At first, I thought I really did not like artist Joe Dator. My initial assumption was that he was sexist and took easy shots like so many other political cartoonists. Honestly, these thoughts were based almost entirely off the the first cartoon of his that I saw, which was this one:
The image is of a car showroom. A luxury sports car is parked with its front wheels on top of a man who is saying “Hey, relax! All I said was, ‘You’re a sexy car but you could stand to dress a little sexier.’”
I took it to be a joke about how “sensitive” women are to being told what to wear by men; however, further investigation made me wonder if I was misinterpreting the strip or if it just wasn’t clear. I decided to do a bit more research. Before going on to look at every image of his that I could find, I turned to Twitter. His tweet about this image:
— Joe Dator (@JoeDator) January 14, 2015
Perhaps the joke is more on car companies using women to sell cars and not Dator using cars as the same tired analogy for women. It points out the ridiculousness of having a naked woman as a logo for a car company.
Obviously, that’s a sentiment I could agree with, as it is entirely absurd to rely, even a little, on breasts to sell your product.
His recent response to the new Ghostbusters movie solidified my newly formed good opinion of him:
This particularly fills me with joy because it addresses the fallout after the announcement about the new Ghostbusters. So many people were angry about the all-women cast and for so many different “reasons.” Some cloaked their disapproval in the opinion that reboots are lazy money-grabbing excuses for films, others were a little more direct in their opinion that “women aren’t funny.” An often heard refrain is that there’s no point to in remaking it with women, that feminism is outdated, we’re all equals, yadda yadda. But the truth is evident in Dator’s above cartoon. Women are still paid less, seen as lesser, than their male counterparts in every industry.
His comics vary from the political:
To the timely social:
A fitting gift for the bland “Season’s Greetings” perhaps.
The New Yorker format can be very limiting with only one panel, one or two lines of text, and the comics are usually in black and white. My favorites of his are the more politically inclined posts, like this one:
I don’t think jokes about torture are funny, but this throws the onus back on the U.S. government, pointing out that there is no reason to torture individuals except to push the limits of what government is allowed to do.
His pop culture offerings are just as relevant and sometimes very funny:
So true, Dator. If Cumberbatch can play Dr. Strange, maybe he can play a baby too.
Dator’s lines are clean, and his shading is excellent. I find it very easy to read through many of these panels in just a few minutes. His representations of political figures are thoughtful and recognizable. One of the things I often find irritating in political cartoons is the overblown caricaturization of individuals the cartoonist is lampooning. A few years ago there were a ton of cartoons about New Jersey Senator Chris Christie’s weight, which had absolutely nothing to do with his politics.
In 2011, the Orlando Sentinel ran this cartoon:
In this particular comic, by Dana Summers, Christie is announcing that he has no plans to run for President of the United States, but his thought bubble is of him sweating and struggling while physically running.
These are low blows that are just lazy. If the most you can attack a politician for is their weight, you obviously don’t know anything about that politician (or it’s a worthy politician, but…). Dator doesn’t stoop to this level. He treats the physical representation of his characters with respect and lets the actions and words of those individuals speak for themselves. It seems honorable.
For instance, in this gem, he doesn’t make Obama look ridiculous in presentation. He lets the absurdity and surreal nature of a leader of a country having to address a hacking speak for itself.
Dator makes me excited to read The New Yorker cartoons again.