Copyright Vs. Shakespeare

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

(Buy a print of this cartoon on Redbubble.)

This cartoon was inspired by a Huffington Post article by Jennifer Jenkins, in which she quoted Judge Richard Posner:

What happens if these underlying sources are copyrighted? As Judge Richard Posner pointed out, “Romeo and Juliet itself would have infringed Arthur Brooke’s The Tragicall Historye of Romeo and Juliet… which in turn would have infringed several earlier Romeo and Juliets, all of which probably would have infringed Ovid’s story of Pyramus and Thisbe.” You get the point — without a rich public domain, much of literature would be illegal.

Many thanks to my friend Rachel Swirsky, who co-wrote this strip. This is the second “Ampersand” strip Rachel has co-written; the previous one was The Church of Fiscal Conservatism.

Panel 1
Shakespeare, at a writing table, feathery quill in hand, holding up what he has just written to read it aloud.
SHAKESPEARE: “But soft! What light through yon window breaks? It is a lightning bug, and Juliet is the bug’s ass.”

Panel 2
Shakespeare sits, slumps his head into his hands.
SHAKESPEARE (thought): Needs work.
FEDERAL AGENT (from off-panel): HALT, THIEF!

Panel 3
Shakespeare rises and speaks sharply to the Federal Agent who has just walked in. The Federal Agent wears a 20th century suit and dark glasses, and displays a badge.
SHAKESPEARE: SIR! What brings you to my chamber?
FED: This PLAY you wrote, “Romeo and Juliet.”

Panel 4
FED: You STOLE it from Arthur Brooke’s “The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet!”

Panel 5
Shakespeare is using the ol’ “explaining hands” gesture, the Fed points and yells.
SHAKESPEARE: The SEED was Brooke’s, but under my care it has flourished into a DIFFERENT tree-
FED: So you ADMIT it!

Panel 6
The Fed whips off his dark glasses for a panel. He looks so mad that he might eat them.
FED: Answer THIS, smart guy: Why should BROOKE bother writing NEW WORK when second-raters like YOU swipe his stuff?

Panel 7
Shakespeare is beginning to get pissed.
SHAKESPEARE: But sir! Poor Brooke lies beneath the sod. My simple play cannot disturb him now. The ONLY work being stifled is mine own!

Panel 8
FED: YOUR work? HA! Derivative TRASH! If you had any talent, you’d write something ORIGINAL!

Panel 9
SHAKESPEARE: But Brooke’s OWN idea germinated with Matteo Bandello! We are ALL leaves from the same branch, sir! That’s how creativity works!

Panel 10
The FED, who is quite a bit larger than Shakespeare, grabs Shakespeare and shakes him back and forth.
FED: No, that’s how STEALING works! Brooke’s only been dead for THIRTY YEARS. The worms have barely finished digesting!

Panel 11
Shakespeare’s babbling is interrupted when the stern-faced Fed yanks him around to put handcuffs on him.
SHAKESPEARE: But this is MADNESS! Do we not value freedom of THOUGHT? Are IDEAS not the currency of culture? The veritable grist of progress for the social mill? Tell me sir– OW!

Panel 12
Shakespeare, dressed in jailbird’s stripes, sits in a prison cell, loking a bit wistful or confused.
CAPTION: And so Creativity was Saved from a Plagiarist Lout.

(Buy a print of this cartoon on Redbubble.)

Posted in Barry's favorites |

Street Harassment

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

This cartoon is available as a print or a poster on Redbubble.


(Each of the first nine panels shows a black-haired woman walking in a public place at different times and in different outfits. In each outfit, a different stranger on the street is making a comment to her. She looks very unhappy with the comments. Panel 1 starts showing her from fairly far away, but each panel gets closer up on her face until panel 9.)

Panel 1
Man in doorway: Damn, beautiful!

Panel 2 (woman is waiting at bus stop)
Guy sitting on stoop: You got a number?

Panel 3
Man grabbing woman’s arm: Suck my cock!

Panel 4
Grinning older man: Smile! You’re so pretty!

Panel 5 (Woman is carrying groceries)
Man in car: Hey! I’m talking to you! Fuck you then!

Panel 6 (Woman is riding bike)
Man: DAMN, sexy, you’ve got a fat ass.

Panel 7 (Close up on woman’s almost wincing face).
Off-panel voice: Just stop and talk. I just want to talk to you.

Panel 8 (Closer up on her face, which is turned away from the viewer.)
Off-panel voice: What’s your name? C’mon, tell me your

Panel 9 (Very far shot of woman, walking hunched over with her hands in her jacket pockets).
Off-panel voice: I’d fuck the SHIT out of that.

Panel 10 (Woman at home, in her bedroom. A cheerful man in the background, wearing pajamas and sitting on a bed, talks to her; she has her back to him and looks miserable.)
Man: If women on the street said I look nice, it’d make my day!

Posted in Barry's favorites, Feminist cartoons |

The 24 Types of Libertarian

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

TITLE: The 24 Types of Libertarian
Balding white guy: no fair oversimplifying our simplistic philosophy!

Caption: NAIVE
Happy guy with goatee: if the government would DISAPPEAR, everyone would act SENSIBLY and we’d all be able to get ALONG!

Annoyed guy with necktie: libertarians don’t win elections because we’re too PURE and GOOD!

Guy with small face on large head: OBVIOUSLY, climate scientists made up global warming. because they’re SOCIALISTS.

Smiling woman with “explaining hands”: CLEARLY you’ve never READ the evidence.

Caption: LEFT-WING
Woman in distance, yelling to be heard: I’m HERE! i EXIST! i’m against the goverment AND corporations! why does everyone always ignore me?

Annoyed guy with shaved head and cigarette: just because i’ve voted republican every election for 20 years is no reason to call me a republican!

Grinning man with goatee and ponytail: we should PRIVATIZE the police! people who can’t afford to pay the cops won’t have anything worth stealing, anyway.

Frightened, crouching man wearing combat fatigue pants: BIG GOVERNMENT is coming! thank GALT i’ve stockpiled so much AMMO!

Black guy making big arm gestures: lazarus long said that all men are created UNEQUAL. it’s not MY fault i’m SMARTER than poor people!

Older man in colorful vest and button-up shirt, holding a piece of paper in one hand. An arrow caption pointed at the piece of paper says “social security check.” Two more arrow captions, pointed at the man, say “Public school grad” and “drives on public roads.”
Man: no one ever gave ME anything! so don’t force ME to give to others!

Caption: CREEPY
Man in shadows, wearing sunglasses: why should i have to go all the way to THAILAND to have sex with a child prostitute?

Man with worry lines on forehead: the deficit is too HIGH to AFFORD anything for the poor! OR the environment! …but don’t let that stand in the way of my tax cut.

as the latest of a LONG line of wealthy pundits, i KNOW success is created by MERIT!

Exalted guy with hands together as if praying: we just need to TRUST that the MAGIC of the MARKET will make everything work out! that’s why it’s MAGIC!

Caption: ATLAS
Manically grinning man with messy hair, sitting with his hands on his computer keyboard: someday me and my friends will QUIT updating our blogs and THE ECONOMY WILL COLLAPSE!

Intense, woodpecker-looking man: stocks were UP, so i said: CUT TAXES! then stocks went down, so i said: CUT TAXES! i just stubbed my toe! CUT TAXES!

Man with big glasses and big grin, reading book: I’ve read summaries of the federalist papers MANY times, so I KNOW the framers share my views about EVERYTHING!

Man holding two handguns up: there are only TWO kinds of people in the world: GUN OWNERS and SHEEP! and sheep aren’t really people.

Man with arms crossed: government should stay OUT of our personal lives! except for women’s uteruses, where government BELONGS!

Balding man in hoodie: the war on drugs is RIDICULOUS! end police abuse! #%^@! the war!

Caption: WHITEY
Balding man in black vest and black tie: i DO think it’s a TERRIBLE affront to liberty if restaurants HAVE to serve blacks! how is THAT racist?

Man holding out copy of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” with wide eyes and bags under his eyes:YOU MUST READ THIS!

Cheerful man about to eat hot dog: no need for a nanny state! i can test my OWN food for botulism!

Caption: STONED
Words coming up from somewhere below the bottom of the panel: hee hee hee

Buy this cartoon as a print or a poster!


Buy the shirt!

Posted in Barry's favorites, Economic cartoons |

Who To Blame?

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch


PANELS 1 & 2. The Federal Reserve, depicted as a professorial-looking man (bow tie, pipe), cheerily talking to a balding, working-class looking dude in an undershirt. Working class dude is listening without much expression.
FEDERAL RESERVE: hi! i’m the federal reserve! i practically run the economy! i COULD use my powers to lower unemployment, but INVESTORS don’t want that. in fact, whenever unemployment gets LOW, i make it go UP. because that’s what wall street wants. i purposely create unemployment!
PANELS 3 & 4 The Federal Reserve is gone, and in his place is The Banking Industry, depicted as a balding man in a vest, tie and jacket, and with dollar bills floating in the air around him. Banking Industry is even more cheerful than Federal Reserve was. Working class dude continues listening expressionlessly.
BANKING INDUSTRY: hey there! I’m the banking industry. i pack the government with my friends, and gamble wildly until i destroy the entire economy. after that, i’ll get bailed out with YOUR tax dollars. then i’ll foreclose on the horribly inequitable mortgage i sold you and take your home!
PANEL 5: Man wearing Uncle Sam hat has now replaced Banking Industry. Uncle Sam waves cheerily. Working Class Dude continues to listen expressionlessly.
UNCLE SAM: greetings! i’m your goverment!
PANEL 6: Uncle Sam leans in and whispers. Working Class Dude continues to listen expressionlessly.
UNCLE SAM: i make little GESTURES towards reform, but in the end i always take the banks’ side! because they totally OWN me!
PANELS 7 & 8: An Immigrant Dude replaces Uncle Sam, and speaks cheerfully. Immigrant Dude looks exactly like Working Class Dude, except his skin is a little darker. Working Class Dude continues to listen expressionlessly.
IMMIGRANT DUDE: hello! i’m an immigrant. i just want to work hard to feed my family.
PANEL 9: Working Class Dude yells very loudly and angrily; Immigrant Dude winces back in surprise.

Posted in Anti-racist cartoons, Barry's favorites, Economic cartoons |

The Church of Fiscal Conservatism

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

The Church of Fiscal Conservatism

This cartoon was co-written by Rachel Swirsky.

Description of cartoon:

Panel 1: An angry-looking cartoon donut yells at the reader. The hole in the donut forms the donut’s huge, yelling mouth; the donut also has cartoony-looking, angry eyes, and a big nose. The donut is holding two stone tablets Moses-style.
DONUT: HARK, o my children! It is I, your LORD AND GOD the DEFICIT! Incarnated in pastry raiment to decree MY HOLY COMMANDMENTS!
FOOTNOTE: Why a donut? Because it has a hole.

Panel 2: Donut, now without tablets, continues yelling.
DONUT: Thou shalt not have single payer health care. for though it would save money, I, the LORD YOUR DEFICIT, in my all-knowing wisdom, pronounce that we CAN’T AFFORD IT!

Panel 3: Donut gestures hugely, arms above head.
DONUT: Hear me, the LORD YOUR DEFICIT! We cannot afford it! Neither to restore HEALTH unto the sick, nor to give PROSPERITY to the foresaken. YEA, even though social spending would curtail recession and replenish coffers, still we CANNOT afford it!

Panel 4: Donut is now wearing a US Army officer’s hat, and holding a automatic rifle in one hand and a knife in the other.
DONUT: Yet I, THE DEFICIT, pronounce unto you that endless wars NEED NOT be paid for! Never let cost deter you from raining onto the ground the BLOOD of those who are REPELLENT unto you!

Panel 5: Extreme close-up of Donut’s face. The military cap is gone. Donut yells.
DONUT:Thou shalt EVERLASTINGLY support tax cuts, no matter the cost!
And thou shalt NEVER raise taxes, no matter the need for revenue!

Panel 6: The donut is shown very distant from the reader, at the top of a steep mountain. There are clouds behind the donut and a lightning bolt is coming from one of the clouds.
DONUT: OBEY these commandments, my children! free your hearts of skepticism, and compassion, and basic knowledge of economics. then thou shalt be pleasing unto me, YOUR LORD THE DEFICIT! AMEN!

There is a caption at the bottom of the entire cartoon, which says, “The Church of Fiscal Conservatism.”

Posted in Barry's favorites, Economic cartoons |

Regarding the Assassination of George Tiller

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Posted in Barry's favorites, Feminist cartoons |

Top Ten Reasons Not To Regulate Dangerous Chemicals In Cosmetics

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Posted in Barry's favorites |

A Brief Guide To What Society Values

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Posted in Barry's favorites, Economic cartoons |

The State Of The American Left

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Posted in Barry's favorites, Economic cartoons |

Ethanol Helps The Earth

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Posted in Barry's favorites, Environmental cartoons |