My brilliant cartoonist/journalist daughter, Susie Cagle writes today about her work and one of her most popular stories for The Guardian newspaper. Please visit Susie’s page on Patreon to support her and cartoon journalism. From Susie …
For the last year, I was the West Coast climate and environment reporter at the Guardian. It was an unusual mix for a staff position at a news outlet, allowing me to do both traditional written journalism as well as cartoons. My first piece for them was a huge comic exploring the massive amount of plastic waste humans have created.
This comic was exceptionally successful — shared around the world, translated into at least five languages and used in education programs in at least three countries (as far as I know). The Guardian chose it as one of their top stories from 2019.
But it’s the kind of story that’s rarely able to exist, because of the journalism industry’s constraints and expectations. Comics journalism is super popular, but also super labor intensive and super time-consuming. Even the editors most enthusiastic about this still emerging medium often don’t totally understand just how much effort it takes to do two jobs, as both reporter and illustrator. Outlets are reluctant to spend much on cartoons — and even less on comics journalism.
Now that I’m working as a freelancer again, support from readers through Patreon bolsters my ability to keep doing these kinds of projects. Thanks for learning more about my work, and I hope you’ll consider becoming a patron! Susie Cagle
I’d like to introduce everyone to my brilliant cartoonist/journalist daughter, Susie Cagle. Unlike the cartoons that everyone is used to seeing on Cagle.com, Susie’s work is non-fiction; she does original reporting in cartoons.
Cartoon journalism is still pretty rare, but it is very effective, especially for making dry topics more interesting and adding some feeling and humanity to stories where text falls flat. And as photojournalism has been made more difficult in our current strange circumstances, cartoon journalism works even when access is difficult. I’d love to see publishers embrace more reporting through cartoons.
Susie freelances from her home in Oakland, California for many major publishers. Here are links to more reporting gems that Susie did for The Nation, WNYC in New York, The Guardian newspaper and another one for The Nation. She’s busy while she’s sheltering in place and I’m delighted to write that she’s expecting a baby boy in November, who will be my first grandchild.
Bell’s cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was killed, prompting Bell’s mass email. The cartoon depicts British Labour Party deputy secretary, Tom Watson as an “antisemite finder general” calling Netanyahu an “antisemitic trope.”
“Last June, (Bell) emailed all journalists to say he felt “unfairly traduced and censored” after the paper would not run his cartoon of Theresa May meeting Benjamin Netanyahu while Palestinian Razan al-Najjar, who had been shot and killed by an Israeli soldier, burned in the fireplace behind.”
‘He accused Guardian editor Kath Viner of not speaking to him because she “did not really have an argument” for spiking the cartoon.”
“I suspect the real cause is it contravenes some mysterious editorial line that has been drawn around the subject of antisemitism and the infernal subject of antisemitic tropes.”
“In some ways this is even more worrying than the specious charges of antisemitism. Does the Guardian no longer tolerate content that runs counter to its editorial line?”
Here is the complete text of the letter that Bell wrote to The Guardian’s “Head of Features” Kira Cochrane, and forwarded as a mass email to all of The Guardian’s staff journalists:
After our bizarre telephone conversation yesterday, I feared you might not publish today’s strip, but still cannot understand why the attached should be more liable to legal challenge from Tom Watson than either of the previous two strips that you have already published. You said the ‘lawyers were concerned’, but what about? It’s not antisemitic, nor is it libellous, even though it includes a caricature of Binyamin Netanyahu. If Watson chose to object he would make himself look far sillier than he does in the cartoon.
I suspect that the real problem is that it contravenes some mysterious editorial line that has been drawn around the subject of antisemitism and the infernal subject of ‘antisemitic tropes’. In some ways this is even more worrying for me than specious charges of antisemitism. Does the Guardian no longer tolerate content that counters its editorial line?
Why in today’s paper has the Guardian published a highly partisan and personally insulting (to the leader of the Labour Party) advert on page 20 that uses the Labour Party logo, but is clearly not a Labour Party approved advert? I would have thought that there would be far more reason to expect a legal challenge on that than on my my cartoon. Or is it that you don’t want to offend poor Tom but are quite happy to offend poor Jeremy?
Why on earth did the Guardian publish, then unpublish, a letter in support of Chris Williamson signed by 100 persons identifying themselves as Jewish, including Noam Chomsky? Were they the wrong kind of Jews. The paper’s contortions on this subject do not do it any credit. If there is a reasoned position on this highly contentious issue, then I would dearly love to see it laid out clearly so we all know where we stand. Or are there some subjects that we just can’t touch?