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Cal Grondahl upsets law enforcement community

Cal Grondahl controversial cartoon
Cal Grondahl, the editorial cartoonist for The Standard Examiner in Ogden Utah, recently drew a cartoon that has upset the local law enforcement community. The cartoon depicting officers walking away from a dead body stating, “Respect the badge or else”. The cartoon, like most all of Cal’s editorial cartoons, ran along side a companion house editorial.

From Andy Howell, executive editor:

It is understandable that some would be offended by the cartoon, especially when taken by itself without consideration for the editorial.

Many of those who complained did not mention the editorial, only the accompanying cartoon, citing it as slamming all law enforcement officers. They were offended by the portrayal of the officers, appearing as if they enjoyed shooting an individual. Some of the complaints came from family members of law enforcement officers in the area, It is unfortunate that the cartoon became the focal point of discussion and outrage, because this took away from the point the editorial board was trying to make about unjustified shootings.

Cal is a friend of mine and I am a fan of his work, but this controversy highlights one of the issues I’ve had with the way the Examiner uses Cal’s talents. They use him mostly as an illustrator for their house editorials. And this is an example of what happens when the cartoon’s context becomes dependent on something outside of itself. Granted most editorial cartoons are dependent on the reader understanding the news story upon which it is based, but in this case, not only did the reader need to know the backstory on the shootings, but also the paper’s position.

Community Comments

#1 Clay Jones
June/10/2013
@ 12:07 pm

I also disagree with how his work is used. I’m not sure if that’s how Cal wants to work or not. Yeah, a reader should know the issue to understand the cartoon. Occasionally I’ll see a cartoon I don’t understand so I’ll google the issue. But a cartoon should be able to stand alone without an editorial next to it explaining the cartoon. Give readers at least a little bit of credit. The Standard Examiner shows they don’t truly respect cartoons.

#2 Paul Fell
June/10/2013
@ 3:14 pm

If you are illustrating editorials you are an editorial illustrator, not an editorial cartoonist.

More evidence that most newspapers have no clue as to the traditional duties of editorial cartoonists. And that’s another reason why the profession is dead.

#3 Mike Peterson
June/11/2013
@ 3:25 am

You should see the length of the pieces surrounding most of Thomas Nast’s work.

I would still call him an editorial cartoonist. Particularly since he apparently did his work in consultation with the editorialist(s). If he were just drawing his own point of view, then he’d be a “political cartoonist.”

At least Harper’s Weekly and the Sun knew who they had hired and why — he didn’t necessarily have to trim his sails to the prevailing breeze. What I find annoying is papers that will run a column (local nor not) and “illustrate” it with a syndicated cartoon that is, yes, on the same topic but is in no way germane to the point being made in the written piece and may even contradict it. Clear evidence that you can’t expect nuanced artistic judgment from people whose main talent lies in correcting grammar and applying style rules.

#4 Donald Rex Jr.
June/11/2013
@ 9:16 am

‘Editorial illustrator,’ ‘editorial cartoonist,’ political cartoonist,’ etc. are descriptions not definitions.

#5 Paul Fell
June/11/2013
@ 7:29 pm

Cal is also one of the few remaining full-time staff cartoonists left in this business.

#6 Dave Stephens
June/11/2013
@ 10:38 pm

Yellow Journalism’s resurgence continues apace – it is fed by hatred of “the other” – as long as Democrats and Republicans continue to demonize each other, there will be more muckraking and more scalp taking…

#7 Mike Peterson
June/12/2013
@ 3:03 am

Accurate descriptions, mind you. Which therefore function as definitions, AFAIK.

#8 Donald Rex Jr.
June/12/2013
@ 8:54 am

Blurring distinctions between terms with important differences is lazy and impedes both understanding and accurate comunication.

A description is a general, subjective statement, a definition is a specific, all encompasing perimeter. One can never act as the other if one intends to be clear.

This is one thing scientists and English majors agree on. Why should cartoonists have lessor standards?

#9 Joe Engesser
June/12/2013
@ 2:00 pm

Well drawn, Cal! Apology accepted, Andy.

#10 Mike Peterson
June/13/2013
@ 3:14 am

Well, I only studied Newton and Galileo instead of dissecting worms and weighing rocks, and wasted my time on Aristotle and Aquinas instead of Hawthorne and Fitzgerald, so please explain the nuanced distinctions and how they differ from my foolish attempts to understand the terminology.

#11 Donald A. Rex Jr.
June/13/2013
@ 8:41 pm

I suggest investing in a dictionary Mike. It won’t stop you from playing a fool, but its use will surely cut down on others deriving the impression from your posts.

And try reading science, philosophy or literature from this Century, or the last (Okay Fitzgerald wrote in the last Century). I can see why that stuff confused you.

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