Lord, M.G. 1955–
Lord, M.G. 1955–
(Mary Grace Lord)
Born November 18, 1955, in La Jolla, CA; daughter of Charles Carroll (an aeronautics engineer) and Mary Lord; married Glenn Horowitz (a rare book and manuscript dealer), May 19, 1985. Education: Yale University, B.A. (cum laude), 1977.
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL, staff artist, 1977-78; Newsday, Melville, NY, editorial cartoonist, 1978-90; freelance writer, 1990—. Cartoons syndicated by Universal Press, 1981-83, and by Los Angeles Times Syndicate, 1984—. One-woman exhibition of editorial cartoons held at Museum of Cartoon Art, Rye Brook, NY, 1985. Commentator for National Public Radio.
National Cartoonists Society, American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, Cartoonists Association, National Book Critics Circle, Yale Club of New York.
Esquire listed Lord in its 1984 "Esquire Register: The Best of the New Generation of Men and Women under Forty Who Are Changing America."
Mean Sheets: Political Cartoons by M.G. Lord (collection, with commentary), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1982.
(Illustrator) Judy Bachrach and Claudia de Monte, The Height Report: A Tall Woman's Handbook, Andrews & McMeel (Kansas City, MO), 1983.
(Contributor) Carew Papritz, editor, 100 Watts: The James Watt Memorial Album, Khyber Press (Auburn, WA), 1983.
(Contributor) Steven Heller, Warheads, Penguin, 1983.
(Illustrator) George Garrett, The Poison Pen Letters, Palaemon Press, 1984.
(Contributor) ReaganComics, Khyber Press, 1984.
(Illustrator) Peter DeVries, James Thurber, Glenn Horowitz (New York, NY), 1985.
Prig Tales, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll, Morrow and Company (New York, NY), 1994, updated edition, 2004.
Astro Turf: The Private Life of Rocket Science, Walker (New York, NY), 2005.
Regular contributor of illustrations to Nation and Wall Street Journal.
Considered one of the boldest and most biting of today's editorial cartoonists, M.G. Lord has built a national reputation scrutinizing the foibles and absurdities of the world of modern politics. Trained as a graphic artist and journalist, Lord turned to political illustration after taking classes taught by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonists Bill Mauldin and Garry Trudeau; she eventually landed an illustrator's position at Newsday that evolved into full-time editorial cartooning. Nationally syndicated since 1981, her cartoons show a graphic style where detail is not paramount: admitting to using "generic" faces at times, Lord stated, "I'm not big on verisimilitude." Focusing more on editorial content, the cartoonist is not afraid to offend to bring home her satiric point. While boasting in Ms. that she enjoys "drawing vicious pictures of people" and that she delights in being "obnoxious," Lord shares with other editorial cartoonists a commitment to improving the status quo, to righting political wrongs by stirring awareness with humor—concern lies beneath the acerbic surface. The cartoonist is undaunted by the inevitable criticism, describing it as "water off the back of a very committed duck."
Lord's book Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll attracted considerable notice. It examines the history and influence of the Barbie doll, first introduced to the market by Mattel Toys co-owner Ruth Handler in the 1950s. The doll, modeled on a German pinup for men, featured an unrealistic anatomical shape with ultra-long legs, tiny waist, and large pointed breasts. Barbie was marketed to preteen girls as a fashion doll, and her owners were encouraged to keep buying a constant supply of new outfits and accessories to keep her wardrobe up to date. Disparaged by many feminist critics as an icon of stereotyped ultra-femininity and shallow consumerism, Barbie became hugely popular and has remained so for more than four decades. In exploring the Barbie phenomenon, Lord suggests that much of the criticism leveled at Barbie is unfair. January magazine contributor Siena Powers quotes Lord as saying of Barbie: "When it comes to parental ill will toward Barbie, … I believe femininity is the toxin; Barbie is the scapegoat."
Forever Barbie is "the smartest book one could imagine on this topic," commented Powers. Lord describes Barbie's beginnings, marketing campaigns, success, and controversies. She analyses Barbie's many meanings and considers the thorny subject of race and class. Barbie, she claims, is a female archetype that transcends the boundaries of time and place. As Susan Prentice pointed out in a Herstory review, Lord loves Barbie and assumes that every woman is intrigued by the freedom of the doll's persona. A writer for Publishers Weekly found Forever Barbie a "witty and perceptive" study, while Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, hailed it as a "fascinating, funny, and far-reaching" book that is "better than most biographies of real people."
Lord takes on a very different topic in Astro Turf: The Private Life of Rocket Science. The book chronicles her attempt to come to terms with her father, a distant man who poured his energy into his job as an aerospace engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) but neglected his family, even when his wife was dying of cancer. Lord examines the sociopolitical climate that spawned the space race, when Cold War anxieties in the 1950s fueled the urge to beat the Soviet Union at science. To build top science programs, the U.S. government went so far as to encourage German scientists to enter the country, waiving any scrutiny of their possible collaboration with the former Nazi regime. Lord discusses the persecutions of the McCarthy era, including that of JPL cofounder Frank Malina, and also looks at the era's sexism and social conformity. The book includes interviews and brief sketches of several JPL engineers.
New Scientist reviewer Roy Herbert found Astro Turf a "marvellous ramble" through a key period at JPL, observing that the book is always interesting and often exciting. Michael Upchurch, writing in American Scholar, described the book as an "absorbing" work that "captures, to marvelous effect, the way in which an organization can fall under spells … almost as if it were a zombie being taken possession of by forces incalculably stronger than itself." What's more, the critic concluded, Lord goes deeper than mere "indictment" and succeeds in reaching a deeper understanding of her father and his work.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Ad Astra, summer, 2005, John F. Kross, review of Astro Turf: The Private Life of Rocket Science, p. 42.
Advocate, October 18, 1994, Robert L. Pela, review of Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll, p. 75; May 10, 2005, Anne Stockwell, review of Astro Turf, p. 74.
American Heritage, February/March, 1995, review of Forever Barbie, p. 107.
American Scholar, winter, 2005, Michael Upchurch, review of Astro Turf, p. 135.
American Scientist, July/August, 2005, Geoffrey A. Landis, review of Astro Turf, p. 361.
Artforum International, April 1, 2005, Carol Brightman, review of Astro Turf, p.S55.
Booklist, October 1, 1994, Ilene Cooper, review of Forever Barbie, p. 187; December 1, 2004, Donna Seaman, review of Astro Turf, p. 633.
Choice: Current Review for Academic Libraries, June 1, 2005, J.Z. Kiss, review of Astro Turf, p. 1839.
Discover, July 1, 2005, review of Astro Turf, p. 80.
Entertainment Weekly, January 27, 1995, Margot Mifflin, review of Forever Barbie, p. 45; January 21, 2005, Paul Katz, review of Astro Turf, p. 93.
Herizons, spring, 2006, Susan Prentice, review of Forever Barbie, p. 36.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2004, review of Astro Turf, p. 1135.
Library Journal, August 1, 1982, A.J. Anderson, review of Mean Sheets: Political Cartoons by M.G. Lord, p. 1462; January 1, 2005, Jana Beck, review of Astro Turf, p. 147.
Ms., January 1, 1983, profile of author.
Nation, March 13, 1995, Eileen Boris, review of Forever Barbie, p. 352.
New Scientist, February 5, 2005, Roy Herbert, review of Astro Turf, p. 53.
New York Times, November 17, 1994, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Forever Barbie, p. C24.
New York Times Book Review, October 31, 1982, review of Mean Sheets, p. 35; February 5, 1995, Amy M. Spindler, review of Forever Barbie, p. 22; March 6, 2005, Polly Shulman, "Rocket Men."
People Weekly, December 19, 1994, Lynn Schnurnberger, review of Forever Barbie, p.32.
Physics Today, February 1, 2006, Douglas P. Blanchard, review of Astro Turf, pp. 54-55.
Publishers Weekly, October 3, 1994, review of Forever Barbie, p. 57; November 22, 2004, review of Astro Turf, p. 48.
Science Books & Films, May/June, 2006, Floyd D. Jury, review of Astro Turf, p. 128.
Science News, April 9, 2005, review of Astro Turf, p. 239.
Village Voice, April 1, 2005, David Ng, "Manhattan Confidential."
Women's Review of Books, June 1, 1995, Mel McCombie, review of Forever Barbie, p. 10.
Book Reporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 6, 2008), Andi Schecter review of Astro Turf.
January,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (February 6, 2008), Sienna Powers, "Out of the Dollhouse."