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Andying Up

Book Review: Andy Singer edited by Ted Rall


One of the best things about Andy Singer is that you can tell exactly where he stands. No girly-man, talk-out-of-both-sides-of-your-mouth, liberal-lite cartoonist is he. Regular readers know, for example, that Singer is passionate about the environment -- as in, "This is the only planet we've got, people; put down those SUV keys and step away from the fossil fuels, now!" Accordingly, he's a huge proponent of mass transportation, and, as the cartoon at right demonstrates, his analysis of the recent election results is way more precise than the simplistic red state/blue state spin.

Singer is imaginative, deliciously subversive and unabashedly contemptuous of, say, corporate greed, mindless war, homophobia and other conservative "values." Sometimes, though, his "No Exit" cartoon is just plain silly -- such as in the wordless panel featuring a rear-view human torso with a pinetree-shaped air freshener draped over the butt.

Born in Brooklyn in 1965 and a graduate of Cornell University, Singer now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota; his work appears in newspapers across the country, including this one. His single-panel line drawings -- developed when he worked at copy shops after college -- are immediately recognizable. In fact, his wry commentaries on political, social and other absurdities of modern life have recently been recognized by "Attitude," a book series edited by New York cartoonist/author Ted Rall. The first two collections were compilations of alternative cartoonists, but the series is heading in a different direction, featuring one cartoonist at a time. Andy Singer's "No Exit" is the first to be spotlighted.

"Doonesbury" notwithstanding, cartoons critical of the less-palatable aspects of American life can rarely be found in the mainstream press. All the more reason to read, and support, that endangered species, the alternative cartoonist. In an era when calling a spade a spade is considered unpatriotic, "No Exit" is a breath of fresh -- well, OK, polluted -- air.