While Oh! Great adds him to the pages of Air Gear,


Barry Blitt’s New Yorker cover has other ideas.


To us, this is a bit like the old Ed Anger column in the Weekly World News. If you were in on it you got it, but lots of people don’t, alas.


  1. Hey, we put Obama in the pages of Licensable BearTM a full year ago, in what I’m fairly sure is his first comic book appearance!

    (That story will be reprinted in The Licensable BearTM Big Book of Officially Licensed Fun, on page 186 of the current Previews.)

  2. Political satire isn’t genial, and hasn’t been for centuries. That’s the best New Yorker cover in years.

  3. Robert,

    I agree, satire isn’t (and arguably shouldn’t be) genial, but just because something isn’t genial, that doesn’t make it satire.

    Otherwise, the T-shirts with Curious George on them saying “Obama ’08” would qualify as satire, rather than simple racism.

    Where’s the dividing line? Well, fortunately, freedom of speech kind of means that both your and my opinions can’t really dictate that.

    However, my opinion, as a white American, is that anyone who looked at Barack and Michelle’s fist-tapping as OMG TERRORISM is almost too stupid to breathe.

    And maybe that was actually the point of the cover. I don’t know.

  4. The New Yorker cover is currently the topic du jour on CNN. Given the tenor of the debate, I think it might buy Obama a few votes if he promises to get “irony challenged” covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  5. Okay, I’m Canadian, but still…isn’t Blitt going a bit too far in this Obama satire?
    Obama / Osama? Angela Davis / MIchelle Obama? Burning Old Glory?
    I dunno, man, most Americans I have met and talked to over the years would not enjoy this kind of “joke”.

  6. I’m not sure the cover is offensive, but it certainly is irresponsible. In a recent Newsweek survey 52% thought one or more of the following was true: sworn in with a Koran, went to a Muslim school in Indonesia, was raised Muslim, and is a practicing Muslim today. The “we’re so ironic” folks at The New Yorker are playing right into the hands of the right. Unbelievable.

  7. Free speech is wonderful to behold; especially when some individuals preach that they support it, but ask if there should be ‘dividing lines’ when their sensibilities (partisan sensibilities in particular with this post) are offended by lawful displays of free speech (artistic, political, literary, musical, religious) that they do not agree with.

    Whether it is the misogynistic political satire of Comedy Central’s Lil’ Bush or the “oh no they did’n” political satire of the New Yorker; political satire is protected free speech.

  8. This is the New Yorker, the liberal egghead paper of our country! If anyone believes offense was meant or should be taken, they are goofers indeed. Sad sad goofers.

  9. quoth K-Box, “anyone who looked at Barack and Michelle’s fist-tapping as OMG TERRORISM is almost too stupid to breathe.” Sure, K-box…and as we all know, no one stupid or mistaken or dastardly ever votes or is elected to office. Ever. Never. No.

    I think Timothcat gets it, here: when there are people who believe things that are demonstratably not true even when presented with a listing of the facts (forgive my non-link, here, but the Washington Post did an article that detailed this re: Obama, even though it was a little on the classist, “OMG the bumpkins is dumb” side: people believe lies from friends and talk radio even when they get the truth from reputable news sources), this is a little unfortunate.

    I feel like it doesn’t matter if offense was meant or should be taken; it doesn’t matter if we, the self-appointed in-the-know-crowd, “get it” and know that they’re lampooning the very thing they’re printing (“good show, old chap, haw!”). In a climate of mass political stupidity, I believe that satire’s a luxury.

    But then, I am a crank, and this is the Internet, so I suppose we’ll all just have to see how this plays out. I’m definitely going to read the article, though, so they’ve just sold me a magazine. I can guarantee that not everyone who sees this cover and draws a conclusion–or has one drawn for them by their news source of choice–will actually read the piece.

  10. ” In a climate of mass political stupidity, I believe that satire’s a luxury.”

    Very well said. Yet some of us still want that luxury. I like the cover, especially in context of it being The New Yorker. Most of the comments I’ve read and heard separate the image from the very liberal mag that it’s printed on (CNN, BBC… ).

  11. Personally, I don’t really care about that stuff. Just whoever gets voted in, actually does a good job is all I care about.

  12. I think the problem here is that saying something is satire and then having to explain why indicates that it’s not the most successful satire. I think it’s more obvious to people who understand political cartoons, the tone of the New Yorker, and have an understanding of the tactical hysterias in politics…which is all fine. And I’m certainly not saying they shouldn’t have used it or that there’s no place for satire in today’s political arena.

    However, I do think more thoughtful satire…or a more thoughtful approach to this particular issue would have been more effective. Sure, I know it’s ludicrous that they’ve both been portrayed this way by the media and by opponents…but I’m not convinced the cartoon itself is an effective critique of those tactics. If the intent was to criticize those who paint the Obama’s as radicals it’s only half effective, and only if you already think that’s absurd. Mostly because it looks like a critique of them, not their detractors. The imagery doesn’t necessarily convey that this is a criticism of those who believe these things…or that those things are absurd. Just because it’s cartoony and caricature doesn’t automatically make it obvious.

    Since art is open to interpretation, you have to look at the intent and the execution. And in political cartooning you’re usually trying to convey a particular message, in this case a satirical one, that’s fairly specific. In which case, because this really can be read in more than one way (one of which being the complete opposite of the intent) then it’s not an entirely successful piece. So it’s not just a matter of who “gets it” and who doesn’t. I get it, and I still think it’s problematic because the execution is flawed.

    So, while many people may be able to pat themselves on the backs for “getting” the joke…I’m not sure what the gain is.

  13. I expect the cover to be popular with the anti-Obama factions out there.

    They don’t care about irony or satire.

    They’ve been given a cover to put on posters to wave around and confuse all the voters out there who don’t know any better.

  14. The New Yorker is preaching to their secret handshake choir, and that’s fine. If they wanted to communicate to the layman on the street I’m sure they would’ve dumbed it down.

    Still, whether it’s good or bad satire, the fact remains it is a lampoon, thus that should be the end of the story because beyond that this just becomes individual subjective taste. And if the media wants to hold that up for controversy then they better get in line.

  15. Satire isn’t any more a luxury than its primary component, thought. It’s never the last word on a subject – rather, it’s a touchstone FOR conversation. In that respect, the New Yorker’s Obamas cover is a resounding success. Whether hailed or decried, the cover brought into the light of day popular misconceptions about the Obamas that the news media has been too sheepish to fully examine, even while alluding to them since Super Tuesday.

    Another misconception is that anyone other than those “in-the-know” are the only people able to conduct a conversation about, or “get”, a very easy cartoon that has been examined every-which-way on cable news today. The goal of the Blitt’s cartoon isn’t the knowing snigger of elitists, it’s an opportunity to the benefit of the very people elitists think too dumb or unsophisticated to take in an alternate point of view. Who’s “in-the-know”, anyway? New Yorkers? Comics fans? Political junkies? Anti-elitists? The percentage of obstinate morons among them is likely no different than those among any other group or locality. And that someone DOESN’T “get” the gist of something immediately DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF DOING SO, after talking/thinking it over.

    Satire sometimes shocks, but it should ALWAYS marinate. And given time, it can isolate for us that moment when an issue became unavoidable.

  16. Btw:

    Please ignore the “the” before the mention of Blitt – it’s the hazard of not having a “preview” function here, I suppose …

  17. Wait.. wait.. How does anyone not get the parody and satire of the New Yorker cover? HOW?!

    Also, HA! Very cool to see US politicians in manga. Reminds me of that recent collection I saw on one site.

    Also.. will Homeland Security raid my house if I admit to having a certain.. adult manga where W and Saddam have.. um.. a fun fun party with a girl in the middle of.. um.. peace negotiations? Also the book starts out on in New York city.. on Sept 11.. 2001. Then it goes to the caves of Afganistan where.. Actually, maybe I’ve said too much already. Is that a knocking I hear at my door? Well I hear Gitmo is nice this time of year.

  18. The New Yorker cover is a perfect cartoon.
    Thoughtful and beautifully drawn.
    Great, nuanced, caricatures.
    Full of funny details.
    Barry Blitt should be very proud.
    He has struck a chord.
    I love this fucking country.

  19. Eh, I think it’s a wash. People have made up their minds about Obama; one cover won’t change anyone into voting or not voting for him. And the New Yorker cover exhibits more irony than those Muhammad cartoons, at least.

    All I know is, having James Carville and Bill Bennett analyze the semiotics of the cover and debate aesthetics is always a bad idea.

  20. @ Simon Jones >
    Ha! Damn. After I got Spirit of Capitalism from you, by the same group, I was hoping that had potential. Meh. I can’t blame you. I’d worry about even commenting on bits of it in my blog. Guess I’ll have to stick to an import copy and maybe some translation somewhere or learn some Japanese finally. Well.. um.. ‘hypothetically speaking’. ;) Though the images alone speak enough themselves. >:-)

    Mission accomplished.

  21. The missing element in this cartoon, the element that would qualify it as actual (successful) satire, is the FOX News talking head holding up the cover and guffawing that it is “Dead-to-rights accurate.” As is, the cover just repeats race-baiting right wing talking points, without directed irony. The exaggerated whimsy of the caricature suggests that the artist thought he/she was engaging in satire, but unfortunately the execution is blunt-edged and ham-handed. It doesn’t convey what the artist probably thought he/she was conveying.

    Of course, that may have been the intent: to be provocative. There is another word that: pandering.