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America Gone Wild: Cartoons by Ted Rall Paperback – October 1, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up—Rall's style of humor ranges from abrasive to just plain silly. Often the barbs are designed to make readers confront uncomfortable subjects. This collection of cartoons is accompanied by a long essay in which the author elaborates on the inspiration and aftermath surrounding some of his most controversial cartoons. Brief annotations add depth to readers' understanding of his work or put his words and drawings in a new light. His commentary on 9/11 and the Iraq war earned him death threats as well as ridicule, and pressure from conservatives has coincided with decisions by some media outlets to withdraw his syndication. He shares some of the hateful e-mails he has received, and their hyperbole is oddly reminiscent of Rall's own satire. The author describes his fervent addiction to cable news, and his knowledge of world politics is evident in his nuanced references to current events. By contrast, his caricature of George W. Bush lacks any notion of subtlety—Bush sports pointy fangs and a dictatorial military getup. The blockish bodies and high-contrast black-and-white faces add an almost deadpan delivery to the artist's humor. In addition to political cartoons that have been featured in national newspapers such as the New York Times, this volume includes comics that appeared in the magazine Men's Health. With these panels, Rall turns his scathing wit on relationships and the human condition. Politically aware teens will find his work provocative.—Heidi Dolamore, San Mateo County Library, CA
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About the Author
Ted Rall is a two-time winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. His cartoons appear in the "Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, MAD Magazine, Village Voice," and more than 140 other publications. Inspired after meeting pop artist Keith Haring in a Manhattan subway station, Ted got his start by posting his cartoons on New York City streets. After a few years of self-syndication, his cartoons were signed for national syndication. He moved to Universal Press Syndicate in 1996. Ted lives in New York City.
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And again, he misses big sometimes, for something happening in Sudan is offbeat enough let alone when a cartoon gets printed 6 days later and the 2% that were following the story has dropped to .75.
But Rall's biggest contribution, at least in this book, is his breakdown of the industry itself, of the A+B=C simplicity that most editorial readers have come to expect. When he jokes about the "terror whores", for example (individuals who he felt rode on the coattails of their family members' deaths for their personal and/or financial gain) people got outraged at what they believed was insensitivity, for they quickly think he's accusing EVERYONE who lost someone of such a thing. This is Rall at his finest, for he opens the doors of discussion about topics that hardly anyone else will even touch. At least he offers us that.
And Rall knows something very important: freedom of speech isn't something the government is going to storm in and snatch away from us like a scene in a movie. Instead, times just change, until one day we realize we've quietly and subtly taken it from ourselves. It's already happened on the nightly news, as carefully-written text stays a fair distance from the edge. This vanilla style will only get worse as the amount of money to be made (or lost) increases over time. Political cartoons are as much an art form as painting or music, and Rall's doing everything he can to keep this medium from moving too close to the center.
We can only hope Rall maintains his edge, if only so that the quick-witted style of critique that was once a standard in American cartooning can stay alive a little longer.