How Did Tom Tomorrow Know Yesterday? 20 years ago, a comic predicted what some are only finding out now…
Somewhere in my possession, is a cut out of a New Yorker comic from 1999 by Dan Perkins. He is better known as Tom Tomorrow, an independent cartoonist who pens This Modern World. That comic of a futuristic news report is here, by the way.
But even before that and before NSA-surveillance and Edward Snowden were household conversations, before “if you’ve got nothing to hide” became a common retort, Tom’s comic below was published in Spin magazine – in 1994!
The third and fourth panels were likely meant to be slippery-slope satire, not a prediction for today’s living reality! Yeah, why bother law enforcement with things like evidence, warrants and due process. Perhaps that, and the privatization of the U.S. prison complex is why we are the world’s number one prison capital.
Will Oremus at Slate.com writes that the context for this comic was the mid-nineties NSA introduction of the “Clipper chip,” said to have been abandoned. It was to allow greater use of phone tapping – but only when “legal” to do so, of course. Oremus also notes that this comic might not be as full of impact today because it’s so obvious and that the cop in the last panel looks a lot like a certain president.
Tom Tomorrow is also known for his comics sardonically introducing kids to “Droney the friendly drone.” I highly recommend you do a search for them or check out his archives below.
Like him, love him, leave him; Tom Tomorrow’s poignant observations were spot-on more than 20 years ago. He was among the first, if not the very first, independent artists to offer his work freely on the Internet as early as 1992.
Tom Tomorrow’s extensive work:
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