From ‘Family Circus’ To ‘Doonesbury’ To ‘Zits,’ Cartoonists Stand Up For Gun Regulation

In the wake of the Senate’s failure to move forward on gun regulation last week, one of the most-repeated points of discussion has been the gap between the 90 percent of the American public who support a system of expanded background checks that purchasers would have to pass before buying weapons and the cravenness of members of the United States Congress. And if efforts to adopt a more sensible purchasing system aren’t to end in that vote, one of the politically important elements in resurrecting that fight will be to translate that abstract figure into the faces and voices of individual voters. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has stepped forward as a powerful voice in the debate, but we need many other people like her.

It’s for that reason that I found this video made by cartoonists ranging from outspoken liberals like Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury and Tom Tomorrow of This Modern World, to less politically predictable artists like Jeff Keane of The Family Circus and Bill Amend of Fox Trot is so striking:

These cartoonists have wildly different core concerns that animate their work. Lalo Alcaraz has been a key commentator on immigration issues for decades, both in his strip La Cucaracha, and in his editorial cartooning. Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman spend most of their time sketching deft portraits of teenage suburban life in Zits, a comic that gives us some sense of how the main character of Calvin and Hobbes might have grown up and approached high school. But what this video does is make visible the consensus that has existed among them all along, and that has become more important to them in this political moment.

It’ll be striking if they decide to continue that work in their strips as well. It would be complicated for the syndicated strips to coordinate all taking up gun regulation on the same day, given production deadlines, the different syndicates’ relationships with papers and online outlets, and the fact that individual outlets could decide simply not to run gun regulation-themed strips. But it would be extraordinarily powerful to see them take this message from a PSA into their day-to-day work. It’s one thing to see an abstract number like 90 percent. It’s quite another to see or to hear what an overwhelming agreement on a public policy issue actually looks like.