Michael Jackson shared his death with TV icons.

Michael Jackson cartoon of grave, with Farrah Fawcett and Ed mcMahon

(Originally published in my OpEd blog.)

Sure, I’m curious why he died. But nah, I never thought he was funny. Not the animals, the plastic surgery, the kids. Nor is his death funny. I’m sad a talented performer died so young. But what about Farrah Fawcett, or Ed McMahon? NO. Not funny, either. All sad. (And Michael Jackson’s death is not more important than theirs, thanks. All deaths are equal.)

But my job as an editorial cartoonist is to comment or reflect on the news, not make instant flower bouquets, or practice sanctimonious phrases.

Actually, this is the first time a well-known figure has died since I started doing cartoons for Slate in February, so I wasn’t sure just how to approach it.I rarely read other editorial cartoonists (although I do have my favorites, I prefer to read their older stuff, and not something that would influence me in current news). But I read a lot of giggling comments by Daryl Cagle and Ted Rall and other political cartoonists, on Facebook and Twitter, wondering aloud how far they could go with Michael Jackson’s peccadilloes. And then there was the Jeff Goldblum hoax on Twitter. So some people were laughing about this.

So I redid it for Slate, below, minus the quips:

Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and Michael Jackson graveyard.
Michael Jackson, King of Pop, Farrah Fawcett Majors, Queen of Hair, and Ed McMahon, Jester of Johnny. Gravestones. ?D. Barstow 2009

But this time I asked people on Facebook, which is the better cartoon? They liked the top one. And I think I do, too. Sometimes dying needs to be put in its place with funny. I think these stars would have smiled, too. But what do you think? Which cartoon would you rather read with your coffee? Or would you rather do Sudoko?

PS. Joe Heller is one of my fave editorial cartoonists and did a great cartoon on MJ. (Do you think he drew all of these views by hand, or was it Photoshop magic?!)

*Just found this post by Steve Greenberg:

The problems are either doing a cliche usually something involving St. Peter and the Pearly Gates, and there have been a zillion of these, or doing cartoons similar to what other cartoonists might be doing for the next day.

Read the whole thing for insight from an experienced cartoonist.


  1. James said:

    i was stunned when i heard about Michael Jackson; he was still relatively young

    June 27, 2009

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