Saturday, October 07, 2006

Book-A-Day #82 (10/7): Killed Cartoons edited by David Wallis

This was a bound galley (aka Advance Reading Copy, which seems to be what everyone else in publishing calls them these days) that I found on the giveaway shelf at work a few weeks back, and have been reading at bedtime since then. I'd nearly finished it last night, so I decided to polish it off today. The book itself doesn't publish until...(checks back cover)...March, which is later than I thought.

Killed Cartoons is essentially a sequel; the editor did a book called Killed: Great Journalism Too Hot to Print, which I haven't seen. I expected Killed Cartoons to be very partisan and current, and I particularly expected massive amounts of liberal Bush-bashing.

There is certainly some of that (and probably too much for anyone who watches Fox News in prime-time regularly), but it's a much more balanced and historical book than I expected. Of course, it implicitly assumes that editorial cartoonists should always be given their head and allowed to do whatever cartoons they want to do that day, but that's only to be expected. There's a fair bit on the Danish cartoon furor of 2005, a number of Clinton-bashing cartoons from the '90s, and at least one panel from the WWII era.

It is very US-centric (with occasional ventures to the rest of the world, though usually on issues of interest to Americans) but that's a minor criticism. Its major theme becomes the general chilling of editorial comment (in cartoons and otherwise) as US newspapers have become consolidated in the hands of fewer and fewer conglomerates, which themselves have gotten larger and larger. (And the newspaper business is that oddest of capitalist ducks, the massively profitable enterprise that is slowly shrinking -- so that layoffs and cuts are not exactly necessary, but can easily be justified by looking at the right numbers.)

This will be most of interest to people who worry about media bias, and about what gets reported. Of those people, the most right-wing types won't like it (since they will find it hard to believe that big corporations could ever do anything wrong), but the rest of us will find it interesting, though more than a bit worrying.

No comments:

Post a Comment