News Newsletter Syndicate

Annual State of the State of Cartooning Address

This excellent address comes from my cartoonist buddy, David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. –Daryl

During the second World War, British cartoonist David Low was despised by Hitler because he relentlessly refuted the lies broadcast by the Nazi propaganda machine with every stark cartoon. We’re a long way from the age in which internationally applauded cartoonists such as Sir David Low were knighted for their heroic defense of liberty.

When I opened my annual trade journal, The American Association of Editorial Cartoonists Notebook, the bell tolled for my profession, page by page, cartoonist by cartoonist. This year our annual AAEC convention will convene in Ottawa, Ontario, with our Canadian colleagues because our numbers are so small we could meet in an abandoned Fotomat kiosk.

Political cartoonist Bruce Plante called me from Oklahoma when his paper, the Tulsa World, had just been acquired by Lee Enterprises. Needing reassurance I told him, “Lee values cartoonists.” When we began our careers four decades ago there were hundreds of us. Today there are 25 newspaper editorial cartoonists left drawing truth to power in the United States.

A lot of giants have been kicked to the curb. After winning the Pulitzer, Mike Keefe was laid off from the Denver Post. Pulitzer winner Steve Benson was laid off last year from the Arizona Republic. The Houston Chronicle, Knoxville News Sentinel and Indianapolis Star summarily jettisoned their beloved veteran cartoonists Nick Anderson, Charlie Daniel and Gary Varvel.

Most troubling, Rob Rogers, the popular political cartoonist of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was fired by a pro-Trump editor who replaced him with Steve Kelley, a cartoonist who once informed me the most oppressed group in America was white men. Rob relies on syndication and Patreon online subscription patrons to get by.

Scott Stantis has a pseudo-freelance arrangement with his Chicago Tribune. Pat Bagley’s Salt Lake Tribune miraculously survives because it’s owned by a nonprofit corporation. Jack Ohman’s Sacramento Bee is part of the McClatchy chain, which just filed for bankruptcy. My friend and Tucson resident, Chris Britt, formerly of the Illinois State Journal-Register and News Tribune of Tacoma, transitioned to creating children’s books to supplement his syndication earnings.

Syndication is no longer reliable career insurance. Luckily, I’m syndicated to over 700 sites worldwide by Cagle Cartoons. In my AAEC Notebook, Daryl Cagle notes that newspaper chains are consolidating their editorial staffs into one central staff that generates cookie-cutter editorials for the entire chain, adding, “Newspapers are shutting down editorial page staffs faster than they are dropping editorial pages.”

When I was a kid I didn’t listen when the Master Sergeant sarcastically encouraged me to consider a backup plan.

“Doing what?”

“Carving gargoyles. See all the cathedrals in the want ads — hiring stone masons? Your odds of finding work are just as bright, Sunshine.”

I’m glad I didn’t listen. I got lucky. I drew in the last century during the Golden Age of Print and my luck continued through this century’s turbulent transition to digital. These days when young cartoonists ask me for career advice I tell them, “Learn to carve gargoyles.”

It’s impossible for cartoonists to keep up with today’s relentless whirlwind of news. By the time we’ve inked, scanned and uploaded our cartoons our subject’s been eclipsed by 12 new scandals. By the time we upload our hand-rendered cartoon it’s been preceded online by a multitude of memes and YouTube rants; not to mention overshadowed by the comic observers of late night TV. We can see why the producer of “This American Life,” Ira Glass, derided editorial cartooning as “a 17th century medium.”

Ironically, practitioners of our dissed and slowly dying 17th century art form are still sufficiently feared by tyrants to get killed, imprisoned or banished in this darkening century. To the benefit of tyrannies too many regions have become news deserts.

Too many citizens are now completely dependent on the internet for their news, a treacherous cyberswamp teeming with toxic lies and divisive disinformation. The radical right’s war to sow mistrust of the critical mainstream media, which began in the ’70s, along with the rise of Limbaugh, and the billionaire-funded right-wing propaganda mills like Fox, coupled with algorithm-driven cybermanipulation, have all been effective at rendering our citizenry ill-informed and factionalized — two outcomes fatal to democratic republics.

Undaunted by these challenges this “fake news peddler” and “obscene excuse for a mudslinging hack” is proud to be in the honorable company of those persistent resisters labeled the “Enemy of the People” by fascist despots.

Legend has it that David Low had designs for an underground shelter behind his modest London home into which he had placed supplies, a drawing board and a printing press. If his beloved nation were to fall to Nazi occupation, Low had plans to smuggle his family out of the country while he would remain behind, in hiding, churning out anti-fascist cartoons and spreading sedition until his home land was free.

My kind of cartoonist.

See more cartoons by Dave Fitzsimmons.

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Blog Syndicate

Nicaragua Horrors

Pedro Molina has been an editorial cartoonist in Nicaragua for more than 20 years. A crackdown by Nicaragua’s President, Daniel Ortega, threatens Pedro and other journalists who dare report the truth about the brutal regime. I asked my friend Pedro to write a column about the situation for us. – Daryl Cagle

Cartoonists often complain that politicians are unfair competition because they can be crazier than our cartoons. This is particularly true in Nicaragua, where I live and work as a cartoonist.

We have a government formed by a married couple: President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo. The only time they venture out of “El Carmen,” their private housing complex, is for ceremonial events that are covered by most television and radio media in the country, which, by the way, they own.

Despite calling themselves “socialist revolutionaries,” the Ortega family are actually multimillionaires (thanks to Venezuela’s oil business) with a special taste for things like Mercedes Benz cars, Rolex watches and caviar. Our first lady, Murillo, the most extravagant of the duo, has filled the country with huge ridiculous metal “trees” she calls “Trees of Life” at the price of $ 25,000 each; we have hundreds of them! In the second poorest country in Latin America!

As you can imagine, Nicaragua was a cartooning paradise, with lots of potentially funny material for political cartoonists like me … until April 18 of this year.

After several years of suffering electoral frauds, curtailment of rights, selective repression, attempts to censor the internet and mismanagement of environmental disasters, the last straw was the enactment of the country’s social security law that curtails the rights of current and future pensioners.

Protests began timidly in a country where protests, however small, are crushed by mobs like the JS-19 (a paramilitary arm of the government) and the police. This time, the killing of college students made peaceful protests spread like a wildfire. Dozens were killed while Ortega’s wife, in the style of George Orwell’s Big Brother, referred to war as “peace” and violence as “love.”

Protests and killings continued. May 30 is national Mother’s Day in Nicaragua. People took to the streets to honor the mothers of all the victims of the repression since last April (numbering 86 dead at that time). The Mother’s Day march became the biggest public demonstration against this government, ending when the paramilitary and police forces of Ortega and Murillo opened fire against the crowd. It was a massacre.

At the time I write this, the number of protesters killed by the regime since April 18 is over 146. It is clear that Ortega and his wife, after 11 years in power, will not resign by their own will.

There are brutal regimes around that world, why should Americans care about Nicaragua?

In early June, Nicaraguans were expecting the General Assembly of the Organization of American States to deliver an energetic condemnation about the massacre conducted by Ortega’s goons. Surprisingly, we learned that the Ortega regime and the Trump administration made some type of agreement on a softer statement, avoiding the stronger condemnation that was needed and expected.

The question is why. Why is president Trump doing favors for a thug like Ortega? Is this another favor from Trump to Ortega’s comrade, Vladimir Putin? Is it because Trump identifies with an egomaniac that clings to power no matter what? Is it in exchange for support from Ortega against Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela?

There are many questions, but few answers.

I hope these questions find a way into Americans’ hearts and minds. Why is Trump aligned with a genocidal leader like Ortega? Congress is discussing Nicaragua now, and readers can take action to help us stop the killings. Please call your representatives in Congress and urge them to care about Nicaragua. Why? Because of our shared humanity; or perhaps because instability in Central America could mean many more immigrants trying to get into the USA soon. Please call your congressman and spread the word that what is happening in Nicaragua is NOT a war; this is an armed state murdering unarmed citizens.

– Pedro Molina, editorial cartoonist, Nicaragua


Two Cartoonist Legends Pass Away

So sad to see this on the National Cartoonists Society’s (NCS) Facebook page.
13645272_1162221397133070_7943833285429169531_nBoth Jack Davis and Richard Thompson are among the best cartoonists ever. I met them both through the NCS. I grew up with Jack’s brilliant artwork in Mad Magazine; he was a special influence on my own work and a charming gentleman.

The NCS and the world lost 2 cartooning legends today: Jack Davis and Richard Thompson.

Jack was born in 1924, and after his first freelance drawing gig at age 12, went on to become one of the greatest and most respected cartoonists of all time. He leaves behind his loving wife Dena, and a world lessened by the loss of a legend. Jack won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 2000.

13692874_1162221407133069_35823026488229291_oRichard Thompson, in addition to being a successful humorous illustrator for The Washington Post, created one of the most admired newspaper comic strips of the late 20th century, Cul de Sac. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease , and soon after had no choice but to retire the strip. Richard was given the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 2011.


American Response to the Charlie Hebdo Tragedy

American Response to the Charlie Hebdo Tragedy © Daryl Cagle,,Charlie Hebdo, terrorism, killing, France, Paris, cartoonists, cartoon, Stéphane Charbonnier, Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous, media, television, TV, news, cartoonist, pundits, fox news, can, msnbc, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Ft Lauderdale, Obama, president, community colleges, st louis spurs, basketball, sports


American Response to the Charlie Hebdo Tragedy

American Response to the Charlie Hebdo Tragedy © Daryl Cagle,,Charlie Hebdo,terrorism,killing,France,Paris,cartoonists,cartoon,Stéphane Charbonnier,Charb,Cabu,Wolinski,Tignous,media,television,TV,news,cartoonist,pundits,fox news,can,msnbc,Los Angeles Times,Wall Street Journal,New York Times,Florida Sun-Sentinel,Fort Lauderdale,Ft Lauderdale,Obama,president,community colleges, st louis spurs,basketball,sports


Freedom of Expression

158580 600 Freedom of Expression cartoons


Charlie Hebdo TV Pundits

158510 600 Charlie Hebdo TV Pundits cartoons


The Media and Red Lines

158487 600 The Media and Red Lines cartoons

Blog Columns

France, Cartoonists and Murder

I woke up this morning to the news of the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo Magazine office in Paris. Twelve people were killed and eleven wounded, including two of my French cartoonist friends, Tignous and Wolinski. Cartoonists around the world are grieving.

Americans treat editorial cartoons as a trivial daily joke in the newspaper – in France, editorial cartoons and loved and respected. The Louvre has a branch museum devoted to cartoons; imagine if the Smithsonian had a cartoon museum, that’s the way cartoons are revered in France.

My new editor.


“Charlie Hebdo” is a silly name; it is a weekly magazine filled with editorial cartoons, easily found on news stands everywhere in France. “Hebdo” means “weekly” in French, and “Charlie” comes from France’s love for the comic strip “Peanuts” and Charlie Brown – therefore “Charlie Hebdo.” The top cartoonists in France vie to be on the pages of Charlie Hebdo.

There are cartoon festivals all over France – the best one for political cartoonists is in the small town of St Just le Martel; I’ve been attending for years, along with other cartoonists I syndicate. The townspeople pitch in to throw a festival for the editorial cartoonists every year; villagers put cartoonists up in their homes, and they award a live cow to the “Humor Vache” cartoonist of the year. One greatly respected winner of the cow was Georges Wolinski, a brilliant cartoonist with a masterful loose, swishy, wordy style, highly respected by the French. We were fellow cow winners, having a beer together last October; it is hard to imagine that he is gone.

The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are a diverse group of charming characters; they are the heart of the French cartooning community. There are not a lot of editorial cartoonists. We get to know each other; the murders are a blow that strikes close to all of us.
The Charlie Hebdo artists were energized and incensed by the Danish Muhammad cartoon fracas a few years ago. French cartoonists have a macho attitude, seeing themselves on the front lines of a free speech debate. One Charlie Hebdo issue, touted as “edited by the Profit Muhammad” had all blank pages. One Charlie Hebdo cover featured a drawing, by French cartoonist “Luz” of the magazine’s publisher/cartoonist “Charb” having a sloppy kiss with a Muslim Man, under the headline “L’Amour plus for que la haine” or “love is stronger than hate.” Charb was among those killed in the terror attack.

Terrorists have no sense of humor. Cartoons loom large in the Arab world, typically on the front pages of Arab language newspapers. It is no wonder that our cartoons seem to bother the terrorists more than our words. Sitting behind a beer with Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, the talk often turns to Islamic extremeists and their assaults on press freedoms. No one can doubt that editorial cartoonists are leading the fight for press freedoms now.

Today we are are grieving, but as we move forward, I hope that our cartoons won’t be chilled by these murders and that the cartooning community will step up to this challenge with even more brilliant and insightful work – I’m sure the French cartoonists will do that; they are my heroes.


Spineless Despots Don’t Like Cartoons

As incredible as it might seem for a modern European democracy, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico is suing for an apology and €33,000 ($43,000.00) for a political cartoon, drawn by Martin “Shooty” Sutovec for the SME Daily newspaper, that mocked the Prime Minister’s health by suggesting he didn’t have a backbone.

Editorial cartoons are the best measure of a country’s freedom; cartoonists are barred from drawing their leaders in many countries around the world. Lawsuits from insulted politicians like Fico are typical in authoritarian regimes that claim to have a free press but can’t bear criticism. The government in Algeria claims to have a free press while officials often sue editorial cartoonists in civil court –- a common practice in Arab countries. It is disappointing to see third world style repression in an EU country like Slovakia, which should have higher standards.

In his offending cartoon, Shooty has drawn Prime Minister Fico seated in a doctor’s office. The doctor, after examining an x-ray, which shows Fico’s skeleton with no neck or spine, says to Fico, “I knew it! Your spine can’t possibly hurt because you don’t have a backbone.” Cartoons that accuse politicians of “having no backbone” are universal.

In his lawsuit against Shooty and his publisher, the prime minister stated that while he was suffering unbearable physical pain, the SME daily was misusing his image and mocking his suffering, which harmed his dignity and reputation.

Eliza Young, a spokesperson for Freedom House, an NGO that monitors press freedom around the world said, “The case against Martin ‘Shooty’ Sutovec is one of many inappropriate cases that have been brought against the Slovak media in the past year and represents a wider trend of intimidation of the press by political elites. Not only has the prime minister filed several lawsuits, but the Chairman of the Supreme Court has harassed publishers and a radio station, demanding out-of-court settlements of up to €200,000 ($286,000). The courts’ inclination to rule in favor of politicians in many cases is worrying, and we fear that the extreme fines associated with these charges will lead to increased self-censorship by Slovakia’s journalists. In a democratic society, a journalist’s first loyalty should be to its citizens, not its politicians.”

Slovakia’s Fico, who clings to his communist roots, often sues the media for libel and has been awarded substantial compensatory damages. In 2009, Fico was awarded €92,000 in damages for various libel claims against the press, including €66,000 in a case where a newspaper was unable to prove that Fico had called two journalists “dirty bastards”.

Editorial cartoonists in America are given broad protections allowing them to ridicule public figures. By choosing to become a public figure, American politicians give up their right to sue cartoonists. I drew President Clinton as the character in the “Operation” game at the time of his heart surgery. One of our syndicated cartoonists, Monte Wolverton, drew an anal-interior view of President George W. Bush after a colonoscopy revealed five small polyp growths in Bush’s colon –- cartoons lampooning our leaders’ health issues are common fare in American editorial cartoons.

Being subject to public scrutiny and potential ridicule should be a part of the job for public officials in the civilized world – especially when it comes to spineless despots, like Fico.


See more of Shooty’s cartoons here:’t-like-cartoons/

Caption for the cartoon:

This is the cartoon that offended the Slovakian Prime Minister. Martin “Shooty” Sutovec’s cartoons are syndicated to about half of America’s daily newspapers, including this newspaper.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Daryl’s cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading now. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.