Resources - CARtoons reviews

Car Culture Vulture

review from Smogbusters, Melbourne, Australia, Aug 2001

CARtoons by Andy Singer is a hilarious and biting inditement of the modern car culture. It combines a mixture of informative fact with brilliantly satirical cartoons. It deals with a multitude of issues from global warming to urban sprawl, dissecting the myths spread by car companies that cars lead to greater freedom and a better quality of life. The book is made up of seven sections, five of them dealing with different aspects of car culture as well as a „CARnet d’addresses“(address book) listing useful environmental organisations and a CAR-free guide showing other books available from car-busters.

The book satirises and subverts the car culture in a number of ways. The opening pages set the tone for the book juxtaposing a quote about a young Olympian’s enthusiasm for motor cars with a quote from Adolf Hitler on how it is the young above all who succumb to the magic of the car. It contains hilarious mockery of the American dream as usurped by the car culture such as the cartoon ‘Urban Cowboy Songs’, showing an urban cowboy in his car singing „Oh give me a loan … so I can go buy a home and pay off my five credit cards. Where loud sirens are heard and the dogs never curbed and the acid rain pours in my yard!“ It dismembers modern prejudices about what makes a successful person with a cartoon showing a stressed out business man stuck in traffic under the caption „successful man“, contrasted with a man walking peacefully under the caption „unsuccessful man“. It also contains cartoons pointing out the blatant stupidity of regarding subsidised public transport as wasteful, showing the enormous costs that cars incur, from the building of roads to the costs of health, police and ambulance services. It shows the vicious circle of modern life where people drive to work and have to work to be able to afford to drive.

The book is also full of interesting and educational information. Each section opens with a passage of text to engage and enrage your intellect full of vital facts and statistics about the global conspiracy that is the car culture. They tell of how the American car population is increasing faster than the human one and of the blatant violations of human rights perpetrated by oil companies. They tell harrowing tales of the spread of pollution and urban sprawl and of the generalised ecological destruction wreaked by the book's archenemy, the car.

But despite its apparently bleak subject matter, the book is far from gloomy or depressing. If anything it shows how intelligence and humour can triumph even over such a powerful spectre as the car culture. It gives hope that with work and perseverance the selfishness and duplicity that have brought the planet to the brink of ecological disaster can be overcome. And apart from anything else, the cartoons in the book are very funny. So whether you are looking for information, education or just a good laugh, CARtoons by Andy Singer is highly recommended.

How do you get hold of a copy? Get in touch with your local Smogbusters to order a copy, $12 a piece and 30% is donated to Smogbusters. Place your order now!

Reviewed by Dmitri Lineton

RECOMMENDO (Stop... Look... Listen... Here's some things we like.)

from Dirt Rag, US Mountain biking magazine, Jan 2001 :

CARtoons by Andy Singer

If you recall the cover of Dirt Rag #85, then you may recognize the name Andy Singer. Andy is a cartoonist who loves bikes and hates cars. This is made crystal clear in his 98 page book entitled CARtoons.

What makes this book unique is that it is neither a comic book, nor a traditional text. It is comprised of about 60% artwork and 40% editorial material. Almost every CARtoon is accompanied by an interesting and/or related quote (the sources range from Adolph Hitler to NPR's Car Talk), and the facts are backed up with footnotes.

The editorial content is just as entertaining and impassioned as the artwork, and a wealth of information is presented in the form of many short essays. This format is particularly well suited for mountain bikers, because upon returning home in the evening from a good ride, many of us just want to unwind for a short time before getting some sleep. I found it really nice to leave the television off, pick this book up, read an essay or two, check out the cartoons, then delve into a siesta thinking about tomorrow's ride.

Although the subject matter is serious, Andy's cartoons will make you laugh. This paradox is beautiful because it makes you think while you're absorbing the art. I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly. For example the CARtoon, "Car Exhaust," depicts two cars with human posteriors "farting" their carbon monoxide emissions. While still laughing, I realized the seriousness of the message (in this case it would be that auto emissions are more than just a poignant nuisance). In the end, I was laughing again, because that's what cartoons make you do.

Using humor to bring attention to serious issues is not a new concept.

In high school, one of my history teachers regularly showed WWII era cartoons, such as Bugs Bunny, which urged people to conserve resources and encouraged them to plant "Victory" gardens. Many people refuse to confront serious issues, so humor is often the proverbial spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.

CARtoons is published by Car Busters (www.carbusters.ecn.cz), a group of four international volunteers nestled in Prague who produce, among other things, a quarterly magazine dedicated to the carfree movement. Car Busters staff member Randy Ghent and Jane Holtz Kay also contribute their literary gifts to CARtoons.

Currently you can order CARtoons from  Andy Singer for $6 (postage included) by mailing a check or money order to Andy Singer, 1849 Portland Ave. #2, St. Paul, MN 55104. You can use your credit card to order it online for $8.50 by visiting www.andysinger.com, which also contains information on where to order the book outside the United States. In the near future, AK and Marginal press, among others, will distribute CARtoons.

Jeff Guerrero (DirtRag #89 10/1/01)


Advance review from E-Magazine:

If you see red every time a huge, polluting Ford Excursion goes by, Andy Singer's book CARtoons (Car Busters, $10, distributed by A.K. Press) is for you. Singer is an editorial cartoonist with an unerring eye for the absurdity of our current car dependence. Singer's citizens crawl to work on gridlocked highways just to earn the money to buy more cars and keep the cycle going. Singer hopes to free us from road rage with some healthy laughter, but he's very serious about challenging automotive autonomy. His heroes pedal to work or take the transit alternatives. The whimsically drawn cartoons are supplemented with well-chosen quotes and essays from anti-auto crusaders Randy Ghent (of the Czech-based Car Busters) and Jane Holtz Kay (author of Asphalt Nation). There's also a useful bibliography and a compendium of car-free contacts.

Jim Motavalli, Editor
E Magazine

Andy Singer's CARtoons Show ThatThe Road To Hell Is Paved

Review by Jesse Lawton (Oregon Cycling Magazine 9/2001)

Long time Oregon Cycling cartoonist Andy Singer was in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead concert when he came to a deep and profound realization. Of course everyone who was ever in a Dead show parking lot came to many deep and profound realizations; usually they were along the lines of "Dude, my Birkenstocks told me that Jerry Garcia is the Second Coming." But Singer's was even deeper and more profound. And not only did he remember it the next day but it radically altered his life.

"Looking [around the parking lot], I saw seemingly endless highways, streets and exit ramps—all of them filled with cars, thousands of cars," he says in the introduction of his new book CARtoons [Car Busters Press, 2001]. "Amidst all this concrete, I couldn't see a single tree, a single bush or even a single blade of grass. Once I became sensitized... I realized that that almost everything in North America is centered around the automobile."

And thus began Singer's mission. For almost a decade he has been using his comic strip No Exit to, among other things, raise awareness about car culture. I've known he was a great artist and activist for years; I was reading No Exit in the Boston Phoenix years before I knew how widely distributed his comics were. But I had no idea what an underground legend he was until he sent me the advanced copy of CARtoons. Everyone who has seen my copy so far, and there have been quite a few of them, have said roughly the same thing: "I can't believe this guy finally compiled all of these cartoons. Where can I get a copy?"

The book, a very funny though quite provocative cartoon examination of car culture, lives up to everyone's expectations. There are several toons here that have been printed in OCM and other newspapers and magazines over the years but the majority are brand new. The (mostly) one panel cartoons viciously attack everything from the outrageous price of gasoline to proliferation of superhighways to carbon monoxide emissions, and then some. But he does it all with a grin. Look at "Car Alarm Man" the superhero who gives a thief a stolen radio and then smashes the rightful owners car to stop the alarm from blasting through the middle of the night. But then he changes his tone with cartoons advocating the notion that "Some times, the most radical thing you can do is stay where you are."

The toons are interspersed with essays on "CARnage," the automobile  "CARtels," and arguments as to why we are "in-CAR-cerated" by the automobile. He also gives ideas "CARwars" for ways to wean ourselves away from combustion engines Through car sharing, public transit and of course, bike riding. CARtoons is a merciless assault on one of the most prized aspects of modern culture. Both thought provoking and humorous, CARtoons is worth a read.

For more about CARtoons, check out Andy Singer's web site at www.andysinger.com/.

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