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My One-Day Career as a Courtroom Artist

Our CagleCartoonist, Bob Englehart writes more about his cool career. Support Bob on Patreon,  See Bob’s Cartoon Archive, E-mail Bob

Sept. 19, 1975, I was hunched over my drawing board in my office at the Journal Herald in Dayton, Ohio, trying to come up with an idea for a political cartoon on a slow news day when Managing Editor Bill Worth charged into my office and said, “Glatt’s been shot. They’re going to arraign him in a few minutes at the Federal Building. Get over there and draw the shooter when they bring him into the courtroom.” Who? Oh, right, Dr. Charles A. Glatt Dayton’s federally appointed desegregation manager.

I was at the paper less than a month, my first full-time job as a political cartoonist. I barely knew where the bathroom was. Everything was new to me, the paper, the newsroom, the city and busing. Dayton was under a court order to desegregate its schools and busing was the federal plan. My family was in the process of moving from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to Centerville, a suburb south of Dayton. Neither the city of Ft. Wayne, nor Centerville was busing school children. This was all new to America and almost every white person I knew hated it.

“Right,” I said. “Where’s the Federal Building?”

“Next door,” said Worth.

I grabbed my sketchpad and a black Prismacolor pencil and followed the reporters. It took only minutes to get there.

The courtroom was dimly lit and empty except for the press and the judge. The shooting had just happened down the hall in Glatt’s office. The door opened and the murderer entered, flanked by several marshals and a lawyer. My heart was racing. I’ve never seen a murderer in the flesh before. I had only seconds to get his likeness. I’ve never even been in a courtroom before and now – it was “look, see, draw.” I had maybe four seconds from when I saw the defendant in profile to when he turned his back to me to face the judge. His image is stamped on my brain. I captured his likeness in an instant and the next morning, my drawing was on the front page.

The guy turned out to be serial killer, Neal Bradley Long, a filling station attendant. He shot Glatt four times with a handgun and later was found guilty of killing Glatt and four black people in the area over the past few years. The hubbub surrounding busing in Dayton quieted down after that. A new desegregation manager was appointed, busing continued, magnet schools were organized and the community schools were integrated. Long was tried, convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms while white people fled to the suburbs. Dayton ended the busing program 25 years later.

Most of my forty years in the newspaper business were filled with habitual rituals, creative challenges, daily deadlines and plenty of laughs. They tend to run together in a very long timeline, but some days stand out, like Sept. 19, 1975, the first of many more to come.


Bob Englehart is a freelance cartoonist and his cartoons are syndicated by Cagle Cartoons.

Read Bob’s other posts:

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

The Birth of a Political Cartoonist

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Blog Newsletter Syndicate

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.

See Bob’s cartoon archive.

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Mike Pence in Trump’s Shadow

There is a great tradition of drawing politicians as doggies in political cartoons. Last night the new Republican VP nominee, Mike Pence, gave his acceptance speech at the GOP convention, and here is the cartoon I drew yesterday. trumpPence750

See me draw this one in real time in the video below …

And see me color this one in Photoshop, in real time. I suggest you choose the option to watch these YouTube videos at double speed.

My brilliant cartoonist buddy. Taylor Jones, has been drawing some nice Pence doggies. Here are three I enjoyed!

Here Taylor has Pence as a little doggie. I’m not quite sure why Trump is drooling, or why Eric Trump is goose-stepping, but, whatever.

182112_600That’s Taylor’s Ivanka and puppy Pence at the right. Maybe little Pence doggies will be the political cartooning norm going forward. I look forward to that.



Blog Syndicate

Cruz and Kasich Team Up to Topple Trump

Cruz and Kasich have decided not to compete against each other so that they don’t split up the “stop-Trump” vote in the remaining states.

I think Trump gets a spray tan, and covers his eyes, making for little white areas around his eyes. I suppose he could have a farmers tan and wears sunglasses when he’s outside, but I lean towards the spray tan theory. I’ve gotten criticized by some readers who complain that I don’t draw Trump flesh tone orange enough. In fact, I’ve been using the same old flesh tone for Trump that I have been using for other characters in the cartoons. With this cartoon I made a change to Trump’s flesh tone.  Should I stick with it? Is he orange enough? Should I go back to flesh tone normalcy with Trump?

Check out the video below to watch me draw this cartoon in real time.

in the next video I color the cartoon in Photoshop.