Blog Newsletter Syndicate

I Owe My Cartooning to the Moon

This column is by the brilliant cartoonist for the Omaha World-Herald, Jeff Koterba –Daryl

As a kid growing up in the 1960s I loved drawing and the idea of space travel. My earliest memory—at age two or three—is of me holding a blue, Bic pen and scribbling away on sheets of paper. I also recall pretending that my drawing instruments were rockets, my hand guiding them through our house, orbiting the furniture

All throughout grade school, I had two goals: I wanted to become an artist and an astronaut. But was I that unusual? Don’t most kids love to draw until they’re told that doing something creative is no way to make a living? Likewise, in the years leading up to the first Moon landing, weren’t lots of kids excited by the space program? After all, coverage of the space program was everywhere.

In those days, the three networks would break into programming to show live coverage of the various rocket launches. My dad would stay home from work and call me in sick to school so we could watch together.

Watching those massive Saturn V rockets roar from the Earth with such grace was, in itself, a work of art, their contrails on the sky like drawings.

At school I was shy, lacking confidence. I loved to draw, and occasionally my sketches of rockets landed on the bulletin board of my grade school classrooms. But mostly, I kept my art to myself, drawings hidden away on sheets of paper tucked into textbooks and under my bed.

I also grew up with stories of my Uncle Ed. A syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard and later, the Washington Post, my uncle covered the early days of the space program and the Kennedy administration.

Sadly, he was killed in a plane crash shortly after I was born so I never got to meet him. Mourned by Kennedy during a televised press conference, my dad kept the memory of his brother’s journalism alive with stories of his globetrotting adventures and his love of space. Including how my uncle once interviewed Wernher von Braun, father of the Saturn V rocket.

I can only imagine what Uncle Ed might have written that fateful day when Neil Armstrong first dipped his boot into the lunar dust.

Throughout childhood and beyond, I kept sketching rockets and astronauts. I wouldn’t realize it until many years later, but my pens and pencils carried a heavy payload. Those early drawings were an outpouring of my deep desire to follow my heart—whether artist or astronaut—and also in some way, to keep my uncle’s memory alive.

Anything worth doing, anything new and different and daring, begins with a dream, a spark of inspiration. President Kennedy’ famous “We choose to go to the Moon” speech was just the spark needed to send humans to the lunar surface.

At the time, the concept of sending humans to the Moon was beyond the scope of anything anyone had ever done. It seemed to be the biggest challenge ever suggested in the history of the world. The concept was utterly breathtaking.

If not for that speech, it’s difficult to imagine that the U.S. would have landed Apollo 11 on the lunar surface 50 years ago this month.

I’m also convinced that Kennedy’s speech, and NASA’s space program, ignited within me the confidence to purse my dreams. If an idea so daring, so impossible, as landing humans on the Moon could become reality, was it so far-fetched that I, too, could pursue my love of cartoons?

Over time, I would realize that becoming an astronaut wasn’t for me. Becoming a cartoonist, however, was truly what I was meant to do on this earth.

Just as I did that summer fifty years ago, I now continue to gaze into the night sky, the Moon and stars reminding me that I was called to explore blank sheets of paper, the contrails of my pencils and pens making images that I hope engage readers. Maybe even sparking a new way of seeing the world.

Jeffrey Koterba’s award-winning cartoons are distributed by Cagle Cartoons. In 2010, two of his original drawings flew aboard space shuttle Discovery. Jeff wrote a memoir titled Inklings.  In his TEDx talk Jeff discusses the link between Tourette Syndrome, vulnerability, and creativity.  E-mail Jeff.

Read more by Jeff on our site:

Why Does the New York Times Keep Breaking My Heart?

Please support us to keep free and keep the endangered editorial cartoons coming! Visit!  We need your support!



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.

Here’s are Bob’s most recent cartoons on …

Support Bob on Patreon

Blog Featured

Santorum feeds hungry Republicans

Here’s my newest cartoon about everyone’s favorite birth control warrior, former Pennsylvania Senator and Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum (view more Rick Santorum cartoons here). For a man who not afraid to tell voters what’s on his mind (no matter how looney), Santorum now regrets saying he wanted to “throw up” after watching John F. Kennedy’s speech to Baptist ministers in Houston in 1960.

Just for the record, here’s what Kennedy said in his speech:

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

Wow, Kennedy didn’t want The Pope to control American politics. Harsh.

You see, Santorum wanted to hurl because despite what our Constitution says, he doesn’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.

“The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country,” Santorum said on Sunday.