tell you the secret is having a thick skin. A long life, however, is a gift we don't get to keep. Everybody wants to live a long time, but nobody wants to get old.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Call Waiting

It's three days now since California's law went into effect banning the use of cellphones while driving unless one is using a "hands-free" device. Astonishingly it seems to be working, at least in the sense that people seem to be obeying. Whether or not it's preventing accidents has yet to be proven. I've made it a point to watch for violators, and can report that I've seen none. The only problem is that I've been so distracted by this that I've almost run over three pedestrians.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Money, Money, Money

As President Franklin D. Roosevel said in his Second Inaugural Address in 1937, "We always knew that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know it's bad economics." The opposite pole of economic theory is laissez-faire, which is less than fair to most people. Economists have this infuriating habit of saying things like, "today's bad news is, in fact, good news in the long run," which is akin to the man who said he likes to hit his head against the wall because it feels so good when he stops.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Is This How Babies Are Made?

Those of my generation will likely remember Myron Cohen, one of that brotherhood of Jewish comics that cut their comedic teeth in the Catskills resort hotels. He told of the husband who came home from work early one day and found a man cowering naked in the closet. "What're you doing here?" the husband demanded to know. "Hey," answered the man, "everybody's gotta be somewhere." It's better told aloud, mit de accent.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On the Rocks

And then there's the one about the man who opened his refrigerator and saw a rabbit sitting there.
"What're you doing in my refrigerator?" the man asked.
"It's a Westinghouse, isn't it?" the rabbit replied.
"Yes," said the man, "so?"
"Well, I'm westing."
Ba da boom.