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, December 31, 2009


2005. It's coming to the end of the year and I'm winging across the Atlantic going to Italy. The cabin is dark, most passengers are sleeping. I go to chat up the flight attendant and there's this fellow spreading out his prayer rug back opposite the galley, arranged to face Mecca. I run to my seat and get my sketchbook. People have asked me how I know he was facing Mecca. Duh.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doggie Tales

I'm saddened by the death last Tuesday of David Levine, one of the world's great illustrators, at age 83. Usually referred to as a caricaturist, he was in fact, like Al Hirschfeld, an amazing creator of what Hirschfeld appropriately preferred to call character drawings. As with the finest magicians and acrobats, one looked at Levine's work and thought, "how the heck does he do that?"

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Drink To Me Only

In a radio sketch with Charlie McCarthy, W.C. Fields described being tormented by birds. "Little tiny birds," he said. "Then you must need glasses to see them," Charlie said. "You bet," intoned Fields, "at least three or four."

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's All God's Fault

Figure this one out: Tiger makes love to lots of women and his career tanks. Charlie Sheen and Keifer Sutherland beat up their women and their careers thrive. Think we have our priorities out of shape?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Immaculate Consumption

The local news yesterday evening reported that after a day of rest shoppers were able to go back to their frenzied search for bargains. I wonder how Jesus would feel about what has become of the day that presumably was to commemorate his birth, a kind of time out to recuperate from unbridled consumerism.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fly, Fly Again

"It were happy if we studied nature more in natural things, and acted according to nature, whose rules are simple, plain, and most reasonable." William Penn, Fruits of Solitude, 1693.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Presents of Mind


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let No Man Put Us Under

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos, 3:3.

"Remember, it's as easy to marry a rich woman as a poor woman." William M. Thackery, Pendennis, 1850.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Playing the Soccer Cards

In Europe what we call "soccer" is called "football," which makes very good sense. Basketball, too, is an appropriate name, and there's something onomatopoetic about rugby, but football is a totally inapt handle for the brawl engaged in - I won't even dignify it by saying played - in this country. On the other hand, what would you call it? Concussionball, possibly.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

There Are No Small Actors, Only Small Salaries

When I was in a long-running play on Broadway, I once came off-stage after a scene and realized I didn't remember one moment of the performance. This tendency to go on "autopilot" is a common one. I recall the story of the touring company that for two years had criss-crossed the country. One night, during the final scene when all the actors were onstage there was a long silence, and the audience quickly realized someone had "gone up." When the stage manager called out the line one of the actors turned to him and shouted, "We know what it is, damn it, we've forgotten who says it."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sanity Is Overrated

Given that today is Forefathers Day, the annual commemoration of the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620, it's a fitting time to recall the words of Whitney M. Young Jr. "We may have come over on different ships," he said, "but we're all in the same boat now."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where There's Smoke There's Denial

"I wanted people to stay out of my business," the man said, "so they did, and now my business is going broke."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

'Tis the Season To Be Really Really Really Jolly

"Fa la la la la la la la la"? You just know the know the guy who came up with that lyric had to be knocking back some really strong stuff.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomnorrow

Little known fact. Yesterday may have been the 106th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first successful flight, but today is equally important. It was 106 years ago today that Wilbur found Orville's lost luggage and returned it to him at his hotel.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dog's Best Friend

Yesterday I was remiss in neglecting to mention that along with the anniversaries of three important births, my mother's, Noel Coward's, and Beethoven's, there was another major commemoration. It was ten years to the day that Zuzu, my little miniature wire-haired dachshund, crossed my threshold, won my heart, and stayed on. We celebrated with grilled hamburger patties.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Today is not simply the anniversary of my mother's birth in 1909. She shares the occasion with two other notables, Noel Coward, born ten years before her, and Ludwig von Beethoven, born in 1770. His music is good, sure, but I like him mainly for the fact that he's the subject of a good joke, which I'm unable to tell here since it requires a soundtrack. Alas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eat Hearty

As the old joke goes, Confucius say woman who cooks carrots and peas in same pot very unsanitary. I heard it for the first time when I was about seven, and retold it as "lady who pees and cooks stuff in same pot." I still don't get why my version isn't better.


Monday, December 14, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed, Appeal the Decision

A friend of mine asked to be excused from jury duty because he was needed where he worked. "Your employer will have to make do without you," the judge told him, "you're not indispensable." I know," my friend answered, "but I don't want my boss to find out."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Do We Exercise Judgment?

After a hundred thousand years of human history, up to a hundred years ago most people's lives were about survival. Now someone can make millions of dollars by getting suckers to pedal bicycle machines accompanied by music and giving it a catchy name, Spinning. And all the while some dork exhorts them to keep on pedaling. Then the damn fools go out and eat a Big Mac. Makes you wonder what's next.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Show Me the Money

L'affaire Tiger Woods has taken a new turn. Suddenly everyone seems to be worrying about the hit the PGA is taking as a result of Tigger's "indiscretions". Seems fans and sponsors are turning away from that pit of sin. Any discussion of morality has been swept away. His real transgression was screwing with the money machine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Say What?

Italian is pronounced exactly and without exception the way it is spelled, so I was always fascinated by the ways that Italians dealt with American products in their language. One of my favorites was the deoderant SafeGuard, which they pronounced to sound something like sahf-ay-goo-ard. Colgate was cole-gah-tay, and Close Up toothpaste came out like Cloze-ay-oop. Better still, though, was a discovery I made at age 18, when I was in Europe for the first time. In Germany Rice Krispies don't go "snap, crackle, pop," they go "knisper, knasper, knusper." Go figure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Liar, Liar

As I sat in my car a couple of days ago, inching along with the rest of the rush hour traffic on the 10 West, I couldn't help but think of all those powerful world leaders in Copenhagen with their private jets and limos, presumably dedicated to the challenges of dealing with global harming. Meanwhile an alarming, and growing percentage of Americans don't believe there's anything amiss. Reminds me of the drunk who said he didn't have a drinking problem. "I drink, I get drunk, I pass out," he said, "no problem."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Something's Fowl

The farmer's son said he was leaving for the big city, where his talents had a better chance of flowering. "Same damn reason the corn stays here," the farmer told him.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Cough, Cough

The anniversary of the great Roman poet Horace, born on this day in 65 B.C., rings a special bell with me. On a daily basis I am mindful of his words as I face this commentary: "Brevis esse laboro, Obscurus fio," which translates as, "It is when I'm struggling to be brief that I become unintelligible."

Monday, December 07, 2009

Bar None

You can't make this stuff up. China has hired a Madison Avenue ad agency to "clean up its image" in a series of television and print advertising. And a new Los Angeles guided tour is soon to take its place alongside the ever-popular tours of stars' homes. Sixty-five bucks will get you a two-hour drive through East L.A. to visit gang turfs. See where the Bloods and the Crips duke it out, while babies get caught in the cross-fire. Boy, if that isn't worth it I don't know what is.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

There's a Reason They're Called Drama Queens

Henry Fonda was the most amazing actor I ever worked with. It was widely claimed he always played the same character, basically himself, and yet when he stepped onto the set he instantly transformed into a completely different person, different background, personality, soul. And unlike with most other actors you never saw the work. It was magic, a kind of alchemy.