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Gabe / on Wed, Nov 19 2003 at 11:50 pm

Political Cartoons

You might remember a while ago I flipped out and made a long rant about how political cartoonists are the scum of the earth or something. Well one of the gentlemen I spoke about happened to see my post and had this to say:

Gabe,

Obviously the years have fuzzied-up some important points of your memory of what I actually shared with you and your classmates.

Contrary to what you remember, my job is not TO piss people off.

I said, my job is to produce cartoons THAT piss people off. Specifically meaning, editorial cartoonists exaggerate their pro feelings about the issue they are drawing about; while at the same time completely ignoring the con side of the argument. Readers and editors get ‘pissed off’ because they believe that since the cartoon appears in their newspaper that both sides of an issue should be positively portrayed. More importantly readers get pissed off because they don’t like seeing their side of the issue ignored or ridiculed. They want the cartoon to be funny WITHOUT ridiculing anybody with only their personal beliefs portrayed positively.

Editors reject the cartoons they don’t like and readers call and write the editor. The cartoonist wants to hold onto their job with hopes that somehow the no-win situation will improve. After awhile the cartoonist’s main criteria is no-longer to produce a cartoon THAT(exaggerates AND ignores) pisses off readers but evolves into anything that will get by the editor. The editor that has been beaten down (continually challenged about their past acceptance of quality cartoons) by readers and their own publisher. Continually bland commentary is the product of an editor and cartoonist who are both working in an environment of self-censorship.

In the past, publishers worked very hard to protect their employees from the chilling affect of self-censorship. With newspapers becoming a monopoly and no-longer having to compete; publishers have turned 180 and have embraced the bland products of self-censorship.

This is getting to be more info than you need so I’ll just add that the Magic Johnson cartoon wasn’t a killed cartoon. It ran, hell, it was a safe subject….and it was a VERY bland cartoon. Simply illustrated/addressed the news item. The cartoon really didn’t take a position like it should have…..like it the way Horsey does so well.

Another point, the very fact that we are discussing Dave Horsey’s cartoon proves the obvious quality of his commentary. Gamers are going to be PISSED-OFF with his cartoon because Dave completely ignored anything and everything positive about video games. He exaggerated his personal view of the video gaming industry to make a point and to provoke people to discuss this issue.

Take care and BEST,

Milt

 

It’s always nice when you refer to someone’s life’s work as bland and uninspired and then they send you a nice letter that makes you feel like sort of an ass. Here is the letter I sent back to Milt:

 

Milt,

I guess it was almost ten years ago now that I visited your office. For some reason I remembered you showing me a drawer with some cartoons that I thought you told me never ran. I guess I was way off. I’ll go ahead and post your letter and let people know I had things mixed up.

I remember very clearly though you making the distinction between drawing cartoons TO piss people off and drawing cartoons THAT piss people off. I thought that was very interesting. I’m pretty sure I actually said that in the rant also. I believe I said you told me it was your job to produce cartoons that piss people off. I probably could have clarified that a bit more with some of the back story.

I honestly never think about political cartoons until they touch on a subject I care about. Being that I’m a card carrying member of generation X there isn’t a whole heck of a lot I do care about. I certainly never get fired up over politics or ecological issues which are essentially the meat and potatoes of your business. However as soon as they start attacking my precious video games I get angry. Obviously Horsey’s cartoon struck a nerve. The fact that I don’t care about 99% of his work is more a comment on my own apathy than anything else. My rant was just a way to vent my frustrations at a media and general public that seems intent on criminalizing my favorite past time. It was sort of a straw vs. camels back situation and I snapped.

 

If you’re interested in checking out some of Milt’s work be sure and hit his web site. He has this one cartoon with a picture of a boat only the boat says America on it and then there is this bear only the bear is like supposed to be Russia and I think the bear is trying to get on the boat or something….Hmmm… I can’t really remember the rest now, anyway it was super funny and you should Just go check it out.

-Gabe out


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