News / USA

Political Cartoonists Worried About Future

The pen may be mightier than the sword, and editorial cartoonists have skewered many a politician with one.  But with the newspaper industry shrinking, it is getting harder to make a living doing it.

Some of the best cartoonists from around the United States gathered in the nation's capital recently for the annual meeting of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

In the 1990s, there were several-hundred staff cartoonists working at American newspapers.  "Now it's down to somewhere closer to 60," said Jimmy Margulies, who draws for The Record of northern New Jersey.

He says what's being lost is a form of commentary that is more blunt and to the point than editorials.  "This is more like pinning someone down, and in its simplicity bringing out some essential truths that are not directly stated in other forms of opinion writing," Margulies said.

But Chip Bok, who used to work for the Akron Beacon Journal and now has his own website Bokbluster was optimistic.

"Times are tough for the old idea of cartoonists, but all kinds of other things have opened up," he said.  "And editorial cartoons, all cartoons, are more popular than ever.  You see them all over the Internet.  The problem now is figuring out how to get paid."


Despite their worries, cartoonists are having a field day making fun of the candidates in the U.S. presidential election.  "I love drawing Obama," said Bok.  "He's got the ears," the cartoonist added, drawing a pair each nearly as large as the presidents head, "and an incredibly skinny neck and body."

Bok noted that Romney is often drawn as a robot, a commentary on the candidate's difficulties in connecting with ordinary Americans as well as a parody of his square-ish facial features.  "He's got kind of a heavy brow and bushy eyebrows and the big chin," Bok said, wistfully recalling the fun he had with the chin of former President Bill Clinton.

Matt Wuerker of Politico.com says often the best presidential ticket to caricature is the one he did not vote for.  "Eight years of George Bush and [Dick] Cheney, it was hog heaven!  It was tough on the world, but for cartoonists, it was great."

Wuerker invited a VOA reporter and cameraman to Politico to watch him drawing a cartoon, an exaggeratedly square-jawed version of Romney as the notoriously out-of-touch French queen, Marie Antoinette "That 47 percent?  Let them eat cake," the Romney character says in the cartoon.  It was a reference to the real Romney's secretly videotaped remarks, telling wealthy donors that he wouldn't try to win the votes of that percentage of Americans, who he said depend on government aid.

Wuerker uses india ink and vivid water colors and follows the style of 19th century cartoonists Thomas Nast and Joseph Keppler.  "It's a little contrarian on my part," he said. "There are a lot of cartoonists who are enamored with digital tools.  You can draw on Cintiq tablets, even iPads, and color things in with Photoshop. But there's a smoothness, and a uniformity about that kind of stuff that make all those cartoons look the same."

Wuerker believes cartoonists will survive the crisis, and he jokingly borrows what he describes as a Romney metaphor.  "Cartoonists are basically opportunistic parasites," Wuerker said.  "We've survived on the backs of newspapers for a couple centuries, and it worked really, really well.  But the old dog is dying, and so we have to jump onto something new."

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid