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The Brutality Report - The Art of Glenn McCoy

My strong hunch is that political cartoonist Glenn McCoy earned his current status through quotas. As the only rabid right-winger in the New York Times' online cartoon roster, McCoy carries a special burden.
July 26, 2011, 12:00am

My strong hunch is that political cartoonist Glenn McCoy earned his current status through quotas. As the only rabid right-winger in the New York Times’ online cartoon roster, McCoy carries a special burden. For seven years, rabid left-winger Ted Rall provided a counterweight in wackadoo rage, but Rall's 2004 eviction, for bad taste, left McCoy the lone beacon of insanity in the Times’ meager funnies page. Unlike many political cartoonists, Glenn never draws any little alter ego characters in the lower right corner. Does he suffer no second thoughts? Or would the appearance of a mini-McCoy in the periphery seem, as I suspect, too unpalatably faggy for the real McCoy's sensibility?

Glenn has never seemed content with merely calling bullshit on liberal foibles. His art frequently extends the line of attack to call bullshit on all of humanity. With some debt to Mad magazine's Sergio Aragones, McCoy depicts human beings as waterlogged monsters with Easter Island heads, ass-shaped curlicues for chins, and pendulous, water sausage noses. Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Pat Oliphant is sometimes taken to task for his alleged racist caricatures; in McCoy's cartoons, the entire species is one huge hate crime. His grand insult to Michael Moore is basically just a drawing of Michael Moore. Nancy Pelosi and Michael Jackson are the same doodle. Even G.W. Bush frequently looks like the work of a political opponent, all eyebrows and vaguely labial face. Only a post-9/11 Statue of Liberty and post-life Terri Schiavo—the twin catastrophes of McCoy's universe—rise to the level of dignified hominid.

These comics make me feel bad for Republicans. No group deserves to have the hairiest recesses of its collective unconscious exposed so rudely. Taken one comic at a time, the various skewerings of Ted Kennedy (bucktoothed, drunk), Martin Sheen (ditto), Slick Willy (a bloated goiter in lipstick-stained boxer shorts), Obama (a purple-lipped baby stomper), and Guantanamo detainees (uncooperative prima donnas) are standard red state, red meat fare. Viewed in succession, however, McCoy's doodled humans point to a psychotic misanthropy that springs from outside the human mind. It is the eternal loathing of a Grinch, or a Yeti, squatting hatefully on a mountaintop and glaring down at a distant village. What political group would want artistic representation by such a brute?

I also feel kind of bad for McCoy himself. In 2006, he summed up his own predicament in one telling cartoon. The drawing depicts a cocktail party conversation between a chinless old biddy and a starched three-star general. The general is a bit more squarely drawn than a typical McCoy creation, but he has the familiar tuber nose and chin buttocks. In the cartoon, he holds a drink with one hand and points casually to his medals, explaining that one “was given to me by the press for dissing Rumsfeld.” The old lady smiles appreciatively. On the table behind him, a hastily drawn buffet table holds a bowl of something lumpy, suggesting caviar. It’s a typical Hollywood/Upper East Side fundraiser, except that a military leader is using Ebonics to bash America. Clearly, McCoy didn’t have to go after the army McCarthy style (the heated critique of the Secretary of Defense by a half dozen military brass was only one of several lead stories in that week’s news). But he just couldn't help himself, any more than the shuffling sewer monster can help snatching a stray puppy by the tail and sucking it down a storm drain.

COMICS BY GLENN MCCOY!/sammcpheeters

Previously - Give Me Just a Little More Time