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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 08/ 3/2008

The Morning Line: When Frazz Razzes Rockwell

By Michael Cavna

During his life, Norman Rockwell's name was rarely associated with controversy, and most of the debate since has centered on whether the Art World should recognize him as an "artist" and not just a mere illustrator. But it is refreshing to see today's "Frazz" dig in a little bit and offer a viewpoint on Rockwell that has some controversial grit.


FRAZZ: Highlighting Norman Rockwell's limited palette.(UFS) Enlarge Comic

Rockwell's fictional world, of course, was as whitewashed as a Tom Sawyer fence. Even as late as the '50s, when Rockwell painted faces, he seemed to most often break out the brown tints to depict service workers and wait staff. It is worth noting, though, that he created some notably integrated paintings in the '60s. In 1961, he painted the pan-ethnic, continent-spanning work "The Golden Rule." And more strikingly, in 1964 he painted his take on school integration for Look magazine, titled "The Problem We All Live With." The innocence of a pristinely dressed young African American girl is contrasted with the faceless U.S. marshals and the violence of blood-red tomato stains on a wall, which also bears a racist slur. By this point, even Rockwell was depicting reality.

"Frazz" does a nice cartoon interpretation of Rockwell's 1958 painting "The Runaway," right down to the menu board. Interestingly, though, Jef Mallett transposes the two figures -- probably to fit the technical flow of his word-balloons. And the statement here is pointed enough that the punchline doesn't have to carry the weight, but rather functions as a grace note -- with the reference to the black-and-white band Gnarls Barkley serving as an extra touch.

Whatever we can say to encourage more strips like this, Mr. Mallett, just say the word.


CANDORVILLE: Giving shape to the world wide Webb. (WPWG) Enlarge Comic

SIDENOTE: Can't help but notice: When's the last time Virginia Sen. Jim Webb received a Sunday-cartoon shoutout? But we focus on this comic because the Internet is demonized with one heckuva broad-brush here (political supporters of every stripe are old hands at dispensing misinformation and spin on the Internet). That said: Could this yammering emblem of the Internet be any more foul or grotesque?

What say you? Do any of the Sunday funnies make you want to bust a gut, or vent a spleen?

By Michael Cavna  | August 3, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Comments

It would be great of the Post could have a regular sunday feature, (thru November) with political cartoons from all the non-DC, non-NYC papers across the country, as well as political ads for statewide and local races. When I looked for background on the democratic senate candidate in Alaska, for instance, I found a very creative and funny ad where politicians are literally being taken through the car wash. This kind of advertising is unique to the election season and the more creative the ads, the more interesting the political season. Also, this would be a great antidote to the presidential myopia and numbingly DC centric coverage that way too many American elections seem to be about.
Our future is in all the races, not just the one for the oval office...

Posted by: Jess | August 3, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

You could have provided links to the pictures you referenced. The Runaway:
http://www.artchive.com/artchive/R/rockwell/rockwell_runaway.jpg.html
The problem we live with (scroll down):
http://americanhistory.si.edu/Brown/history/6-legacy/freedom-struggle-1.html

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Uh-huh. The "razzing" of Rockwell would be a lot more justified if Jef Mallett had a bit more of a clue.

Here's a hint, Mr. Mallett: Image Google "Norman Rockwell Southern Justice" and get back to me about how he didn't think about black people, 'k?

Posted by: Barmy | August 4, 2008 12:32 AM | Report abuse

No comment link today. And I have so much to say, too.

Posted by: Huh? | August 4, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

So, to the extent that the Candorville is comprehensible, it's about bloggers having their credentials challenged ... by a cartoonist?

Posted by: Tom T. | August 4, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Candorville is unreadable most days and terrible on the others. Hopefully Mallet won't be injured when he falls off his high horse. Rockwell's work will live on much longer than Mallet's.

Posted by: Jimbo | August 4, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I too felt that the "Frazz" slap at Norman Rockwell was undeserved. Other readers have mentioned Rockwell's "The Problem We All Live With" and "Southern Justice," and I'd add "New Kids in the Neighborhood," "Freedom to Worship" from the Four Freedoms, and of course "Home Coming GI." This last depicts a soldier returning to the ethnically diverse tenement he calls home.

Posted by: AnotherHagman | August 4, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

re Webb referencing:

Sometimes Darby Conley sneaks weird references into his "Get Fuzzy" strip. There's one from 6/3/08 that I'm still puzzling over, and it *may* be a Webb as VP reference.
In that strip, Rob is wearing a shirt that reads "O'We8 '08" but with a line down the center of the 8 in "We8" so that it looks like back-to-back capital Bs.
I wondered at the time if that was an "Obama/Webb '08" shorthand.

Posted by: Mason | August 6, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I find it funny that you guys are pretending Candorville is hard to understand. The message is pretty damn straight forward (and usually pretty damn funny) and it's clear you just don't like it. The truth hurts. If I have to see another "Obama won't say the pledge of allegiance" post on another blog, I'm shooting my computer.

I just read a blog post saying Obama might be the anti-Christ, so if you ask me, the "foul" and "grotesque" nature of the Internet was actually understated here. Everything "The Internet" said has actually been said for months on blogs, I would've liked to see some exaggeration, like saying Obama's an alien.

Posted by: Arthur | August 7, 2008 4:08 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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