The first time I gained an audience after delivering my earliest offering of political satire I was 12-years-old. It was 1980, and I was part of a generation of youth growing upon a constant diet of television news and Saturday morning mass marketing. The gag was a pop bottle being held up by the infamous leader of Iran alongside the caption “Drink Ayatollah Cola.” With the daily fear reminder of an angry, eyebrowed dude in strange garb from halfway around the world holding hostages and leading mobs in chants about death to America, the cartoon was instantly hailed by my classmates and was allowed to hang on the wall.
President Carter, by MacKay, c1980
From a Canadian kid’s vantage point in 1980, the world was clearly divided by good and bad. The Soviets, led by a wheezing, uni-browed autocrat named Brezhnev had his billing for the evilest bad guy challenged by the Ayatollah Khomeini, a real-life Darth Vader. The good guys were the Americans led by President Jimmy Carter.
Plains, Georgia peanut
Being the leader of the free world brought with it the customary ordeal of ridicule and derision by comedians, satirists and editorial cartoonists. It was thanks to them that a brief moment of history was culturally defined by a big, toothy presidential grin on giant peanuts, caricatures by Dan Akroyd on SNL and across newspaper editorial pages. It was a golden time for an aspiring cartoonist to begin honing his skills.
I was too young to delve deeply or understand much about the details of domestic turmoil the USA faced during the Carter years. I do recall picking up bits of gloom about an energy crisis, of stagflation, of malaise and the fact that the youngest Kennedy brother had an ax to grind about an unpopular President.
The lasting memories of the Carter years for this 12-year-old-foreigner’s mind are the global events of a never-ending hostage crisis, a Summer Olympic Games boycott and a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
Jimmy Carter wearing a Jimmy Carter mask
Fast forward 40 years later and that same President was photographed amidst a pandemic wearing a toothy grinning Jimmy Carter face mask, designed by yours truly.
David Osborne, an accomplished musician who plays piano at Las Vegas’ Bellagio hotel, is also known as “Pianist to the Presidents”, for the number of White House performances he’s made over the past several decades. He and Carter have built a friendship over the years. On the eve of Osborne receiving a music award in his home state of Oklahoma, the pianist received a texted photo of the masked ex-President by Jimmy Carter himself. He then shared the photo with the Las Vegas newspaper.
Jimmy Carter swag
If only I could go back in time and tell my 12-year-old self that I would one day draw a cartoon of Jimmy Carter’s smile and Jimmy Carter would wear it on his face!
Jimmy Carter has built a very respectable standing in his post-presidency years. Unlike others, he hasn’t used public life to enrich himself financially. Instead, he’s lived a long life advancing human rights and helping to improve the quality of life for people around the world.
Even in their mid-90s Jimmy Carter and the former First Lady Rosalyn, continue to devote themselves to public service by doing what a sitting President is loathe to do, promote the use of face masks in the time of a deadly pandemic.
That’s a noble cause to put pen to paper to, or in this case, Presidential pearly whites.
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.
February 28, 2020
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.
June 28, 2018
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.
Nettuno 1958 – 5 aprile 2020
If only I got a penny for everywhere this cartoon landed I’d be rich!
Possibly my most shared, cropped, and altered cartoon ever.
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 this 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:
Originally drawn for March 11, 2020. Revised May 23, 2020.
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
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:
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.
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.
POV International – Brug coronakrisen som løftestang for nødvendige forandringer: Vi skal “Build Back Better”
Medium.com – Field Notes: Teaching Climate Change in Higher Education
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.