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TORN: Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons Volume 7

“In the voluminous output of their cartoons, it’s worth remembering the breadth of the work of Huck and Konopacki—individually, collectively and disjointedly. The art of HK has exposed, educated and occasionally amused—not simply as detached observers but key participants—from their prestigious Wage Slave World News, organizing of the Cultural Workers and Artists Caucus of the Labor Party, strike support posters, flyers, art classes for workers and so much more. Or less.

“The unavoidable afflictions of age—creeping senility and dementia—have halted lesser artists, but HK fearlessly crossed that line and soldier on undeterred. Did we even notice? They have gallantly shoved their pen-weapons up the butts of the bosses.

“Huck and Konopacki have truly earned their place in the anals of labor history!”

Mike Alewitz
Expert


A book review from the South Central (Wisconsin) Federation of Labor

Good and bad news comes with Huck-Konopacki Labor Cartoons’ latest book

by Kathy Wilkes

There’s good news and bad news about TORN, the latest book of cartoons from Gary Huck and Mike Konopacki. The good: It’s a doozy! The bad: It’s their last one.

After 37 years of syndicating Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons to unions, newspapers and others, these Wisconsin-bred practitioners of pushback, parody and in-your-face outrage against enemies of the working class are closing up shop with their last monthly package going out in February.

It was a great run while it lasted, as some high-profile admirers attest.

Howard Zinn, legendary historian: “I have learned to admire enormously the way they present new insights on American society in dramatic form.”

Christian Clark, Emmy Award-winning writer for Sesame Street: “Huck and Konopacki’s cartoons are a prescription for radical civil disobedience, an antidote to the abuses of the Powers That Be. When it comes to class consciousness, these guys are awake!”

Peter Gilmore, retired managing editor, UE News: “Huck and Konopacki created the soundtrack of our lives: the laughter, weeping, shrieks and guffaws provoked by their deft blows against the bourgeoisie. I’m forever grateful they’re on our side.”

Jane Slaughter, former editor, Labor Notes: Huck and Konopacki are the cleverest, funniest cartoonists I know or know of. How deep is that well of creativity? Don’t their brains get tired? Their funny bones and righteous anger apparently do not.”

Clay Bennett, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist: “They have gallantly shoved their pen-weapons up the butts of bosses. Huck and Konopacki have truly earned their place in the anals of labor history!”

Clearly, Gary and Mike aren’t just your run-of-the-mill entrepreneurs. They carved out their corner of the labor movement with sharp insights and finely honed commitments to union principles, human rights and political activism. They don’t just draw a good line, they walk it.

Gary grew up union. His dad, a factory worker, was a labor leader in Racine, where bustling factories have since been shuttered. Gary pinpoints the genesis of his career to a second grade project to draw a picture of what his father did.

In the 1970s, Gary illustrated pamphlets for striking Racine teachers and later became the cartoonist for the newspaper, Racine Labor. The mid-1980s brought him to his cartooning job for UE News, the official newspaper of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. He recently retired.

Mike grew up in Manitowoc, another town afflicted by plant closures. His father managed the commercial art department for the now long-gone Mirro Corp. UW-Madison grad, Mike became a Teamster, drove a school bus part-time, and pursued a freelance career.

He got his official start cartooning for the Madison Press Connection, a newspaper formed by workers striking Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times. He went on to work almost exclusively for the labor movement, including a law firm specializing in labor strategies, local and international unions and Press Associates Union News Service.

Gary and Mike met at a 1979 cartoonists’ convention and launched Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons. four years later. Each month they’d send subscribers a package of labor and political cartoons lampooning the rich and famous and championing the poor and obscure.

Their cartoons became so much in demand they have seven collections in volumes spanning the Reagan/Bush era to Donald Trump. Meanwhile, they freelanced on side projects.

Gary’s gag cartoons “Oddservations” for the alternative press and Mike’s monthly tabloid Wage Slave World News supplemented the syndication along with workshops for budding and seasoned trade unionists and artful agitprop for union tee shirts, buttons, leaflets, posters and picket signs. Wherever the movement was, whatever the movement needed, they were there.

They still are. Though their syndication will end, Gary and Mike are available for workshops, strike projects or special artwork. Their website has all the info. Drop them a line, view cartoons and buy TORN, a great gift for the holidays (or any day) and the very last book they’ll ever do: http://huckkonopackicartoons.com/purchase/buy-our-books/

 


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