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‘Editorial Explanations’ Makes Sense of Stupid Political Cartoons

For centuries the Editorial Cartoon has been considered a bastion of wit, sophistication and all that is profound in society, all in spite of the fact that they’re often no more than the most painfully pedestrian observations or so esoteric that they defy comprehension. Last month when we wrote about The Monkeys You Ordered – a brilliant and hilarious blog that provides literal text translations of the infamously inscrutable New Yorker cartoons – we didn’t realize the scope of the movement to undermine the sacred cow of editorial cartoons.

Editorial Explanations is an almost daily feature of The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent, which is actually the blog of Andrew Wheeler, Editorial Director of Jon Wiley & Sons, Inc., a publisher of scholarly texts including the Webster’s NewWorlds, J.K. Lasser, and, most prestigiously, the CliffNotes and For Dummies lines. With Editorial Expanations, Wheeler identifies the most oblique political cartoons of the day and offers insight into what the cartoonist is really trying to convey. It is an educational instrument of great worth, and we have highlighted some examples below.

From Andrew Wheeler:
This world is full of editorial cartoons, designed to prove to all of us the immediate, blinding insight of their creators, and cause us to instantly be a convert to whatever particular political philosophy the cartoonist happens to hold. Well, they would, if only we could understand them — but, all too often, we can’t.

No one is out there explaining what those bizarre pictures of three monkeys (labeled “Soros,” “Queen Elizabeth,” and “the Yen”) are doing with that nuclear weapon, nor why they’re making those famous three-monkey faces. And so I’ll just have to step up and do it.


The unrest in Egypt will unleash their secret weapon: a bioengineered giant killer octopus living just below the Aswan Dam.


Every single person purchasing a gun is a mass murderer. Every single person purchasing a gun is a mass murderer.


Wives are evil, fat, humorless shrews. And men aren’t much better. Oh, for the peace of death.


Obama took over the US government from his slain former boss in 1980, just like Hosni Mubarak did. I can’t believe you don’t remember that.


Democracy in Egypt has not only already died; it was mummified millennia ago and has now crumbled to dust. Presumably, the current street protests are thus completely useless.


The promised Republican chopping of federal spending will begin with the famously wasteful Office of Dramatic Political Signs. Also, the word just is in red because…nope, can’t figure out that part.


Solar power is nice, y’know? Just really, really nice. That’s all.


Those people are filthy peasants in ideological thrall to a foreign religious leader — and that’s why you should vote against John Fitzgerald Kennedy!


The US government could save vastly more by cutting off Planned Parenthood (app. $350 million) than by poking at the defense budget ($689 billion) or the extensive Direct Payments to Old People programs ($1.4 trillion).


Heterosexual couples all secretly hate each other. No exceptions.

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