Cartoon Movement features Portuguese cartoonist Vasco Gargalo's "Aleppo," an updating of Picasso's classic "Guernica."
I'll admit that my initial response was tepid, though I appreciated the historic parallel, in which the destruction of Guernica presaged the horrors of World War II.
But the more I pondered that parallel, the more I liked it, so that, the second time the cartoon came up in my feed, I examined it more closely.
The insertions of Putin, of al-Assad, of both American and EU influences amid the misery and death are brilliantly staged, and, while it doesn't take a lot to create an updated classic, it takes a lot to do it this well.
Here's the original. Ponder them at your leisure, bearing in mind that the original exercise in scorched-earth genocide did not remain sequestered in Spain and there's no reason to believe Aleppo will be any less a harbinger of what is yet to come to the rest of the world.
Which is why the political campaigning in the United States needs to do more than point fingers and cast blame over how we got here.
Trump's incoherent analysis of where ISIS came from reveals his utter ignorance of recent history, of the Middle East and of international relations generally, but, then again, he is waging a campaign based on bizarre, fanciful imagery, not on facts and analysis. He doesn't need to know what he is talking about so long as he knows whom he is talking to.
But when the more elevated conversation, the one apparently based on facts, focuses more on who voted for what 20 years ago rather than on finding a solution to the current crisis, it's no better, no more constructive.
To put it another way, it is as if the firefighters stood outside a burning house discussing how the fire started and whose fault it was and what codes were violated and why the alarm system failed to go off, their hoses remaining coiled on the truck and the fire hydrants remaining untapped while people scream for help from the windows.
Gargalo makes a compelling cause for putting out the fire now and then discussing how it happened and how we might prevent such tragedies in the future.
As did Picasso, hence the parallel.
"A painting is not thought out and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one's thoughts change. And when it's finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it." -- Picasso
Mike Lynch is an inveterate haunter of flea markets and antique shops, and picked up this 1952 Little Golden Book, featuring Mary Poppins back when she was still the product of PL Travers and not Walt Disney.
He features several pages from the book, to illustrate his observation about the artwork:
The pictures by Gertrude Elliott were like something I had never seen in a mainstream kiddie book. They were well drawn, with a great sense of perspective and proportion and layout. But they weren't cute. No cute bunnies or rosy cheeked cherubs. And, looking at it, most of the time, I wanted to peek around the page because the characters of Mary, Michael and Jane were looking away from me, in three-quarters view.
Lynch is 12 years my junior, born a decade after this book was published, which I note because, while I agree that the artistic style would not likely pass muster in the current marketplace, it strikes me more as nostalgic than off-putting.
Which is to say, my young childhood was full of similar depictions. We were more likely to be invited to watch than to participate.
One of my most treasured books was a 1947 classic, "The Golden Egg Book," written by Margaret Wise Brown, and illustrated by Leonard Wisegard, whose semi-realistic style was not particularly inviting in the sense of reaching out to small children.
It's not as distant as the purposefully sterile Mary Poppins book, but I think if you compare the original 1947 illustrations with an edition from a quarter century later, with illustrations by Lilian Obligado, you can see the difference.
The best way I can sum it up in words is that Obligado drew more consciously and specifically for little kids.
I wouldn't call one approach more appropriate than the other, and it's hard to put a response to art into words, but let me offer this "middle ground" example: Robert McCloskey's 1941 children's book, "Make Way For Ducklings," which is stylistically very child-friendly but not in the least childish.
I wouldn't expect this illustration of the police officer helping the ducks cross the street to appear in a serious article about the event, but it might have appeared in the New Yorker as a cartoon: It is light and inviting, but not in a way that signals that it is intended solely for little kids.
Which may be why generations of parents have so loved reading the book aloud to small people: It was a book for families, not just for children.
Another quite relevant thing in defense of the seemingly cold work of Gertrude Elliott: It is appropriate to the subject matter, because, unlike the sweet, sunny playmate of Walt Disney's musical, the Mary Poppins of PL Travers' books was a sharp, distant disciplinarian, less apt to add a spoonful of sugar to your medicine than to give you a rap on the head with the spoon if you balked at taking it.
Much of the appeal of Mary Poppins was that she was kind of scary and, while you couldn't wait for the next adventure she would take you on, there was always the chance that she'd turn around and punish you for something or other.
You liked her, you were glad she was there, but she wasn't cuddly and that was okay. Life wasn't cuddly.
And I'd say Elliott's illustrations were not unlike, in tone, the originals by Mary Shepard.