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Pearly Gate tributes cartoons for an atheist?

Daryl Cagle asks an interesting question on his blog regarding the many George Carlin tribute cartoons depicting him, an outspoken atheist, at the Pearly Gates. He asks:

Does the cartoonist’s religious view trump the celebrity’s religion in an obituary cartoon? For a Christian cartoonist, who believes that his own religion is the only correct religion, is an obituary cartoon an opportunity to show that the celebrity’s religious views were wrong – as the dead celebrity would surely know by now, as he is really at the Pearly Gates right now?

He received response from Scott Stantis, Steve Benson, Steve Nease, and John Deering. Most responded that the setting was an easy vehicle to make a larger point.

Specifically Scott Stantis wrote:

I did, indeed, mean George Carlin at the Pearly Gates as an irreverent commentary within the cartoon. I readily admit I have drawn my fair share of pearly gates and crying mascots in the past. But recently I have tried to take my inspiration from the obit cartoons of Pat Oliphant. When he does do them he places them in some kind of context of the persons life and impact. With George Carlin, (of whom I consider myself a fan), his contribution to comedy and social discourse was to tear down the walls of conformity and ridicule the overly serious. His anti-religion screeds grew longer and more serious near the end.

Hence, a cartoon I hoped would be viewed as irreverent. At least to those familiar with the subject.

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
June/26/2008
@ 6:48 am

Thanks, Daryl. This is prime example of why the profession of editorial cartooning in America deserves to die.

#2 Dawn Douglass
June/26/2008
@ 10:14 am

Well, I don’t agree that it deserves to die, but I do agree this shows how “safe” editorial cartooning has become.

This is the editorial cartoon I’d like to see in the spirit of George Carlin, but it won’t happen:

Guy is coming up from behind Barack Obama, who is looking deadon at the reader.

HEY, N*****.

Obama is reacting with huge, shocked eyes.

Frame 2

WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?

“NEWBIE.”
YOU KNOW, SOMEONE WHO’S INEXPERIENCED.

Frame 3
Obama is looking towards the group of gathered media (they don’t have to be seen).
OKAY, REPORTERS, YOU HEARD HIM.

RACIST!!
RACIST!!
*RACIST!!!*

The guy is now shrinking/cowering with confused eyes.

YOU brave enought to draw that one up, Wiley? ;)

Actually, I wouldn’t expect you to, because despite the “we attack the folly on both sides” stuff…uhhh…well…yeah right.

#3 Jeff Darcy
June/26/2008
@ 10:32 am

I liked Mike Luckovich’s. Because while it was a pearly gate, at least the caption captured Carlin’s spirit and attitude towards religion.
Mike Lester’s Carlin toon today was a great example of how you can do a tribute cartoon without the pearly gates and have it really say something worth thinking about. I have a feeling Carlin would have loved it too.

#4 Corey Pandolph
June/26/2008
@ 11:17 am

I didn’t think it was possible to completely take all the fun out of humor and cartooning, until I read Dawn’s posts.

Jeez.

#5 josh shalek
June/26/2008
@ 11:42 am

As someone who wasn’t yet born when Carlin did his “7 things” bit, I know him primarily from his movie and TV roles. He always struck me as a really with-it dude, someone who wasn’t about to rest on his laurels. A comic tribute shouldn’t dig up the old Pearly Gates cliche for such an innovative comic talent.

Then again, I’ve been stuck on a desert island for a long time, and this one palm tree doesn’t provide much shade. Maybe I’m getting heatstroke and babbling.

#6 Wiley Miller
June/26/2008
@ 12:06 pm

“YOU brave enought to draw that one up, Wiley? ;)”

1. I do my own work, thank you.

2. The operative word in editorial cartooning is “editorial”. As such, a cartoon should have an editorial point to it, and that point has to be that of the cartoonist, not anyone else.

3. I have absolutely no idea what your cartoon idea means, but if it’s something you feel strongly about, you should draw it.

#7 Chris Evans
June/26/2008
@ 12:07 pm

I live under a dark rock. If I died, and anyone thought I was worthy of an obituary cartoon, Pearly Gates, or no, I’d be flattered. We live on through the memory of the living.

#8 Josh McDonald
June/26/2008
@ 12:15 pm

I’d had the same thought in passing about all those George Carlin tributes; but I took it for granted that the “Pearly Gates” represent an easily-recognizable visual device, to depict a person’s lasting legacy. It’s more a cartoon image than a religious image anyway; I doubt any adult Christians really expect to see a giant gate set into the clouds when they die.

Besides, how would you draw a cartoon of someone entering into nonexistence?

#9 Phil Wohlrab
June/26/2008
@ 12:20 pm

It’s lunch time so I have some time to post.. The pearly gates thing aside, almost everyone of those cartoons used the “7 words you can’t say ” angle. It’s just variations of the same cartoon. Is that why you think American Editorial Cartooning deserves to die, Wiley? If so, I tend to agree with you.

#10 Scott Metzger
June/26/2008
@ 12:41 pm

“I doubt any adult Christians really expect to see a giant gate set into the clouds when they die.”

You wouldn’t think so, but you’d be surprised. Some adult Christians actually believe in the ‘pearly gates’ – and they probably also think they’ll go up to heaven in an escalator.

As Jim Gaffigan said: “Why would heaven need a GATE?”

#11 Dawn Douglass
June/26/2008
@ 12:46 pm

Oh, come on, Wiley, I was just teasing you.

And I think it’s pretty obvious what it means. To use your format:

1. Any criticism of Obama is being viewed as racist.

2. The media are willing accomplices in this “Obama is here to save the world and how dare anybody question him” campaign.

If editorial cartoonists are as “equal opportunity” punch throwers as you always claim, then where are the cartoons hitting Obama’s policies or anything else on his side?

I guess Obama is just 100% perfect. Let’s do some more tribute cartoons. Who else has died?

#12 John Cole
June/26/2008
@ 12:50 pm

I hate pearly gates cartoons. I drew a few back in the day, but managed to shake the nasty, smelly habit. No, wait … that was cigarettes.

Anyway, It’s a moldy cliche that should be avoided. The only good pearly gates cartoon is showing a pearly gates cartoon at the pearly gates, whereupon it is rejected and cast into the flames of eternal damnation, condemned to spend eternity with other shopworn metaphors like American Gothic, the Iwo Jima flag-raising and big-fish-eating-little-fish.

Such cartoons tell me: “I had a 12 noon tee time yesterday, and George Carlin was kind enough to help me make it.”

#13 Corey Pandolph
June/26/2008
@ 12:54 pm

“Such cartoons tell me: ‘I had a 12 noon tee time yesterday, and George Carlin was kind enough to help me make it.'”

Ha!

Yeah, I hate golf.

#14 Wiley Miller
June/26/2008
@ 1:16 pm

I’m not going to get into a political back-and-forth with you, Dawn, regarding your take on Obama. That’s not what this forum is for.

Back to the issue of obituary cartoons, they’re simply an example of lazy cartooning as well as an example of what’s wrong with the profession as a whole. Whenever a celebrity dies, the vast majority of editorial cartoonists (the few that still have a job, that is) see it as a day off. Unless the cartoonist is making an editorial point about the passing of any given person, what’s the point in doing them? There’s no shortage of fitting memorials to a celebrity like George Carlin throughout media. If there’s no editorial point to an editorial cartoon, it shouldn’t be done.

#15 Howard Tayler
June/26/2008
@ 1:29 pm

I’m a free-market kind of guy. If editorial cartooning (or any other business in this world) deserves to die, then it’ll get killed by the market that refuses to pay for it.

If a dozen editorial cartoonists all independently arrive at the same cartoon on the day of an event, yeah, there are probably eleven too many of them trying to get paid for it — especially now that a single cartoon can reach the entire nation or world via the web. But if they all DO get paid for it, what do I know? Ultimately we all end up drawing what the market will support us drawing.

Tired metaphors like the Pearly Gates are used a lot because they work. The guru on the mountain-top, the guy with the “will work for X” sign, and the ascribing of animal attributes to “fat cats” and “pork-barrel” and “sacred cows” are all used a lot for the same reason: They work for our audiences, and as long as they continue to work, the only good reason to use something else as a metaphor is if it works better.

Cartooning is a creative profession, and it is an artform, but at its heart it is about communication, and metaphor facilitates that.

#16 Dawn Douglass
June/26/2008
@ 1:39 pm

“Iâ??m not going to get into a political back-and-forth with you, Dawn, regarding your take on Obama. Thatâ??s not what this forum is for.”

I’m not trying to start a political debate. I’m pointing out, which is very much in keeping with this forum, that editorial cartoonists aren’t doing their job.

In fact, Wiley, you’re the one who brought it up! You said that editorial cartooning deserves to die, which implies that you mean they aren’t doing editorial cartooning. I was just agreeing with you!

Why is it so uncomfortable or unthinkable to editorialize Obama? I think talking about that is a conversation worth having.

#17 Wiley Miller
June/26/2008
@ 1:46 pm

“Why is it so uncomfortable or unthinkable to editorialize Obama?”

I didn’t say that, nor even implied it. You made some rather ridiculous statements about Obama and I simply said I’m not going to get into a back-and-forth political discussion.

As I said before, if it’s a cartoon you feel makes a legitimate editorial point, then by all means draw it.

#18 Dawn Douglass
June/26/2008
@ 1:53 pm

No, Wiley, you said: â??Iâ??m not going to get into a political back-and-forth with you, Dawn, regarding your take on Obama. Thatâ??s not what this forum is for.â?

This from the guy who is always right there in the thick of any political discussion on this forum that has to do with the war or Bush or Cheney.

But Obama? No! We can’t talk about Obama. Hands off Obama. That’s not what this forum is for. No discussion of editorializing Obama here, that’s just “ridiculous.”

Thanks for making my point.

#19 Milt Priggee
June/26/2008
@ 2:00 pm

Wiley,

What do you mean deserves to die….??

It’s been dead for decades….literally.

These safe ‘n’ sane pearly gate toons is only one of the latest features of a decaying carcass.

The second example is that for every one of those pearly gate cartoons there was a very happy editor that approved them for publication.

The third example was Ann Telanes a pulitzer winner just quitting the print world altogether.

The fourth was Paul Combs quitting his TMS syndication.

I said QUIT…they weren’t fired, let go or laid off. They are passionate graphic commentators who no longer see any future…because it’s….. dead. They’ve accepted the fact that the environment no longer supports graphic commentary.

They’ve set their sites on more productive targets.

I can easily point out quite a few other examples….but the biggest is that ALL of media is questioning the very idea of EDITORIALIZING.

Editorializing is a buggy whip left over from the days of private media ownership. A time when private owners wanted to use their power and print platforms to express a strong point of view to set themselves apart from the competition.

Today there are no private owners or competition.

Corporate media has decided to either drop editorializing altogether as in the case of a growing list of papers and news WEB sites now appearing on the Internet…Or to keep the old look of an editorial cartoon but just dumb down the passionate editorializing so it doesn’t offend anybody.

Newspaper editorial cartooning has been dead for decades because the passion for the truth no longer exists in America.

Editorial has devolved to entertainment.

Don’t challenge…………confirm
Don’t offend…………….compliment
Don’t provoke……………address
Don’t editorialize………..entertain.

Long live the gag cartoon.

#20 John Cole
June/26/2008
@ 2:03 pm

Sounds like somebody needs a hug … Milt.

#21 Milt Priggee
June/26/2008
@ 2:16 pm

THANKS John……Yeah,I do feel better,,,,,

#22 Norm Feuti
June/26/2008
@ 2:29 pm

“As Jim Gaffigan said: ‘Why would heaven need a GATE?'”

Ha! Now that’s funny.

#23 Rick Stromoski
June/26/2008
@ 2:32 pm

Somebody throw some water on Dawn.

#24 Matt Bors
June/26/2008
@ 2:42 pm

Preach it, Milt.

When I was talking to another editorial cartoonist recently they brought up a good point. They said, “The problem isn’t so much the bad cartoons–there are literally thousands of people wanting and willing to draw those–it’s the editors. They want to print a certain kind of cartoon and it happens to be the kind that suck.”

I tend to agree. The Carlin cartoons seemed more identical than previous obit batches. It’s like people know what they are supposed to draw when a death happens, and they just pump it out automatically.

#25 Abell Smith
June/26/2008
@ 3:08 pm

This one bothered me more than usual, as I was a huge Carlin fan. Milt has it nailed on a macro-level… but as far as the thought process behind day-to-day work that is produced, here’s a question I asked on a recent blog post (maybe someone with a staff job can help me out):

Is it the deadlines that make people churn out such bland and one-size-fits-all ideas? Are editors to blame for not giving their cartoonists more time to do research (like, perhaps, listening to a few Carlin albums to do a unique and fitting tribute)?

#26 Milt Priggee
June/26/2008
@ 3:15 pm

Thanks for the AMEN, Matt.

The big question is….what are cartoonists going to do now?

The smartest have accepted the obvious that the profession is quickly becoming an entirely freelance existence.

These cartoonists have already jumped from the augering plane and opened their chutes.

Oliphant’s Wash. Star paper closes so he just went with syndication.

Watterson got his exit papers from the Cinn. Post so he created Calvin & Hobbes.

Wiley saw the writing at the SF Ex so he started Non-Sequitur.

Cagle was kicked out of Hawaii so he built a syndicate WEB site.

Fiore was forced out at San Jose Merc News….etc,etc…

All freelancing…all doing it on their own, without the benefit of full-time staff employment.

Remember, in the beginning comic strip cartoonists were also staff newspaper employees.

#27 Wiley Miller
June/26/2008
@ 3:29 pm

Dawn-
Alan has asked us on any number of occasions to not drag this forum down into partisan political discussions, which I am trying to honor here. You are not trying to talk about editorial cartooning, you’re trying turn the thread toward a fight over Obama.

So let’s just stick to the issue at hand, ok?

#28 Wiley Miller
June/26/2008
@ 3:42 pm

“Is it the deadlines that make people churn out such bland and one-size-fits-all ideas?”

No. It’s just pure laziness. They do it because they know they can get away with it.

“Are editors to blame for not giving their cartoonists more time to do research (like, perhaps, listening to a few Carlin albums to do a unique and fitting tribute)?”

No. Editors are to blame for being even more lazy than the cartoonists. A good editor would never allow such insipid dreck to appear on the editorial page. Unfortunately, most, if not all, editors think this is wonderful stuff, as it’s timely and doesn’t upset the readers. That’s why it’s a dead art form now. You might call it a murder-suicide… the former by editors and the latter by cartoonists.

#29 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
June/26/2008
@ 4:17 pm

OK, everyone. Here’s the one that I did, ( and I typically avoid most Obi cartoons ).

I did this one out of respect for the pre-eminent humorist of our time.

I have a caricature of myself holding a newspaper with the headline GEORGE CARLIN DIES . The word balloon has me saying, “OH @#%*! THAT’S A %*#@! SHAME!”.

#30 Anne Hambrock
June/26/2008
@ 4:26 pm

“dont’ editorialize – entertain”

I think Milt has nailed it. I left broadcast news years ago for the PBS newshour because I wanted substantive news of the day. Not puff entertainment tonight type stories or fearmongering. Most newspapers are just another entertainment medium now rather than a source of hard news or editorial commentary.

#31 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
June/26/2008
@ 5:01 pm

I liked Gary Markstein’s version…funny and poignant. Especially given that Carlin’s seven words imbroglio started in Milwaukee, which is Markstein’s home paper.

PS: I had considered a different version for the one I settled on.
I was going to have Carlin suddenly pop up out of the casket during the funeral, saying, “HA! Gotcha!”.
I nixed it because I had to think how various readers would take it, and realized that not everyone would know that it was supposed to be Carlin, and they would be confused. I did not think it the vehicle for a label on the coffin.

#32 Jeff Vella
June/26/2008
@ 5:04 pm

“Corporate media has decided to either drop editorializing altogether as in the case of a growing list of papers and news WEB sites now appearing on the Internetâ?¦Or to keep the old look of an editorial cartoon but just dumb down the passionate editorializing so it doesnâ??t offend anybody”.

Milt, In one sentence, you just described a 30 minute conversation I had with the editor. My comic was rejected becuse the editor “Didn’t want to offend anyone”.

I didn’t go with the â??7 words you canâ??t say â? angle. My comic made reference to the movie “Dogma” and the “Buddy Christ” scene. (who better, but Buddy Christ to welcome Carlin into heaven)

The editor said, He didn’t think it was appropriate for our readers”

Here’s a link to the “Dogma” scene:

#33 josh shalek
June/26/2008
@ 5:15 pm

Wiley: “You might call it a murder-suicideâ?¦ the former by editors and the latter by cartoonists.”

I can see the comic now! An editor and a cartoonist stand at the pearly gates…

The punchline is, nobody reads it.

This is why I can’t do editorial cartoons. I just get bitter.

#34 Eric Burke
June/26/2008
@ 5:16 pm

[i]Newspaper editorial cartooning has been dead for decades because the passion for the truth no longer exists in America.[/i]

With the notable exception of celbrity sex tapes. Some truths need to be seen on celluloid…

#35 Scott Metzger
June/26/2008
@ 5:30 pm

“My comic made reference to the movie â??Dogmaâ? and the â??Buddy Christâ? scene. (who better, but Buddy Christ to welcome Carlin into heaven)”

That is a brilliant idea. The “Buddy Christ” scene was by far the best part of “Dogma” (which, in my opinion, sucked).

Too bad they didn’t run the cartoon. It would’ve been a refreshing take on this whole thing. Do you have the cartoon posted anywhere? I’d like to see it.

#36 Milt Priggee
June/26/2008
@ 5:38 pm

Wiley’s point of murder-suicide made sense about twenty years ago.
But today’s murder-suicide is a murdered editor and a publisher suicide.
Which leaves the cartoonist with a Weekend at Bernie’s… just trying to get through the day with a couple corpses.

#37 John Cole
June/26/2008
@ 5:49 pm

You guys. Seriously. What a buncha whiners.

Yes, pearly gates cartoons are hopelessly lame and lazy. Cartoons that rely on oft-repeated metaphors are slightly less so. That they’re employed often and predictably is depressing. There’s one guy on the AAEC site whose last nine cartoons included five obit cartoons – he got a two-fer out of Russert, I think. Maybe his editor is to blame or maybe he’s just a necrophile. (I kid, of course, but you get my point).

But does this mean ALL editorial cartoons are similarly embarrassing? That the craft as a whole is merely a dessicated corpse lying in the information superhighway’s ditch?

I don’t think so. There are too many excellent staff cartoonists currently slugging it out with editors for this to be the case. And as far as I know, they don’t waste much time or ink at the pearly gates.

And as I’ve said before: There are lots of bad cartoonists working nowadays. But there have *always* been lots of bad cartoonists working. Just check out any old cartooning compilation. It’s simply the case that their work has been forgotten.

The challenge remains that newspapers are dying, taking editorial cartooning with them.

#38 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
June/26/2008
@ 6:23 pm

John, newspapers may be down, but they’ll never die.
The locals will still read them for the Obie’s…..

Milt, remember….the dead guy had the most fun!

#39 Monty Rohde
June/26/2008
@ 8:04 pm

George Carlin at the pearly gates? I KNEW it! I KNEW it! That is the first thing I thought when I heard he’d died. A bunch of shlucks were going to break out the lame pearly gates cartoon. Even more lame and intellectually incoherent than usual.

To bad no one bothered to do a cartoon of him being sent to hell. I realize that’s reserved for only publically hated figures but us non-religious types are constantly told that’s where were headed. Personally I would enjoy George wiping out a snappy catchphrase in front of Satan. I wouldn’t be offended in the least.

#40 Monty Rohde
June/26/2008
@ 8:08 pm

Too bad George isn’t still around to comment on his tributes. I’m sure what he’d say would be hilarious and irk those paying tribute.

#41 Monty Rohde
June/26/2008
@ 8:15 pm

I correct myself. Congratulations to Ken Catalino for at least sending him to hell even if it was too polite and cliche.

#42 Mike Peterson
June/27/2008
@ 3:23 am

Pearly Gates cartoons sell because editors are cloth-eared copyreaders with no sense of metaphor — they don’t “get” cartoons but, instead, pick up cartoons that they recognize as humorous, which means “contains things I know are humorous from seeing them before.”

And they also assume that cartoons are supposed to be laff riots. An editorial cartoon that is mordant or simply thought-provoking won’t get picked up. But Bill and Hillary in a canoe going through “whitewater”? That’s hilarious — especially if he has a giant zipper and she’s wearing a pantsuit!

I suspect that editorial cartoons were better in the Olden Days because, first of all, you had editors with more diverse, entrepenurial backgrounds, and you may have also had a greater staff collegiality, at least on the top rungs, where the cartoonist hung out with the newsroom brain trust. Yes, perhaps in a bar across the street. That Lou Grant style editor was more apt to either get the cartoon in the first place or at least hire someone with whom he was editorially compatible and then get out of his way.

At two papers where I’ve worked, I have made the social gaffe of asking the editor, “Why’d you pick that one?” only to have them stammer … they don’t understand cartoons. So a “Pearly Gate” cartoon is a good cartoon because when someone dies, that’s the kind of cartoon you need.

I was disappointed that everyone focused on the seven words, because of the “we don’t cuss in heaven” theme that went along with most of them. Catalino wasn’t the only person who used Carlin’s death as a chance to point out that he was a bad man. Funny editorial position on pages that would normally be generally in favor of the First Amendment, doncha think?

#43 Rick Stromoski
June/27/2008
@ 5:51 am

>>> Catalino wasnâ??t the only person who used Carlinâ??s death as a chance to point out that he was a bad man.

What brought you to that conclusion? Because he didn’t believe in God?

#44 Monty Rohde
June/27/2008
@ 7:38 am

I have an older sister who works as an editor so I have a little knowledge of this from first hand experience. The first amendment is all fine and well but offending the public must be avoided at all cost.

I don’t think Catalino was implying he was a bad man, he was just trying to be cute and funny within the bounds of safe cartooning. Stating that George would opt for hell over the polite restraints of heaven. Perhaps also a tongue in cheek barb at all the pearly gates cartoons he knew was coming. The joke still stinks but that may be the editor’s choice not his.

Mr. Stromoski:
I don’t think Mr. Peterson is expressing his own personal views and beliefs. The bible is a rather murky and self-conflicting book but it is pretty clear on a few things one of them being that unbelievers do not go to heaven. For those that are deeply passionate about their religion Carlin’s anti-religious views and expressions of them are highly blasphemous which does indeed make him a bad man worthy of eternal damnation. Relax will you.

And for those less hot-tempered about their religion I’m sure you can still agree in the Christian religion there is no way a man like Carlin is going to heaven.

In my own view dead is dead, but I’m not going to given anyone flack for politely and honestly stating their view.

#45 Monty Rohde
June/27/2008
@ 7:40 am

So where are the cartoons of Carlin eternally suffering in hell? I would love to see those it would make for a great laugh.

#46 Wiley Miller
June/27/2008
@ 7:55 am

“So where are the cartoons of Carlin eternally suffering in hell? I would love to see those it would make for a great laugh.”

Why would that make for a great laugh?

And it looks like the AAAEC will weigh in on this:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003821644

#47 Monty Rohde
June/27/2008
@ 8:04 am

My religious views are mostly atheist and I’m thick skinned. I’d love to see someone try to draw something they think I would find offensive or intimidating. I thought that was implied within the comment.

#48 Wiley Miller
June/27/2008
@ 8:28 am

Depicting George Carlin in Hell instead of Heaven is simply the other side of the same inappropriate coin in commemorating his passing, as he railed against the silliness of people believing in such fables of faith.

#49 Phil Wohlrab
June/27/2008
@ 9:56 am

Isn’t it enough to say, no one really knows what happens to us after death? After all, it takes faith to believe that there isn’t anything after death, which I think is just as stupid as any crazy expectation the religious have. I believe in God yes, but there is far more to support the existence of ghosts and the supernatural than there is a God. I think that life after death is highly likely, and doesn’t require a God to be there at all. My friend, along with other witnesses, who are not religious at all, have seen the ghost of a small girl on more than one occasion in the attic of their old fraternity house. My friend would wake up with his tv turned onto cartoons. Apparently the girl liked cartoons. It’s kind of nice to know that even after we die, watching TV is still an option.

#50 Mike Peterson
June/27/2008
@ 10:37 am

Rick quotes, and asks:

>>> Catalino wasnâ??t the only person who used Carlinâ??s death as a chance to point out that he was a bad man.

>What brought you to that conclusion? Because he didnâ??t believe in God?

I generally feel that when someone is shown consigned to the fires of hell, it indicates that the cartoonist disapproves of him. When he draws the person making the conscious and deliberate choice to renounce paradise in favor of eternal torment, it kind of heightens the impression.

The person I’m judging is the cartoonist, not his subject.

#51 Rick Stromoski
June/27/2008
@ 11:23 am

Mike-
I misread your earlier post assuming by how it was presented that the sentiment was yours. Mr Rhodes was kind enough to correct me. My apologies.

#52 Jeff Darcy
June/27/2008
@ 11:48 am

Matt Bors is dead right on the overlooked impact of editors. Some Editorial page editors do believe editorial cartoons shouldn’t editorialize but entertain.
Milt mentioned a number of cartoonist who left, but the circumstances may be varied. How many newspaper clients did they have?
If they didn’t have a staff job and weren’t doing enough pearly gate cartoons to garner enough syndication clients to justify the time spent drawing cartoons, they had no economic choice but to stop.
In the case of Watterson, he continued to draw Editorial Cartoons for the weekly Sun Newspapers in Cleveland, were I took over for him when his comic strip took off. It’s my understanding his goal was always to be a comic strip cartoonist and he was doing layouts for grocery store newpsaper inserts, while he was trying to get syndicated.

#53 Jeff Darcy
June/27/2008
@ 12:06 pm

I know from past posts, memorial cartoons stick in Wiley’s craw. And,believe it or not, a few Editorial page editors agree with him. They don’t bother me. In the 20 or so years I’ve been doing this its been made clear that readers love them. I still get complaints for not doing one when Local Browns football Legend Lou Groza died. And it’s been like ten years. Most staff cartoonists do 5 to 6 cartoons a week. What’s wrong if one of those is a positive memorial cartoon? When I was working for an Alternative paper all I did is tough ,biting, serious commentary, When I moved to a major daily of course they didn’t want something like that everyday. I think there’s nothing wrong with a good mix. The best pitchers don’t just throw fast balls.

#54 Abell Smith
June/27/2008
@ 1:07 pm

“Most staff cartoonists do 5 to 6 cartoons a week. Whatâ??s wrong if one of those is a positive memorial cartoon?”

Because in the case of Carlin, the cartoons weren’t “positive”… they were just dogmatic and lame. That certainly isn’t positive for the profession.

#55 Jeff Darcy
June/27/2008
@ 1:23 pm

When I said positive memorial cartoons. I was talking about them in general. Not the specific case of Carlin. 9 out of 10 times thse cartoons are a positive tribute. And considering we spend most of the week lampooning people , I see nothing wrong with that. I’m a devout Catholic, but I thought Carlin was smart and funny, so I wouldn’t have put him in hell. But considering he was such an unabashed and at times controversal comic it’s fair and fitting that cartoonist would take liberties with how they portray him.
And what’s this I learn from Wiley’s post. 10 of the last 15 editorial cartoonists are meeting in San Antonio? Are they hold up at the Alamo. Wouldn’t a convention at the pearly gates been more appropriate?

#56 Rob Tornoe
June/27/2008
@ 2:31 pm

I have been attending and blogging about the AAEC Con, and there was a great discussion about obituary cartoons where several of the Carlin ones were brought up.

http://www.politicker.com/obituary-cartoons-readers-love-them-cartoonists-hate-them

#57 Beth Cravens
June/27/2008
@ 2:32 pm

I think that if Cartoonists heard from their readers more they would learn that lame cliches are not what they want. They like a visceral jolt that not only makes them laugh or nod in agreement, but think too. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot if we keep spoon feeding our audience. (Even though I joke about drawing one where everything is labeled the next time I hear “I don’t get it”) Thankfully I have a good editor that gets this and is encouraging in that direction.

#58 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
June/27/2008
@ 4:04 pm

All of this discussion about Obie’s and death brought back some memorable quotes.
I’m sure they are familiar to many here:

“You should always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise, they won’t come to yours”.-Yogi Berra

“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die”.-Mel Brooks

“Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time”.-George Carlin

I do find it curious that, for a profession that typically pokes fun towards others, so many seem to take themselves so seriously.

#59 Mike Peterson
June/27/2008
@ 9:12 pm

I used to lecture in high schools on the topic of editorial cartooning and so I’ve gone through some of that archival stuff and come up with a few examples of obituary and disaster cartoons of the past that weren’t stinkers, with some thoughts about what sets them apart.

http://nellieblogs.blogspot.com

#60 John Arthur
June/28/2008
@ 8:01 am

Corey Pandolph said:

“I didnâ??t think it was possible to completely take all the fun out of humor and cartooning, until I read Dawnâ??s posts.”

Truer words have ne’er been spoken.

#61 John Read
June/28/2008
@ 6:13 pm

Wiley,
You started this thread with “…the profession of editorial cartooning in America deserves to die.” Isn’t that just throwing out the baby with the bath water? Doesn’t a comment like that invite an editorial cartoonist to opine, because of the many unfunny and badly drawn comic strips being published, that the comic strip itself needs to die? Surely there are more than a few men and women plying their trade as editorial/political cartoonists whose work you’d miss seeing on the editorial pages?!

#62 Wiley Miller
June/28/2008
@ 6:38 pm

It’s called hyperbole, John.

#63 Bill Hinds
June/29/2008
@ 8:22 am

I love Daryl’s blog post. Maybe it will cause a slowdown of “Pearly Gate” clichés.

By the way, I think Carlin would be more offended by the cliché aspect than the religious aspect. I also suspect he would hate his career being defined by the 7 words bit.
And he would probably be annoyed by someone like me presuming how he would react to anything.

Does anyone know who did the first Pearly Gate cartoon–or the first beggar on the sidewalk gag, the stranded on the desert island gag, or the “Son, one day this will all be yours.” gag?
I’m sure they were gag cartoons and not editorial cartoons.

#64 Wiley Miller
June/29/2008
@ 9:15 am

“Does anyone know who did the first Pearly Gate cartoonâ??or the first beggar on the sidewalk gag, the stranded on the desert island gag, or the â??Son, one day this will all be yours.â? gag?
Iâ??m sure they were gag cartoons and not editorial cartoons.”

I believe they first became cliches as hieroglyphics on the walls inside the great pyramid of Giza, when they ripped off from the original cave paintings in France.

#65 John Read
June/29/2008
@ 12:46 pm

Wiley,
I know hyperbole. It and “cliche” walk hand-in-hand, balancing on the thin line between sniping and concerned criticism. I guess, because your comment seemed harsh to me, and because I don’t believe you’re the curmudgeon you sometimes make out to be, I was trying to “lighten the mood.” It’s probably presumptuous of me to attempt to soften your barbs, but I steadfastly maintain you’re a teddy bear. :-) I’m sorry, I won’t try to “spin” Wiley Miller anymore. Now that Corey Pandolph guy, he IS a curmudgeon!

#66 John Read
June/29/2008
@ 12:50 pm

By the way, David Astor has written a report on E&P’s website about the obit cartoons issue as it was discussed at the AAEC convention.

#67 Garey Mckee
June/29/2008
@ 8:10 pm

“I believe they first became cliches as hieroglyphics on the walls inside the great pyramid of Giza, when they ripped off from the original cave paintings in France.”

Reading the bottom of the cave wall in France, “Copyright Wiley Miller?!?!?!?”

Just kidding Wiley. By the way, technically wouldn’t Egyptian’s concept of any type of pearly gates BE the pyramid in Giza itself? Does that make the pyramids themselves the ultimate giant stone and sand cliches?

#68 Mike Lester
June/30/2008
@ 8:51 am

Sorry I’m late. Just got back from AAEC only to find my profession is no longer eligible for the census.
(he looks so, so…natural.)

P.Gates cartoons: The truth is that anytime you find yourself doing old jokes in front of older people, you’re not busy living your are busy dying. There are also diapers, soft foods and Pat Sajack on the telly.

Editorializing? IMHO the most successful, reprinted and widely heralded cartoonist working today rarely if ever editorializes.

Finally, John Cole at #37 (face it, JC’s good at this posting thing. Always entertaining and informative. I missed you in S.A.) : if I’m correct, the cartoonist to whom your refer w/ the almost ghoulish fascination w/ the dead-man cartoon actually did one the day after the tragic death of one of America’s most beloved and cartoon worthy stars…

Mr. Whipple ( I kid you not.)

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@ 11:09 pm

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