April 5, 1961
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
|This Modern World|
Tom Tomorrow is the pen name of editorial cartoonist Dan Perkins. His weekly comic strip This Modern World, which comments on current events, appears regularly in over 90 newspapers across the United States and Canada as of 2006, as well as on CREDO Action and Daily Kos, where he is its comics curator. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Spin, Mother Jones, Esquire, The Economist, and The American Prospect.
In 1998, Perkins was asked by editor James Fallows to contribute a bi-weekly cartoon to U.S. News and World Report, but was fired less than six months later, reportedly at the direction of owner Mort Zuckerman.
In 1999, Perkins had an animation deal with Saturday Night Live and produced three animated spots that were never aired. In 2000 and 2001, his online animated series was the top-billed attraction in Mondo Media's lineup of mini-shows, in which the voice of Sparky the Penguin was provided by author and Jeopardy! champion Bob Harris. Perkins has also collaborated with Michael Moore, according to a 2005 interview with Santa Cruz Metro, in which he stated, "(T)his never got to actual animation, but I did work on a script with Michael Moore for a year. It was right after Bowling for Columbine, and there was this French guy who wanted to give him the money to do another documentary. But Michael wanted to do this animated piece that we were working on. It was kind of set in the moment, right after 9/11 and as we were gearing up for the war in Iraq. If you read my cartoons about the small cute dog in the parallel universe who accidentally becomes president—it was basically a movie about the small cute dog, except that he gets lost and ends up in this war zone. And a character who bore an uncanny temperamental resemblance to Bill O'Reilly was sort of the central character. And lots of zany things happened."
In December, 2007, Keith Olbermann devoted the closing segment of an episode of his show to a reading of "Bill O'Reilly's Very Useful Advice for Young People," a two-page cartoon/cover story by Perkins for the Village Voice.
In 2009, Village Voice Media, publishers of 16 alternative weeklies, suspended all syndicated cartoons across their entire chain. Perkins lost twelve client papers in cities including Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, and Seattle, prompting his friend Eddie Vedder to post an open letter on the Pearl Jam website in support of the cartoonist. The band enlisted him to make art for their 2009 album Backspacer.
This Modern World
This Modern World debuted in 1990 in SF Weekly. While it often ridicules those in power, the strip also focuses on the average American's support for contemporary leaders and their policies, as well as the popular media's role in shaping public perception.
In addition to any politicians and celebrities depicted, the strip has several recurring characters:
- A sunglasses-wearing penguin named "Sparky" and his Boston terrier friend, "Blinky"
- "Biff," a generic conservative often used by Sparky as a foil
- "Conservative Jones," a boy detective whose deductive reasoning satirizes the logic of conservative news analysts and politicians
- The tentacle-waving aliens of planet Glox
- The "Small Cute Dog," who was accidentally elected president on "parallel earth," and whose subsequent actions mirrored those of President George W. Bush.
- The "Invisible Hand of the Free Market Man", a superhero figure whose head is shaped like human hand.
He began his blog, also called This Modern World, in September 2001.
There have been several cartoon anthologies of This Modern World published:
- Greetings From This Modern World (1992)
- Tune in Tomorrow (1994)
- The Wrath of Sparky (1996)
- Penguin Soup for the Soul (1998)
- When Penguins Attack (2000) (Introduction by Dave Eggers)
- The Great Big Book of Tomorrow (2003) (a large omnibus of early work and selected strips)
- Hell in a Handbasket: Dispatches from the Country Formerly Known as America (March 2006)
- The Future's So Bright I Can't Bear to Look (September 2008)
- Too Much Crazy (2011) (foreword by Michael Moore)
- The World of Tomorrow (2012) (foreword by Eddie Vedder)
- 25 Years of Tomorrow (2016) (includes pre-Modern World material)
The anthologies were published by St. Martin's Press until Hell in a Handbasket, when Perkins switched to Tarcher. The Future's So Bright I Can't Bear to Look was published by Nation Books. Too Much Crazy was published by Soft Skull Press. The World of Tomorrow was published by TopatoCo and is exclusively available at their website. The publication of 25 Years of Tomorrow was aided by a highly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015.
The Very Silly Mayor, a picture book for children aged 4–8, was published in September 2009 by Ig Publishing.
- Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism in 1998 and 2003.
- 1993: Media Alliance Meritorious Achievement Award (MAMA)
- 1995: Society of Professional Journalists James Madison Freedom of Information Award
- 1998: Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Cartoon, for This Modern World
- 2000: Association for Education in Journalism and Education, Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award
- 2001: James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism
- 2003: Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Cartoon, for This Modern World
- 2004: AltWeekly Award, Cartoon (More than five papers), 2nd Place, for This Modern World
- 2006: AltWeekly Award, Cartoon (Four or more papers), 3rd Place, for This Modern World
- 2013: Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning
- Phillips, Peter; Project Censored (2006). Censored 2007. Seven Stories Press. p. 16. ISBN 1-58322-738-5. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
'This Modern World' appears in more than ninety newspapers across the country.
- "CREDO Action - Comics". Working Assets. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
- Cavna, Michael (March 30, 2011). "Rebel With A 'KOS': Tom Tomorrow ends Salon run to become 'comics curator' at the Daily Kos". The Washington Post.
- "Tom Tomorrow". Spitfire Tour. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Tom Tomorrow (the Progressive Interview)". The Progressive. Retrieved 2005-11-02.
- "No Mort Tomorrows". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- "Let's Get Animated". Online Journalism Review. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- "Here Today, Tom Tomorrow". Santa Cruz Metro. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- "Runnin' Scared". Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Oy". thismodernworld blog. Archived from the original on April 13, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- "This Modern World Needs Your Help". Pearl Jam website. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
- Tom Tomorrow (2009-06-02). "Now it can be (partly) told". Tom Tomorrow. Archived from the original on June 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
- "The Very Silly Mayor". Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- "30th Annual Awards - 1998 (for 1997 coverage)". Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
- "35th Annual Awards - 2003 (for 2002 coverage)". Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
- "Paley, Perkins leave Examiner for weeklies". Mediafile. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Freedom of Information Award Winners". Society of Professional Journalists. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "Tom Tomorrow wins PF&R Award" (PDF). Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
- "James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism Recipients". James Aronson Award. Retrieved 2009-05-13.[dead link]
- "Tom Tomorrow". Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
- "Dan Perkins, aka Tom Tomorrow, announced 2013 Herblock Prize Winner". The Herb Block Foundation. February 26, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- Rall, Ted (2002). Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists. NBM. pp. 28–33. ISBN 1-56163-317-8.
- This Modern World, Tom Tomorrow's weblog
- Works by or about Tom Tomorrow in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Article on the development and early years of the strip
- Buzzflash Interview: Tom Tomorrow, Author of "This Modern World"
- Beyond Chron Profile: Tom Tomorrow
- Tom Tomorrow's Hell in a Handbasket by Glenn Greenwald
- Debunking Thomas Friedman's "I lost my job to India and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" story.
- "This Modern World Needs Your Help" open letter from Eddie Vedder