In editorial cartooning, as my colleague Steve Kelley of the New Orleans Times-Picayune says, art often irritates life. Cartoonists also irritate, imitate and borrow liberally from other artists. Playful homages to classic masterworks and pop culture fave-raves are longtime craft staples, protected by copyright law governing satire. Want to deflate a politician who's playing God? Try your hand at Michelangelo's Creation scene. Expose the crisis on family farms? Trot out Winslow Homer. Comment on the modern dysfunctional family? Uh, maybe Simpson, Homer.
Any easily recognizable art icon helps deliver the message. So what better to make the case that plundering national parks is a big boo-boo than Joe King's rendition of Yogi Bear? And Drew Sheneman's painstaking re-creation of M.C. Escher's complicated visual trickery simplifies his case against the Medicare drug plan. Steve Sack combines children's book imagery with the classic painting instantly recognizable as the work of Marcel Duchamp. OK, I looked that up -- I thought it was Hanna-Barbera.