If I learned anything from watching the original Star Wars movies as a kid, it’s that just because something makes you laugh doesn’t mean it can’t make you think. Master Yoda initially looked a little ridiculous, but he taught Luke Skywalker some important lessons: how to meditate, how to manage emotions, and how to run through the forest carrying a stinky leathery backpack that won’t stop hitting and insulting you.
Much like Yoda, the best political cartoons make you laugh and learn at the same time. Whether they’re satirizing social media, politics, or just human nature, they have to be able to work as a joke and a piece of commentary.
Of course, some comics do it better than others. These twelve comics cover the realities of modern life, and I took the liberty of rating them as Yoda might, if you were able to access the Internet from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Enjoy, you will!
1. I’m sick of “smartphones are possessed by the devil and Wi-Fi is generated by witches”-style cartoons. So I’ve decided to interpret this as a cutting commentary on elder loneliness in the modern era. 5 out of 7 Yodas (plus one extra point because I’m sure Yoda understood all about elder loneliness, living in a bog with no Wi-Fi to Force-Skype anyone).
2. This delightful little piece, entitled, “Be Who You Want To Be,” is better than any of the “profound” comics about bursting out of a cubicle to “go your own way.” The luminous colours and fairy-tale-y washes make this a comic you might even want to hang on a wall. 6 out of 7 Yodas.
3. I mean, I get the point of this one (sometimes the one person who’s doing the right thing gets made fun of and all that), but I can’t stop myself from bursting into laughter every time I look at it. Is it the sheer volume of urine? The one guy peeing himself out on the deck, in full view? The man’s distressed expression that he just can’t pee himself? 4 out of 7 Yodas, for sheer humour.
4. I don’t understand the cartoon, but I get it from the bottom of my soul. Who hasn’t felt like a barnacle on the bottom of a pirate ship from time to time? 5 out of 7 Yodas.
5. While this cartoon was created in response to a specific political event (look at the date on the cover if you need a hint), I think we can all agree that it’s applicable constantly now. 2017 is an unending tire fire, and these disasters have become part of our everyday reality. 5 out of 7 Yodas, for being brilliant but making me depressed again.
6. “Technology is cursed” cartoons are the low-hanging fruit of the comic world. I mean, this one’s funny, and maybe a little true, but nothing is going to stop me from basing my entire self-esteem on meaningless social media markers. 4 out of 7 Yodas.
7. “Sad Ghost Club” has a whole host of adorable-yet-relevant cartoons dedicated to improving mental health and wellness, and I just chose one of my favourites. They’re adorable, simple, and above all, good advice. 7 out of 7 Yodas (and totally go check them out at their website at thesadghostclub.tumblr.com).
8. In the wise words of Wu-Tang Clan, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me (Especially The Political Structures Underpinning My “Democratic” Country)” Wherever you fall on political issues, the creeping influence of money in politics is undeniable. 5 out of 7 Yodas.
9. The internet artist known as floccinaucinihilipilification (hope that’s not their legal name) has a whole site of hilarious comics that are, from the looks of them, based entirely on my everyday life. 6 out of 7 Yodas, because the comic is hilarious but I’m honestly embarrassed by the accuracy
10. Again, maybe smartphones will be the devil’s portal into this world and Wi-Fi was created by malevolent witches to stop us from getting work done. But digital intimacy (that is, finding ways to be close with people over technology) is real, and even the most technophobic among us can admit that tech can bring us closer to people who are far away. 7 out of 7 Yodas, for a sweet message and adorable artwork.
11. You know what, Anthony? If Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote the award-winning Gulag Archipelago entirely in his head while in prison, then you can probably bang out a few insightful comments on your smartphone! 3 out of 7 Yodas.
12. This one ends the list because it’s my favourite, and lends itself to a host of related concepts: “Nothing really matters … so I might as well be kind,” “Nothing really matters … so I might as well do what I love,” or “Nothing really matters … so I might as well live the best possible life I can on my terms” all come to mind. In a year where it’s easy to say that life is meaningless, it’s important to remember that life still has the meaning we give it. 8 out of 7 Yodas, for being exactly what I needed to see today.