chapter  6
23 Pages

Coming Full Circle: 1975 1996

THINK OF ALL THE NEWS EVENTS that have paraded across the television screen since the days of Watergate and Vietnam. We have been assaulted by imagery and pummeled by unsolicited information. There have been oil crises and hostage crises; the Challenger and Chernobyl; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Nelson Mandela; man’s assault on the environment and his fellow man; Solidarity and Tiananmen Square; Desert Storm and Bosnia; O.J. Simpson and Newt Gingrich. Television has created indelible visual images of each of these events and personalities that linger in viewers’ minds in long shots, medium shots, and close-ups. Cartoonists have only one lens, the lens of satire, and they have discovered that it is difficult trying to make sense out of the confusion and cacophony that surrounds our daily lives. “I was a lot more sage in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” said Jules Feiffer. “I knew absolutely what needed to be said about the Cold War, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy and Eisenhower. Everything seemed decipherable and measurable. Now we seem to be in free fall.” America, once the young kid on the block, was creeping into middle age, and toting all the baggage of its two hundred years. It was now the unquestioned leader of the world. But to sustain that position, its bureaucracy and budget had taken on a life of their own. A profound cynicism began to stir within the nation and among cartoonists.