Pretty high-concept! The Onion’s editorial cartoons have long been one repeated, well-told joke: Stan Kelly is an out-of-touch political cartoonist who lets his personal life bleed into his work. It’s like this little tucked-away holdover from the days when columnists Jim Anchower, Jackie Harvey, and Jean Teasdale update more than twice a year, and Herbert Kornfeld from Accounts Receivable hadn’t died.
And now the comic gets even more insidery, with videos of Kelly “explaining” his comics (a lot like Mort Walker explaining Beetle Bailey, mashed with You Suck at Photoshop). It looks cheap to make, but it actually explores new territory within the beautiful character of Stan Kelly. The voice acting is impeccably grizzled but believable. You can hear the spittle in this man’s mouth. And little touches, like the re-use of certain stock photos and a segment just for showing off Kelly’s little self-portrait and closing one-liner in each cartoon, reward you for watching the whole series.
In “Collective Wisdom”, Kelly gives “artist’s tips” like “You wanna show someone’s in love, you put some little hearts around her.” His “Lady Liberty” bit is satisfying for longtime Kelly fans. Ha, I know, there are maybe five of us. And that fanservice is what makes the Onion truly artistic.
In “The Chinese Threat”, Kelly explains his racism in, again, beautifully believable terms.