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Who is the Bad Cartoonist and does he matter?

The editorial cartooning community has been going through a season of discontent for many years and it seems that the pitch is only getting louder. If it’s not discussion of the gloom and doom of the newspaper industry, it’s the complaints about the book collections, who’s copying who and who’s pulling down the profession with mediocre work. On that last topic, an anonymous editorial cartoonist has created a blog called Bad Cartoonist who seeks to point out the less then stellar in the field. His posts have so far taken pot shots at cartoonists at every level of the profession – from the younger generation to the venerable Pulitzer Prize winners.

To better understand the purpose of the site, I invited him/her (most likely a him) to an interview. A phone interview was declined, but he agreed to an email interview. The following is the results of our email exchange.

Alan Gardner: What is the purpose of your site/Why did you start it up?

Bad Cartoonist: I’m really not sure. I guess I started it because I got pissed off because of all the crap I hear from other cartoonists about how our profession is dying and how someone else is to blame. There are some seriously talented cartoonists working right now. But there’s more detritus than anything else, a quick scan at caglepost.com will show you that. Someone has to say it so I guess it will be me. It’s our fault too. There, I feel better already.

I figured since we spend most of our time pointing out the hypocrisy of others it was about time someone point out our own. Kind of like ‘who watches the watchers’ isn’t it? Except without the superpowers. Or murder, or mass destruction. OK, bad analogy but the point holds true. We spend our time satirizing others so can’t we satirize ourselves?

A: Naturally, many cartoonists are going to be angry or resentful at your site or purpose. What do you say to them?

BC: I don’t know that too many will be that upset. They get worse in their inboxes everyday. If they do get upset then they might be in the wrong profession. It might be telling to see who gets upset about the things I say. You know your hitting the right spots when someone gets angry.

A: Why the anonymity?

BC: I wish I had a really good answer for this but, I don’t. It all boils down to the fact that there are things I want to say that piss people off and I would rather be able to say them without people knowing who I am. Political cartoonists are generally a kind lot – except for Paul Conrad, he’s a bona fide prick – and many of them are my friends. I’d like it to stay that way- except for the Conrad thing. We’ve all been waiting years for him to keel over.

Also, my shrink told me it would be cathartic.

A: Other than cathartic value, what impact do you hope or think your site will have OR maybe stated – because you’ve chosen to be anonymous, how much clout do you think you can actually wield for change? Why should anyone pay attention to you?

BC. I really haven’t given it that much thought. I don’t have enough of an ego to think that I will actually make any changes – heaven knows that insipd thought died years ago when I brought my first cartoon to my first editor. If I do anything it might be pointing out the things that no one else has had the guts to say yet. And do it with some real vitriol.

A: What do you think would happen to you if you were ever outed as the bad cartoonist?

BC: Let’s hope we never find out.

A. What is your interest in editorial cartooning?

BC: Waining. Day after day, my interest dies a little more.

A: Are you a published cartoonist?

BC: Does the Penny Saver count?

Short answer: Yes. You might have heard of me. I have won national awards. But that doesn’t mean much anymore. Journalism is in such a sorry state we’re giving ourselves awards every chance we get. Cindy Procious won a few for being married to Clay Bennett. I hear if you go to dinner with Steve Sack then you are automatically made a finalist for the Pulitzer. Matt Davies won a Pulitzer because the judges thought that he invented scribbling. Last years winners had praise heaped upon them because they used something called the internets.

A: Why not provide a site for outstanding examples of great cartooning?

BC: That’s a good question. The heart of the matter also lies in editorial cartooning. Why don’t we draw cartoons that make people feel good or are uplifting and kind? Because nobody would care. We laugh at cartoons when they have a fierce way of saying sometihng — whether or not we agree with it. The worst cartoons in the world are the ones that try to be funny for the sake of it. Give an me opinion or give me death. Besides, I’m not what you would call a touchy-feely kind of guy.

A: So you view your site as satire? – like the Comics Curmudgeon of editorial cartooning?

BC: I didn’t really set out to accomplish anything specific. I’m sure it will have it’s fair share of satire but, because of who I am and what I do, my opinion is going to be splashed all over the place.

A: What is your measuring stick for excellent cartooning?

BC: I think a cartoon has to do one of two things: make me laugh or make me think. If there is something in the way the cartoonist has done their work that gets in the way then it fails. If I don’t recognise a caricature,, it’s too cluttered, if the joke falls flat or it’s just so cliche’ that I don’t want to honor it with even the smallest of chuckles then, in my opinion, it’s a failure. Style is less important unless, of course, it gets in the way.

A: Who do you think should be the finalist for the Pulitzer this year?

BC: I love what Steve Sack has been doing. Sherrfius has done some nice things with his style and has a simple approach that works most of the time. I even like some of what Paul Combs has come up with. Clay Bennett is, as always, in a class by himself. Unfortunately, no one on God’s brown earth can get into the heads of those wacky judges who seem to come out of left field every year. A few days after we are done pouting about how it should have been us, we usually nod our heads in collective agreement.


Editor’s note: Reading the blog posts, you can tell this is definitely an insider. Will the editorial community receive this site as a Judas or a sympathetic whistle-blower? It might depend on who the “Bad Cartoonist” is. It’s a small, leaky community. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we know how’s behind this.

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
February/28/2008
@ 7:51 am

Well, there’s an old saying… 90% of everything is crap. Our industry is no different than any other, I suppose.

But this caught my attention as to the validity of his criticism:

A: What is your measuring stick for excellent cartooning?

BC: I think a cartoon has to do one of two things: make me laugh or make me think.

A good editorial cartoon, in my opinion, should make you laugh AND think. A good editorial cartoonist should strive to do both every day. If he or she can’t do both in one cartoon, then one should opt for think over laugh. After all, it’s called EDITORIAL cartooning. Unfortunately, the vast majority of so-called editorial cartoonists today go for the laugh instead making a point. While he vilifies Paul Conrad for being “a prick”, perhaps he would be better served to learn about the craft by studying Mr. Conrad’s work, regardless of his personality.

#2 J Read
February/28/2008
@ 7:59 am

Wow. There’s a part of me that’s fascinated by this, and another part that finds it pitiful. Won’t it be hilarious if it’s really Paul Conrad?

#3 Tom Heintjes
February/28/2008
@ 8:07 am

I would actually have a good deal of respect for him (?)–apart from the unnecessary ad hominem attacks–if he weren’t hiding behind anonymity. No industry should object to having mirror held up to itself. There are plenty of sites that approach cartooning positively, and there’s room for this guy too.

#4 Mike Lester
February/28/2008
@ 8:25 am

Criticism of Critics? Mad and brilliant.

#5 John Cole
February/28/2008
@ 8:55 am

The tone is bitchy and personal, suggesting someone furiously grinding an axe. But, hey – it’s your blog, BC. Rock on.

Regardless, it’s an occasionally amusing read and I fully expect to find my work excoriated soon. And that’s OK – many cartoonists I admire (Bagley, Trever and others) are zinged, and at least one he admires I generally have little use for. Funny things, taste and opinion.

(The best and funniest showcases for cartoon hackwork were the hilarious cliche sessions that Joel Pett and Jack Ohman used to stage at AAEC conventions.)

#6 Alan Jones
February/28/2008
@ 9:07 am

I’m glad for this site — someone needs to be bitchy and personal from an internal perspective and spread it to the wider world. We can simply ignore a rant, agree, or remain neutral, or otherwise react bitchy and personal in response, all valid. Beautiful. I kind of think of it as being at an industry party, and listening to one of the many side conversations taking place in the room — you take from it what you want.

#7 Wiley Miller
February/28/2008
@ 9:16 am

I can understand why he wants to do this anonymously, as knee-jerk reactions to his criticism will always be of a personal nature, attempting to kill (as in discredit) the messenger rather than deal with the message. But he undermines this objective, as pointed out above by Tom, with his own personal attacks. There is plenty of things to criticize about the state of editorial cartooning today without sinking to this level. What will make this worse is when that cloak of anonymity is removed, as it surely will one day. He would have been much better off doing this openly. And had he done so, perhaps he would have stuck more to issues instead of personal attacks. That just comes off as petty jealousy.

#8 Matt Bors
February/28/2008
@ 10:09 am

ooo, this is exciting!

I agree on the personal attacks on the blog. There’s so much horrid work and yahtzees that could be criticized, you don’t even need to go there. But hey, a lot of editorial cartoons are ad hominem attacks anyway.

#9 Mike Witmer
February/28/2008
@ 10:35 am

This kinda falls into that “he who lives in a glass house,” doesn’t it?

I actually agree with Wiley on this one. It would be much more effective without the personal vendettas.

#10 Stacy Curtis
February/28/2008
@ 10:43 am

Every one of those cartoonists put their name on their cartoons, this coward should have the balls to put his name on his blog.

#11 Stacy Curtis
February/28/2008
@ 10:44 am

Or her name on her blog.

#12 Lucas Turnbloom
February/28/2008
@ 10:46 am

That would totally be funny if it was Paul Conrad!

#13 Jeff Hawley
February/28/2008
@ 11:18 am

The mysterious and invisible Bad Cartoonist. Who could it be? Me, I see a disheveled, overweight guy. Older. Unshaven. Red suit. Drunk on egg nog. Ranting. Shaking furiously, like a bowl full of jelly, while scratching more names onto his ‘naughty’ list.

#14 ICANN Police
February/28/2008
@ 11:33 am

Whois Data Reminder Policy

At least annually, a registrar must present to the registrant the current Whois information, and remind the registrant that provision of false Whois information can be grounds for cancellation of their domain name registration. Registrants must review their Whois data, and make any corrections.

Registrant:
Bad Cartoonist
2221 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan, New York 10001
United States

Domain Name: BADCARTOONIST.COM
Created on: 30-Jan-08
Expires on: 31-Jan-09
Last Updated on: 14-Feb-08

Administrative Contact:
Cartoonist, Bad
2221 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan, New York 10001
United States
(800) 555-5555 Fax —

Technical Contact:
Cartoonist, Bad
2221 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan, New York 10001
United States
(800) 555-5555 Fax —

Domain servers in listed order:
NS1.WORDPRESS.COM
NS2.WORDPRESS.COM
NS3.WORDPRESS.COM

If any of the information above is inaccurate, you must correct it by visiting our website. (If your review indicates that all of the information above is accurate, you do not need to take any action.) Please remember that under the terms of your registration agreement, the provision of false Whois information can be grounds for cancellation of your domain name registration.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,
Your ICANN-Accredited Registrar

#15 Rich Diesslin
February/28/2008
@ 11:36 am

Alan, interesting that you feature a story about an anonymous cartoon critic but require our names on your blog. ;) Just saying … still I would have gone with the story too. Some call a critic that cannot replace the criticism with vision of the solution – only half a prophet. Being a blog one can choose to read it or not, and (s)he might be right about folks wanting to read only the negative, but often it’s simply just the easiest thing to do. I think Ted Rall was saying in a recent blog that pressures of deadline and quantity (and maybe discretion or censorship) often compromise a particular cartoon (and how he was seldom completely satisfied with a given cartoon), so I’m guessing you can pick even the best editorial cartoonist and rip some of their work some of the time. It’s seems largely destructive and pointless and why I probably won’t read his blog – ever. Per John Cole … opinion and taste!

#16 Mike Thompson
February/28/2008
@ 11:38 am

If you make your living ripping the lungs out of others, you forfeit the right to complain when the shoe is on the other foot. I checked the site out and I actually agreed with some of what he was saying about my own work ( Although my paper would never give me a new Mac; I’ve got the oldest one in the building).

What difference does it make if this is being done anonymously? And why would it matter? Considering that the subject is editorial cartooning, complaining about anonymity is a little like citing violations of Roberts Rules of Order during a barroom brawl.

If youâ??ve ever drawn a cartoon about a news story that is based on anonymous sources, then youâ??ve no right to complain.

Heâ??s right; we get worse every day in our e-mail inboxes. And Matt is also right about many editorial cartoons being personal attacks. If you draw editorial cartoons and don’t support the concept of free speech (with the obvious exceptions of libel and slander) then hang up your Micron pen.

This site is valuable in that it exposes us to a little of what we dish out in heapinâ?? spoonfuls every day. If you canâ??t take it, then find another profession.

#17 Darrin Bell
February/28/2008
@ 12:08 pm

In about five minutes, we’re going to see “Bad Blogger,” the site that critiques critics who critique critics. Then someone’s going to draw a cartoon about it all…

It’s a vicious, vicious circle.

#18 Ted Rall
February/28/2008
@ 12:33 pm

If anything, the Bad Cartoonist is too kind.

It’s funny, I was recently talking to a friend about the need for a blog devoted to pointing out shitty editorial cartoons. I don’t know who BC is, but (probably) he is awesome. (And he’ll still be awesome if and when he rips me a new one.)

Gotta nitpick, though, because that’s what cartoonists do: a simple approach does NOT work “most of the time.” It really hardly ever works at all. One of the big reasons so many retro cartoonists (the post-MacNelly metaphor genre) produce a lot of hack work is that they’re often trying to express complex ideas in a single panel. Most cartoonists can’t do it. (I sure can’t!) So they resort to tortured analogies and clichés. The best single-panel cartoonists can’t even express opinions; they merely illustrate the news.

Modern editorial cartoonists use multiple panels because they allow a little more room to explain ideas and draw analogies. If retro cartoonists were to start viewing single-panel work as merely one of several ways to express ideas, they’d break out of their structural rut.

#19 Lucas Turnbloom
February/28/2008
@ 12:35 pm

Dang, Ted. Well said.

#20 Jeff Darcy
February/28/2008
@ 12:48 pm

IF B.C. Ball-less Cowrad is going to rip on my work he’s going to have to pay for it like everyone else. @#$!head has post posted my work on his bitch and moan page without permission violating my papers copyright…..I’ll be sending a bill. – Jeff-pass the over used torch idea and cartoon invoice- Darcy

#21 TAB
February/28/2008
@ 12:52 pm

So there actually is a discussion about some anonymous whiner, with the odd cheer for the cranky slanderer thrown in… we’re a sad bunch of doorknobs.

#22 Rich Diesslin
February/28/2008
@ 1:08 pm

Good point Jeff, free speech doesn’t mean you can violate copyrights. Blogs and the internet think of course that everything is free and can be used for free. Even the Garfield without Garfield site.

I am really amused at the typo though – a ball-les cowrad … that’s a hoot.

Good point Darrin on the vicious circle – how true. Even Simon Cowell provides constructive criticism (in the guise of insults).

#23 Ted Rall
February/28/2008
@ 1:11 pm

Although “Fair Use” gets bandied around online as an all-purpose “excuse” for copyright violations, the truth is that the BC’s appropriation of copyrighted editorial cartoons qualifies as legal usage under the 1976 Copyright Act. The Act allows reproduction for “purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching…”

Generally speaking, I’m opposed to anonymity online. As everyone knows, I don’t lose much sleep if someone gets pissed off because of something I wrote. I wish the BC were the same, but hey–it’s the ideas that count here–and so far, he’s saying things that desperately need saying.

#24 John Cole
February/28/2008
@ 1:14 pm

BC = another blogger with an opinion.

So what else is new?

And Ted? The preening, I’ll-describe-the-ideal-“modern-cartoonist”-and-darned-if-he-doesn’t-sound-just-like-me act has worn thin. Single-panel cartoons just illustrate the news, you say? Well, I can’t think of a single multi-panel, wordy, altie cartoon in the past year that has delivered the wallop of a wordless, single-panel, stone-age Sherffius. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t think so.

#25 Ted Rall
February/28/2008
@ 1:26 pm

I’m not the ideal modern, or any other kind, of cartoonist. No one is harder on me than I am.

John: May I suggest that you read Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow and Big Fat Whale, just for starters.

#26 John Cole
February/28/2008
@ 1:38 pm

I read and enjoy them all, Ted, and stand by my comment, which is based on my OPINION and TASTES. There is nothing empirical to support that position. The same holds for you, BC or anyone else.

We’re all tough on our own work. My earliest post predicted that my own work would soon be excoriated. Considering that a lot of my stuff is in fact beneath contempt, I was being presumptuous.

#27 Alex Hallatt
February/28/2008
@ 1:44 pm

Ooh, the Perez Hilton of the editorial cartoon world!

The site has potential for getting some editorial cartoonists to raise their game, but not if it continues with more vitriol than passion. It is not nearly as funny as Comics Curmudgeon. CC doesn’t come off as bitter as this and reading between the lines you know he loves the industry.

#28 Matt Bors
February/28/2008
@ 1:46 pm

Not True, John. A study published last Fall in the Lancet showed that a Bolling packs “34% more wollop” than a Sherffius.

“The poll was conducted over January 1-3, 2007 with the 5,460 people who still subscribes to print newspapers. Many were dead or dying. There is a 3 percent margin of error.”

#29 Tom Spurgeon
February/28/2008
@ 1:50 pm

“Me, I see a disheveled, overweight guy. Older. Unshaven. Red suit. Drunk on egg nog. Ranting. Shaking furiously, like a bowl full of jelly, while scratching more names onto his â??naughtyâ?? list.”

No, that’s me.

#30 John Cole
February/28/2008
@ 1:53 pm

Snarf! Now THAT’s funny.

#31 Mike Witmer
February/28/2008
@ 1:55 pm

At the very least Bad Cartoonist is exposing editorial cartoonists to the world. There’s no such thing as bad publicity…unless you’re OJ.

#32 Lucas Turnbloom
February/28/2008
@ 1:58 pm

LOL, Nice Mike.

#33 Jeff Darcy
February/28/2008
@ 2:04 pm

Ted,
My bet is my paper’s lawyers will have a different take on usage and copyright law….So we’ll still be sending you that invoice-HA!

#34 Ted Rall
February/28/2008
@ 2:26 pm

You know, Jeff, there is a way you can keep your work off Bad Cartoonist. And it won’t incur any legal fees…

#35 Garey Mckee
February/28/2008
@ 3:15 pm

An instant classic! Mind numbingly brilliant!

#36 Brian Fairrington
February/28/2008
@ 3:31 pm

I am a big fan of criticism and industry hazing in the best of the old “Friars Club Roast” tradition. If you can’t take it then don’t dish it, and cartoonists need thick skins and the reality is that very few have them.
However, I think what most people find problematic about this new site is the anonymity of the web site creator. Why can’t they say this in public?
Perhaps it’s because it would open this individual up to a brutal round of criticism about their own work and therefore invalidate everything that they have stated about the work of others.
From the tone it is obvious what school of thought they come from and that narrows the candidate list down considerably.

#37 Neal Obermeyer
February/28/2008
@ 3:33 pm

So Jeff — you so badly don’t want your work to be criticized on BadCartoonist.com that you’re willing instead to be the guy who hid behind intellectual property and copyright law in order to force BadCartoonist.com to not criticize your cartoons?

Are you sure that’s going to be any better?

#38 Jeff Darcy
February/28/2008
@ 3:46 pm

Ted, you mean like draw and write like you and take cheap shots at 9/11 widows…is that how? No thanks, It would be a badge of honor to make it on there everyday instead. This blogger is a complete COWARD posing as a self annointed protector of the craft…how arrogant! It’s been suggested it doesn’t matter who it is..it’s his message. Here’s why it matters who the messenger is. In one blog he ripps several cartoonist ability to draw Hillary. Wouldn’t it be fair to see how he draws Hillary or anything,for that matter,to see if he’s in any position to be passing judgement? In this country when you’re put on trial you have a right to face you accuser. In another blog he ripps Chip Bok from head to toe. Chip works just south of me in Akron, I see his work almost everyday. So it’s no surprise to me that he’s up for top honors in Ohio’s AP again this year against the likes of Borgman,Peters,Stahler and Kirk. And since I’ve won the top honor in state against the same competition seven times I really don’t need validation from the Coward Bad Cartoonist or suggestions from you Ted, on how to keep off his site. The opinions I do care about is my readers. A week before I drew the castro cartoon the coward knocks…I drew castro in casket holding up a puppet journalist to a camera reporting on a Cuban exit poll….no cartoonist drew that up five days before….But guess which cartoon my readers liked better? It was the one bad cartoonist ripped. Further proof of how subjective opinions on cartoons can be. Want more? One on the cartoonist COWARD deems brilliant was offered to us in syndication, he was deemed lousy and a lesser known cartoonist was chosen…I could go on, but the Punk Coward isn’t worth anymore of my time.-Jeff Darcy

#39 Jeff Darcy
February/28/2008
@ 3:50 pm

Neal,
That was a Joke…guess it was little to dry. I know Bad cartoonist probably needs the money for his shrink bill

#40 Matt Bors
February/28/2008
@ 3:53 pm

“Wouldnâ??t it be fair to see how he draws Hillary or anything,for that matter,to see if heâ??s in any position to be passing judgement? In this country when youâ??re put on trial you have a right to face you accuser.”

First, I wish the person would step forward.

That said, Jeff, we criticize the way people govern day in and day out. Do we need to prove we could govern better before passing judgment on them? no. We’re in the business of ripping people to shreds. The Bad Cartoonist doesn’t have to draw better or be a brilliant cartoonist to make their point. They should just sign their name to their work.

#41 Justin Bilicki
February/28/2008
@ 4:24 pm

We are all critics. We criticize through images and take the credit for the good and the heat for the bad. For example, no response on this thread has been anonymous.

What I have to say is below.

If you can’t see the image, go to http://www.drawblood.blogspot.com and you can see it there.

Justin.

#42 josh shalek
February/28/2008
@ 4:25 pm

I want to second what Alex said…the Comics Curmudgeon is often biting in his criticism, but you know he’s actually stoked to read the comics in the morning.

Even with comics I don’t like, there’s always some part I find interesting or something I can learn from it. That’s the cool part of comics: it’s one person’s view, with all the inherent flaws and inconsistencies intact.

#43 Wiley Miller
February/28/2008
@ 4:33 pm

Back in the early 80’s, there was a piece by Pat Oliphant (I can’t remember if it was an interview or an article he wrote) where he really ripped the industry a new one, not holding back anything and naming names. His criticism was every bit as caustic and pointed as “bad cartoonist”. A few years later, Jules Fieffer was a lunch speaker at an AAEC convention in Washington D.C., and he too was very critical of the cartoonists at that time. He wasn’t as vitriolic a Oliphant, but just as pointed in his criticism.

The point is, criticism is not only warranted, it is needed. But the strength of such criticism comes from the validity of the source of the criticism. While the rebuke by Oliphant and Feiffer was stinging, it was respected as it came from people who have been around, paid their dues, and were at the top of the field. When you get stinging criticism from an anonymous source, no matter how valid the criticism might be, it loses a great deal of validity because you don’t know the source.

Yes, cartoonists dish it out. But our signature is on that dish.

#44 Mike Rhode
February/28/2008
@ 5:03 pm

When the site was passed along to me, I thought the anonymity was bad form. I’m not an editorial cartoonist, so I haven’t had to develop the thick skin that many of you have, but BC doesn’t seem to have the courage to stand behind his convictions. Thanks to Alan for digging into this a bit though!

#45 Michael Shonk
February/28/2008
@ 5:35 pm

I wonder if the worst thing that could happen is the site fails because not enough people care about the state of the editorial cartoon.

#46 Stacy Curtis
February/28/2008
@ 5:47 pm

How can you say he stands behind his convictions?
The coward hides behind a rock, because he’s too chicken sh!t to put his name on his commentary.
I think more people would take him seriously if he signed his vile and dropped the cheap shots.

Making fun of people for being fat and taking cheap shots at their wives are the reason why this guy wouldn’t want his identity known. I wouldn’t want to get my @ss kicked either.

#47 Aaron Unser
February/28/2008
@ 6:47 pm

This guy’s site should have been mentioned under a “NEWS BRIEF”, Alan. Two sentences tops.

#48 Rick McKee
February/28/2008
@ 7:36 pm

First of all, Yay! I made the cut!

Secondly, I don’t think most of us have a problem with taking criticism. We do it every day, most much worse than this. I don’t even think it’s the anonymity that’s the main problem, but that does come off as cowardly.

I’m not a rapper, so I could say Eminem sucks and that would be ok. I’m entitled to my opinion. But if I’m Vanilla Ice and I anonymously say Eminem sucks, now I’m just talking trash. And if I start talking about his wife (or ex, in his case), then that’s really low. This person has identified himself as a cartoonist, so there’s the implication that he is a peer and a competitor in our little market. He obviously knows many of us and our families and it’s not beneath him to utilize that inside info. I think that is why this feels unfair. There’s a feeling that this guy should put up what he can do if he’s going to criticize us.

Thirdly, I think we all have an idea who this person is. I do. And I’m not surprised to see that my prime suspect has already commented in this thread.

#49 Neal Obermeyer
February/28/2008
@ 8:11 pm

So if we knew who this person was, then we’d be able to determine whether or not his criticism meant anything, right?

Because if he’s a good cartoonist, it obviously does carry weight … but if he’s NOT a good cartoonist, then he’s basically just a glorified reader, right?

And really, who cares what readers think.

#50 Rick McKee
February/28/2008
@ 8:26 pm

That’s not what I meant at all Neal. I meant by bashing fellow cartoonists in a dwindling market, he’s basically sniping his competitors from the cover of anonymity and promoting himself. You know, if he can get one of these guys canned, maybe he’ll have a shot at their job…. That doesn’t seem too cool to me.

Personally, Neal, I love my readers. Even the ones who hate me.

#51 Garey Mckee
February/28/2008
@ 8:26 pm

Hey, is Rick Mckee my long lost cousin? LOL

#52 Rick McKee
February/28/2008
@ 8:27 pm

Garey! Where have you been?! Mom says hi!

#53 John Read
February/28/2008
@ 8:42 pm

“If he can get one of these guys canned, maybe heâ??ll have a shot at their job?” You don’t seriously think some anonymous “critic” has any clout with newspaper editors, do you?

#54 Nick Anderson
February/28/2008
@ 9:03 pm

At first, I wasn’t all that bothered by the anonymity. But after reading some of the comments, I started to wonder. Just for kicks, I went to the Society of Professional Journalists site to see if they had anything in their ethics guidelines. I found these near the bottom:

“Be Accountable
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

â?? Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.”

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

I’m not trying to be a boy scout, but I’m stuck living by these. My newspaper (as do most), explicitly forbids their employees from misrepresenting themselves on the internet if it is at all related to their work. Tempted as I may have been from time to time, I have never so much as posted an anonymous comment on even the most obscure blog. It’s just not worth it. I’m holding other people accountable, I should be accountable. I remember reading on Poynter that an LA times columnist was suspended, then lost his column for misrepresenting his identity on blogs. A reporter at a Florida paper (I can’t remember which) was canned for it. Maybe BC isn’t working for a paper and doesn’t need to worry about it.

I understand (sort of) what BC is trying to do (and I’m sure I’ll get dissected in time, and deservedly so), but anonymity from a colleague does pretty much undermine the whole thing. I’ll take it with a grain of salt, like I do with the anonymous blog comments I get.

Closing thought: It might be a little ironic if one of the national awards BC says he or she won is the Society of Professional Journalists SDX.

Nick Anderson
Bad Cartoonist (but not THE Bad Cartoonist)

#55 Eric Burke
February/28/2008
@ 9:24 pm

Why do so many editorial cartoonists seem angry at Daryl Cagle?

I’ve read a few comments here, and some at the Bad Cartoonist site. BC seems to balme all the “hack” editorial cartoons on Cagle. Is this a legit gripe?

I’m not all that familiar with editorial cartoonists, aside from some of the links that I’ve found here. Seems that the infighting is getting pretty ugly. Whenever I’ve read negative comments about syndicated comic strip cartoonists online, other syndicated comic strips cartoonists usually come to the cartoonists defense. Editorial cartoonists seem more cannibalistic.

Is there an editorial civil war brewing? Should we get our popcorn ready?

#56 Nick Anderson
February/28/2008
@ 9:46 pm

“Editorial cartoonists seem more cannibalistic.”

Your insulting cannibals. They only eat people outside their tribe.

#57 Matt Buck
February/29/2008
@ 12:47 am

Has Joe Klein has taken up drawing as well as editorialising?

#58 Eric Allie
February/29/2008
@ 4:04 am

Do the BC’s critiques sting? Do they ring true? Well maybe he’s hitting on some truths then. And that’s what matters. Knowing his identity or his credentials, or whether he can draw or not wouldnâ??t make it any less true that, say, Thompson is photoshop crazy.

As far as complaining about a lack of constructive criticism from BC- the food critic should say the food tasted like ass, not how to season the ass.

The ad hominem attacks? As long as itâ??s you guys and not me: hilarious. Seriously, this guy can make fun of my good looks any time he wants. And if he does, somehow, improbable as it might be, find fault with anything Iâ??ve penned, Iâ??ll try to restrain the urge to sic lawyers on the guy. God.

This is a welcomed site. Iâ??ve long thought about anonymously doing the same thing as this guy. But I wasnâ??t brave enough.

#59 Mike Peterson
February/29/2008
@ 4:23 am

Looking at how often he posts and how long his posts are, I kind of have to wonder when he gets any of his paying work done. And while some of his criticism is spot-on, some of the rest is just a display of bitchy, nit-picky attitude and, really, more a matter of his personal taste than a point of valid artistic criticism.

I don’t think the two factors are unrelated. The compulsion to post so often inevitably leads to reaching into the bag, not finding much, and going with whatever rant you can come up with. He’d probably do consistently better work if he would wait until a really good idea comes to him rather than feeling this urge to get something up there on schedule, even if he doesn’t really have much to say.

(Presumably the irony of all this will not be lost on this gang.)

#60 Wiley Miller
February/29/2008
@ 6:46 am

That was the first thing that struck me, Mike. He seems to have an awful lot of time on his hands for this little venture. Perhaps that’s a good indicator for his rage.

#61 Cindy Procious
February/29/2008
@ 8:22 am

“Cindy Procious won a few [awards] for being married to Clay Bennett.”

I take great exception to this statement.

I’ve only won ONE award for being married to Clay Bennett.

#62 Ted Rall
February/29/2008
@ 8:38 am

Jeff writes: Ted, you mean like draw and write like you and take cheap shots at 9/11 widowsâ?¦is that how?

Yes, Jeff, that’s exactly what I meant (/sarcasm).

Hey, did you know that “Terror Widows” has become an iconic cartoon? Not the one I would have chosen, but it’s true. (See, for example, reviews of “The Art of Ill Will.”) And I’m proud. You know why? Because people who use their dead spouses to sell books, wars and religion deserve ridicule. It’s editorial cartooning, Jeff! You can’t cross the line because there is no line to cross.

Anyway, it’s entirely possible (I hope!) that the BC will see fit to subject my scribbles to scrutiny.

In one blog he ripps [sic] several cartoonist [sic] ability to draw Hillary. Wouldnâ??t it be fair to see how he draws Hillary or anything,for that matter,to see if heâ??s in any position to be passing judgement [sic]? In this country when youâ??re put on trial you have a right to face you [sic] accuser.

I agree, anonymous criticism seems unfair. In this case, however, I’ll let it pass. Here’s why: No cartoonist is perfect. No cartoonist is universally respected by all of his or her peers. Therefore, no cartoonist would withstand the criticism of his or her own work to the extent that it guarantee him or her the standing to brutally skewer his or her colleagues, if he or she chose to do so.

Critics live or die on whether their takes on things consistently ring true. If a lot of people agree with BC’s comments, BC’s standing will increase. If not, the opposite will be true.

Opinions matter. Qualifications do not.

#63 Wiley Miller
February/29/2008
@ 8:45 am

“Opinions matter. Qualifications do not.”

Whoa… you don’t really mean that, do you, Ted?
You don’t think the source of the opinion matters?

#64 Matt Wuerker
February/29/2008
@ 9:02 am

I think it’s great. Who really cares if it’s anonymous. If we all knew who it was it wouldn’t have much interest to anyone.

It’s like the Joe Klein book a while back on Clinton. It’s a way of generating a tiny bit of buzz and that in turn might generate a tiny bit of buzz for our tiny and shrinking piece of medialand. What’s so bad about that?

I’d suggest people send it to their editors and see if it could provide a newspeg for talking about editorial cartooning– the bad… and the good that’s out there.

but then again I’m just a lousy singlepanel neanderthal
–m

#65 Kevin Moore
February/29/2008
@ 9:04 am

The anonymity is a lesser issue compared to the quality of the criticism, which so far is a mixed bag. I like that the BC takes on clichés and other sins of mainstream editorial cartooning – and I would like to see BC take on so-called “alternative” cartooning clichés, as well. My two quibbles are the use of ad hominems, as they distract from the more legitimate points of criticism, and the length of the posts. One of the Comics Curmudgeon’s virtues is his adherence to the old adage, “the soul of wit is brevity.” Once I overcome carpal tunnel syndrome, I look forward to being a target of the BC’s invective.

#66 Kevin Moore
February/29/2008
@ 9:13 am

I agree with Ted about qualifications. The quality of the criticism is its own testimonial.

I am surprised by how personal a few cartoonists have taken this blog. Speaking for only myself, I have developed a pretty thick skin over the years, going back to being a four-eyed nerd at the mercy of the roving pack of neighborhood bullies, and unto the present day, when expressing an opinion tends to invite charges of anti-patriotism. Aren’t readers constantly raving to your editors that you should be deported or thrown in Guantanamo or some such?

Besides, those of us who specialize in caricature should be able to handle a little ad homination.

#67 Charles Brubaker
February/29/2008
@ 9:33 am

It seems that some of us has ideas on which cartoonist is behind this. Me being one of them.

I came across a discussion in a popular message board where one of the editorial cartoonists who’ve won a major cartooning award frequently posts snarky comments on other editorial cartoonists. These snarks aren’t as “personal” as Bad Cartoonist, but he does have strong distaste for cartoonists who’s artstyle is below his standards. Ted Rall is one of the cartoonists he often criticizes, to the point that he’s critical of Ted’s job at United Media.

However, “ICANN Police” wrote here saying that Bad Cartoonist lives in Brooklyn (the one I’ve talked about lives in West Coast), so I guess I’ll have to cross him out of the list.

#68 Alan Gardner
February/29/2008
@ 9:36 am

For the record, I spoke to the person who left the ICANN police comment. He was posing as the Bad Cartoonist and not the bad cartoonist himself. If it wasn’t obvious, the domain registration information is completely bogus.

#69 Ted Rall
February/29/2008
@ 9:40 am

Ted Rall is one of the cartoonists he often criticizes

WHAT?!? This monster must be stopped AT ONCE!

#70 Kevin Moore
February/29/2008
@ 9:54 am

As a side note, Terry Pratchett, in recent novels of his comic fantasy DiscWorld series, has made a running gag out of the clichés of editorial cartoons. Most of you might not be familiar with the series, and the gags work really well within the context of the stories of the novels, so it would be no good citing an example. But cross-hatching, labels, tortured metaphor and utter predictability appear as frequent points of satire. As an excellent satirist himself, Pratchett is eminently qualified.

BTW – I crosshatch like a loon.

#71 Jeff Darcy
February/29/2008
@ 10:13 am

Nick,
The way you end your comment mentioning the SPJ award could be read as implying that Mike Lester is the Bad Cartoonist. Perhaps Mike’s favorite character in Godfather is in fact Fredo…but maybe not. what if,in fact, the Bad Cartoonist is acutualy an office holder in the AAEC? Gee, I can’t wait to scrap up the bucks to go to another convention…now I know what I’ve been missing all the years I wasn’t a member! I completely agree with what Wiley said earlier about how the scource of the critic makes all the difference. I don’t need the bad cartoonist to tell me the Castro cartoon I did that he knocks wasn’t one of my best. I had it on the bottom of the pile of the seven ideas I submitted that day for a reason. And I bet if we knew who the Bad Cartoonist was we would find plenty of examples in his own portfolio that would make fine candidates for his own blog. It’s one thing if you’ve got someone like Oliphant riding heard on the craft it’s another if it turns out you’ve got a hypocrite on top of a coward doing it. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a reponse on Bad Cartoonist from ,according to the Bad cartoonist, one of the McCoy brothers. It’s addressed to Michaelangelo…and pretty much sums up my feelings

#72 Ted Rall
February/29/2008
@ 10:14 am

Cross-hatching can be great. Andy Singer is a mad hatcher, yet he’s a very cool modern cartoonist. What I find weird is random clouds of cross-hatchosity floating in the ether.

#73 Matt Davies
February/29/2008
@ 10:30 am

Wow…I seem to be a bit late to this fascinating navel-gazing party.

I think the anonymous schtick has worked. Kudos to BC for creating an instant overnight iconoclast.
(I’ll be keeping an eye out for a guy with a bag over his head at the next convention.)

However, I checked out the bad cartoonist and didn’t see anything I haven’t heard before over a beer at AAEC meetings. So will BC’s airing our dirty laundry publicly actually change the industry? Of course not. The only way for BC to do that is to ignore everyone else and do some mold-breaking work (which is of course much more difficult and involved than writing a blog about how bad everyone else is.)

Also, Like Cindy, I’d like to set the record straight – I actually stole my Pulitzer by hoodwinking the judges into thinking I invented the self-satisfied pun, rather than being the originator of scribbling, as BC claims.

#74 Eric Allie
February/29/2008
@ 10:39 am

Jeff, that cartoon was at the bottom of the pile for a reason, you say you know that your cartoons wasn’t the best. You agree with the criticim of the BC without knowing his identity. And therefore Wiley is wrong by saying the source matters. It’s the argument that matters. After the huffing and puffing you agree with the argument!

#75 Eric Allie
February/29/2008
@ 10:53 am

Matt,

Why couldn’t fear of public ridicule prompt some to improve themselves. And if they do… wouldn’t that change the quality of the industry?

#76 Wiley Miller
February/29/2008
@ 10:59 am

The comment about Cindy Procious was really uncalled for. I mean, she’s married to Clay Bennett… isn’t that enough public humiliation? I say she’s suffered enough!

#77 Nick Anderson
February/29/2008
@ 11:02 am

Good point, Wiley!

#78 Tom Heintjes
February/29/2008
@ 11:17 am

I looked up the domain registration information in the whois database, and that’s what it said there too–it looked accurate. He bought the privacy filter so his personal contact information wouldn’t be supplied…another sign of how he protects his anonymity.

#79 JP Trostle
February/29/2008
@ 12:34 pm

I gotta say, journalistic points aside, I’m rather enjoying the mystery. In fact, I’d rather NOT find out who it is. Deep Throat was always far more interesting in the shadows.

That said, I have to take exception to Jeff’s comment about “Bad Cartoonist” being an AAEC board member. Even though I don’t know BC’s ID I can all but assure you no one on the board is doing this. First, we take our positions and responsibilities quite seriously and, more to the point, none of us have enough fracking time to take care of our own stuff, much less ad hominem anyone else.

#80 Nick Anderson
February/29/2008
@ 12:44 pm

JP wrote: “First, we take our positions and responsibilities quite seriously…”

Are you nuts?

Nick Anderson
Bad, Horrible, Wretched Cartoonist

#81 John Auchter
February/29/2008
@ 12:50 pm

Well, yeah, now having taken the time to read the Bad Cartoonist blog, I suppose being Mr. Smartypants is one approach. And I certainly have nothing against that. Smartypants is the very nature of an editorial cartoonist. But even here I fall into opinion and taste. I regularly read Josh Fruhlinger’s “The Comics Curmudgeon” and maybe it’s because he identifies himself or maybe because beneath the cuts and biting sarcasm there is a joy for the genre (or maybe because he’s just plain funny), but I enjoy it. That BC blog, not so much.

And having taken the additional time to read through all of your comments, it’s pretty clear that another blog approach is to set up a forum where editorial cartoons and cartoonists are skewered in a not necessarily civilized way, but it an open way and (in my opinion and taste) with better writing. Thanks, Alan.

#82 Stacy Curtis
February/29/2008
@ 1:02 pm

>>>Eric Allie: Why couldnâ??t fear of public ridicule prompt some to improve themselves. And if they doâ?¦ wouldnâ??t that change the quality of the industry?

Eric, you draw like shit. I’ll be looking for you to start creating masterpieces now.

Seriously, I don’t think it works like that. To get an individual to improve, you have to provide support and education. Tell me WHY this cartoon sucks and what YOU would have done to make it better. Use the blog as an educational tool to better the working editorial cartoonists and help future editorial cartoonist-wannabes enter the profession knowing the pitfalls before they take their leap into editorial cartooning.

When I started editorial cartooning, all I had to look at was back issues of “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year” and immediately Jeff MacNelly, Pat Oliphant and Jim Borgman stood out. And I eventually came to the conclusion that whatever I drew had to look like and act like their editorial cartoons. That’s what everyone else seemed to be doing. I was influenced by my home-state cartoonist, Hugh Haynie, but at the time, I thought he was a whack-job for not going with the flow of everyone else. Hugh Haynie is a cartoonist who should have had his name on that list of Pulitzer Prize winners. It’s a shame he wasn’t recognized for the great work he produced. In my early days, I was told by a newspaper editor, “It doesn’t look like an editorial cartoon.”

Post a sucky editorial cartoon on Bad Cartoonist and give everyone 8 hours to sketch a new cartoon that shows how they would’ve improved that cartoon. Help the cartoonists who have fallen into those pitfalls of crafting an editorial cartoon see what they can do to improve their work. There’s not an editorial cartoonist out there who couldn’t do better. Now show them what they need to avoid and what they need to do to improve.

That would change the industry.

If this Bad Cartoonist site can change improve work produced by editorial cartoonists and wanna-bes, I would support it.
But with the anonymity of its commentator and the jabs at the people and not the work, its value is useless. It’s creating more animosity than anything else.

#83 John Cole
February/29/2008
@ 1:14 pm

It’s good to see that our collective sense of self-worth and inner peace has prevented us from over-reacting, thus giving this guy any sense of satisfaction.

#84 Wiley Miller
February/29/2008
@ 1:26 pm

If criticism, no matter how harsh, is warranted and has merit, then one shouldn’t feel the need to state it anonymously. In doing so, it carries all the weight of graffiti in a restroom stall. If he’s truly concerned about the art form and wants to bring about change, then he would have been better served to make his criticisms openly.

Sure it’s fun to have it anonymously, but this will have the lasting effect of a road flare. He made a lot of points to make, some I agreed with, others not, but undermined all of them with childish personal attacks. For instance, I know absolutely nothing about Daryl Cagle’s site or how he runs it, but this guy obviously has some knowledge about it and has a real ax to grind with Daryl. If he just stuck to the facts, or what he believes are facts, and had made them openly, it would have carried some weight. But the personal ridicule, coupled with making it anonymously completely destroyed any credibility his criticism might have had. This ends up reflecting bad on him, not his intended target.

#85 Jeff Darcy
February/29/2008
@ 1:35 pm

Eric,
Any cartoonist worth his or her salt doesn’t need fear of being on Bad Cartoonist to improve there work…give me a break! They have enough self worth and self motivation to want to become the best cartoonist they can be while working in whatever contraints there editors put them. I don’t know any cartoonist out there who wouldn’t and doesn’t want to break the mold and do something that’s never been done. It’s easier said then done. Contrary to all the wineing about the quality of work, right know we have among the most talented crop of cartoonists to have appeared in newspapers in the history of this country. Don’t believe me? Check-out past issues of Best Cartoons of the Year…look at cartoons that were in newspapers before those books ever started coming out. You had maybe a small handfull of decent cartoonists at best.

#86 JP Trostle
February/29/2008
@ 1:48 pm

> Itâ??s good to see that our collective sense of self-worth and inner peace has prevented us from over-reacting

Yeah I’d hate to see anyone have, like, a stroke over this.

Just sayin’…

#87 God-awful, Pathetic, Putrid Cartoonist
February/29/2008
@ 1:51 pm

“Itâ??s good to see that our collective sense of self-worth and inner peace has prevented us from over-reacting, thus giving this guy any sense of satisfaction.”

Aw, come on…we haven’t had this much fun since people were getting killed over the Muhammad cartoons. Except this is more important.

#88 Mike Lester
February/29/2008
@ 2:12 pm

Suddenly I feel like William Holden in “Stalag 17″.

Me? On good days I can expertly navigate my e-mail account but blogging I leave to those of you who have actually played a Halo game for any appreciable length of time. Also interesting to note that as of this writing, my name is the only that someone -at least tried to mention as BC. I am at once flattered and insulted or…”flatsulted”.

Anonymity? Also not my style. I’m on record as having publicly criticized Nick Anderson, Ted Rall, Mike Thompson, Mike Luckovich (if we’ve crossed swords and I’ve left you out forgive me). Don’t take it personally but I do enjoy a good fight.

And I think I’ve proven I can take it: I’m regularly chosen as “worst cartoonist” on a number of liberal sites and blogs and last week by DailyKos.com. (Kos blogger also anonymous)

Finally, BC is doing nothing Ruben Bolling hasn’t been doing to comic features w/ “FUN PAX COMICS”: in case you haven’t seen one, it’s an absolutely brilliantly consistent piece of writing. However, I suspect the jokes are lost on the comics industry he mocs.

But I do know who’s the stoolie… “Peter Graves”.

#89 Matt Bors
February/29/2008
@ 2:12 pm

“…it carries all the weight of graffiti in a restroom stall.”

I always call those numbers on the stalls “for a good time” but it never works out in my favor.

#90 Wiley Miller
February/29/2008
@ 2:20 pm

I meant to mention the suspicion that BC is Mike Lester. That gave me a good laugh. Like Mike has ever been shy about expressing his opinion! Give me a break.

This is why I respect people like Mike Lester. He’s not just a damned good cartoonist, he speaks his mind openly. Whether or not I agree with him, I respect his opinion because I know where it’s coming from. But when an opinion is made anonymously, I have no respect for it, even if I agree with it.

#91 Mike Thompson
February/29/2008
@ 2:53 pm

Mike, I don’t take anything anyone says about my work personally. Nor should any other cartoonist. If we’re going to shoot our big fat mouths off in public we lose the right to complain when the blowback hits us in the face as long as the comments aren’t within the realm of slander libel, or a personal threat.

Besides, whoever BC is, I can’t say as I totally disagree with his assessment of my work. Some of it winds up being horribly overworked. But the possibility of failure is a part of tring something new. And considering that the alternative is to rejoin the ranks crosshatchers, that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

This whole pissin’ match has been a good read, but I gotta run. I’m off to my 12-step Photoshop addict recovery meeting.

And most days I feel more like the Joey character from Stalag 17.

Mike Thompson
The (Baddest of the Bad) cartoonist.

#92 Rick McKee
February/29/2008
@ 3:40 pm

Garey,

I’ve tried but I can’t respond to your email.
We now return this thread to its previously scheduled sniping….

Rick

#93 Charles Brubaker
February/29/2008
@ 3:57 pm

And I notice that BC can’t get the NAMES right.

That Hillary Clinton that BC claims to be drawn with “butt-cheeks” is by GARY McCoy, not Glenn McCoy, his younger brother.

Ah, that Gary McCoy is SO brave. I’ll bet YOU don’t draw cartoons potraying Hillary Clinton as a socialist/communist with hairy legs who wants to destroy America, a country she hates. Oh, and liberals hate America so much, they burn US flags everyday while smoking weed.

(in my defense, let me just say that I like his non-political work in the “Flying McCoys”)

#94 Tucker Stone
February/29/2008
@ 4:00 pm

This back and forth argument is actually pretty fascinating for a total non-cartoonist to read. Hope it keeps going.

#95 Abell Smith
February/29/2008
@ 4:01 pm

In honor of the beginning of spring training, an analogy (regarding the unwritten rules of professional courtesy):

BC’s anonymity reminds me of the argument against the designated hitter. He’s like a pitcher who throws at people’s heads, but never has to go to bat and risk getting beaned himself.

#96 Paul Fell
February/29/2008
@ 4:08 pm

Sooner or later we’re all going to have to take our turn on BC’s dunking stool in order for him to continue his blog, which has certainly gotten a spirited exchange going among cartoonists. I haven’t see this much activity and interest since (as someone already said) the Muhammed cartoons. My question is, once he has publicly whipped everyone in the business, what then?

I think we should all start loudly proclaiming that each of us is really BC, and see what happens then.

#97 Scott Nickel
February/29/2008
@ 4:18 pm

I’M the Bad Cartoonist!

#98 Dawn Douglass
February/29/2008
@ 4:38 pm

Everybody is assuming he’s telling the truth about what he does. Perhaps he is a cartoonist, but he doesn’t have to be. It could be an editor or simply a fan. Could even be the spouse or child of a cartoonist.

Just because he seemingly writes knowledgably, doesn’t mean he (or she) is really a cartoonist.

#99 Jeff Darcy
February/29/2008
@ 4:42 pm

I’ve taken the Bad cartoonist’s advice and just traced a Stahler cartoon so I can have more time to slog thru all this. And J.P. I only get strokes from reading Ted Rall 9/11 widow cartoons and my Dominatrix,Ann Coulter…but thanks for the thought, anyway

#100 Bad Cartoonist
February/29/2008
@ 5:11 pm

100 COMMENTS!!!

#101 JP Trostle
February/29/2008
@ 6:23 pm

I’M Sparticus!

#102 Mike Peterson
February/29/2008
@ 7:20 pm

It’s February 29, so it only really counts as 25 comments.

#103 BC
February/29/2008
@ 8:35 pm

Just so you know, I would never get THAT exited about comments. Jeff Darcy threatening me with lawyers, however, thrills me to no end. I have one self-indulgent point to make: I am not surprised that Mike Thompson laughs off my critisims and Jeff Darcy has a conniption fit.

Love BC

#104 Manfred Zeisler
February/29/2008
@ 9:07 pm

Poor BC. Boo-hoo.

Acceptance and/or approval must be missing from his cartooning life.

Acceptance = having his work counted as the real thing/good enough.

Approval = having readers, editors and his peers admire him and respect his work.

Perhaps BC isn’t getting the recognition he craves.

His new blog and the attention it’s getting him, must be artificially satisfying for BC.

His “needs” are being met.

#105 Manfred Zeisler
February/29/2008
@ 9:11 pm

I’m creating a new blog, too. It’s called DEAD CARTOONIST.
In my blog, I will trash-talk dead (and brain-dead) cartoonists.

My other blog ideas: FAT CARTOONIST, UGLY CARTOONIST and FLATULENT CARTOONIST.

#106 Monty Rohde
February/29/2008
@ 10:04 pm

Wow! Someone gives enough of a crap about editorial cartoons to write a blog about them. Maybe if we’re lucky someday someone other than an editorial cartoonist may do such a thing too.

#107 Monty Rohde
February/29/2008
@ 10:07 pm

Is it just me or is there a lot of chest beating going on over an art form that’s rapidly disappearing into obscurity and irrelevance?

#108 Vile, Filthy, Untouchable, Anti-Fair Use Cartoonist
February/29/2008
@ 10:15 pm

It’s just you, Monty. Disappearing, that is.

#109 Garey Mckee
February/29/2008
@ 11:42 pm

I wonder how many cartoonists will venture to use cyan in their work now?

#110 Eric Allie
February/29/2008
@ 11:49 pm

Monty, a non cartoonist commenting on the field would be dismissed by many around here because, well, consider the source. They’d say that guy probably couldn’t draw a decent Hillary caricature himself, so who is he to criticize, or he’d be dismissed as a bitter wannabe know nothing.

Stacy, saying I draw shitty is fine. And I’ll consider the merits of that argument, whether it’s made anonymously or not. And the expectations then wouldnâ??t be for me to draw masterpieces but rather to draw less shity. Or, say, not to re-trace a drawing I did a month ago. TBC didnâ??t simply say that Stahler(sp?)drew shitty. He pointed out a pattern he fell into and a cliche that weâ??ve all abused and should try to avoid. And doing so might just improve the quality overall.

#111 Eric Allie
February/29/2008
@ 11:50 pm

Hey, Wiley, do you have any respect for the authors of the federalist papers? Or is that bathroom stall material?

#112 Eric Burke
March/1/2008
@ 7:23 am

BC,
Has your newfound infamy brought you any hot groupies? I mean…any more hot groupies than cartoonists normally get.

I hear Ann Coulter digs bad boys. You could probably get her. Keep us posted…no blog pun intended.

#113 Wiley Miller
March/1/2008
@ 7:48 am

The Federalist Papers?

And that’s relevant to this discussion how?

#114 Eric Allie
March/1/2008
@ 8:24 am

Wiley: “But when an opinion is made anonymously, I have no respect for it, even if I agree with it.” Well the fed papers were written anonymously. And I was wondering if you had any respect for Publis, aka Hamilton, jay and Alexander, who, through their anonymous work helped create the constitution, bind the country to gether and launch an experiment that has produced the greatest country ever. Just like what the TBC is doing….. more or less.

#115 BC
March/1/2008
@ 8:26 am

Wiley,

No groupies yet. But I do think that Gary McCoy has developed a man-crush.

#116 Vile, Filthy, Untouchable, Anti-Fair Use Cartoonist
March/1/2008
@ 8:32 am

Ne’er fear, Monty! It’s Sir Eric, your knight in shining armor here to slay that snarky, dismissive cartoonist! (Actually, I wouldn’t know Monty Rohde from Monte Hall and therefore have no idea what he does for a living.) But … the hour was late, I was tired and probably should have spared the ‘Net another sample of my petulance.

However, the ongoing argument that our craft’s decline is the result of whether one guy uses too much undiluted cyan or another resorts to a two-people-talking-over-coffee motif too often (man, what could you say about The New Yorker’s guy-at-his-desk-saying-something-funny-into-a-phone schtick?) is off-target. This is inside-baseball stuff that’s useful and necessary for cartoonists. For most readers? Eh, not so much.

The decline in this gig is directly the result of the ongoing collapse in newspaper business model that’s supported the craft for nearly 200 years. Same goes for staff film, restaurant and book reviewers. Even the core hard-news and photo staffs are being thinned. We all should throw a big pity party. Given the current reality of the Internet (I love, for example, the Huffington Post’s plan to NEVER pay ANYBODY for ANY content) I’ll buy the argument that simple economics will render many of us “irrelevant.” It’s a simple notion that when a person’s not paid to do something anymore, he’ll go do something else.

Also: Editorial cartooning is a hulluva lot more diverse and interesting now than it was years ago. I wish everyone could take a gander at my old copy of “Today’s Cartoon,” a collection of American editorial cartoons published during the Kennedy years. The sameness is mind-numbing. Mauldin, Haynie, Herblock and a few other standard-bearers are represented, but the rest are a largely me-too exercises in gauntleted fists of communism, Russian bears, and so forth.

#117 John Cole
March/1/2008
@ 8:34 am

Oops. I forgot to delete the snarky username.

#118 Monty Rohde
March/1/2008
@ 8:39 am

Disappearing? No I’m pretty sure I haven’t arrived.

Eric Allie:
Yes, you’re right it would get very easily dismissed. For such a small and declining group professional editorial cartoonists seem to be a very self righteous group. It’s a necessary trait for the job but most just don’t seem to know when to turn it off. A large number handle criticism with the grace of an underclassmen art major. Dismissing relevant observations out of hand because they already think they know everything they need to.

Whoever my listen:
The point behind my sarcasm is simple. The job of editorial cartoonist has always been to communicate to the public. Despite the fact editorial cartoonists do this for a living they have yet to make the plight of their profession relevant to the public. There hasn’t been much of a public out cry about how cartoonists jobs are steadily being cut, or at least not enough to have anyone’s reinstated. There is little public interest in the profession and most certainly not enough to save it. Can this be argued?

Though I love editorial cartooning, the current situation of editorial cartooning is nearly hopeless and what’s going on here I find very representative of the situation at large. There’s an small and shrinking group of individuals that loves to bicker about the nature of the task at hand. Such is the nature of a profession filled with strongly opinionated individuals. But for all the vitriol sentiments being thrown about the futility of it is completely lost on the individuals participating. Argue all you want, how many of you will still be around in a decade let alone making a living from it?

I value editorial cartooning because it is a form of discourse and I believe discourse is necessary for the maintenance of a healthy culture and democracy. It find it hard to justify its continued existence when the profession is so homogeneous. Why not just have a single gag cartoonist draw editorial cartoons in the style of Jeff MacNelly using recycled concepts and have it sold across the nation at a penny a paper? Daily newspapers are almost already there.

If we wish to see this profession preserved is anyone trying to formulate and execute an effective strategy to persuade the public and your employers this profession has relevance or is the only form of response going to be the occasional Black Ink Monday followed by more internal expressions of dismay and useless bickering?

#119 Cyan
March/1/2008
@ 8:53 am

Don’t listen to them Scott! We’ll always be together!

#120 Wiley Miller
March/1/2008
@ 9:07 am

“Just like what the TBC is doingâ?¦.. more or less.”

Riiiiiiight.

And, BC… I didn’t say anything about groupies. That was Eric.

#121 Mike Thompson
March/1/2008
@ 1:12 pm

BC said: â??I am not surprised that Mike Thompson laughs off my criticismâ?

Why shouldnâ??t I?

–Because you attacked my manhood on your blog? Everyone in this profession already knows Iâ??m a complete wuss. As anyone who attended cartoonist conventions during the days of the softball games can tell you: I throw like a girl (to use the language of parentsâ?? generation). And I run the bases in a most unmanly fashion. That is, on the incredibly rare occasion that I manage to get a hit. I say it loud, and I say it proud, Mr. Bad: Iâ??m a sissy boy.

—Because you use the web to hide your identity? Think youâ??re the first person whoâ??s tried using the supposed shield of the Internet to come after me, a political cartoonist? Share war stories with other cartoonists in our business sometime. (Although I do give you credit for being smart about how you conceal your identity, unlike those other idiots)

—Because you exercise your right to free speech against someone whoâ??s the biggest free speech advocate around? Besides, being an entirely self-absorbed jerk leaves me no time to worry about what others think. As Iâ??ve stated ad nauseam, libel and slander are about the only restrictions on free speech.

–Because you tried to rattle me with trash talk? Please, Iâ??m from Detroit.

–Because you point out the truth? Yes, I use a whole lot of filters, etc. in my work because I believe that line drawings with a splash of color look dated in the age of highly rendered, incredibly detailed Pixar animation. You express a different opinion about my work and I donâ??t dispute your right to do so. Nor do I dispute your right to express your disagreement in what youâ??d like to think is an offensive manner.

So I should be upset because?…..

But I tire of making these observations of the painfully obvious –like I donâ??t do enough of that in my cartoons.

So Iâ??m signing off this thread permanently and I will not be checking back because itâ??s become boring. Besides, being away from Photoshop for the time itâ??s taken to write this has given me delirium tremens and I need my fix.

Iâ??m not going away mad, Iâ??m just going away.

Mike Thompson
The Bad (Smelling and Spelling) cartoonist

#122 John Read
March/1/2008
@ 7:06 pm

“No cartoonist is perfect. No cartoonist is universally respected by all of his or her peers.” Is that really true? Is there NO editorial cartoonist working today that is respected by all of his/her colleagues? Surely there is at least one editoonist whose work and personality doesn’t deserve disrespect? How about that for a change of pace, folks? I, for one, would love to see the editorial cartoonists posting here share the name of their colleague they feel is most deserving of the title “Most Respected.”

#123 John Read
March/1/2008
@ 7:07 pm

And no anonymous posts, okay?

#124 Eric Burke
March/1/2008
@ 9:03 pm

Dang, Wiley, you blew my cover! I thought that I could start posting any comments that I wanted and you would get the blame. It was going to be my version of anonymous posting. Even though my name is right there on the post, you would still get the blame…

…thanks for nothing. Oh, to be anonymous again…

#125 Wiley Miller
March/2/2008
@ 9:13 am

“How about that for a change of pace, folks? I, for one, would love to see the editorial cartoonists posting here share the name of their colleague they feel is most deserving of the title â??Most Respected.â? ”

Well, since you didn’t bother to mention one, I guess you couldn’t think of one either.

#126 Kovalic
March/2/2008
@ 1:40 pm

â??Most Respected”?

Steve Sack and Clay Bennett would be right up there, I suspect…

#127 J Read
March/3/2008
@ 7:37 am

Actually, Wiley, I didn’t mention one because I was suggesting it come from fellow editorial cartoonists, since Bad Cartoonist is targeting fellow editoonists.

#128 Dawn Douglass
March/3/2008
@ 8:56 am

So somebody starts attacking cartoonists anonymously for ego stroking attention, and everybody obliges and gives him a 128 comment hand job.

Real smart.

Can we move on now?

#129 J Read
March/3/2008
@ 10:14 am

Dawn,
That’s precisely why I was trying to redirect this thread toward a more positive discussion.

#130 Dawn Douglass
March/3/2008
@ 10:42 am

Well, hopefully, Alan will post something new soon. That would definitely help, too.

#131 Monty Rohde
March/3/2008
@ 2:48 pm

Riiiiiiight.

There’s no reason you should know of me, I’m not a “name”. That doesn’t mean my opinions aren’t valid.

You are correct in that the 200 year old model that has supported the business is collapsing. Newspaper are dying because they have failed to adapt and adjust to the current circumstances. If you can sell bottled water or satellite radio, you can still sell newspapers. They’ve failed to adapt and convince people they’re worth buying. On a similar note newspaper cartoonists at large have done very little to protect their jobs. The cheaper it is the more people take it for granted. Other groups (songwriters, screenwriters) have dealt with similar problems before and they have handled it effectively.

As for cynicism, I’m negative but I’d hate to be you. Even from my experience as a theme park caricature artist I can tell you the public at large does comprehend quality. They don’t know the mechanics, and they can’t tell average from above average but they can tell a master from a hack. It may only be a dim understanding and appreciation but it still is there.

Consider the fact that there are individuals whose work does continue to resonate with the public even long after they’ve retired. Why do so many of the ignorant masses still treasure the work of Bill Watterson, Will Eisner, or Charles Schultz.

(I have a lot of old editorial cartooning books myself. With so much access to information and inspiration nowadays there’s no excuse not to try to be original. If you just want “a job” there a lot of them that probably pay a lot better and are less stressful. I believe there’s more to life than just being another face in the crowd and keeping a job because you’re incapable of change. Be inspired as you can or move on.)

Now my semi-anonymous counterpart would you care to introduce yourself or will I never know who posses such a fabulous sarcastic wit?

#132 Monty Rohde
March/3/2008
@ 2:59 pm

Dawn:
There are more than a few people who agree with this guy and many of his points are relevant if you see beyond the pointless personal attacks.

He’d be more effective if he refrained from them, but the criticism of the work is quite relevant. Even if he’s too chicken to give his name.

#133 Dawn Douglass
March/3/2008
@ 3:19 pm

Why would I want to “see beyond pointless personal attacks,” much less anonymity?

That’s like saying, “Sure there’s sh** in the lasagna but the rest of it is nutritious and worth eating.”

No thanks.

#134 Chuck
March/3/2008
@ 3:19 pm

…i guess you wouldn’t get into a job like editorial cartooning if you didn’t already have an overinflated view of the importance of your personal opinions…as far as newspapers and a 200 year old model, perhaps it’s because many newspapers are agenda driven that their respective bottom lines are dropping out from under them…if they’d stick to news on the news pages and editorializing on the editorial pages, maybe folks would see their value…ya think?

#135 Anne Hambrock
March/3/2008
@ 3:20 pm

As someone who only reads editorial cartoons rather than creates them, I must confess that I don’t really understand the tone I see regularly on this blog regarding the state of editorial cartooning talent. While I understand what is happening on the business side and agree that opportunities for cartoonists to make a decent living are declining, the editorial cartoons I read everyday in my paper are usually quite good. Now my paper is not big enough to employ a staff cartoonist so a lot of the cartoons they buy come from the tried and true big guns, but they put a fair amount of new stuff in also. I am just not seeing a lot of poor quality work.

#136 Jeff Darcy
March/3/2008
@ 4:05 pm

Hey B.C.
How’bout a lesson on how to be an alternative, excuse me, MODERN cartoonist? How many panels and words in one cartoon are standard? Or is it as many as you can possibly fit. Must everyone look the same and be as badly drawn as possible? If I can get the message across in one frame and a few words should I still use 20 panels and 200 words so I look hip? What do you think of Hillary’s claim that you’re Matt Bors and this is part of a vast alnernative/modern cartoonist conspiracy to get them jobs on mainstream dailes where they of course will be deprogramed and brainwashed into drawing like MacNelly?

#137 Malc McGookin
March/3/2008
@ 5:33 pm

Cartoonists started drawing like MacNelly to stay alive, not because they fervently wished to be MacNelly.
Editors, like everyone else, don’t seem to know what they like, but they’ll constantly knock down the stuff they don’t like when it’s presented.

Therefore, to vastly lessen your chances of rejection and enhance your survival you adopt the Stick Insect model and try to look as much like another, less threatened item as possible.

Every editorial cartoonist needs to be championed by an editor (at least under the traditional newspaper model) because their incisive comment and courageous stance is nothing if an editor doesn’t publish it.

Therefore behind every great editorial cartoonist is a great editor. Similarly, if the standard of editorial cartooning is going down the toilet then it unavoidably reflects the standards of modern newspaper journalism generally.

Without exception, the presence of a dull, bland, derivative editorial cartoonist goes hand in hand with a newspaper of similar quality, and that newspaper doesn’t even know why it has an editorial cartoonist.

#138 Cam
March/3/2008
@ 6:59 pm

There have been some excellent points made on this thread. Bad Cartoonist may be a crank and a whiner, but he’s got us all thinking about the shortcuts we take and I gave him kudos for that. Frankly, some of the points he raises on his site are valid critiques, in spite of being cheap shots.

That said, it is highly unfair that he doesn’t sign his articles. Someone wrote earlier that we shouldn’t complain because we all hold others up to ridicule everyday in what we do for a living.

The difference is we all SIGN OUR WORK and are therefore, responsible for what we say.

Listen, B.C., I understand your point of view will get you in trouble with your colleagues, but I’d encourage you to clean out of the closet. Most of us would actually respect you, even if we all hated you.

Do you really care what anyone else in this business thinks of you?

Anyone who read the old Canadian ACEC board a few years ago will know my comments about a certain Canadian syndicate and the current state of editorial cartooning made me a few enemies too. That’s the price we pay for seeing irony and hypocrisy in everything and feeling the need to express our outrage. No one will condemn you for that.

But being a chicken sh** by hiding will get you nothing but utter contempt. If they do find out who you are, you’ll be labeled as both a prick and a chickensh**, so you’d be better off with just being the first one.

Oh, and that drawing like McNelly part really, really hurt. I’ve already called my therapist.

#139 John Cole
March/3/2008
@ 8:14 pm

“Thereâ??s no reason you should know of me, Iâ??m not a â??nameâ?. That doesnâ??t mean my opinions arenâ??t valid.”

OK. You are someone with valid opinions.

“You are correct in that the 200 year old model that has supported the business is collapsing. Newspaper are dying because they have failed to adapt and adjust to the current circumstances. If you can sell bottled water or satellite radio, you can still sell newspapers. Theyâ??ve failed to adapt and convince people theyâ??re worth buying. On a similar note newspaper cartoonists at large have done very little to protect their jobs. The cheaper it is the more people take it for granted. Other groups (songwriters, screenwriters) have dealt with similar problems before and they have handled it effectively.”

Agreed, except you can’t sell newspapers (at least good ones) and earn the expected 20-percent-plus margins that pay the mortgage and the shareholders. Also, the idea of a cartoonists’ union is far-fetched. I’d compare it to herding cats, but the BC probably would slap me for pimping a tired metaphor.

“As for cynicism, Iâ??m negative but Iâ??d hate to be you.”

And think of my poor wife. Oy.

“Even from my experience as a theme park caricature artist I can tell you the public at large does comprehend quality. They donâ??t know the mechanics, and they canâ??t tell average from above average but they can tell a master from a hack. It may only be a dim understanding and appreciation but it still is there.”

I wrote that style, etc. were less important to the general public than those of us in the biz.

“Consider the fact that there are individuals whose work does continue to resonate with the public even long after theyâ??ve retired. Why do so many of the ignorant masses still treasure the work of Bill Watterson, Will Eisner, or Charles Schultz.”

So explain “Love Is…” and “Eggers.”

“Now my semi-anonymous counterpart would you care to introduce yourself or will I never know who posses such a fabulous sarcastic wit?”

I reckoned you’d figure that out by clicking the pseudonym, an idea I admittedly and shamelessly ripped off from Nick Anderson. Apologies again for the petulant tone.

#140 Kevin Moore
March/3/2008
@ 11:21 pm

Jeff: Matt Bors has already said it is not him. I recently asked him personally, and he said that if he wanted to criticize his peers’ work, he would do it at his own blog. Same goes for myself, as it is much more collegial to put one’s name down on criticisms of a fellow cartoonist’s work.

#141 Ted Rall
March/4/2008
@ 7:08 am

Jeff: I’m not BC. Anyone who knows me can tell. For one thing, I am much, much less funny.
Keep rolling retro!

#142 Wiley Miller
March/4/2008
@ 7:48 am

“Thereâ??s no reason you should know of me, Iâ??m not a â??nameâ?. That doesnâ??t mean my opinions arenâ??t valid.”

Whether or not anyone knows you is not the point. As the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as a wrong opinion. The problem here is the anonymous aspect of “bad cartoonist”.

Yes, there are many instances where anonymity is justifiable, such as with whistle-blowers in corporations or government who risk their careers or even their life in exposing criminal activity within the power structure. Criticizing the quality of cartoons is hardly comparable to this need for anonymity. This is simply a case of cowardice, which undermines the legitimacy of the criticism. He has many good points to make, but is it from genuine concern about the profession or is it out of petty jealousy? Without knowing the source, one cannot give it much credence, just like so much on the internet.

#143 Matt Bors
March/4/2008
@ 10:07 am

Jeff,

I can’t tell if you were just joking or using that to seriously suggest that I’m the BC, but I’m not.

#144 John Kovalic
March/4/2008
@ 10:11 am

Matt,

Only the REAL Bad Cartoonist would deny his divinity!

#145 Matt Bors
March/4/2008
@ 10:19 am

And Jeff, even though I’m not the BC, I’ll answer your question.

The ideal modern cartoon actually has 24 panels–entirely filled with words except for small talking heads in the bottom corners. Make it look crowded and crammed, like you are so inept at boiling down your ideas that you hide your lack of talent behind mountains of text. The art should resemble a third graders scribbles, caricatures completely unrecognizable. The words should be divisive, petty and pedantic–resembling the rants of a naive college protester. Even the most simple, Sherrifus-like single panel cartoon should be expanded into a mind bindingly long rant with a horrible punch line. Since no labels are used–and they are drawn bad–no one can even tell what they are about. Respectable papers will not run them and you are forever banished to the alternative press where you will earn $10.45 a week in some obscure left-wing rag.

Now that you know, I expect to see your work modernized very soon.

#146 Charles Brubaker
March/4/2008
@ 10:40 am

So Matt Groening’s “Life in Hell” is an ideal cartoon?

#147 JP Trostle
March/4/2008
@ 11:02 am

In a word: yes

#148 Jeff Darcy
March/4/2008
@ 11:15 am

Thanks Matt,
I happened to check out your blog and noted your “How to draw like an Editorial Cartoonist” toon. I didn’t know if it was proof you were B.C. or that B.C. had plagairized you. Anyway thanks for the tips. You’re very good at what you do and I can see the condensed writing on the wall in 24 panels, as far as were the future of cartooning is at. I have to get off this blog so I can start practicing my Matt Bors knockoff cartoons before I’m one of just many Bors clones.

#149 Lucas Turnbloom
March/4/2008
@ 12:08 pm

LOL, Matt.

#150 J.G. Moore
November/20/2008
@ 12:01 pm

Bad Cartoonist = Scott Kurtz

They both seem to hit a nerve… I’m just saying….

:-)

#151 Alan Gardner
November/20/2008
@ 12:04 pm

Scott has never had a problem signing his name to the things he says – nor does he have the insider information that BC wrote – stuff you’d only know if you attended AAEC conventions.

Strike 1

#152 Wiley Miller
November/20/2008
@ 12:26 pm

Many things have been said about Scott Kurtz, both good and not-so good, but one thing that cannot be said about him is being cowardly. He makes his opinions known and stands behind them by not doing so anonymously. So the comparison doesn’t fit.

#153 Mike Cope
November/20/2008
@ 2:41 pm

I don’t think that ANY cartoonist trying to earn a legit living with their work would appreciate being accused of being the so-called ‘Bad Cartoonist’ … Especially for no reason other than a personal assumption.

Months ago, someone with respectable connections thought that I was the BC and even phoned me about it. I think the only thing worse would be discovering that your name is on the ‘No Fly List’ for no good reason.

Some cartoonists may seem tough on the outside, but I think that most of us are still the shy, awkward kids on the inside.

#154 Alan Gardner
November/20/2008
@ 2:54 pm

Mike’s NOT the B.C.? Whaaaat?

Maybe if you’d stop posting comments using the pseudonym then maybe you won’t fall under suspicion. :)

#155 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
November/20/2008
@ 9:57 pm

WOW! A post brought back from the dead after eight months!
Who says we don’t hold a grudge!( or have delayed reaction ).

After all this time, I do have to interject about Paul Conrad. Really, one of the most concise and brilliant practitioners of this curious craft ( and he’s incredidbly funny at parties ). Conrad also refrained from retirement until Chucklenuts was gone from the White House. { and was [pure conjecture] influential in securing employment for ex-colleague Ramirez a position so obviously more to his (MR’s) liking }.

As for BC; I’ve known so many bad C’s that were successful, and so many good C’s that were not…that it would be a Hobson’s Choice.

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