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Claytoonz: Memorial Day 2022 — Dying for freedom

I broke one of my rules for this cartoon. I’m not big on holiday cartoons to begin with and since I’m a freelancer, I don’t have to draw them now. Back when I worked at The Free Lance-Star, my editor demanded a cartoon for every Memorial and Veterans Day along with most other holidays. I do believe we should thank those who fought for our country, but I think most cartoons that memorialize are boring. I have a rule against drawing boring cartoons, but that’s not the rule I broke here.

My rule about holiday cartoons is to do them a few days ahead of the holiday. That way my clients have time to schedule it for their pages. It seems to me if you draw political cartoons for a living, you should know this. It drives me nuts when I see a cartoonist draw a holiday cartoon the day before a holiday (unless he works for a publication), the day of, or the day after…or days after. When I see a cartoonist draw a cartoon the day of the holiday, it leads me to believe that cartoonist is only working for Facebook likes. It’s amateurish.

But I broke that rule today by drawing this cartoon and sending it to my clients the day before Memorial Day. Most of my clients won’t use it. But then again, other than the alt-weeklies who subscribe to my work (they’re bold), most of my clients never run my cartoons on gun issues. For example, one of my clients is a national publication that runs a dozen cartoons a day on its website. Even though I won a journalism award last week from a human rights outlet (yes, I’m going to milk that for all it’s worth) on issues like school shootings, this publication did not run one of my cartoons on the Uvalde school shooting, but they did run a cartoon with a crying Uncle Sam and at least four cartoons with hugs and grief. Editors LOVE weak cartoons, but even then, why run more than one of those gushy cartoons? As David Byrne sang in “Psycho Killer,” when you say something once, why say it again?

I’m not working for social media with this cartoon as I’m using it to fight for change. I’m using social media to shame these gun fetishists. They get all hot and squishy inside when they profess their love for veterans who died for freedom, but they make excuses and throw blame at political opponents when assault rifles are used to murder children. They believe their freedom to own an assault rifle is more important than the lives of children. They prove that every fucking time this happens. And each time it happens, they avoid the truth. Republicans are about as pro-life as Hannibal Lecter.

Since the Uvalde shooting, the gun whackos have blamed mental health, liberals, wokeness, trans people, critical race theory, socialism, video games, Democrats, doors, and everything else they can think of except guns. They have zero proof of any of that. They can’t cite any studies to support their deflections and excuses. But we don’t need any graphs or statistics to know those 21 people in that Uvalde elementary were killed by an assault rifle. And then we have the Buffalo shooting where the gun-humpers blame everything except racism despite the killer’s racist manifesto and the n-word on the barrel of his assault rifle.

So maybe I did send my clients a cartoon most won’t use, but it’s worth it to take another shot at shaming the people who need to be shamed.

Happy Memorial Day, fuckers. Enjoy your barbeques.

Music Note: After all the lettering, I turned on the music to listen to while drawing grass. It took a while and I listened to Cowboy Junkies, the Cranberries, The Hives, Coheed and Cambria, Hole, and some other stuff I can’t remember now.

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Clay Jones is the 2022 recipient of the RFK Human Rights Journalism Award in Editorial Cartooning, and won a 2021 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists. He was a finalist for the Herblock Prize in 2019 and a finalist for the National Headliner Award in 2020. See more award-winning editorial cartoons from him at Claytoonz.com.

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