Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Noble Tyrant

I'm working on a new blog that showcases my writing. It's going to be more of a portfolio site, so I won't update it that often, but it might be worth checking out for curiosity's sake. I'll provide the link soon.

These are some short articles I wrote for a graduate editorial style class. The professor asked us to create a newsletter targeting a specific group. The final newsletter (I've only included the articles I wrote--I was the "chief editor" of the group project) received a rejection from The New Yorker. A dubious honor, perhaps, but still.

I enjoyed writing and illustrating these, mostly because I love satire, but also because it allowed me to put my political science degree to good use. And for the record, the North Korean News Agency link will take you to North Korea's official press release, which will explain the illustration a bit better. Sadly, my own humor pales in comparison with the original--and completely serious--press release. Man, North Korea's government is crazy!


Greetings From the Editor

Welcome to the premiere issue of The Noble Tyrant: News Drawn Quarterly. Receipt of this tastefully written artifact distinguishes you as one of the 21st-century’s most discerning leaders. The Noble Tyrant (TNT) targets you, an aspiring dictator. Since your country is in the midst of abominable trade sanctions and undeserved embargoes (tyrants always have these problems), we smuggled this, your first copy, into a recent edition of The New Yorker. Those UN inspection hypocrites will never suspect a thing. If you feel you have received this newsletter in error and are not, in fact, a zealous defender of the people, please stop reading –> here <– and destroy this communication immediately.†

TNT addresses despots of all persuasions. Whether you are a tight-fisted fascist or a calculating communist, the basic principles of totalitarianism are the same, and our newsletter is for you. In future editions, we’ll provide information on a variety of useful topics, including:

• Safely importing nuclear weapons
• Improving your rapport with the media through enhanced interrogation techniques
• Where to find high-grade radioactive isotopes (for assassination purposes)
• Successfully ignoring the Geneva Code

We’ll feature interviews with notable dictators, compare power rankings, discuss how to polish your image, and help you establish an enduring cult of personality. In addition, we’ll include horoscopes, dating advice, and challenging word puzzles. Truly, there’s something for everyone here. TNT helps take your regime to the next level. With that in mind, we invite you to peruse this quarter’s deftly executed articles. We’re sure you’ll agree that among newsletters, The Noble Tyrant reigns supreme. And now, to business.


The Editor

† Please recycle. Thank you.

Contemporary Brilliance: A Conversation With Robert Mugabe

Editor’s note: Robert Mugabe (1921-present) has served as Zimbabwe’s head of government since 1980. This April, he joined us for a brief interview to talk about his influences and aspirations.

TNT: Thank you, President Mugabe—

Mugabe: My friends call me Bob.

TNT: —Okay, Bob. Thank you so much for allowing us this interview. We know you have a very busy schedule, so this is a delightful opportunity for us.

Mugabe: You’re welcome. This TNT newsletter is going to be a great help to budding leaders out there, so I thought I’d add my stamp of approval.

TNT: Now, Bob, let’s start at the beginning of your career. When did you know you wanted to become a dictator?

Mugabe: It was when I was in prison, getting some of my correspondence degrees from the Universities of London and South Africa. I have seven degrees, you know. I pride myself on my intelligence.

TNT: So, in prison, you realized you wanted to become a dictator?

Mugabe: Precisely. Sitting in my cell one day doing my homework, I realized, “Hey! I don’t have to be a prisoner for the rest of my life! I can start a brutal guerrilla war, take over the ENTIRE COUNTRY, AND RULE MERCILESSLY BY MYSELF! MU-HAH-HAH!” Ahem. Sorry about the sinister laugh. That sometimes happens involuntarily.

TNT: Not a problem.

Mugabe: Anyway, it was really a profound moment for me. It was then I knew I could rule Zimbabwe with an iron hand.

TNT: So, how did you end up taking control?

Mugabe: Well, it was a fairly straightforward process. I took the same steps most totalitarians do. I got control of my political party, took out some key opposition leaders, and seized control of media outlets. Then I triumphed in fair and transparent elections. And then, people kept voting for me for the next 25 years. What can I say? People love me!

TNT: Of course they do. You’re such a powerful and enigmatic man.

Mugabe: I know.

TNT: Some critics have compared you to Adolph Hitler. Do you think that’s an accurate assessment?

Mugabe: I think that’s accurate in some ways. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again—‘Hitler had only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold.’ That said, I’m not aiming for complete world domination right now. I’m old, so I’m just trying to live out the last years of my life in peace while helping the citizens of my dominion.

TNT: You have a prosperous and thriving country to run, so we’ll let you get back to leading your nation wisely. Thank you for your time.

Mugabe: Thank you! It’s been a pleasure.

Quick Hints For Success: Ideas For Your Daily Regime(n)!

1. State Media Rules!

All media outlets should fall under your direct jurisdiction. If people complain, remind them that government-regulated media ensures quality control. If they keep whining, imprison them.

2. You Are The Decider.
Everything good in your country is a result of your wisdom. Everything bad stems back to The United States and ruthless Western imperialism.

3. Steal a Nuke

Negotiating is easier when you have WMDs. If you can’t get weapons technology from China (, try North Korea. The NK Weapons Office is open M-F 9-5 Korean Standard Time. Contact them at (850) 686-7439. Or email Kim directly at

North Korea-1, Democracies-0

In a move TNT can only describe as masterful, Kim Jong-Il and his dedicated group of scientists successfully launched a 3-stage rocket into orbit on April 5, 2009. Although international critics derided the launch, calling it “brinkmanship” and “propaganda”, and brazenly insisting the rocket never went into orbit, we know the truth. Our Beloved Leader calls the rocket “a striking demonstration,” noting that North Korea’s “scientists and technicians developed both the multistage carrier rocket and the satellite with their own wisdom and technology 100 percent and accurately put the satellite into orbit at one go” (see Korean News Online for full details). Yet another success from one of the model tyrants of our times. Congratulations, General Secretary.


janae said...

I love it! So hilarious. Especially Hope no one takes this seriously! :)

Cara and Barry said...

Okay, first of all, I'm not very politically minded. Though I love your art and your humor, I had doubts about this endeavor when it came to entertaining me (and that's obviously the goal, right?) But I stand corrected (actually, I sit corrected). I found it quite amusing and often hilarious. And it was well-written, in that those who don't know too much about politics (aka- me) can still completely understand and appreciate the humor. So bravo my good man.

Cara and Barry said...

Oh, and I wanted to say...the length seemed daunting at first, but once I started, I was shocked when I finished at how fast I read it. I guess it was amusing enough it didn't seem long at all. That was meant as a compliment. Sorry if it didn't come out sounding that way. Sometimes I suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome.

Cara and Barry said...

As long as I'm on this crazy commenting rampage I might as well add that I loved the illustrations that went along with the narrative. Very, very amusing. :)

Sam Ricks said...

Thanks so much for the comments, Cara! I was wary about posting these all at once, but I felt they didn't really work as stand-alone posts. It made for a long blog post, but I hoped it'd be funny enough to work.

And I totally understood the compliment. As you may have read recently, I have my own foot-in-mouth problems. :)