With longer cartoons, I don't think it's fair to show the entire thing here, so plan to do some clicking today.
We'll start with a fun one from Boulet, who has the nerve to bring common sense to fantasy with a pragmatic discussion of superkeen weaponry. Go have a look and I'll be here when you get back.
Okay, everybody here?
Look, I understand "willing suspension of disbelief" and I'm also aware that they call it "fantasy" because it isn't real. I'm also aware that some very intelligent people enjoy things that are, perhaps, not the most high-level entertainment. After all, I studied in a department whose chairman, a dedicated scholar of the history of science, was a Baker Street Irregular, along with, you'll see on that link, Isaac Asimov, a very smart man who wrote science fiction. And limericks.
But I agree with Boulet/Solo: You've got to work with us and not make suspension of disbelief too much a factor in things. Especially, it can't be the point.
"Red Planet" was my first science fiction novel, and it launched me into the genre for some time. I remember, in particular, being both freaked out and fascinated by the classic story "Flatland," which has very little roots in the real world but a significant base in metaphysics.
And even "Red Planet," written for kids, took its mission seriously. A critic quoted on that Wikipedia link praised "the attention to detail which Heinlein's adult readers know well. . . . the explanations are never dragged in for their own sake, and the plot grows naturally out of the setting."
What got me out of the genre was finding that, once you went past Heinlein and Del Ray and that core group, you got into a lot of low-level drek where they tried to baffle you with exotic gizmos and, yes, "titwindows," in order to cover up the fact that they really didn't have a very compelling story to tell.
Which doesn't suggest that Boulet hates Star Wars, though perhaps he does. However, the whole Endor Holocaust thing similarly demonstrates that, if you make a promise to a reasonably bright audience, you should expect to get called on your slips, gaffes and bluffs.
Interesting to note that the last book in the genre I really got into was "Stranger in a Strange Land," which bookended "Red Planet" and updated it for an older audience, as aficianados will note. In it, Heinlein once more posited a world that did not exist, but in a way that didn't eliminate the idea that it could.
On a more serious note, Victor Ndula has a substantial graphic explanation of land use issues and corruption in South Sudan over at Cartoon Movement, and it's another example of his clear, solid graphic journalism.
The great gift of this approach is that it breaks through the quick TV images of dusty people in a dusty land endlessly quarreling and dying, and the paternalistic, condescending fundraiser depictions of pathetic victims, and presents those involved, instead, as intelligent people fighting against the corruption that is the end result of colonialism, a system which teaches that those in power get to take what they want.
Ndula stresses not simply the dignity of the people of South Sudan, but their intelligence, their willingness to work through a fair system and the number of people in that system who strive to preserve justice against those who would subvert it by force.
Ndula's calm, factual presentation introduces us to the reality that rarely gets across class lines, never mind crossing oceans.
And on a less life-and-death, but still thoughtful, level, Sarah Laing breaks her cartoon-blogging fast with a reflection on cell phone addiction that goes well beyond the usual "people staring at their hands" cliches and ponders the effect that living in a hyperconnected world has on a creative mind.
As a New Zealander, Laing's cell phone is much more the gateway to the Internet than it would be for an American, and so her addiction to it extends beyond the walk to the park or trip to the store, and her essay is less about the phone and more about Facebook and Twitter and the full distraction of social media.
As she notes in her brief essay under the comic:
My whole family is addicted to the internet. Right now Violet and Gus are watching Netflix and Otto is gaming downstairs. At six o’clock we’ve taken to hiding the modem. It should be the only way to stop us from gobbling up data. But of course I have a mobile plan and I cheat.
Part of her conflict is that she's been very busy with more impressive projects, but I miss these small reflections on life and was glad to have this one.
Now shut off the phone and get back to work, Sarah.
And how about some quick politics with Tom Tomorrow? The New York primary was last night, but his reflections on the overall campaign are either hilariously chilling or vice versa and worth reading in either case.
This Modern World does "bland restatement" better than anyone else, because, while a number of altie cartoonists blandly restate things simply to highlight the fact that someone stated them in the first place, Tom Tomorrow adds an almost undetectable fillip that reveals the hypocrisy, lazy thinking, bigotry or other flaws behind the original.
It only looks bland, and perhaps tastes that way for a moment. There is a distinct wasabi afterburn to his bland restatements.
Meanwhile, Jen Sorensen, who sometimes blandly restates but more often lets her characters blandly restate and then adds commentary to illuminate her take on things, points out that the alternative to Trump isn't all that much of an alternative.