August 01, 1988 12:00 PM

by Doug Marlette

The annual Best Editorial Cartoons (Pelican, paper, $9.95) is a manifold joy. First, it’s satisfying to see the range reflected in Brooks’s selections. The book’s 300-plus cartoons include such obscure contributors as the Papillion (Nebr.) Times’s David Hitch, lampooning the insider trading scandal with a jailed pig captioned, “When E. F. Glutton talks…” There are widely known commentators too; among them is the syndicated Jim Berry, with a “Meet the Candidates” TV show host telling a guest, “Let’s just assume you’re a liar, a cheat and an adulterer—and focus on the issues.” More than just cynical amusement, however, the collection explores, via the cartoonists’ preoccupations, what was important in 1987: the Iran-contra affair, the stock market crash, Gary Hart, AIDS. Brooks doesn’t offer any work by such talented cartoonists as Pat Oliphant, Paul Conrad and Doug Marlette—none of them submitted entries for the book. Marlette, the Atlanta Constitution—based, 1988 Pulitzer prizewinning editorial cartoonist, has his own volume (Peachtree, paper, $6.95). His drawings have a stainless steel vividness and he pulls no punches. In one of his book’s 154 cartoons, a package labeled “Weenies” shows 11 frankfurters and one George Bush. A Los Angeles freeway driver says to his wife, who is aiming what looks like a bazooka, “I’m gonna pass the Toyota, honey—cover me!” In a wordless comment on the TV evangelist scandals, Marlette draws Jesus, rolling his eyes heavenward. In some random comments about his work, Marlette notes that when he was at the Charlotte Observer, he angered North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms by proclaiming a national holiday in Helms’s honor—April Fool’s Day. Helms said he would refuse to talk to Observer reporters until he got an apology from the paper’s publisher. “I don’t know if he ever got one,” Marlette writes, “but, of course, the Senator resumed speaking to our reporters as soon as he had something he wanted to appear in the paper.”

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