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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 10/13/2008

The Riff: How Cartoonists Can Cushion Our Pocketbook Pain

By Michael Cavna

When cartoonists are the windows to our soul -- and wallet. (TMS) Enlarge Comic

In these difficult and trying financial times, we thusly issue this heartfelt editorial -- nay, our open plea -- to our cartooning colleagues:

When in the course of fiscal events the Dow plummets like Wile E. Coyote ankled to an anvil, it becomes necessary to call upon every man, woman and child cartoonist to make a sacrifice. As our dreams are foreclosed upon with alarming alacrity; as the most reliable institution for stashing our life savings now bears the names "Sealy" and "Posturepedic"; and as many retirees' savings now dwindle to a mere drop in the bucket-list, it is time for syndicated artists to consider these Four Noble Steps for the greater common good. To wit:

1. Cartoonists shall cease to use erasers. Visible pencil lines seem a small price to pay in the name of conserving goods and resources. If we can live with the mistakes of Congress, the White House and the suspendered chowderheads on Wall Street, then -- by gum! -- we can live with yours.

2. We call on cartoonists to use only felt-tip pens. And we mean those cheap-o Bic ones, too; think Flair. Yes, the nation acknowledges your right to bear Rapidograph pens. But be assured: We will forfeit line quality for quality-of-life. (*Note: Exceptions will be made if you are mercilessly caricaturing any multimillionaire CEO who contributed to this whole stinkin' mess. Godspeed.) And to those cartoonists who work entirely digitally, just compress all files and we'll call it even.

3. All cartoonists must now use muddy grade-school ink. And we mean those real watery washes; think Higgins. Sure, your once-opaque tones may now register as murky fields of blackish-gray, but think of it as visual experiment. As with cartooning now, the great and inventive artists will rise with such tools, while "Cathy" will still look as though it were drawn by a pack of rabid Chihuahuas.

4. Cartoonists must return to frequent use of hobo humor. The real way to ease our pain, of course, is for you to do what you do best: Tap laughs from where it hurts most (think "Yellow Kid."). So practice how to properly crosshatch a shantytown, and hone how to render bindles in a Hooverville.

We thank you in advance, cartoonists, for your sacrifice, for your cooperation, and most of all for your inky funnies. As long as we'll soon be sleeping with newspapers as our park-bench comforter, we might as well be comforted, too, by your words covering our eyes. Even if laughter is not the best medicine, it's the best one we can afford.

Where do YOU think cartoonists should cut back -- and which cartoonists should be cut back altogether? Comments welcome at no extra charge...

By Michael Cavna  | October 13, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  
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Think of the environmental damage, the fuel requirements, and the energy expenditure necessary for the trees to be felled, the pulp to be ground, the newsprint to be shipped, the presses to be run, and the delivery trucks to toss upon America's lawns, those millions upon millions of daily newspapers devoting precious column inches each day to "The Family Circus".

Society weeps.

Posted by: Seismic-2 | October 13, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Yuck, Higgins ink. Hate that stuff. And is there a secret to using Rapidographs? I've tried two out and the nibs stopped flowing with very vexing speed and frequency.

Posted by: tidalwv | October 13, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

TidalWV: I use dip pens personally, for Calligraphy, and thus prefer "the thicker the better." But what I may avoid may be just the ticket for Rapidographs... fountain pen ink; it flows easily (too easily for me) while still retaining its blackness.

Posted by: Ollabelle | October 13, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

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