Hebdo Miscellany

Yes, it has been more than a week since I have drawn a new cartoon. There’s too much on my plate, sorry; I’m trying to keep up. Here are some recent miscellaneous items.

My cartoonist-journalist daughter, Susie, posted this excellent column about Facebook and other tech companies and their hypocritical “support” for cartoonists and press freedom issues.

I just read that the national cartoon museum in Belgium cancelled their Charlie Hebdo tribute exhibit at the last minute, after it had already been installed and before it was open to the public, because of security concerns. That is sad.

This is the current view of the front entry of the cartoon museum in St Just le Martel, France, where they are currently installing our Charlie Hebdo cartoons exhibit.


From left to right, Gerard Vandenbroucke, convention president, Georges Wolinski, who was murdered at the Charlie Hebdo offices, cartoonist “Aurel” who won the cow the year before me, and me. Happier times only last October

Want to read my Charlie Hebdo column in French? Here it is.

My business phone call voice mails go to a voice recognition line where I get an email of the phone message in text. I thought I would share this one that just came in, for a taste of what my typical phone calls are like …

“Hi my name is XXX XXXXX. I’m not sure how far you guys go your political cartoons but here’s a couple of ideas present Obama sitting on the toilet reading the Koran with the US Constitution roll of toilet paper. President Obama on the golf course with a bunch of crucified Chris’s son-of-fair-fairway(?) in the stadium quote the Bible says just play through the only Christians or grant(?) a baby close to the dj(?) and he walking out the door is away-but(?) I had a busy going you-recipe(?) and have a little Obama has-members-because(?) because he’s leaving. So just some food for thought food for thought. Thanks.”

My French cartoonist friend, Coco, posted this cartoon to social media. She was injured in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

An update on our hacker attacks, they are continuing, but we have up and relatively stable. Every so often we’re still going down, or we have some odd tech problem that crops up, we appreciate your patience.

Below is a cartoon I drew a while ago that has found new life in social media recently, with the incessant drum banging from Fox News over terrorism recently. With the economy in good shape I expect that fear mongering over terrorism and ISIS will dominate the upcoming Republican presidential primary fight.



Too Many Cartoonists Too Little Time

Too Many Cartoonists, Too Little Time

Whenever cartoonists get together we complain about syndicates (the businesses that sell our cartoons to newspapers). Cartoonists are no businessmen — we want syndicates to be like mothers to us, selflessly nurturing our careers so we don’t have to sully our minds with yucky business thoughts, when we’d rather be thinking about cartoons. But syndicates don’t act like mothers, and cartoonists have some very colorful names for the syndicate executives who sell their work – in fact, some of these colorful names include the word “mother.”

In addition to being a political cartoonist myself, I run a small syndicate that specializes in editorial cartoons; I see that there must be one thousand aspiring cartoonists for every working professional, as I’m deluged with unsolicited submissions that are truly awful. At times like this, when people are passionate about politics, the inner political cartoonist emerges from the psyche of the talentless “wannabe.”

Many wannabe cartoonists recognize that they have no drawing talent, but it seems that everyone thinks they are a writer. I get many submissions from writers who are looking to collaborate with editorial cartoonists. These writers want to send me gags, or want to find cartoonists who will draw their gags. Here is a typical gag submission:

“So, we have President Bush standing there, and he says, ‘Things are improving in Iraq’ and behind him you see two massive armies, the Shiites and the Sunnis, about to fight each other, and the sky is filled with thousands of U.S. helicopters, then, in the next panel …”

These are people who think in words, not pictures. For some reason, this group of wannabes includes lots of lawyers who think they are funny. I think lawyers are funny, but I laugh at-them, not with-them; and it is a dark humor that makes me want to go take a shower afterwards. These guys just don’t get it. The cartoon writers often send obvious or trite gags that they think are brilliant and original. Sometimes the writers follow up with angry mail when they notice that another cartoonist has “stolen” their gag.

The second group of wannabes do their own drawings, but can’t see how truly awful their drawings are. These guys like to use computer fonts in their cartoons instead of hand lettering. Often they will use clip art in their cartoons, or lift photographs from the web, or they will use simple objects like squares and circles, and then have these objects making comments in speech balloons. These wannabes frequently don’t know how to work their scanner and will send murky gray images that show crinkled paper backgrounds from the napkins they drew their cartoons on.

One thing aspiring editorial cartoonists have in common is paranoia. I get inquiries like this: “I’m really funny and I have some great ideas, but I need to know how to get them copyrighted first so you won’t steal them.”

I have a notice on our syndicate web site that that says: “We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.” Often the submissions come in with a note saying, “I know you don’t accept submissions, but …”

Ambitious aspiring cartoonists see syndicates as gatekeepers, guarding a barrier to the success they deserve. Sometimes the passion and perseverance of these wannabes can be frightening. They find my home phone number and my home address. Drive and perseverance in the face of adversity is a virtue, so their quest never ends.

Some horrid amateur cartoonists are convinced that the world of professional cartooning is a closed shop, an old-boy’s network where success is a matter of who you know. Wannabes try to be friendly with my employees or cartoonist colleagues, hoping that the relationship will get them past the barrier. Many terrible submissions are forwarded to me by friends.

When I was an aspiring cartoonist I thought the syndicates were arrogant for sending form-letter responses, or for ignoring submissions – but now I understand why. For many wannabes, any response is an invitation to argue. The aspirants are convinced that their work is great and anyone who doesn’t “get it” needs educating. Giving a polite brush-off sometimes fuels their anger.

Ironically, editorial cartooning is a terrible business. Newspapers pay only a few dollars a week for packaged groups of talented cartoonists who are, in turn, poorly paid. The professionals compete for fewer and fewer staff cartoonist positions at papers that are cutting back, as the internet crushes print. More and more professional cartoonists can’t make ends meet. The syndicates aren’t really a barrier to success for the aspiring cartoonists, just a hurdle on the road to more frustration in a dying profession.

My profession is fading away, I’m poorly paid and there are thousands of rude, talentless wannabes who want my job … but Britney Spears shaved her head – at least the life of a professional editorial cartoonist has its little pleasures.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 800 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His books “The BIG Book of Bush Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Editions,” are available in bookstores now.

Copyright 2007 Cagle Cartoons Inc. Please contact Sales at [email protected] for reproduction rights.


The New York Times and Cartoons

Last week The New York Times ran one of my cartoons. The cartoon showed three kids on a couch with their laptops and iPods, one says, “Check out Saddam hanging. Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.” The next one says, “He’s so dead.” The third one says, “Let’s look again at Britney Spears with no underwear.” The caption reads, “The death of newspapers.” It is a cartoon that plays well with newspaper editors who are obsessed with the crass, unedited Internet that is destroying their business.

The Times ran my cartoon in their weekly round-up of editorial cartoons where they edit the cartoons to remove the artist’s signature and attribution. Typically, the Times will print the artist’s name and attribution alongside the cartoon, as with the two cartoons above mine where the artist, his newspaper and syndicate are credited. But in my case, only my name is given, no credit is given to, my publication of record, which was erased from my cartoon and omitted from my attribution.

Although it is traditional for a cartoonist to sign his work and include his publication name in his signature, some newspapers object to any mention of a Web site in a cartoon, or in a syndicated column; the concern is that mentioning a Web site is like giving the cartoonist or writer a free advertisement. The Times wouldn’t be concerned about their readers picking up a copy of The Columbus Dispatch, so an advertisement for another newspaper doesn’t carry much value, but a mention of might send readers to a serious competitor. This is ironic, given the subject matter of my cartoon. By itself, the cartoon is funny, but suggesting that the cartoon came from a Web site – particularly, whose audience dwarfs the New York Times – that might just be too painful for the Times to acknowledge.

The Times calls their weekly cartoon round-up “Laugh Lines,” a title that doesn’t sit well with editorial cartoonists who consider themselves to be graphic columnists. Like columnists, cartoonists are sometimes funny; sometimes we want the reader to wince; sometimes we want to bring a tear to the eye. Some of the most famous cartoons are serious cartoons. We all drew the Statue of Liberty weeping after 9/11. Bill Mauldin famously drew the statue of Lincoln weeping after the assassination of President Kennedy. But don’t expect to see a poignant cartoon running in The New York Times under the title “Laugh Lines.” Many cartoonists decry the trivialization of our profession by editors who choose to reprint cartoons that are soft little jokes. Serious cartoons are not so popular with timid editors who want to avoid offending anyone. We call this phenomenon “Newsweekification” because of the funny, inoffensive, trivial cartoons that Newsweek chooses to run each week – just like the Times. The secret to becoming a popular editorial cartoonist is to be funny and not express an opinion.

The New York Times reprints syndicated cartoons on Sundays, but hasn’t had its own editorial cartoonist since the 1950s. More and more newspapers are doing without staff cartoonists as our profession slowly dies. Top newspapers without cartoonists include the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. There are two famous quotes, attributed to “the editor of The New York Times,” (although I’m not quite sure just who actually said these). The first is: “We would never have an editorial cartoonist at the Times because we would never give so much power to one man.” The second quote: “We would never have an editorial cartoonist at the Times because you can’t edit a cartoonist like you can a columnist.” (He must have forgotten about how the Times edits the signatures and attributions of out the cartoons.)

A number of cartoonists e-mailed me this week with the same question, “Hey, Daryl, I saw your cartoon in the Times, how do I get my own cartoons in the Times?” I regret that the reality behind the big-time political cartooning business is a little disappointing. Here’s how it works: dozens of cartoonists around the world e-mail their cartoons to the Times and other “pay-per-use” newspapers who accept unsolicited submissions. It is the same thing with USA Today, send it in and if they run it, they pay $50 – but the Times is a little different. Instead of just paying $50, the Times doesn’t pay unless the cartoonist notices that they ran the cartoon and sends them an invoice. The Times doesn’t tell the cartoonist that they ran the cartoon and if they don’t receive an invoice, the Times saves the $50.

Suppose The New York Times dealt with McDonalds the same way they deal with cartoonists. The Times would say:

“Hey, McDonalds, I want you to deliver a hamburger to me every day; I may choose to eat it, and I may not. If I choose to eat the burger, I will pay you for it. If I don’t eat the burger, I won’t pay you. I’m not going to tell you if I eat a burger or not. If you want to get paid, you’ll have to see me eating the burger and then send me a bill, and the bill must tell me when you saw me eating the burger. I understand that you’ll have to watch me all the time to see if I’m eating one of your burgers, but that shouldn’t be a problem, because I’m very big and very interesting, and I expect you to be watching me all the time anyway. If you’re lucky, I might eat one or two of your burgers every year.”

There are about one thousand aspiring cartoonists for every one who actually makes a living as a professional editorial cartoonist. I’m sure that if the “wanna-be” cartoonists would actually look inside the editorial-cartoon-burger, to see how it is made, it would give them a belly ache – a $50, New York Times-sized belly ache.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 800 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His books “The BIG Book of Bush Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005, 2006 and 2007 Editions,” are available in bookstores now. Copyright 2007 Cagle Cartoons Inc. Please contact Sales at [email protected] for reproduction rights.


What’s In One Name?

What’s in One Name?

I’ve often thought that it would be great to have only one name, like cowboy gunslingers Paladin and Shane. Rock singers can be such superstars that they only require one name, like Madonna, Cher, Sting or Bono. One name is cool. My personal heroes are Lassie, Flipper, Shamu, Snoopy and Spartacus.

Great artists and composers are referred to by one name. Most people would be hard pressed to think of the full names of Michelangelo, Raphael, Monet, Degas, Rembrandt, Brahms, Bach or Beethoven – we think of them all by one name.

To be known by only one name implies success or infamy. We talk about “Hitler” more often than “Adolph Hitler.” “Walt Disney” became only “Disney.” After a slow start with “Mickey Mouse,” Disney went on to name more than 90 percent of his characters with a single name, from each of the seven dwarfs to Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo, Cinderella, Simba, Ariel and Aladdin. One name is so cool.

It’s not just the cartoon characters; the cartoonists themselves often go by single names. The top three editorial cartoonists in Canada are Cameron Cardow (“Cam” of the Ottawa Citizen), Thomas Boldt (“Tab” of the Calgary Sun) and Terry Mosher (“Aislin” of the Montreal Gazette). Around the globe cartoonists are expected to choose a single name. Usually the single name is the cartoonist’s last name; sometimes it is a combination of the artist’s names, like Mexico’s Antonio Neril Licon (“Nerilicon”). Thailand’s Stephane Peray is “Stephff.” Cuba’s top cartoonist is Aristedes Esteban Hernandez Guerrero, but his pen name is simply “Ares,” which is much easier to digest. Other top international cartoonists go by their first names only: Antonio, Pancho, Arcadio, Christo, Dario, Tayo, Petar, Olle – the list goes on and on.

Single names are less common among American cartoonists. The late, great Virgil Partch was known as “Vip.” Kevin Kallaugher, the former cartoonist for the Baltimore Sun, is “Kal.” Many American cartoonists sign their cartoons with their last name only, but we don’t call each other by our last names and we would expect attributions with our cartoons to list our full names. Many cartoonists, like me, put both their first name and last name into their signatures on their cartoons.

Going by one name is not always a matter of choice for a cartoonist. Newsweek magazine is known as a showcase for editorial cartoonists, and it is their policy never to mention a cartoonist’s first name. Newsweek takes the cartoonist’s signature out of his cartoon and prints the cartoonist’s last name in tiny type under the cartoon. In Newsweek, political cartoonists Larry Wright, Dick Wright and Don Wright would each be called, “Wright.” Editorial cartoonists Kirk Anderson and Nick Anderson are both “Anderson.”

Going by one name is cool, when it is a nickname, or when it is a name that someone chooses for himself. When somebody else chooses to call me by one name it shows disrespect, much in the way that a drill sergeant talks down to his troops in boot camp. I can’t imagine Newsweek referring to George Will’s column as being written by “Will.” Photographers and illustrators also get two names in Newsweek credits; only lowly cartoonists are limited to one name by Newsweek’s longstanding policy.

I suppose it is the nature of the profession for cartoonists. One name will have to suffice. We get no respect. (But what we do is cool.)

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 800 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His books “The BIG Book of Bush Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2006 Edition,” are available in bookstores now. Copyright 2006 Cagle Cartoons Inc. Please contact Sales at [email protected] for reproduction rights.


Cartoonists and Cockroaches

A column in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times starts off like this:

“POPE JOHN XXIII, or ‘Good Pope John,’ remains one of the most beloved figures in recent Catholic history. Among treasured memories of this kindly, roly-poly pope, perhaps none looms larger than the evening of Oct. 11, 1962, when he told a vast crowd on a moonlit night in St. Peter’s Square, ‘Go home tonight and give your children a kiss, and tell them that this kiss comes from the pope.’ When German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s stern doctrinal enforcer, was elected as Benedict XVI in April, an editorial cartoon in an Italian paper showed him looking at a similar crowd and saying, ‘Go home tonight and give your children a spanking, and tell them that this spanking comes from the pope.’

“In a nutshell, the cartoon captured many people’s expectations of Benedict XVI: a hard-line taskmaster who would bring liberals and dissenters in Roman Catholicism to heel.”

Speakers and columnists, like this one, often quote cartoons but seldom mention the name of the cartoonist. With this writer, one fourth of his column came from an uncredited cartoonist. (I think it is fitting that one fourth of my own column starts off with a quote from a writer whom I have chosen not to name.) Writers are almost always named when they are quoted, but cartoons seem to be mere anecdotes that deserve no attribution beyond, “I saw this cartoon …”

An unnamed op-ed page editor at the Los Angeles Times told me that he doesn’t like political cartoons because they tend to “overpower the words that surround them.” He went on to tell me that his two favorite cartoonists are Tom Toles and Ted Rall, two cartoonists with rudimentary drawing styles who put lots of words into their cartoons; this editor liked these cartoonists because they were “more like writers than artists.”

There seems to be a natural friction between the “picture people” and the “word people” who are troubled by those powerful pictures. A famously unnamed editor at The New York Times is quoted as saying, “We would never hire an editorial cartoonist at the Times, because we would never give so much power to one man.” Another unnamed New York Times editor is quoted as saying, “We don’t like editorial cartoons at the Times because you can’t edit a cartoon like you can edit words.”

Editors see cartoonists as “bomb throwers,” because cartoonists enjoy a different set of journalist ethics than writers. Cartoonists can put any words into the mouth of a public figure, whether those words were actual quotes or not. Cartoons make readers angry. A strong political cartoon generates much more mail from readers than the strongest words. Most editors are timid and want to avoid controversy; they choose to run syndicated cartoons that are unobjectionable gags about current topics. Cartoonists call this “Newsweekification” after the inoffensive, bland and opinionless – but funny – political cartoons that Newsweek magazine chooses to reprint each week, further trivializing political cartoons.

The power and effectiveness of political cartoons cause more and more newspapers to avoid cartoons. There are half as many editorial cartoonist jobs as there were 75 years ago. Of the biggest newspapers in America – The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune – none have political cartoonists on staff.

The newspaper industry often complains about a dwindling and aging readership as younger readers prefer to get their news through other media. The old-line “word people” lament that youngsters nowadays get their news from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.” In fact, most young people get their news from political cartoons. Every state in the United States has middle and high school students interpret an editorial cartoon as part of state-mandated testing. Teachers who must “teach to the test” include political cartoons in their classes. Students learn their current events through political cartoons and, ironically, most of the students see newspaper political cartoons on the Internet rather than on paper (visit The “word people” who run newspapers have “Newspapers In Education” programs to try to develop a younger readership, but when a stack of newspapers is dropped on a teacher’s doorstep once a week, there is usually only one political cartoon on the editorial page – not very useful to a teacher who only needs the newspaper to teach about editorial cartoons.

Perhaps in the future we’ll see this turn around, and see more columns like this one, where cartoonists’ names are mentioned and writers’ names are not; when that happens, I expect traditional newspapers will have long gone extinct. Just as the cockroach will continue to roam the Earth long after mankind has disappeared, political cartoonists will still be crawling out from dark corners long after the “word people” have killed off newspapers.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 800 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His books “The BIG Book of Bush Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005 Edition,” are available in bookstores now.