Mag store clerk tells me: "Mark my word, there will be a cartoon with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates greeting Roger with a big thumbs up." — Romenesko (@romenesko) April 4, 2013
i have to admit that the fourth or fifth thought i had upon hearing that roger ebert had passed was oh no, the cartoons — Tom Spurgeon (@comicsreporter) April 5, 2013That these are the first thoughts (or fourth of fifth) upon the passing of a famous person is an embarrassment to the field I work in. I feel like there's been some headway in recent years, but pretty much all the cartoons Brian McFadden and I predicted yesterday have come true. Their apparent popularity in some quarters keeps cartoonists defending the practice as both popular and a "tradition," neither of which seem respectable reasons in and of themselves; popular things and traditions often need thrown into the compost heap. From my column "Pay No Tribute" for Cartoon Movement upon the death of Steve Jobs:
It's not the paying tribute to important figures that I object to so much as the sheer predictability of almost every one. The cliches are as certain as death and taxes and almost as infuriating. And their relevancy and power has diminished along with shifting attitudes about humor and reverence. We live in the age of instant reaction--and instant mockery. The celebrity death cycle now shifts from shock to fond remembrance to snark before the body gets cold. Illustrations still have the power to bottle any one of those sentiments for preservation, but a tribute that adds nothing to the conversation is as disposable as a tossed-off Tweet.