Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Some people die undiscovered, their life’s work – forced out of them by insistent, soul-defining passions – remaining all but unknown, bubbling under like a drowning man beneath the diaphanous yet impenetrable ice whose pleading eyes fix upon yours for a split second before the waters drag him down, down, away. Recently turned semi-pro cartoonist Jake Goretzki doesn’t deserve to be such a person. I introduced him to @TheFCF last year – with this brilliant take on the philanthropic Victorian origins of football – and they liked him so much they have him locked in a dungeon agreed to pay for his growth hormones, which now allow his finger muscles to scribble and shade at a rate much closer to the output demanded by his feverish mind.

The FCF are, of course, far too busy goading the more thin-skinned followers of Liverpool FC – and worrying that Darth Ferguson is down to double figures on bottles of single malt his body can withstand before expiration (with the upwardly-mobile, Shameless ex-Moss Siders ready to rule the roost) – to have come up with a tag line for Jake’s avowedly arch and erudite work, cartoons with a higher brow than Carlo Ancelotti at a badly refereed Serie A game from 2006. Perhaps this will do: If 606 is the pulse of football, then Goretzki is its hippocampus. Anything that makes the viewer scurry for Wikipedia (or appeals exclusively to neuroscientists) is apt. 

But there are also several other strings to his bow, matters beyond the football world and its protracted adolescence – in this manner, hes perhaps akin to Joey Barton, a man that not only bosses the midfield and pastes sporadically attributed Nietzsche quotations into his Twitter feed, but also sometimes goes to art galleries, a veritable Renaissance man. Similarly, each weekend Jake takes his pith detector out of its grotty Kwik Save carrier bag and heads off hoping to hear that manic staccato trilling that indicates a horde of satiric treasure, a find that would allow him, finally, to take up permanent residence at the drawing board and thus to have to worry on a daily basis about the Muse deserting him. If nothing else, commissioning editors, he deserves such an anxiety. 

I have picked out some favourites from his oeuvre, dividing these cartoons into 17 categories. The reason for this is simple: it is a cynical attempt to get more page views to ensure you don’t have to scroll up and down too far to find a particular cartoon. Imagine eighty-odd in a single post. It wouldnt work, would it? No. 

The taxonomy is not precise, however; in fact, it most resembles a famous categorization of animals from Jorge Luis Borges’s ficción (his essay-story), ‘The Analytical Language of John Wilkins’, in which the eponymous polymath protagonist – a real historical figure whose seventeenth-century interests covered “theology, cryptography, music, the building of transparent beehives, the orbit of an invisible planet, the possibility of a trip to the moon, the possibility and principles of a universal language” – is shown to be fond of developing classificatory systems, albeit ones characterized by “ambiguities, redundancies, deficiencies”. 

Wilkins’ baroque taxonomies duly remind the story’s narrator – an intellectual historian that reminds the reader of Borges himself – of a text (perhaps invented) entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, attributed to one Franz Kuhn, which divided up the animal world thus: “(a) Those belonging to the Emperor; (b) Embalmed ones; (c) Those that are trained; (d) Suckling pigs; (e) Mermaids (or Sirens); (f) Fabulous ones; (g) Stray dogs; (h) Those that are included in this classification; (i)Those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) Innumerable ones; (k) Those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush; (l) Et cetera; (m) Those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) Those that, at a distance resemble flies.” 

I think – hope – that Jake, in many ways a Borgesian cartoonist, will grudgingly accept my heavy-handed redundancies, ambiguities and deficiencies, while remaining understanding enough to see the merits in this clod-hoofed compartmentalization. Equally balefully, perhaps, I’ve made some passing comments here and there – not so much those dreaded spoilers, much less explanations, only brief impressions. I have tried to make sure they don’t get in the way, of course, for I wouldn’t wish to speak any louder than the cartoons themselves speak, wouldn’t want to simplify or reduce. 

But I will allow myself this very general comment on the motor, the thrust of Jake’s work: there are, extremely schematically, two attitudes that one can have toward the world, two general (small ‘p’) political dispositions, poles on a continuum: siding with the ‘winners’ or siding with the ‘losers’. If you think you’re a winner, you’re a loser, by virtue of dividing the world up into winners and losers. If you think you’re a loser, you’re also a loser, because you will in all probability poison your mind and foreclose the lines of escape from such thought patterns as will thus eventually consume your life, your élan vital. If you think you’re probably a winner (but in any case know it’s unimportant), yet side with the ‘losers’, then, well, you’re doing just enough goodness to spread just enough hope to keep a lot of us sane and alive. 

Siding with the underdog is implicitly to see the absurdity of the world, its thoroughgoing artifice, its delirium – and if you cannot see the absurdity of the world in the twenty-first century, when people ‘happily’ devote their entire lives to increasing their market share of corned beef by 0.2%, then you never will. Sometimes, though, to see the world this way you have to imagine the world as a lost tennis ball sees it. Or a captive tree... 

Here is an INDEX of the categories (or simply use the menus on the sidebar), with a few of my favourite cartoons in each: 

21st Century Politics 

LAmour and Other Problems 
21st Century Lifestyles (Non-Comprehensive)  
Art and Culture, yeah?
Social Media (and Txting)
Sales and Marketing 

Word Play and Superior Dad Jokes 
Cartoons Featuring East European Figures (inc. Austria)
Right-Wing Idiocy 

Two Facets of the Irish Economic Miracle 

* Keep abreast of Jake Goretzki’s stuff – either on Twitter, or at his website.
* To speak to Jake about a commission – e: jake [at] grtzk [dot] com

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