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Editorial cartooning in a hyper-partisanship climate

Excellent retrospection by Ed Stein regarding the challenges of editorial cartooning in our hyper-partisanship climate.

Editorial cartooning is a funny business (no pun intended). The best cartoons are the strongest, most aggressive, least ambiguous ones. We want to say things as pointedly as possible, yet many of us are extremely uncomfortable with what has become the national shouting match that passes for political dialog. Most of the cartoonists I know wrestle with this dilemma constantly. We want to inform the debate, not simply preach to the converted. The easiest way to draw a cartoon is to take the talking points of the day, liberal or conservative, and just parrot what?s already being said. The hardest cartoons to create are those that are truly original, that look skeptically at the arguments of both sides, that try to find new ways to present social and political arguments. The best cartoonists write from a personal philosophic point of view that may be aligned with a conservative or a liberal political philosophy, but is at least a few steps removed from the party platform. The cartoonists I admire are mortified at the idea of a being a shill for a political party. The test of a good cartoonist is the ability to criticize those he agrees with.

Read the whole thing.

Community Comments

#1 Paul Fell
January/11/2011
@ 1:05 pm

Excellent commentary by one of the most thoughtful cartoonists working today. Well done, Ed.

#2 rick stromoski
January/12/2011
@ 5:12 pm

Conservatives fostering a climate of violent rhetoric? No way
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/11/joe-wilson-you-lie-assault-rifle_n_807644.html

#3 Jim Lavery
January/13/2011
@ 9:04 am

“The cartoonists I admire are mortified at the idea of a being a shill for a political party. The test of a good cartoonist is the ability to criticize those he agrees with.”

This point needs to be hammered home (oops, did I use violent imagery?)to every ed. cartoonist over and over. It is very sad to see cartoons that are so obviously enslaved to a “side” the cartoonist HAS to take instead of being honestly critical.

#4 Ted Rall
January/13/2011
@ 8:00 pm

Sadly, Jim, sticking to the party line is SOP for 99% of cartoonists and columnists.

#5 John Auchter
January/14/2011
@ 8:29 am

Amen, Ed. And very thoughtful. Unfortunately, it is much easier to market a cartoon as either ?liberal? or ?conservative? rather than ?thoughtful.?

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