Cartoonist Dan Perkins, widely known by his pen name Tom Tomorrow, has made a mark as one of the most decorated cartoon artists in independent media. He has received several honors, one being the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism for his cartoon titled “This Modern World,” which satirizes contemporary media and politics.
Tomorrow will give a visual presentation and talk at 7:30 p.m. today in Emerson Suites. His talk and presentation is sponsored by the Park Center for Independent Media and is free and open to the public.
Contributing Writer Kyle Robertson spoke to Tomorrow about his cartoons and the role of independent media.
Kyle Robertson: Why did you choose to adopt a pseudonym, Tom Tomorrow, for your writing and cartooning?
Tom Tomorrow: It was a decision I made a long time ago. I thought it would be more memorable, and that it would stick in people’s heads more. I didn’t expect that I was going to have this relatively sustained career and be stuck with this pseudonym for 20 years. In retrospect, it wouldn’t have been the decision I would have made, but it’s too late to go back now.
KR: How would you describe your political views, and how did you develop them?
TT: I come off as a fairly left-of-center skeptic. My basic philosophy is more in line with the Democrats than the Republicans, but the Democrats are just repeating these patterns that I’ve been watching them repeat for 20 years now. … They just won’t fight for anything. I keep waiting to be proven wrong, but [that] just keeps happening.
KR: What makes satire and cartoons an effective medium for social commentary?
TT: Probably because they’re so one-sided and unfair … [laughs]. But it’s hard to counter an argument. … Right now the master in this field is Jon Stewart. It’s a way of exposing the underlying hypocrisy in a very hard-to-refute manner, if that makes any sense. It’s very
effective. … I don’t know how to put it better than that.
KR: What kind of role does the press play in a free society?
TT: That’s a very timely question because the press is possibly on the verge of extinction. Traditionally, in a very best case scenario, the press should serve as watchdogs to power.
Unfortunately, too often the press and the media in general are seduced by power, and they generally begin to think of themselves as part of the power structure. You’re already seeing the effects in local governments that used to have journalists keeping a close eye on them, and that’s not really happening anymore.
KR: What can the public do to become more informed and active citizens?
TT: Online there is a wealth of information. There’s a whole universe of political blogs. … There’s someone out there who knows a lot about any topic you can think of. It’s actually much easier to keep yourself informed than it ever has been before. You just have to sort through a lot of wheat and chaff. … There’s a lot of nonsense you have to sort through, but it’s out there if you look for it.