Maybe I DO just lack a sense of humour

But maybe not.

Mike Moreu is a cartoonist for local rag The DomPost.* His blog profile on Stuff says

Mike Moreu is a full-time editorial cartoonist with a passion for using funny pictures to make serious points.

Which would seem a fairly textbook description of a political cartoonist, yes?

So I can only assume I’m missing a) the funny and b) the point:

"Two sides of the same coin"

"Two sides of the same coin"

It’s, um, funny because people are dead. Specifically, Israeli people? And, um, the implied irony of Israelis releasing live prisoners and Hizbollah executing prisoners is, I guess, really hilarious? Or just smirk-worthy? And the point … is that Hizbollah are bad and Israel is totally morally in the clear with regard to Middle Eastern conflict? Wow, what breathtaking insight. What an amazing, incisive depiction of complex situations that’s truly made me think about the situation in a new light – oh, sorry, no, my actual response was “Wow, if we’re just going to incite more conflict, could we at least have some kind of punchline?”

Then there was this. Now, I don’t know how y’all are feeling about the New Yorker “Obama is a flag-burning African princeling and Michelle Obama is a scary Black Panther time-traveller” cover, but my personal take is that, if you have to keep shouting “IT’S A SATIRE, HONEST” then you aren’t doing it right.

"Man in the mirror"

"Man in the mirror"

Um … I guess it’s funny if you honestly believe the New Yorker cover in question a) isn’t offensive or b) isn’t a really, really pathetic attempt at “satire”? It’s funny because all Muslims are automatically Arabic and look like extras out of Disney’s Aladdin? All Obama supporters are irrational white men now? And the point is … that Muslims and Obama supporters just don’t have a sense of humour? Or just that Obama supporters = violent terrorists?

Still, this is the work of the man who thought this would be not only appropriate but funny:

\"TVNZ\'s image\" draft

Get it, get it? Because TVNZ is like a woman who was hospitalised with four broken vertebrae after being repeatedly kicked by her ex-partner! IT’S SO FUCKING EDGY!

Of course, Mike has to admit, in a blog post literally entitled “A hard-hitting topic”**

However, Andrew at The Press didn’t quite concur. He thought, while it was definitely provocative, that the battered woman crossed a line of good taste and that it in fact detracted from the message since readers would have a hard time getting past the picture and seeing that I was talking about TVNZ’s image – despite the words clearly on her shirt.

It is truly saddening to see this man’s pointed commentary being possibly censored all because some over-sensitive whiners might overlook the words clearly on her shirt and find the image of a beaten woman disturbing. In centuries to come, our descendants will wonder why we could not give this man free rein to explore the outer edges of making abuse funny.

But have no fear, in case you were thinking, “Hey, Andrew at The Press, good job drawing a line against tasteless exploitation for the sake of “humour”!” Because he and Mike got together and reached a compromise – after all, this was “too important a topic not to tackle”.***

So just to make the point clearer for the thickies, the final result was this:

\"TVNZ\'s image\"

Oh, this is so much better.

That’s Mike Moreu, ladies and gents. And lest you are not yet quite convinced of how much he deserves to get paid to do this full-time, let us not forget his ability to condense the ordinary poo joke into a comedic tour de fucking force of hard-hitting political analysis:

"How embarrassing"

"How embarrassing"

*Dominion Post for those of you playing outside of Wellington/NZ.
***Please to remember the cartoon is meant to be a commentary on TVNZ’s reaction. Not, you know, domestic violence, the covering-up thereof, or the effect of any of this on the actual victim.


  1. Mike Moreu

    Hey Queen of Thorns, thanks for the critical review of my work. Any press is good, as they say, as long as you spell my name correctly – and you at least got that right.
    [QoT: Mike, I’m not sure you meant to come off as incredibly condescending. But you did.]

    As for the rest … well, I have to agree with you on a few things. Some cartoons aren’t funny because, surprise, they’re not meant to be. And while using amusing pictures to make serious points describes one of my tactics, it’s by no means the only way to get a message across. I’m sure you can express yourself through other means than sarcastic bitchiness, too.
    [QoT: If it ain’t meant to be funny, Mike, your blog is at least guilty of false advertising. And nice to see the gracious response to critique. I know I’m impressed.]

    Or maybe not.

    Anyway, I’m glad you linked your rant to my blog because I invite your reader(s) to check out what I have to say about my art, and put it in its proper context. Besides the four recent cartoons you selected to critique, I’ve drawn 290 others throughout the year, and it’s that body of work that is my “tour de force” – not the only cartoon in which I’ve ever used a poo joke. Of equal interest might be the comments and my replies, where I discuss the issues with people further. Sometimes I’m rebuked and I accept this; other times I share more about the thought processes leading to the final cartoons and you can see how they evolve, as well as where I stand on the subjects and why I choose certain images. In any case, it provides a more complete overview than your pithy exegesis, and it’s a lot more lucid than your muddled thinking.
    [QoT: I’m sorry, Mike. I guess I just don’t think individual, non-linked cartoons are something that get the excuse of “context”. If I make 290 posts about feminism, and then make one attacking a celebrity for her looks/plastic surgery/weight, I don’t get to say “but I have 290 posts that aren’t misogynist pieces of shit.”
    The fact that the “evolution” of your cartoons seems to often involve someone having to spell out for you why your work is gratuitously offensive is hardly a selling point.]

    Regarding the Israeli/Hizbollah cartoon which you selected for the intro to your post, I have a confession: it DID have a punchline which was censored at the last minute because the editors deemed it too edgy and black. I wasn’t happy about this because it robbed my drawing of much of its anger, but I felt that the amended cartoon still effectively showed the disparity between the the reactions of the two sides, and it also worked well with Israeli ambassador David Zwartz’s letter on the same page. I found Hizbollah’s jubilant response to the Israelis’ humiliation and grief sickening, and I was trying to evoke a similar feeling of disgust. That’s all. Sometimes I create cartoons with a visceral, gut reaction and a picture alone suffices to capture what I want to say … unless some clever twit tries to read too much between the lines and expects a complete summary of Middle East history in twenty words or less.
    [QoT: Sorry, Mike, we’re going to have to agree to disagree: an issue as long-running and complex as Middle Eastern conflict needs sensitive and careful treatment. Even cartooning on the topic in the first place requires some careful thought and a good, clearly-made point – not “visceral gut reactions”. And remind me why your blog claims you make “serious points” with “funny pictures”?]

    Now THAT’s funny.

    In any case, I’ll talk about that cartoon and others later in the week, and I’ll be sure to mention the points you raised. Drop in some time and join the discussion, rather than lurking and sniping from the periphery.
    [QoT: I’m sorry, Mike, I didn’t realise you got to decide what I do or do not blog about and where I do or do not blog it. Lurking and sniping? I noticed your New Yorker cartoon a few days ago in the DomPost. I found all the material for this blog in under half an hour. Your response has only further convinced me that you think it’s Cool and Edgy (TM) to be gratuitous and offensive. Still, thanks for answering my initial question: I do have a sense of humour, your work just isn’t funny.]

    All the best, Mike

  2. Mike Moreu

    Cheers, QotT – being called unfunny by snarky, irony-free, one-trick-ponies is one of the perks of my job, and the highest compliment I could hope to receive.

    Anyway, back to offending the easily offendable!

    All the best, Mike

    [QoT: Cheers, Mike. Having all my points brilliantly illustrated by the very person snarked, who throws in random-yet-puzzling insults and then smarmily signs off “all the best”, is all I could hope for when I make a post.

    Back to being constantly proven right!

    Not wishing you all the best because I’m at least honest about my dislike of you and your work,


  3. Mike Moreu

    Nonetheless, QoT, I’m more than happy for whoever is unfortunate enough to stumble upon your blog to read my cartoons and writing and judge them for themselves, unjaundiced by your toxic perspective, puerile summaries, and catty misrepresentations. I appreciate the link.

    Perhaps when you put yourself out in the public, day after day, by name and not under the guise of a witless and poisonous nome de plume, then you can criticise others with more authority. Until then, you just appear to the world to be nothing more than a cowardly harridan.

    And I wish you the best because you obviously need it.

    [QoT: Mike, I think you’re missing a big point here. I have included your images and a link to your blog precisely because I want to enable any readers to be able to judge your work for themselves.]

  4. Helen

    Don’t you love the way minor media figures dive into your threads seconds after they’re published, even though as bloggers we’re not exactly prominent enough to trip over by accident? One word: Autogoogling!
    Or maybe that should be two words.

  5. Rex Sturdy

    [QoT: Rex, this is not Mike Moreu’s blog. I linked to it in the original post so I’m sure if you need to contact him you can do so there. *confused*]