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 *).

Monday, November 30, 2009

After the Fall

Then there's the story of the man who was so busy climbing the ladder of success he forgot to watch his step.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Little Drummer Brat

It puzzles me that Black Monday refers to a calamitous stock market decline, while Black Friday is so named for its hoped-for boom in sales. That leaves us with five more possible "black" days, which can be either good or bad depending on what the media decides to do with them.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rain, Rein, Reign

Better late than never, okay? Spent the past two days in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, actually, but close) with our high school boys at a lacrosse tournament. There are those who say that at my age I should be reclining on a sofa watching football games. I say, no way. There's no fun on earth like coaching youngsters; no beauty as great as the sun-drenched warm desert in winter with the surrounding mountains dusted by last night's snow.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Alas, Poor Occupant, I Knew Him

Old man Jones worried his children because he smoked regularly, partied hearty, drank like a fish, and gambled excessively. "You're killing yourself," they warned him. "Then it must be a slow death," he answered, 'cause I've been doin' it all my life."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

I had the dubious pleasure of trying a bite or two of Tofurkey the other day, handed out as a sample at Trader Joe's. I vote nay. Okay, it tastes vaguely like turkey soaked in gravy, and yes, if you shut your eyes and concentrate there is a glancing resemblance to authentic texture, if slightly glutinous, but try as I might I couldn't get past the awareness it was created in a laboratory by chemists, not in a kitchen by cooks. But then I've always felt that making something perfectly good taste like something else, the way they do with turkey baloney, is ridiculous. Of course, carrot cake tastes exactly like spice cake, so why waste all those carrots that go better with the blue cheese dip?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

"Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,/That he is grown so great?" William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, 1599.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eating Is Believing

"I always feel like a god when I come home," said the disgruntled, dyspeptic diner, "because there's always a burnt offering waiting for me at dinner time."

Monday, November 23, 2009

You Are What You Eat

"Other circumstances being the same, it may be affirmed that countries are populous according to the quantity of human food which they produce or can acquire, and happy according to the liberality with which this food is divided, or the quantity which a day's labour will purchase." Thomas R. Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798. Or the number of molecular combinations they can come up with to create artificial tastes?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Catch As Catch Can

"We remember autumn to best advantage in the spring; the finest aroma of it reaches us then." Henry David Thoreau, Journal, May 10, 1852.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dumb Dee Dumb Dumb

Can there be any more frustrating aspect of modern life than automated phone systems with endless menus passing you on to the next menu? And in the end none have what you called about and you find yourself screaming psychotically into the phone, "I want a real %&!* person to talk to," your last shred of sanity aware that you're attempting to communicate with a machine whose voice recognition program doesn't register the invective.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Write You Are

I'll break from my own self-made tradition a bit to point out an aspect of the cartoon-making process. I originally had a typewriter on the desk, thinking it to be emblematic of a certain traditional writer mind-set. Thanks to the magic of Photoshop it's now a computer. It seemed to me that shopping for a computer is the contemporary writer's version of sharpening pencils and ducking out for a capuccino as a stalling tactic.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ruining Mate

"The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal.... is, I think, the ultimate indignity for the democratic process." Adlai E. Stevenson. It's a little known fact that in 1956 Stevenson chose not to select a running mate, preferring to leave it up to the Democratic Party convention. They chose Estes Kefauver, who won out over the then Junior Senator from Massachusetts John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When the Tough Get Going

To commemorate the 173rd anniversary of W.S. Gilbert's birth, allow me to offer two of his observations, favorites of mine: "When everyone is somebody, then no one's anybody." "Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream." Both as true now as then.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It Should Be Called the Evening Olds

It's always disconcerting when the news reports on a subject you have experience with and they get something wrong. It doesn't bode well for everything else they report on. I have substantial experience with aviation. The other evening a local news broadcast reported on an incident involving two airplanes on "Runway 876" at a certain airport. Fine, except that there's no runway in the world designated as 876. All runways everywhere are named according to their compass heading, so that, for instance, a runway heading of 210 degrees would be Runway 21 in one direction and Runway 3 (30 degrees) in the opposite direction. Information you probably never needed to know, except don't trust the news.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Liar, Liar

A psychologist was conducting a survey, asking volunteers what they would think about if they were in an airplane about to crash. "My wife and children," the first volunteer offered, "because they'd have no one to take care of them." "My poor old mother," said the second, "because she'd be alone in the world without me." "Big boobs," answered the third. "Why is that?" the psychologist asked. "Because," said the man, "I always think about big boobs."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Lawyer's Briefs Aren't

It tells us a lot about the human race to realize that the primary function of having laws is to protect us from each other, and often from ourselves.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blame It On Someone Else

Well, we got through another Friday the 13th, but I'm seized with a most disquieting thought. What if there's a kind of cosmic drift and gradually Saturday the 14th has become even more volatile without any of us noticing, kind of the way magnetic north is moving slightly year by year? One more thing to worry about.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Frankly Speaking

I offer this cartoon today as an homage (pronounced, of course, the snooty way, oh-mahj') to the most ubiquitous of foods, some kind of dough wrapped around some kind of filling. We have sandwiches, tacos and enchiladas, cannelloni, gyros, egg rolls, blintzes and blinis, crepes, and, I'd guess, many hundreds of variations across the myriad cultures of the world, traceable back to when mankind first discovered the miracle and utility of flour.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Man's Best Fiend

This is a bit unfair, since my new puppy Enzo is not overly destructive, perhaps because I'm around most of the time to keep him in check. He does have a stash of old shoes, piled by the door, that wind up scattered around the room by evening, and I admit to indulging him a bit in his fondness for raiding the wastebasket. I recall years ago visiting my friends Richard and Shiela Lukins (The Silver Palate) at their beautiful country home. It was a rainy day, and my dog Quits had been roaming outside. When he showed up at the door Shiela hurried to let him in. "Wait, he's covered in mud," I said, envisioning the inevitable filthy rugs, hardwood floors, and furniture. "I can clean it up," Shiela laughed, unperturbed. That's class.

Best Buds

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There Oughta Be a Law

I for one am sick of the practically daily polls showing the shifting sands of the President's "approval" rating. Reported by the media increasingly frantic about their own approval ratings, they do nothing but reflect the skewed, strident, arrogant news reporting of, yes, that's right, the media.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Face to Face

It was bad enough when a simple "Good-bye" gave way to "Have a nice day," which became nearly ubiquitous in Los Angeles, especially in supermarket check-out lanes and among bank tellers. At some point (notice I didn't say "at some point in time") "Have a good one" crept into our everyday language and has remained. Have a good what one, for goodness sake? Dinner? Bath? Bowel movement?

Monday, November 09, 2009

In One End

Today's anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall takes me back to 1957 when, with a school group, I visited Berlin. Part of the US-Soviet treaty dictated that an American Army bus be allowed into East Berlin daily for sightseeing. It was arranged for our group to be on that bus. The contrast between east and west was never more dramatic to me than it was that day, most evident in a boulevard lined with grim Soviet-style buildings, and immediately beyond them rubble, stretching as far as one could see. Heavy stuff for an 18-year old living through the middle of the Cold War.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Deep End

It's easy to fall into the media trap of over-analyzing and soul-searching every time a loony goes over the edge and wreaks havoc. What's astonishing is that such events are as statistically rare as they are. With millions of us jammed into relatively small spaces and living in conditions that make rats' mazes look like a vacation, breathing crappy air and dodging hurtling tons of iron driven by fools who don't know traffic laws from "twinkle, twinkle little star" it's astonishing most of us get along as well as we do.

Christmas is almost upon us, and you can't give a better gift than laughter.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Face the Music

An angry father kept objecting to his son's light-hearted, devil-may-care, irresponsible approach to life. "When I was a boy your age," he reproached his son, "I was a man."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Clean Sweep

Apropos of nothing, I'm reminded of one of my least favorite contemporary linguistic absurdities, one that has become unbelievably popular, even among people who should know better: "At this point in time...." I mean, c'mon. I'd like to popularize the phrase "at that point in space," meaning, of course, "there."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

3 Candles

Today I'm posting my 1098th cartoon, which would be just another number except that today also marks the completion of The Fool's 3rd year without missing a day. This, of course, is a matter of quantity, not necessarily quality. As for that, I'm reminded of the answer movie producer Sir Lew Grade (widely known as Sir Low Grade) gave years ago when asked about his current productions. "Some good, some bad," he said, "all great." 

Just a reminder, if there's a particular cartoon you'd like on a mug, t-shirt, hoodie, greeting card, or toilet seat cover contact me through my website and it can be arranged.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Peace, Dude

In the last year 12 billion rounds of ammunition were sold in the U.S., an increase of 7 to 10 billion over previous years. Meanwhile, an army study shows that 70 percent of potential candidates for service in the armed forces are ineligible because of overweight, low academic scores, physical problems, criminal records, and, um, because they're stoned out of their gourds. Are all those rejects for the service stocking up on bullets? Scary, man.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Greeks Had a Word For It

Man comes home from work early and finds his wife in bed naked and a man's clothes draped over a chair. After a quick search, the enraged husband finds the owner of the clothes cowering in a closet au naturel. "I was just passing by and had to go to the bathroom," the man stammers. "Your wife was kind enough to let me in. I was all ready to go when you arrived, and since I knew it looked bad I figured I'd better hide. "Do you expect me to believe that?" the husband raged. "No, but under the circumstances can you think of a better excuse?"