I had lunch last week with Mr. Fish (Dwayne Booth) and we talked about why his cartoons don’t sell very well to general circulation newspapers ““ it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why. Mr. Fish’s saucy cartoons appear in the L.A. Weekly and Village Voice. In fact, Fish was the last cartoonist left after the Village Voice bloodbath where they dropped every other cartoonist.
I did a speaking tour of China last year and wherever I spoke the audience asked about censorship in America ““ they were convinced that censorship for us was no different than in China. I explained that cartoonists in America often complain about editors killing their cartoons, but that is different from China because in China it is the government that kills the cartoons ““ well, not exactly, the editors and cartoonists in China know where the limits are and choose not to cross those limits. The Chinese audience would ask, “isn’t it the same in America?” I’d explain that, yes, we know what the limits are, but American cartoonists are limited by good taste rather than point of view, and if we’re too offensive we know our cartoons won’t get printed. The Chinese would respond, “same here.” I was surprised that I was always explaining what seemed to my audience to be petty differences and the hypocrisy of an American “free press.”
Which brings me back to Mr. Fish, who doesn’t censor himself for taste at all. It works for the Village Voice and L.A. Weekly, but keeps Mr. Fish’s work from being seen by a general circulation audience. I appreciate Fish’s unwillingness to compromise, so I thought I would post a selection of some of my favorite, offensive Mr. Fish cartoons that I would never have drawn myself.