Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 11, 2020
Economic Prescription for Coronavirus: ‘You’ve Got to Go Fast’
The government can’t prevent the coronavirus from damaging the U.S. Economy.
The usual tools that economic policymakers rely on, like tax cuts and stimulus spending, won’t restore canceled conferences, unclog supply chains or persuade wary consumers to go out to bars and restaurants. Even if such policies would help, they conflict with the advice of health officials who are urging “social distancing” to slow the spread of the virus.
But that doesn’t mean policymakers are powerless. Economists say well-designed programs could limit the damage and help ensure a quick rebound.
President Trump said Monday that he would meet with congressional leaders to discuss a “very substantial” payroll tax cut and other measures. Many economists are skeptical of that approach, arguing that a payroll tax cut would be too small and too poorly targeted to be of much help.
Instead, they recommended a variety of other steps, some narrowly aimed at addressing the outbreak and some intended to bolster the broader economy. One lesson from the last recession is that the government has to move quickly.
“You’ve got to go big, and you’ve got to go fast,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff member who is now director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a left-leaning research organization. “If you don’t go fast, you’re not going to short-circuit it.”
Here are some forms that such intervention could take: 1) Fight the disease. 2) Cushion the blow. 3) Stimulate the broader economy. 4) What about payroll taxes? (Continued: NYTimes)
CHRONOLOGY OF A CARTOON GONE VIRAL
This particular editorial cartoon has gone through several modifications than the original one published above on March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The original double wave cartoon received attention around the world and was modified, rather crudely, with adaptations made to my Canada flag, and translations squeezed in to replace my English “be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” Some of the changes were done fairly well. Some of the people behind the alterations took the time to ask for permission to do so, and preserved my moniker, while others did not.
Here’s a version drawn with credit for audiences in Mexico. Found on Twitter on account @adn40 and shared March 25, 2020:
Another adaptation done for audiences in France. Website called, Acheter en Espagne: Le meilleur site sur l’immobilier en Espagne pour la clientиle francophone.
If only I got a penny for everywhere this cartoon landed I’d be rich!
One of editorial cartoondom’s most recognized and overused cliche is the visual of a tsunami or tidal wave about to wreak havoc on humanity. It’s internationally recognized and a winner in the wordless cartoon contest world. I’ve used the cliche many times in the past to evoke impending doom, like, silver tsunami, the Gomery Report, Courier company business vs. Canada Post, U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, and H1N1 infection wave. It’s such a commonly known and wonderfully apt gag that if it had a trademark, it would really belong to everyone.
A crude repurposed image showing a third wave, with my moniker cropped out, appeared in wide circulation on various social media platforms in May, 2020. It appears someone with some knowledge of image editing software duplicated the recession wave, added a third wave by colouring it rather fluorescent green and replacing the wording to climate change. In doing so unfortunately, my signature, or moniker as cartoonists call it, was deleted out. It was on its way to being meme-ified – unsourced and unsigned, the bane of editorial cartooning. I believe the flag in the above example is Argentina’s.
Meanwhile, a hemisphere over in the UK, someone revised the Argentinian version, and replaced the label recession with “Brexit”. Look closely and one will note the Union Jack flies atop the Palace of Westminster! Credit goes to Twitter account RRI Tools for pointing this out in June, 2020 with this tweet.
I thought these ideas behind modification were pretty good ones, but the crop jobs weren’t so great, and the flag of Argentina only caused confusion on an idea that could work for anyone around the world. So it was then that I decided to remove the flag and create an authorized version bearing my signature. Here it is:
But it seems someone else in another corner of the planet, Ricardo Hurtubia, a teacher from Santiago, Chile, had added a third wave as early as April 4! Good on him for keeping my moniker in there. News to me by the time July rolled around:
con mis fantásticas habilidades para Power Point, he logrado esta obra de arte luego de un día entero de trabajo
(broma ?, pero el mensaje de fondo va en serio?) pic.twitter.com/qPrmSaneRy
— Ricardo Hurtubia (@rhurtubia) April 4, 2020
In September, 2020, this beautiful hand drawn rendering was flagged by someone in Venezuela on Twitter. This is an example of the old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Thank you Alejandro!
Not long after the above tweet was posted, an anonymous twitter account holder going by the name of Cilantrófago, posted a re-adapted image in Spanish that cleaned up Mr. Hurtubia’s, somewhat, adding a 4th wave. His major failing, however, is chopping out my moniker, and unfortunately, for Cilantrófago, he or she qualifies as a Social Media Jackass.
In mid June, I was included in a tweet sent out by David Obura, a director of Cordio, East Africa, a marine ecosystem consultancy based in Mombasa, Kenya. He’s also a scientist with the Earth Commission. A 4th wave had been added as a further warning regarding the effects of climate change on the world’s ecology. He isn’t actually the person who added the “biodiversity collapse”, but liked what he saw and sent it out. The re-adapted version is quite a good one, with a thought provoking message, the lettering is close enough to my own, and the image retains my moniker. Thumbs up, but I would like to know who the person is behind the re-adaptation.
The readapted readapted version of the cartoon became the centre piece of a demonstration with a Samba Band on Paignton Promenade (in Torbay, Devon, England) Sunday afternoon, August 30, 2020 with the “Four Waves Banner” shown below and paraded by the Green Spirits group:
In April 2023, the banner lead a parade and was carried to Parliament Square in front of Westminster Palace in London during a weekend of massive protests called “the Big One” on the climate crisis.
Organizers of another protest march in the UK wished to use the same image in public. An artist acquaintance of the environmental organization leader kindly asked if it was okay for him to design his own commissioned rendering of the image on wood measuring 8 by 4 feet. Happy to help a fellow artist on the other side of the planet the nod was given (though, as always, the artist deserved more compensation.)
Then it ended up along the banks of the River Clyde during the gathering of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. This tweet informed me of it’s location on Nov. 10, 2021.
Enchanted by the passion of the Green Spirits, and after receiving more licensing permission to use the 4 waves, I decided to update the cartoon to include the biodiversity collapse wave. The caption bubble was also enlarged, and my moniker was placed in the top corner.
This is such a powerful image by @mackaycartoons!
Even as #COVID19 vaccinations begin, we must rebuild disrupted & broken health systems, tackle economic recession & avert the climate crisis!
Thank you for updating your art, Graeme!https://t.co/dcnPOrxA6M pic.twitter.com/B1lFRUlDPx
— Madhu Pai, MD, PhD (@paimadhu) December 12, 2020
Dr. Madhu Pai, MD and McGill University Professor and Canada Research Chair of Epidemiology & Global Health convinced me to tweak the illustration a bit to advance his concerns of conditions such as TB, HIV, malaria, maternal health, etc. that have become worse due to COVID-19 and lockdowns.
As of Autumn 2020, according to google image search, there are more than 1680 posts of these variations across the Internet on various social media platforms and websites.
Scientific American – March 2022, Introducing 21 Ways COVID Changed the World
The Cairo Review of Global Affairs – Climate Change and COVID-19: There Is More Than One Curve to Flatten
Arthemis Insights – Anthemis Insurtech Forum: Climate Change and It’s Impact on the Insurance Industry
Out of Darkness UK – Shop for Britain and doom humanity
Datacovid.org – The French face the climate challenge
Global Environmental Facility – Endorsed the more than $5 billion replenishment for the next four-year period 2022-26
Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change – Climate diplomacy in 2020 – the state of play
Pioneers Post – The Social Enterprise Magazine – If business as usual is the problem, what’s the solution? (April 2023)
In the Move – La hora de la naturaleza
IconaClima – Quanto ci costerà la crisi climatica? Entro il 2100 il PIL mondiale potrebbe precipitare
Sopitas.com – TAMBIÉN NECESITAMOS CONFERENCIAS DE PRENSA SOBRE LA CRISIS AMBIENTAL
Circulab – Circular design to drive resilience
EFMD Global Network Blog – A green stimulus to boost the energy transition?
South Pole – The post-corona renewables boom – why now is the time to act
9Gag – Next decades gonna be so much fun
STRN (Sustainability Transitions Research Network) – NEST Conference Insights (Page 8)
Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University – Professor’s opinion: Convenient untruths – the organized self-delusion of going green
Reddit – Hey, Toronto! Just Wash Your Hands..!
The Oxford Blue – A storm has come: Extreme weather events across the globe
The Nature of Business – Reinventing Human Beings – Creating the Greatest Breakthrough of the 21st Century
Sustentabilidad Sin Fronteras – ¿Qué significa “aplanar la curva del clima”?
Climate Action Australia – Protecting half of Earth may help solve climate change, save species
Climate Action Australia – Joe Biden answers 6 Vox questions about his climate change agenda
POV International – Brug coronakrisen som løftestang for nødvendige forandringer: Vi skal “Build Back Better”
Medium.com – Field Notes: Teaching Climate Change in Higher Education
Save the Children – Children on the Frontlines of the Covid and Climate Crisis
WSP – What Else Can Net Zero Do For Us?
Bergensia – To Stop Biodiversity Collapse Humanity must reconcile with nature
Coaching federation – The Climate and Ecological Crisis: How Can Coaches Help?
The Partnering Initiative – How can we accelerate multi-stakeholder partnering to tackle waves of urgent threats?
esri UK & Ireland – Attenborough’s Challenge: And how companies can use GIS to respond
The Conversation – Will the pandemic experience help us address climate change?
House of Lords, Westminster – Submission
Universitat de València – Tsunamis, waves, Quixotes, and KO-vid: Metaphors about the pandemic as seen in cartoons
9GAG – Next decades gonna be so much fun
The Confused Cartoonist and Unemployed Climate Activist – August 19, 2020, by Lowell Bliss, Eden Vigil
Finally and noteworthy is an overriding subject going beyond the pandemic, Healthcare distress, the economy, Brexit, Climate Change, war …the end of the world, it’s the chronology of this cartoon as a meme.
Tidal Wave of Memes – by
“There’s a difference between using a familiar symbol and copying someone else’s cartoon, and, while some asked for permission and credited him, others did not. It’s a common experience for cartoonists in this Ctl-C, Ctl-V world, and MacKay’s analysis is excellent.”
Who knows how much, from Finland, Svante Suominen’s effort using the illustration to promote #SavePondHockey helped his cause which he asked in a Twitter exchange, our group fights “climate change by organizing outdoor hockey tournaments and donating the profits to climate campaigns / action. We’d love to use a quickly hacked image that is based on your idea and design work as a featured image in our blog. Would that be OK for you?” He was given clearance to do so, merely for having the decency to ask.
Like so many images cartoonists offered up to the Internet, dark forces are at the ready armed with design software to butcher artists work and memes-ify them to serve their appetites for likes and retweets. Just as egregious to discover signed cartoons reworded to suit partisan stances effectively turning satire into propaganda, is the removal of monikers and the extraction of intellectual property. We learn as children not to do this when we hand in assignments for school and that we should always source words borrowed from others. Why is it when theft of imagery that’s turned into memes is taken so passively?
On April 27 2021, a supportive follower made me aware of a new adaptation with the logo of Extinction Rebellion attached to it. The new image shows a different rendering of the waves with a couple of labels changed. Extinction Rebellion is a global environmental movement that has its roots in the UK and has captured the attention in recent months for huge non-violent rallies and civil disobedience against governments not doing enough to fight climate change and prevent the inevitable ecological extinction. It has been very successful in raising awareness and is influencing similar movements around the world. It is, however, not without criticism, with charges of being extremist, classist, and short-sighted with regards to diversity. In 2019, eight ER protesters made fools of themselves when they took their demonstration to the London Underground and disrupted an evening commute for thousands of transit users by unfurling a banner on the roof of a subway car. Respect for the work of artists seems to be another one of Extinction Rebellion’s shortcomings. It is ironic indeed that an organization called Extinction Rebellion has made my connection to my own design extinct with this:
Over a number of years, responding to people responsible for repurposing creative content has revealed interesting personality characteristics. Most people will realize they’ve done wrong, remove the vandalized content, and apologize.
Some won’t respond at all. Others will reply, and dig in their heels with claims that it’s some kind of human right to screen grab someone’s work online, alter it, and repost it as they deem fit. What compels people to modify visual work may be a genuine expression of support adding ones own thought to a message. Well meaning perhaps, as in the case of the DIY art restorer who, in 2012, decided to fix Ecce Homo, a fresco painted by Elías García Martínez in a church in Borja, Spain, but who was roundly condemned and mocked for the results. Or, it may just be a narcissist’s lack of thoughtfulness by co-opting imagery to communicate a message unrelated to the intent of the creator of the image. Several of the worst cases have been called out as the Social Media Jackasses for their bad behaviour.
Along comes a post on Instagram where an account run under the banner of a big international bubble tea chain called Tiger Sugar used the image below to promote franchise expansion. A glance through the account shows an endless scroll of not so witty memes mixed with photos of their swirly brown syrup concoctions aimed at a younger smart phone addicted set. A message was left under the post requesting removal of the altered image. As of the time of this writing the post remains and thereby grants Tiger Sugar bestowal of recognition into the pantheon of intellectual property thieves.
Noted is this eerily similar looking version found on this page on a site called EcoMatcher. They aren’t based in any particular country but whether the renderer knew it or not, that’s pretty much exactly what I drew in the very first version (posted at the top of this page) to represent Canada, from the rockies in the west to the Toronto skyline in the east. Seems the readapters of the image had a pretty good idea of the original cartoon’s chronology. It bears a striking resemblance to Svante’s rendering above.
Finally, From GreenMoveID, an environmental organization in Indonesia that shared this modification in November, 2020. For non-English speaking countries it’s important to get the message out, and frankly this rendering is beautifully done, and good for them for the credit:
The authorized version of the 4 Waves cartoon is available on a wide range of ethically sourced apparel and products through the MacKaycartoons Online Boutique.