13 January 2008
Abortion: A Tale of Two Toons
To sway opinions or target certain audiences, authors often use written humor as a means to convey their argument. Artists and designers behind visual statements such as magazine advertisements or posters frequently use the same method. Political cartoons are a popular way of expressing opinions about current events and dissatisfaction with governing officials. The ever growing abortion debate is the subject of Jim McCloskey’s cartoon making fun of pro-choice activists, and Mike Luckovich’s cartoon mocking pro-life advocates’ views. While McCloskey relies heavily on emotional appeal, and Luckovich uses strong exaggeration, both artists appeal to cultural values, albeit different ones. Given their clever use of these methods, McCloskey and Luckovich both efficiently appeal to their audiences. In Jim McCloskey’s comic, a wild- eyed couple stands holding a sign declaring “Pro-Choice” In their captions, they object to an abortion doctor’s life being taken away, presumably by pro-life extremists through a bombing or other violent act. Underneath the zany couple floats a tiny fetus with angel wings, asking “But What about ME?” The fetus has a visible face and ears, appearing not much different than a new-born baby. The background of the angelic fetus is black, a stark contrast from the white background behind the pro-choice couple. To the viewer, the black background behind the fetus conjures images of death and possibly suffering. A closer look at the couple in the cartoon shows some clever work on the artist’s part. The woman’s unkempt hair and sharp eyebrows make her look fierce. Coupled with her toothy mouth, opened wide to protest, she looks downright scary. Surprisingly, the man to her right looks much less threatening. His baggy suit and balding head make him look more silly than intimidating. This may lead the reader to wonder if the...