The Washington Post

DICK CHENEY’S MEMOIR: How to think (and satirize) like a cartoonist

(MIKE LUCKOVICH/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

If you are the Post’s reviewer Robert Kaiser, and you have a couple-dozen fat paragraphs with which to register your disdain and disappointment over Dick Cheney’s new memoir, you can plot your verbal takedown like a relatively extended chess match. Today, tales of all the king’s men and women can be taken on at your pace.

If you’re a political cartoonist, however, you might scarcely have more total words to work with than the 11 it takes to say: “ ‘In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,’ by Dick Cheney.” As wit and wag, you are playing satiric blackjack — typically a game of few words and perhaps a couple of faces.

And your goal as you approach the readers: Hit ‘em!

So it’s no wonder that when taking on the former vice president’s memoir, the critical cartoonist is likely to exploit one of the few most ready Cheney associations that the general public holds, rightly or wrongly.

The uncommon-power-for-a-veep concept? Too unwieldly. Shooting a hunting friend/acquaintance/campaign contributor in the face? A mite messy as adapted device. Gitmo waterboarding?

Bingo! The artist with the jaundiced eye has the right ready visual metaphor.


(JOE HELLER/Green Bay Press Gazette)

So it’s no wonder that Joe Heller and Rob Rogers — to name just two — hit upon the idea of the memoir as torturous reading experience. And Mike Luckovich put his own spin on “In My Time” and in-your-face

Then again, the Hartford Courant’s Bob Englehart may have ‘em all beat: With this cartoon, he was linking Cheney’s memoir and torture ... in 2009.

Elsewhere, The Post’s political animator Ann Telnaes has the visual time to play off Cheney’s recent heads-will-explode remark about his memoir’s “revelations” — with this cartoon. And the Taiwan-based Next Media Animation has time and verbiage enough to wage a high-speed game of satiric checkers.

For humorists, easy lies the head that is crowned.


Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.


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