Politician: “I swear I am not responsible for starting that internet smear campaign against my rival!”

Subtitle Man: “…I got my friend to start it!!!”






I’m a cartoonist!

The cartoon above appeared in today’s Folha de S. Paulo and was drawn by one of Brazil’s top cartoonists Adão Iturrusgarai. (Find an English-language version of his web site here.)

The credit, though, is a joint one for both Adão and myself.

I know Adão well from when we both lived in Rio and we still speak regularly even though he is now based in Uruguay.

The character in the cartoon above is Homem Legenda, or, in a rather literal translation, Subtitle Man. The Homem Legenda says what people are really thinking.

Folha, in a stroke of genius, asked Adão to do a cartoon every day in the run up to the presidential elections and he has used that forum to highlight the difference between what politicians say and what they mean, or at least what people think they mean.

My idea for this came from several sources. I remember the damaging Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry in 200x. The Republicans denied responsibility but it was later revealed that a group with links to the party had made the ad.

I’ve also been watching the final series of the West Wing, where similar themes play out.

And of course, it is particularly relevant in the Brazilian context because of the recent smear campaign against Dilma Rousseff. Religious groups accused Dilma of wanting to legalise abortion as late as the ninth month of pregnancy, as well as permit gay marriage and marijuana use.

All that gave me the idea for this cartoon and Adão drew it up and graciously gave me a joint credit.

Here’s Adão talking about how the Homem Legenda came about.