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Birth Of A Political Cartoonist

This cartoonist memory is from my buddy, the great Bob Englehart! Support Bob on Patreon –Daryl


It was a warm October day in 1962. I was a sophomore at South Side High School in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, excelling in art class, in other subjects, not so much. I was on the staff of the school newspaper as a cartoonist and illustrator. My goals in life were to be an illustrator like Norman Rockwell, or have my own commercial art studio in my hometown, or to be an advertising agency art director and make $10,000 a year. This was 1962. Ten grand was big money.

I would get married, buy a house, have two children and a beautiful wife, drive a new car and, with any luck, be a millionaire by the time I was forty.  Everything was going my way. Then, President John F. Kennedy told the nation that Russia had put nuclear armed ballistic missiles in Cuba and we’d have a nuclear war if they didn’t remove them. What?

I was completely blindsided. My parents subscribed to two newspapers, the Democratic morning one and the evening Republican. I read them both, but I only read the comics page and the sports page. I wasn’t even sure of the name of the Russian leader. Nikita who? The only Russians I knew of were Boris and Natasha on “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Suddenly, my world went up in a ball of radioactive fire.

I was glued to TV news and the newspapers and when I wasn’t, I was painting apocalyptic paintings of skeletons running through a burning landscape of mushroom clouds. All my hopes and dreams were going up in radioactive smoke. A ship was steaming to Cuba loaded with more missiles. Kennedy told Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev to turn around or they would be blown out of the water. The Russians were not backing down and were making threats. I was frantic. My school had been having air raid drills since I was in Kindergarten. There was a huge air raid siren behind my house that went off every Wednesday at noon, so loud it shook the floor. This is what we’d been training for –this crisis.

Then, on the thirteenth day of the confrontation, the ships turned around and headed back to Russia, after Kennedy made a secret deal, but from that day forward I vowed never to be blindsided again. I started reading the news pages. I learned the names of the leaders at home and abroad. I learned the countries, the issues and the threats. I read the political cartoons, mostly those by Bill Mauldin, who I understood. Herblock and a local cartoonist were regulars in the papers but they didn’t inspire me. Their cartoons were too serious and preachy. Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” made more sense to me than most of the art on the editorial page. Then, when I was in art school, Pat Oliphant came along and made political cartooning look fun.

I saw a way that I could do my very small part to defeat the Communist Soviet Union threat and be paid for my effort. I started drawing freelance political cartoons for the morning paper, found a job as a full-time political cartoonist in Dayton, Ohio and after five years there, moved to Hartford, Connecticut and The Courant.

In November of 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union collapsed. I told the president of the L. A. Times News Service that I’d accomplished my goal, that Russia had been defeated and that I was going to leave political cartooning. He talked me out of it, saying there will be more demons to vanquish. He was right, of course. All I have to do is read today’s news, but I’d accomplished what I wanted in the beginning. Everything since then is a bonus.

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Bob’s Crazy, Viral, Pirate Weekend

This was a crazy, viral, pirate weekend for cartoonist Bob Englehart of the Hartford Courant. We syndicate Bob’s cartoons.

We found out about the crazy-popular pirated cartoon when we started getting media inquiries about the viral image with about 200,000 shares on Facebook. CBS’s Face the Nation and ABC’s Good Morning America wanted permission to run the cartoon. We told everyone “no.” CNN wouldn’t take “no” for an answer; after we refused their request, they went to our automated site and purchased the original cartoon, then showed it on Sunday morning along with the pirate version.

Read my posts from Facebook about the crazy viral weekend, and see the two versions of the cartoon below (the pirate version is at the bottom of the page.)

Bob’s original cartoon.


My first Facebook post on this:

Shame on you, SPLC.

I’m usually a fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center, but they are lawyers and they should know better than to steal and alter copyrighted works.

This cartoon is stolen from cartoonist Bob Englehart of the Hartford Courant, who we represent at Bob’s signature and attribution have been crudely removed from the third panel, and the last two panels with the rainbow flag were added by SPLC or another copyright pirate.

Interestingly, the “CAGLECARTOONS.COM” URL at the bottom left was also added and didn’t exist in the original cartoon, which can be seen here: – where the SPLC could have purchased permission to post the cartoon for $20.00.

If they had asked nicely, we probably would have allowed the SPLC to run the cartoon for free, without alteration. Or they could have posted this John Darkow cartoon with the same message as the altered/pirated Englehart image:

I’ve reported the copyright infringement to Facebook. The cartoon should be removed from the SPLC page and over 180,000 Facebook sites that have shared the altered/pirated cartoon.

Now, I’m back to my drawing board where I’m working on my own cartoons celebrating the Marriage Equality ruling and the renewed opposition to the Confederate Battle Flag.

Your hearts are usually in the right place, SPLC – but artists’ work should be respected.


My second Facebook post:

The SPLC posted the statement below on their Facebook page, along with the original Bob Englehart cartoon. Bob and the Hartford Courant are graciously not asking that over 190,000 shares be removed.

That said, perhaps I am nit-picking, but I find the SPLC’s description of “the problem” to be troubling. The SPLC writes,”The problem? Well, we got the credit wrong. And the cartoon was modified from its original form.” They did more than get the credit wrong, they took a cartoon they found on Twitter and posted it without attribution or permission, making no effort to figure out who the artist was.

This is the attitude I see everywhere on the Web, where little respect is given to artists. I see lots of accolades posted on the SPLC page for making their correction, but I think the correction falls short. Perhaps I’m not as gracious and Bob, Bob’s editors at the Hartford Courant, and all the commenters on the SPLC page.

This is all everyday stuff for editorial cartoonists – what makes this case interesting is the stunning 190,000+ shares. In most cases where editorial cartoons are altered without permission, the changed cartoon is made into hate speech, or at least an opinion opposed to the original cartoon, and the altered cartoon is seen by few people. Removing Bob’s signature and attribution shows the intent of the pirate that the creator of the original work not be recognized (recognition of the original creator is a requirement for a “transformative” work to qualify as “fair use.”)

Here, the changed cartoon reflects a point of view that Bob agrees with, and the SPLC is a respectable group. I suppose that makes this easier for Bob and his editors to swallow. I withdrew my own demand that Bob’s cartoon be removed from Facebook at Bob’s editor’s request.

And Bob is, in fact, quite a gracious guy. As is his editor.



SPLC’s Post:

On Friday, we posted a cartoon that seemed to perfectly encapsulate a tremendously emotional week. Five panels depicting the Confederate battle flag going down a flag pole, representing the political conversation following the horrific events in Charleston, South Carolina, and a rainbow (LGBT pride) flag going up in its place, representing the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law of the land.

And did it resonate. At this moment, the post has nearly 260,000 Likes and over 190,000 shares.

The problem? Well, we got the credit wrong. And the cartoon was modified from its original form.

On Sunday we learned that the first three panels of the Confederate flag going down was the work of Hartford Courant editorial cartoonist Bob Englehart, who originally posted it on June 22nd (see here:

Someone had added the last two panels of the rainbow flag being raised. In doing so, they removed the original caption “Going…going…gone” and, even worse, deleted Mr. Engelhart’s signature, which also included the date and the Hartford Courant copyright.
We screwed up. We found the image on Twitter and credited the editorial cartoon syndicate Cagle Cartoons, which appeared in the doctored cartoon.

Thankfully for us, an editor at the Hartford Courant generously asked that we only correct the record here, which we were eager to do.

In sum: We apologize to Mr. Englehart and his colleagues at the Hartford Courant. Everyone here who liked that post should go over and check out his work. If that cartoon resonated, you’ll be pleased to know Mr. Englehart publishes multiple times a week.

– SPLC digital team

The pirate cartoon is below.

The pirated, altered version of Bob’s cartoon.