Cartoon critics Phil Witte and Rex Hesner look behind the gags to debate what makes a cartoon tick. This week our intrepid critics take a look at Soccer (Football).
The World Cup is in full swing, and we at Anatomy of a Cartoon follow the soccer—er, football—games—we mean matches—as they are played on the field—or pitch, or whatever you call it. Anyway, it’s the world’s most popular sport by any measure, and definitely in the top 10 in the United States. Cartoonists have taken note.
Team supporters are true fans, in the sense that they are fanatical. Fisticuffs and worse frequently occur at matches. By contrast, one does not hear of tennis hooligans or tussles on golf greens. Jack Ziegler pictured a true fan, with a canned beverage no less, at a job interview. He seems qualified to be a bouncer.
Matt Diffee applies his realistic drawing style to an unlikely scenario. The two outer brothers are at least partially defending themselves as well as the goal, but the three brothers in between are defenseless. At least they agree on who gets to wear the jersey number.
The U.S. national team has never won a World Cup tournament. It didn’t even qualify in 2018. Leave it to the women’s team, who have won it four times. Who can forget when Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty kick for the championship, then celebrated by whipping off her jersey and falling to her knees? She was a powerful model for women, including this high-heeled office worker in Marisa Acocella’s cartoon.
Gender stereotypes persist, however, leading some parents to place too great an importance on the outcome of their kids’ games. Ali Solomon uses exaggeration to probe the psyche of a soccer mom on a mission.
Relying on the old switcheroo, Chris Weyant offers a refreshing take on gender perceptions in sports. Note the dirt on the girl’s tiny knees, a nice detail.
Michael Crawford presents us with a coed team, taking life tips from their coach. Leave it to the adults to spoil the fun.
William Haefeli also imagines a coed kiddie soccer team, and once again the adult puts a damper on things. This mom supports her kid, but there are limits. Her fashionable attire—that handbag with its many bolts is really over the top—signals that she is above the fray, at least in her mind.
Where would soccer kids be without someone to transport them to games and pick them up? Mick Stevens’ cartoon is a tribute to the soccer mom. Atlas has nothing on her.
The bold graphic style of Seth Fleishman is on full display in this caption-less cartoon that comments on the now common practice of presenting sports awards to kids for showing up. The child’s reaction is hard to read—the bug eyes don’t reveal any emotion, as all of his characters’ eyes are drawn that way—but that’s a mighty detailed piece of architecture.
We conclude with a wordless cartoon, this one by Jared Nangle. One does not normally associate turtles with soccer balls, but the cartoonist has made the connection in a charming drawing that features lots of pentagons. Some cute details are included, such as the flags and turtle scarves. And not a hooligan among them.