I love the bromance cartoons with Trump and Putin. Here’s my newest one.
I love the bromance cartoons with Trump and Putin. Here’s my newest one.
Pundits like to complain that there are few voices from the Islamic world that condemn terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists. I run a small business that distributes editorial cartoons from around the world. With every major attack, including the recent attacks in Paris, I see a chorus of cartoons from Arab countries condemning the terror. The pundits must not be looking at the cartoons.
Editorial cartoonists are typically the most influential voices in newspapers throughout the Middle East, reflecting the views of their readers. Newspapers remain important in everyday life in the Middle East. Editorial cartoons grace the front pages throughout the Middle East. Arabic language cartoonists are typically anti-American and anti-Semitic, but on issues of terrorism they are largely voices of reason.
I often hear politicians complain about how the war with Islamic extremists is a battle for hearts and minds and we need to step up our role in an information war that we are losing. Editorial cartoons could be a weapon on the
front lines of that battle. By now Americans should see how powerful cartoons can be; clearly the terrorists see this, as cartoonists are among their primary targets. It is difficult for Americans to comprehend that editorial cartoons are important and effective in the Middle East because we view cartoons as trivial jokes, leading us to miss many opportunities.
Until recently, the US State Department had programs that brought American cartoonists on speaking tours to the Middle East to meet their colleagues, and had reciprocal programs to bring Arabic language editorial cartoonists to America. The programs sought to spread common values to countries where persecuted and influential cartoonists typically are barred from drawing their own presidents. These effective State Department speaking programs for editorial cartoonists were dropped at the time of the “sequester” budget cuts. USAID supported journalism education initiatives in the Middle East ignore and exclude cartoonists.
As international respect for America has plummeted, respect for many of our institutions still runs high. American cartoonists are respected around the world, like American jazz musicians and basketball players. Middle Eastern cartoonists are eager to have their work appreciated by American readers and by the star American cartoonists who they respect and emulate. The Arab cartoonists push back against the press restrictions imposed by their regimes and envy America’s press freedoms.
Every act of terror brings new recruits to the Islamic extremists in ISIS; they seek glory, selling an image of bravery, striking back against the arrogant infidels in the West. Brandishing a gun demands a kind of respect. Fighting for religious values, no matter how twisted, demands a kind of respect. ISIS craves respect; what they can’t bear is ridicule. Islamic extremists who are widely seen as the butts of jokes won’t find many eager converts.
Cartoonists are masters of disrespect and are a continuing threat to the Islamic extremists. It is no surprise that editorial cartoonists are prime targets for terror. Along with other web sites around the world, my own editorial cartoon Web site, Cagle.com, is suffering hacker attacks that appear to originate with terrorists and despotic regimes who fear cartoons. Terrorists and despots have a weakness in common; they can’t take a joke.
America needs to wake up, deploy and support the world’s best soldiers in the modern information war, American cartoonists.
This weekend President Obama claimed that he is already doing most of the things that his political opponents demand in the war with ISIS; he called on his critics to contribute new and constructive ideas on what should be done. My recommendation is inexpensive and powerful: bring back and greatly expand the State Department’s shuttered editorial cartoon programs around the world.
I don’t quite understand the Hillary e-mail scandal. There was no law against her using her own e-mail at the time she did it. She had her own e-mail server and 50,000+ emails, but I also have my own e-mail server and 50,000+emails, so it doesn’t seem so strange to me. And if she hadn’t had her own server, all of her emails would Surely have been stolen and revealed by Edward Snowden, so in retrospect, it seems prudent. Much ado about nothing, I think.
E-mail is always a great topic for cartoons.
I’ve been thinking of updating the Hillary-general cartoon below to add an e-mail medal, and take out the stale medals about 2008 election news that everyone has forgotten (like “Michigan” and “Florida”). I drew this one when the daily pundit babble was about Hillary claiming she would make a much better commander in chief, compared to Obama.
I suspect Hillary would have been much more of a hawk than Obama, and would have gotten us much more mixed-up into the middle East muddle. If I had to choose between Hillary and goofy Rand Paul, I think I would vote for Rand Paul, just because I trust that he really don’t want our military meddling around the globe.
I remember back in 2007 there was a scandal about Karl Rove deleting his emails while he worked at the White House. Pundit hacks like Rove benefit from our short memories, as they attack Hillary now.
Here I sit in my new Nashville, Tennessee apartment, trying out a new restaurant for every meal, and finally drawing cartoons. I finished my second cartoon in Nashville today – a busy, crowd scene cartoon about Obama and foreign aid to Egypt. Here is my rough pencil sketch.
I drew this first with a light, hard, #5 pencil to get the people in the crowd into the right composition, so they are interacting with each other, have expressive body language, their faces aren’t obscured, the feet and arms are on right … all those details need to be thought through for each figure; better to do it in a sketch than on the fly in in finished art. The line art is below. I debated whether to go with just line for the black and white version that most people see in the newspaper.
Here is the gray-scale version. I thought it read a bit better with tone. I do the gray-scale separately. It isn’t just a gray version of the color cartoon.
I usually avoid doing crowd scenes. When I was an illustrator, I used to do a lot of crowd scenes. I think art directors would sit in a brainstorming meeting and come up with a list of too many things that they needed to put in an ad – so they would call a cartoonist to jam it all into one piece of art. Cartoonists get these jobs because the lists are too long, so the art has to be crazy. In fact, crowd scenes are usually not very effective compositions. The most effective compositions show powerful character and expression, which is better done with large figures and faces. With too many little figures in a crowd, the power of the expressions and body language are lost to tiny details. That said, I hate to admit that sometimes a concept calls for a crowd scene.
Here’s the color cartoon …
This one suffers from low resolution on the web, and will look much better in print, with crisp lines and texture in the tiny characters. Here is a detail.
One funny thing about cartoon crowd scenes; when readers send me unsolicited ideas for cartoons, the ideas are almost always for crowd scenes. The reader wants to say so much in his cartoon idea, that he comes up with a list of junk to include, just like the sloppy advertising art directors. Some ideas I get start with, “draw an army on the left, and another army on the right …” or the reader will write, “fill the sky with helicopters …” Not only am I too lazy for this, all the tiny details would be ineffective in the composition, and the cartoon would be lousy. For people who think in words, not images, these list-cartoons make perfect sense; to cartoonists, they are nonsense.
The previous cartoon is another Egypt/Arab Spring drawing. Here’s the rough pencil sketch. Notice that I drew Obama too low and made a note to move him up. I make lots of mistakes. Mistakes are easy to fix. Better to make lots of mistakes and have no fear of mistakes – at least in cartoons. I wouldn’t give that advice to my dentist.
Here is the line art version that most people will see in the newspapers. No gray version for this one. I like to keep them as line art if possible – there is something more elegant about not having to rely on tone.
And here is the color …
This cartoon is similar to one I drew a week earlier, with Obama and the Republicans. I like the yellow ochre texture background for dirty fighting scenes.
Obama doesn’t actually wear pinstripe suits. He wears plain black and blue suits, which are no fun to draw. So I take some artistic license. This recent Detroit-in-the-toilet cartoon also uses the yellow ochre, grungy theme that I’m fond of right now.
Another recent one I neglected to post is this one about the chilly relations with Russia – not much of a cartoon, just an illustration of chilly relations.
Sorry, with the move to Nashville I’ve fallen behind. I’ll catch up soon.
Nashville is starting to grow on me. I’ll get used to it soon – when it cools off and the humidity goes down.