Saturday, October 14, 2017

25 Years of Tomorrow by Dan Perkins

I’m a big fan of This Modern World, a weekly satire in cartoon form published by Dan Perkins under the pseudonym Tom Tomorrow.

A while back, he had a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund the printing and publication of a two-volume “boxed set” of his entire career -- twenty-five years of his creative output.

I kicked in my seventy dollars, and two coffee-table-sized books, titled 25 Years of Tomorrow, Volumes 1 and 2, arrived at my doorstep a few months later.

For this fan, they were an absolute delight to read, filled with treasures both expected and unexpected. No where else was I likely to come across the very first incarnation of This Modern World, a self-published “zine” from 1987.

It is 27 pages of vintage Perkins -- in many ways laying the foundation for much of his satirical view and sense of humor. This Modern World, then, was a place where citizens have mandatory consumer quotas (because it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law), industry mines the very fabric of reality (for the good of mankind), and children are well cared for in a null-entropy stasis field where they don’t grow older or make any noise (a real boon for modern parents).

Like a piece of pork fat, the satire may sometimes be difficult to swallow, but it is always delicious.

Today, and for much of the intervening 25 years, This Modern World has taken a decidedly political bent. Many would call it liberal, but I think it is more properly thought of as progressive. Perkins exposes both Republicans and Democrats for the politicians they are, often more occupied with placating their own egos and their electoral bases than with any of the progressive causes Perkins loves and to which at least half of the politicians he portrays pay lip service.

Yes, President Trump was shown as an Incredible orange Hulk during the recent primary season, smashing all challengers with his unhinged utterances…

...and is shown now as a giant man-baby, throwing tantrums on Twitter and complimenting anyone who pays him doting attention.

But before him President Obama was shown as a superhero called Middle Man, seeking compromise on even the most right-wing proposals…

...and before that as a plain politician with a ghostly image of himself hovering nearby -- the progressive fantasy of his presidency that many of his supporters voted for and continued to assume that he was.

And that’s just the tip of the crazy (and clever) iceberg. Above all, This Modern World is a place where the otherwise dying art of satire still reigns supreme. That, if nothing else, was worth my seventy bucks.

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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