Monday, August 17, 2009

Now Let Us Praise Editorial Cartoonists

One of the small pleasures of blogging is sifting among the many editorial cartoons available online and sharing them with you.

The operative word is indeed
small, because if Kiko's House was bigger and more widely read, lawyers for those cartoonists, or at least their newspapers and syndicates, would squash me like a bug for unauthorized reproduction.

Editorial cartooning has a long and (dis)honorable history beginning with Thomas Nast, (above) who invented the Republican elephant en route to skewering Boss Tweed and other corrupt politicians of mid-19th century America. Guess what the derivation of the word nasty is? Correct.

Meanwhile, back in the here and now, I cannot recall a time when there were more first-rate editorial cartoonists, including my good friend Signe Wilkinson (left), the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. But to take nothing away from Signe, whose cartoons appear here regularly, Pat Oliphant (below, right) is in a league of his own.

Oliphant has a distinctive and sometimes controversial style (because of some of his ethnic characterizations, including Condi Rice) and a trenchant sense of humor and truthfulness as can be seen in the Cheney-themed cartoons in the post above. His trademark is a small penguin character named Punk (below, left) who makes sarcastic comments about the subjects of the panels, and has an occasional sidekick, Socks the cat of Clinton White House fame.

This Australian transplant and I have some history, which I hope his lawyers appreciate if they ever come after moi.

Oliphant's cartoons -- unusual for the time because they were drawn in an horizontal and not square or vertical format that was the norm -- were syndicated in 1965. A couple of years later, they were made available free of charge to college newspapers, and as the editorial director and then editor of mine, I ran him regularly.

And still do. Thank you, Pat. And Punk.

1 comment:

chamblee54 said...

I have heard the firm Conde-Nast referred to as Condescending Nasty. When I saw your mention of Mr. Nast, I wondered where the magazine mongers got their name. Alas, google failed me in this. Do you know anything about this?