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Comic Riffs
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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 06/10/2009

How Newsweek's Guest Editor Let Us Down (That Means YOU, Mr. Colbert)

'MIKE LUCKOVICH' (Atlanta Journal Constitution / courtesy of

A hearty tip-o'-the-hat today to Stephen Colbert -- which in ever-ironic "Colbert-speak," of course, actually means that we're taking him to task with a vigorous "wag of our finger." Tsk, tsk, Mr. Colbert.

Colbert, as you likely know by now, guest-edited this week's issue of Newsweek, at the invitation of editor Jon Meacham. And for the most part, Colbert and his acknowledged flotilla of writers have done a swell job of delivering grade-A wit, snark and satiric "zazz." But then we get to the Perspectives page, where Stephen, alas, has let us down mightily.

Perspectives -- as you well know, Mr. Colbert -- is the page on which Newsweek typically runs two political cartoons. Correction: Make that a MEAGER two political cartoons. The page is chockablock with quotes from this new reality star or that personal sushi chef -- or that bubble-headed morning show host (do we really need the umpteenth quote from Speidi? Yes, Heidi, that was a rhetorical question). Trained-observer political-cartoonist types, on the other hand, get a scant two slots.

But thanks to the guest-editing gig, this was the week that -- for once -- we die-hard cartoon fans held out hope. We were the Dickens urchins pimpin' for crumbs, Mr. Colbert, and you were our Mr. Brownlow, or at least our Artful Dodger.

Yes -- YOU sir, could have seized this opportunity fervently, like Donald Trump chasing the warmth of a hot new spotlight. YOU sir, as a comedian, could have supported the cause of the other troops: That is, the brotherhood and sisterhood of your fellow political satirists.

Not only do we get a mere two cartoons, but both are by the same artist: Pulitzer-winning Mike Luckovich. To boost our noble cause, then, we asked Mr. Luckovich what he thought of this ginormous Missed Opportunity.

"When I heard Colbert was editing it, I wanted to see what he would do," Luckovich tells Comic Riffs, speaking to our rising hopes. Then Luckovich adds: "In the future, this Newsweek will be remembered because [Colbert] ran two of my cartoons. That's the highlight. Well, at least I'LL remember it."

Moving on, Mr. Colbert, we're suddenly compelled to issue a "tip o' the hat" to Mike Luckovich. But like the Friend of Comic Riffs that he is, Luckovich goes on to say:
"Political cartoons are so much fun and people want to look at them ... and they're a great way for newspapers [and magazines] to communicate ideas."

Hear that, Mr. Colbert? Why did you hate "communication," sir?

We will continue to believe that you appreciate a good cartoon, Stephen. After all, your Tek Jansen animations on "The Colbert Report" are inspired. "Saturday Night Live's" Robert Smigel told Comic Riffs that you were a creative boon to his animated "TV Funhouse." And when we chatted you up -- on the night you skewered all comers at the White House Correspondents Dinner (we, sir, were the lone voice in the room of 2,000-plus laughing at each and every punchline) -- you even provided advice on how to caricature you.

Comic Riffs hopes this was simply an unintended oversight and shudder to think of the alternative: That when it comes to political cartooning, you, sir, are a formidable opponent.

(P.S.: One word about your USO trip to Iraq in support of our troops this week: Oo-rah!)


THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: Mike Luckovich's trade secrets when caricaturing Barack Obama.

THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: Robert Smigel picks his favorite "SNL" shorts of all time.

By  |  10:30 AM ET, 06/10/2009

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