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 *).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nothing New Under the Sun

With all breaking loose in Washington and on Wall St. yesterday, it was comforting to hear the promo for the ABC evening news: "Heather Locklear arrested in Santa Barbara, latest on Dancing With the Stars, tune in at 11." It's nice to know that the so-called "crisis in confidence" hasn't hit Main Street.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rip Me Off At the Old Ballgame

What economic crisis? I was at Dodger Stadium the other night for the Padres game, the same day the Dodgers backed into the National League West championship, the Arizona Diamondbacks having lost that afternoon. But this isn't about baseball, it's about the great American ripoff. It's about one hotdog, one bratwurst on a roll, and two beers costing thirty-eight dollars. Later I got a bottle of water for $5.75. A bottle of water the same size cost me a dollar fifty at the theatre two nights ago. Okay, the play stank, but the ballgame wasn't that much better. Manny Ramirez only played three innings, and struck out both times at bat. Oh, and by the way, you're not allowed to take your own food or beverages in to the ballpark. Even the airlines let you do that. And most of them still give you water.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Photo Oops

The McCain campaign took their vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to the U.N. this week to meet a couple of heads of state. The expressed idea was to give her some foreign policy credibility. Of course we all know it was just for a photo op that they hoped would dupe Americans into believing that she had foreign policy credibility. When Libya attacked a U.S. fighter plane years ago and the U.S. retailiated, then President Ronald Reagan was flown by helicopter from his ranch in Santa Barbara to an aircraft carrier that had been deployed from San Diego for the occasion. Reagan was photographed on the bridge looking serious, and half of America believed he was in the Gulf of Libya directing the attack. Some things make you want to cry so bad you have no choice but to laugh.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Foxes In the Hen House

In the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now it was bad economics." (Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937) Seventy-one years later it seems that very little has been learned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obscene and Not Heard

Pres. Harry S. Truman said, "I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it." (May 27, 1955) Conversely we can say that the way to prevent them from doing something you wish they wouldn't is to demand they do it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good Enough For Government Work

It's said that one shouldn't look back. On the other hand, an occasional look back can tell us how far we still have to go. Today is the 318th anniversary of the publication in Boston of America's first newspaper. It had the unwieldy name of Public Occurences, Both Foreign and Domestic, and appeared for only one day before it was outlawed because the governor didn't like it. Back in 1690 the governor had the final word as to what got printed or speechified. Now we have a kid being banned from wearing a handmade t-shirt to school reading "Obama, Friend to Terrorists." His parents are screaming violation of the kid's freedom of speech. To which I say, what about the parents' total breakdown of intelligence, judgment, taste, fairness, decency, honesty, and respect? You have to earn free speech.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chump Change

Just to put things into perspective. If a printer turns out a one hundred dollar bill once every second, he'll print a million dollars in a little less than three hours. To print 700 billion, however, will take him 220 years. I think it was the late Sen. Everett Dirksen who once said, "a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spend a Penny

It's ironic that at exactly the same time the U.S. economy is in a shambles, our government is unveiling four new designs for the penny, the most useless of all our money. How much do you suppose that cost? I'm in free association mood this morning. This reminds me of a radio interview I heard yesterday with a conservative who described himself as "a free market, less government" advocate. He went on to admit that we were in a crisis now, and that he had no solutions. He could begin, I thought, by admitting it was the policies of his ilk that got us into this mess.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Vu From Here

I'm getting a profoundly depressing feeling of "deja vu all over again" from the unseemly haste with which the administration is trying to rush through its intervention in the economic meltdown. The idea is to give $700 billion to Treasury Secretary Paulsen -- and God knows where it's coming from -- to throw at failing banks with virtually no oversight. "Trust us to do the right thing," the administration is telling us. When have we heard that before? With these clowns you can't avoid the thought they're up to no good.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Years ago I acted in a couple of episodes of the TV series Peyton Place. The tree-lined town square was filmed on the 20th Century Fox lot, and was a charming looking if incongruously fake anomaly in the surrounding flat Southern California sprawl. One day in early autumn I arrived at the lot to begin filming an episode that was to be aired several weeks later, in winter. The art department had accordingly sprayed white stuff on all the trees' leaves to approximate snow. What did they know? They'd never been east of Azusa.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pros and Cons

We keep being told that the reason for the government bailout, which is about to get even bigger, is to "restore confidence in the market." That's all you need to know to realize it's a huge scam, and the pros in charge should really be in jail with the other cons.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Leave It To Experts

Continuing with yesterday's theme of advertising, the economic woes seizing the country remind me of the story about the man with a hot dog stand. He decided to try a bit of advertising and sure enough his business picked up. He spent some more and profits increased again, so he continued to up his ad budget until, in time, his business had grown to a chain of hot dog restaurants across the country. He became so wealthy he was able to send his son to an expensive ivy league school, and then to grad school where he got his MBA. The son joined him in the business and suggested they could cut back on the advertising and save money. Soon business started falling off, and the son again suggested a reduction in advertising. This continued until the man was right back where he's started, with a hot dog stand.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Buy, Buy

According to Samuel Johnson: "Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic. Promise -- large promise -- is the soul of advertising." (The Idler, 1759)

And for goodness sake don't forget that my cartoons are available on a line of merchandise including t-shirts, aprons, cards, and mugs at If you don't see one you want there contact me and I'll make sure you can get it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


While few today remember the depression with clarity, those of us of a certain age had parents who did, and it was common for them to scold us when we left a room with the lights still on: "Do you have stock in the electric company?" That kind of awareness that resources are finite is in short supply today, even as the world hurtles toward a reckoning. It's time we started living every moment as if we were inhabiting a desert island and supplies were running out. Ideally we should do it in a spirit not of sacrifice or deprivation, but with a bouyant sense of pride and purpose.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

In the interest of maintaining the educational tone of this daily offering, I'm pleased to report that today, September 16, is the 278th anniversary of the day in 1630 that the little town of Shawmut in Massachusetts, named for the village in England from whence some of the original settlers had come, changed it's name to Boston. I think we're all grateful to them. Can you imagine a world of Shawmut cream pie, or Shawmut baked beans? Or heaven forbid, the Shawmut Red Sox? The Shawmut tea party? Nah.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Once Upon a Time

There was a huge fire in the jungle, and the animals were fleeing before it. But when they arrived at the outskirts of the city the king of the beasts let out a roar and commanded that they should go no further. "But," said the animals, "the fire is coming closer and closer." "First enemies first," said the lion, "and the first enemy is not the heat, it's the humanity."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It Depends On Your Point of View

The extraordinary thing about the media in Europe is how openly and unnabashedly biased it is. In American our press claims objectivity and not only is biased, but complains loudly and aggressively about the other side's bias.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


In Shakespeare's King Lear the seeds of tragedy are sown in the first act when Lear makes a rash, foolhardy decision. Ironically, only the character of The Fool speaks the truth to him, but he refuses to listen. One of the fascinating enigma's of the play is the disappearance without explanation of The Fool halfway through. In fact, The Fool disappears at exactly the point at which Lear descends into utter madness. Until then the old king had enough vestiges of sanity so that there was a chance he could still understand and reverse his folly. Afterward, the terrible conclusion was inevitable.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Yolk's On Us

Anonymous raised questions in yesterday's forum here that are valid and worth addressing. First of all, my comments about negative and distorted campaigning weren't directed at any one side. But I'm not a candidate, I'm an ordinary voter. It's inevitable that for me to be for one candidate I'm going to be against the other. I want the candidates, however, to convince me why I should vote for them, not why I shouldn't vote for the other. And when one or the other gives me reason to criticize their prosecution of the campaign I'm going to speak my mind.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Man's Best Scapegoat

Things have got truly surreal. Although the presidential candidates have been firing insults at each other on an hourly basis, they've agreed to take a day off to memorialize 9/11. No obfuscation, no dissembling, no distortions or misdirections for a full twenty-four hours. One whole day without sniping at each other like schoolyard miscreants! Wow, they've agreed to not be negative for a brief spell while they pretend to be "positive" and mouth meaningless platitudes like, "America will never be unsafe again." If they really wanted to honor the dead they'd agree not to lie about their own records and what they'll do if elected, and not just for a day but for the rest of the campaign.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Distaff Side

I'm in favor of a woman as president. In fact, for years I've felt that women can be more effective politicians than men. But the notion that a woman running for high office is being "bashed" by the media or her opponents because she's a woman is just plain silly. Ms. Palin, it seems, can sling mud and throw punches just as irresponsibly as men. The latter wasted no time proving her ablity at delivering sucker punches when, in her maiden speech, she snidely mocked Obama for having been a mere community organizer when she was gaining the experience to be a world leader by serving as mayor of Wasilla. That's a bit like cheeze whiz calling fritos insufficiently gourmet.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Public Relations

When Dr. Samuel Johnson heard that a man who got out of one unhappy marriage had taken a new wife, he remarked, "it was a triumph of hope over experience." Ralph Waldo Emerson was quoting Montaigne when he wrote in Representative Men: "Is not marriage an open question , when it is alleged, since the beginning of the world, that such as are in the institution wish to get out, and such as are out wish to get in?" (1850)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Down With Progress

You would think that the same science that brought us the miracle of plastic wrap could figure out a way to prevent us from gouging our thumb on the box's serrated edge. My wife's now departed Tuscan grandmother knew nothing of these modern wonders. She cooked for a big family every day, buying fresh food and discarding leftovers that were more than a day old. Once, on one of her frequent visits to Carla and me in Rome, we were both out of the house all day and asked her to fix dinner. We came home to discover she'd cooked everything in the refrigerator, a week's worth of food. It was the only way she knew how.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fee Fi Faux Fum

As you've probably figured out by now, there are two realities, the one you perceive if you're paying attention, and the one that's being aggressively sold to the large percentage of the public that's got their heads up their asses. Sarah Palin's Republican handlers were concerned that her pronunciation of "nuclear" (nu-cue-lar) would identify her too much with Bush, so when she accepted the nomination at the convention they made sure that every reference to it in the speech they wrote for her was phoneticized on the teleprompter as "new-clear." Please understand, I'm not picking on John McCain's running mate when I rag on her. I'm picking on John McCain.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Conventional wisdom tells us that "right-brained" people are intuitive, impulsive, and prone to accept the most preposterous ideas on faith, while "left-brained" people are rational and analytical. We're also led to believe that "left-brain dominant" people are in the majority, which is absurd. Were it true we wouldn't have advertising, religion, and politics, all of which are aggressively designed to cut through logical inspection of facts and leave people clinging to propositions they've leapt at on the flimsiest of evidence. Like, for instance, the truly lunatic conviction that an individual they never heard of a day previously is qualified to be second-in-command of the United States.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Janus Anyone?

The "issue" of whether or not Gov. Sarah Palin could function as a mother and as president is bogus, so bogus, in fact, I suspect it's been cooked up by Republicans to distract from the really disturbing question. Is she qualified or prepared for the job? The other "great debate" going on, also serving to keep people from looking too seriously into the lady's background, is whether her private life should be, as they say, "off the table." This one's a howler. On the one hand, the neocon strategists insist this election is all about character. On the other hand they want us to ignore the fact that a public official who is vehemently against sex education in the schools has a seventeen-year old unmarried daughter who's pregnant. The guv is also against abortion under any circumstances, even in the case of incest or rape. So what does she think should be done with all those unwanted babies in the ghettos? Hint: if you were tempted to say welfare, guess again.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


A man once asked a wise philosopher which he would rather have, a gift of money or a gift of friendship. "Friendship, undoubtedly," the philosopher told him. "It's easy to spend all your money, but friendship lasts forever." The man thanked the philosopher profusely, telling him he was a true friend. "Oh," said the philosopher, "the advice isn't free. It'll cost you."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Eggs and Begging

My little wire-haired dachshund refuses to eat from a dog dish. She insists on having her dinner from a plate. And she's finicky. Recently I fixed her some pasta with meat sauce and she turned her nose up at it, refused to eat until I put parmesan cheese on it. I may have to invest in some limoges china just for her.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Quiet Or You'll Wake the Chef

I Timothy 6:7 says, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." We like to make a big deal out of birthdays to alleviate the gloom of being reminded once a year that we're somewhere between nothing and nothing.

Monday, September 01, 2008

As the World Burns

I took my dog to the vet the other day. The doctor is new at the pet clinic where I go. She's very pretty, quite nice, and looks not much older than fifteen. She prescribed antibiotics for my dog's infected tooth, which seemed like the competent thing to do. But I sure wouldn't go to her if I needed open-heart surgery.