Just before Christmas the Concord Monitor told their in-house political cartoonist Mike Marland that they were letting him go. Their claim was cost-cutting measures, presumably the paper will pick up syndicated cartoons instead.
Unfortunately this cuts out an important angle of progressive satire local to New Hampshire and New Hampshire politics. Marland always provided a fantastic wit and an ability to pick up the salient points on an issue and bring that out with cartoon art. That’s a talent worth treasuring and a talent that provides an important outlet for frustration at the same and at the same time, critical analysis.
Its hard to wonder what exactly the Monitor has in store for its critical viewpoints, or that possibly Marland’s sharp progressive views have lost their shine in a paper that increasingly seems to provide a rather glossy and uncritical libertarian centered view on many issues. We would hope that editorial direction was not the driving force behind Marland’s dismissal.
Marland’s satire provided an especial avenue for critical humor during the tumultuous period of the libertarian/Free Stater favorite, House Speaker Bill O’Brien who came into office on a Tea Party template of hostility toward government in the 2010 Tea Party driven electoral sweep. The promptly decided to blow him out of office after two years with just as much energy as he entered. Marland’s observations during this period were spot-on and provided a light of humor to a very difficult time.
We need Marland. We in New Hampshire need strong progressive voices that speak up to the dominance of slavish obedience to extremists that seems to be increasingly common in state and national politics. Times have again gotten difficult, extremists have entered both the house and the senate on a Scorched Earth strategy mirroring the national GOP strategy currently unfolding as well. Our work will be hard, long and tiring. Humorists and others in the arts play a crucial role in helping us all keep our eyes on the prize and reminding us of the oppositions frailties while poking a proverbial stick in their eye for our amusement. We progressives love the arts, we know its importance in democracy and its link with creative satire.
IndepthNH is still looking for donors and underwriters to support his continued work. They hope to feature him in IndepthNH’s online publications and we hope he finds other outlets for his work, possibly a publishing opportunity for his collected works as well?
In fact, we have posted one of our favorite Marland works, his portrayal of Bill O’Brien, in our article on O’Brien published on our Hall of Wingnuttia Fame page.
Please check out Mike’s homepage, linked in the first paragraph and like his new Facebook page as well and give our progressive brother some love! Mike is a New Hampshire treasure, let’s make sure we keep him around!