March 24, 2017

"Cruel anarchists have perpetrated an incredibly effective, image-shattering hoax on the American public."

Said Richard Nixon — reacting to the fake news that Spiro Agnew's farts were killing people — in a comic strip by Skip Williamson, who died last week at the age of 71.
“I was always more political than most of the other underground artists,” Mr. Williamson told The Comics Journal in 1986. “Or antipolitical. I believe honestly that if you vote for these bastards, you only encourage them.”
You can see some of the artwork at the link (which goes to the NYT obituary). Here's Williamson's Facebook page, which also has a lot of artwork showing. Somewhere in there is "When the Twerms Came" — the comics version of an Arthur C. Clarke story that appeared in Playboy. As the NYT put it, the story is about "aliens conquering Earth with a Psychedelic Ray, an Itching Beam, a Diarrhea Bomb and Tumescent Aerosol Spray."

18 comments:

EDH said...

Paywall. Is that Nixon quotation part of the gag? I'm just not hearing those word come from Nixon's mouth.

Bob said...

One more boring old hippie bites the dust.

The Cracker Emcee said...

The Boomer idea of transgressive is so tiresome and dumb that it's hard to believe that anyone ever paid it any attention. Life as a 1969 issue of Mad magazine. Better than any given day's NYT, but not by much.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Nixon jokes appealed to me back in the days when I thought Dems would be just as horrified by a Democrat politician who did what Nixon did. Boy, was I naïve.

rcocean said...

Wasn't all this 60s/70s counter-culture stuff just preaching to the choir? I'm assuming Agnew was no more popular with the Liberal establishment and the "art" community then Trump is.

BTW, I always found it suspicious that Nixon's DoJ suddenly discovered what a crook Agnew was AFTER Nixon was elected for a 2nd term. One of Nixon's bigger flaws was his less than stellar judgement of people. Leaving aside, John Dean and Ehlirchman, his VP picks were: Ford, Lodge, and Agnew. A block-head, a bore, and a crook.

Expat(ish) said...

@rcocean - Jerry Ford a blockhead? I think you mis-measure the man.

He was certainly capable of being a mean SOB, but, hey, MI politics. My reading of him post-Agnew was that he served with grace and accepted that pardoning Nixon would prevent his re-election.

Historical side-note: Ford was wounded (broken arm, IIRC) during the typhoon that almost destroyed Halsey's fleet before Leyte Gulf.

-XC

Robert Cook said...

"The Boomer idea of transgressive is so tiresome and dumb that it's hard to believe that anyone ever paid it any attention. Life as a 1969 issue of Mad magazine. Better than any given day's NYT, but not by much."

One has to consider the context in which it occurred. That which may seem tame, lame, or juvenile today was often considered shocking and indecent then.

(When Lucille Ball became pregnant in the 50s, for example, and they incorporated her pregnancy into I LOVE LUCY, they could not even use the word "pregnant" on tv at that time, because it was suggestive of sexual activity. I guess Lucy Ricardo's baby was delivered from the factory by a stork, or was the result of a bug going around.)

Many underground cartoonists, including Robert Crumb, have attested to the shock and even anxiety (in Crumb's case) they felt as youngsters when they first saw MAD Comics, (before it was even a magazine), as it made fun of social norms and cultural icons that seemed to them to be inviolate, givens of American existence. (As is often the case, that which most shocks us on first exposure can become compelling to us, and so it was for the underground cartoonists, many of whom decided to become cartoonists because of Harvey Kurtzman's MAD.)

rcocean said...

"Jerry Ford a blockhead? I think you mis-measure the man."

Really? The man who liberated Poland during the 1976 debate? And then refused for 2 weeks to admit he'd misspoke? The man who could have offered Reagan the VP slot and had unified Republican party in '76 but instead gave it Rockefeller, who was hated by Conservatives? The man who appointed liberal Stevens to the SCOTUS and said he was a "moderate"?

Go watch a Jerry Ford speech on youtube. He's the only POTUS whose ratings actually fell after he gave a big speech. The line in Washington was that Ford was so dumb he couldn't fart and chew gum at the same time. Nixon made him VP because the Dems said he was the only Republican they wouldn't fight.

YoungHegelian said...

For those here who have never read 60's underground comics, it's amazing just how rude they were. I mean, those things got gross, & I, as a lad had a strong stomach for such things.

"Politically incorrect" doesn't even get close. Purveying the crassest of racist stereotypes, never missing a chance to make the grossest of "faggot" or "dyke" jokes, & drug-addled all the time. And their treatment of women! Oy gevalt (as we used to say in Alabama)! "Sex object" was the apex of feminine existence for these guys.

I find it amazing that the NYT & its liberal ilk now lauds these "art works" of a bygone age. These are the sort of people who would gladly see someone driven from the public square for a "How many gays does it take to screw in a light bulb?" joke.

Elizabeth Crain said...

I knew Skip and his family long ago. A sweet guy, really, very kind to me as a younger kid hanging around wanting to talk about comic books and MAD. He was a hippie long before the late-sixties masses took the whole thing to conformist absurdity, yet I never knew him to be politically correct about anything. YoungHegelian is right about that scene; today's wanna-be radicals haven't got a clue about what it is to be transgressive.

FullMoon said...

Rcocean said... [hush]​[hide comment]

"Jerry Ford a blockhead? I think you mis-measure the man."

... Really? .....The line in Washington was that Ford was so dumb he couldn't fart and chew gum at the same time. Nixon made him VP because the Dems said he was the only Republican they wouldn't fight.


Oh, and I suppose YOU can?

rcocean said...

"Oh, and I suppose YOU can?"

Yes, I can. I don't know if you're trying to make a joke, or making the lame point that Gerry Ford was probably smarter than me, so WHO AM I TO CRITICIZE?

Which of course, would mean that anyone less intelligent can't criticize anyone with a higher IQ who is a terrible leader who makes dumb mistakes, because "COULD YOU DO ANY BETTER?".

So, I hope you're making a joke.

FullMoon said...

rcocean said...

"Oh, and I suppose YOU can?"

Yes, I can. I don't know if you're trying to make a joke, or making the lame point that Gerry Ford was probably smarter than me, so WHO AM I TO CRITICIZE?

Which of course, would mean that anyone less intelligent can't criticize anyone with a higher IQ who is a terrible leader who makes dumb mistakes, because "COULD YOU DO ANY BETTER?".

So, I hope you're making a joke.


Your saying so does not prove it is so. A link to your youtube video demonstration is required.
Incidentally, the accomplishment would seem more physical than intellectual. Ford having been a college athlete makes me doubt the veracity of your argument.

Expat(ish) said...

@rcocean - That's a pretty strict standard
1> debate mistakes;
2> getting it wrong on a SCOTUS appointment; and
3> choosing the wrong VP.

I think one could fairly criticize all modern presidents (post Nixon/Kennedy 1960) on at least two of those standards.

I can't comment on his speeches, all the older presidential addresses seem stilted to me. I find FDR's practically unbearable. Wilson was especially bad.

I will say that he was in an impossible situation (first ever un-Elected president) and got through without huge problems. Tricky. Especially post-Tricky.

-XC

rcocean said...

"Your saying so does not prove it is so."

I'm not interested in giving you a History lesson. Go read.

rcocean said...

"I think one could fairly criticize all modern presidents (post Nixon/Kennedy 1960) on at least two of those standards."

If you want to show me what a brilliant successful President Ford was, and how he ran a great super-smart campaign in 1976, I'm all ears.

Because I think he was a block-head. The dumbest President since Harding.

FullMoon said...

rcocean said...

"Your saying so does not prove it is so."

I'm not interested in giving you a History lesson. Go read.


You claim an ability to fart and chew gum at the same time.

I challenge your claim.

You reply with nonsensical diversion. Is there historical literature proving you can, indeed, fart and chew gum at the same time, or are you just blowing wind out of your ass?


exiledonmainstreet said...

Thanks to Chevy Chase and SNL, Ford was also portrayed as being a klutz who stumbled a lot.

The guy had been a football star at Michigan, and was probably one of the best athletes ever to occupy the WH.

But he tripped once.