I was very disappointed in many of my fellow cartoonist’s attempts to comment on the subject of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s declaration of sweeping executive powers. Too lazy or uncreative to come up with metaphors of their own, they were apparently content to just copy the criticisms of the Egyptian people, who derisively called their first post-Arab Spring President and latest wannabe-dictator a “Pharaoh.”

While there’s nothing wrong with borrowing a basic idea from the wider cultural narrative like that, I do feel it’s an artist’s responsibility to either portray the imagery in a uniquely eloquent manner, or convey more pointed criticisms through the choice of specific details. Otherwise, what’s the point? You’re just barking the same thing as everybody else, while adding no thoughts or interpretations of your own.

Unfortunately, most of the cartoonists I saw jumping on the “Pharaoh” bandwagon did neither, merely dressing Morsi up like King Tut or drawing poorly-photoshopping a pyramid, and leaving it at that.

It’s not like Egyptian history, myth, and culture are rich in imagery and symbolism, huh??

I try to stay above such hack behavior, so I decided to avoid running the “Pharaoh” metaphor any further into the ground by seeing if I could come up with something completely different. Instead of focusing on Morsi, I chose to make a comment with more of an historical context; about how democracy in Egypt has seemingly been just on the horizon at many points over the last 50 or 60 years, but promised reforms have usually turned out, ultimately, to be illusory.

That certainly appears to be the case in this latest episode, anyway.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 30th, 2012 at 11:39 pm and is filed under Cartoons & Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Mirage”

I have an Egyptian friend at work who is very hopeful for Morsi.

As he explained it, Morsi has grabbed power in an attempt to combat the Judiciary, which is allied with the military, and formerly allied with Mubarak.

Politicians make power grabs all of the time. Morsi has claimed that this one is temporary to deal with a temporary crisis. The real test will be whether or not he gives up this power after the crisis abates.

Our government would be extremely hypocritical to criticize Morsi, since they financially supported Mubarak, and dozens of other dictators. And since they themselves have assumed dictatorial civil-liberty-destroying powers since 9/11.

By » BaronHaynes (December 2nd, 2012 at 10:08 pm)

The level of detail on the Egyptian is a somewhat distracting; between the hair and the clothing tatters, there’s so much visual activity it’s a little hard to register what I’m looking at. This is mostly a nitpick, though, the concept is really powerful.

It’s depressing how lazy the comics you linked were. At least Cagle didn’t reuse old art this time.

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