John Auchter | Michigan Radio
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John Auchter

Contributor, Auchter's Art

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganRadio.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com. 

In addition to cartoons and essays for Michigan Radio, John works as a technical communication specialist. He has worked for a variety companies, from startups to large corporations, and has operated his own business. The job basically is the same as cartooning — putting words and images together to communicate. But in this case, John knows enough not to draw funny pictures of his boss or client. (Well, now he does.) 

John grew up on the east side of the state near Flint, graduated from Michigan Tech in da UP, and has lived in West Michigan since. He vacations Up North every summer and shovels lots of snow every winter. After his wife, he is the biggest Tigers fan in the family. He drinks Vernors when his tummy hurts.

Ways to Connect

John Auchter / auchtoons.com

The President expresses himself in superlatives: "The transcript was perfect," "I am the chosen one," "I have the best words," and so on. It's an effective rhetorical device. The absolute certainty projects a pseudo-strength that many find very appealing. And the ridiculousness always offers a backdoor escape — if it is received as too over-the-top, supporters can always say, "it was a joke" or "he didn't mean it literally. Duh!"

John Auchter

First, let's acknowledge that the Dr. Seuss's book How the Grinch Stole Christmas is perfection. 

And his collaboration with the great Chuck Jones on the animated special somehow took the story up another level to pure genius. But the Jim Carrey movie and everything after is an abomination. We good? All right. Let's move on then.

John Auchter

Every once is a while I come up with a cartoon that says all I have to say about a topic, so I don't really have any backstory or additional commentary. I'm just truly mystified.

cartoon showing people talking about toll roads
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

So you're vacationing with a large group, and you're hungry. You've rolled up to, through, and now well past dinner time. Several plans have been suggested and (you thought) agreed to, but never quite executed for reasons that run the gamut from passive-aggressiveness ("Oh, I guess seafood is fine. I usually break out in hives and my throat closes, but that's okay.") to over-the-top rejections ("NO! Absolutely not! Applebee's is dead to me! They know what they did!")

John Auchter

It's not that there wasn't anything going on in Michigan this week. There was plenty. 

John Auchter

Who knows? By the time this cartoon is published, maybe Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Governor Gretchen Whitmer will have worked out the state budget for 2020. But I doubt it. For the very reasons why the budget was not really done on the October 1st due date: Political posturing has priority over actual work. The pollsters, the advisors, the party insiders are making the decisions.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I was at a training conference this week for my day job. It was about the future of communications (specifically public relations and marketing communication), and while I would say that it was definitely worthwhile and I learned a lot, the best conversations I had weren't about the conference topics. That seems often to be the case with me — what I find most enjoyable is not what I'm actually supposed to be doing.

John Auchter

I know this is a fairly obscure reference but hang with me - there is a point to it:

Thirty-ish years ago the late, great Phil Hartman had a recurring character on Saturday Night Live called The Anal Retentive Guy. A sketch would have him as an instructor demonstrating how to do something. For example, a chef showing you how to create a certain dish. The humorous conceit was that he was so overly meticulous that he would never get around to doing what he was actually supposed to do. In the end, he'd pleasantly acknowledge that he'd run out of time as he continued to be sidetracked.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

A few years ago when President Trump was elected, I made a joke that Grand Rapids should be very grateful because they'll be able to power the city with electricity generated by Gerald Ford spinning in his grave. (Well, along with Betty Ford spinning there right beside him.)

the lower peninsula of michigan talking to the upper peninsula
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

After the University of Wisconsin's football team crushed Michigan State University last week (after also crushing both the University of Michigan and Central Michigan University this season), the Twitter handle for the Upper Peninsula tweeted, "It's official, I belong to Wisconsin now." And then as if to drive the point home, the Packers (and arguably the officiating crew) beat the Lions Monday night.

Uncle Same standing between two people
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

This week the U.S. Supreme Court heard cases involving the firing of gay and transgender people from their jobs. The defendants claimed they lost their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identification and that this constitutes sexual discrimination. The prosecution argued that sex means strictly whether you're a male or female, not whether you're gay or straight.

John Auchter / Auchtoons.com

This is a good example of an editorial cartoon that many will see as unfair. When Governor Whitmer used an extraordinary number of line-item vetoes to attempt to force the Republican-dominated legislature back into negotiations on the budget, there were hypocrisies all around.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I can think of no better example that demonstrates the acceleration of our world than the current UAW strike of GM. If you could time travel back 20, 30, 40 years and tell a fellow Michigander, "Yeah, the UAW is striking GM, and it's barely in the top ten of things that people are talking about," they'd just look at you and say, "Well you ain't talking about Michigan."

John Auchter

Oftentimes, yes, the cartoon idea that wins and gets drawn is the one that is the most fun to draw. And that partially explains why I decided on the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference as a topic over a looming state government shutdown and the GM/UAW strike. (C'mon now. Sanders, Pence, DeVos. These are faces made for caricature!)

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

If you've been following the ongoing battle between Governor GretchenWhitmer and the state legislature over road funding, you may forgive me for taking the easy way out for this week's cartoon.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

One of my favorite bits from the musical Hamilton has Alexander Hamilton entering George Washington's office:

cartoon drawing of man trying to convince the legislature to approve a budget
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Several years ago, I was working for a software company that got bought by a larger software company. They wanted me to relocate. My wife and I didn't and so they bought me out of the rest of my contract — about half a year's pay. It was a lot of money as a lump sum in a single check!

two guys talking about guns
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Look, I understand the draw of the "slippery slope" argument. It is both sneaky and effective. Which is why as a parent I used it all the time when my kids were younger.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I'm sure you are well aware of the terrible things happening in the world recently — mass shootings, violent protests, family separations, economic slowdowns — the list (unfortunately) goes on. 

cartoon drawing of Coleman Young and L Brooks Patterson
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It's a classic editorial cartooning trope: drawing a recently deceased famous person at heaven's gate. It's been overdone and often mishandled. For instance, when Steve Jobs died a few years ago, there were all sorts of cartoons featuring him at heaven's gate, making witty remarks to St. Peter about having an app for getting in. The thing is, Jobs was a Buddhist, which involves neither St. Peter nor heaven.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I hesitated to draw this one because not everybody may know the George Costanza character from the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld. But the odds against that are pretty good — Seinfeld was one of the last TV shows that everybody watched, it has been in constant reruns since, and of course its catch-phrases live on forever in memes ("No soup for you!").

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

What a difference a decade makes! Remember in 2009 when Republicans were absolutely apocalyptic about the size of the national deficit? 

person holding glasses of water filled with a range of terrible contaminants
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Show of hands — who has seen the Frank Capra movie from 1939, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Jimmy Stewart is Jefferson Smith, an idealistic young man who gets appointed as a United States senator by a corrupt political machine and ends up fighting against it.

John Auchter / Auchtoons.com

Is it un-American to draw an Independence Day cartoon highlighting flaws about America? That's for readers to decide. But I will defer to USA soccer player Megan Rapinoe who was asked this week about what she would say to those who consider her actions un-American:

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan baseball team didn't win the College World Series, but they got closer than any Michigan teams have in a while. It's nice to have a Michigan baseball team (professional or otherwise) that does well enough to play in a championship.

cartoon of three people discussing Michigan's new social studies changes
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

To be clear: I'm proud of our nation, our history, and especially our ideals. I am proud to be an American. But some of the things we do just mystify me.

John Auchter cartoon with couple arguing with cops in high lake water
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Hulu has new mini-series of the Joseph Heller novel, Catch-22. It looks intriguing, but I don't know if I'll check it out. It's summer in Michigan for goodness sake — there will be plenty of winter for screen-based entertainment. But also because I read Catch-22 at exactly the right time in my life, as a 17 year-old primed and ready to learn just how ludicrous the world can be. I don't want to mess with the perfect picture in my head.

Gretchen Whitmer in black and white
John Auchter

There is lots that is unfair about comparing Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the recent auto insurance agreement to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the Munich Agreement of 1938. So let's start with what is fair.

John Auchter

Justin Amash is the Congressman from Michigan's 3rd district. When President Gerald Ford was a member of the U.S. House, he represented Michigan's 5th district. District boundaries evolve over time, but both claimed Grand Rapids as their population center, so it's fair to say Amash is a Ford successor.

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