When cartoonists attack cartoonists!! AKA: Jump to conclusions and ask (or don’t ask) questions later!!

Cagle Cartoon: None of them

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle within the editorial cartooning community over a recent Daryl Cagle cartoon. It goes something like this:

Daryl created a cartoon on Sunday regarding the accused Boston Bomber not being read his Miranda Rights. The cartoon itself isn’t controversial, but a few cartoonists are taking issue with what Daryl did next to the cartoon. Daryl changed the cartoon the next day to express the opposite view point and made it available to clients thereby creating two cartoons expressing two opposing view points.

The cartoon above went out Sunday, the ’toon below went out Monday.

Cagle Cartoon: All of them

The charge leveled by fellow cartoonists is Daryl is maximizing potential profits with the same cartoon by making a few edits in Photoshop.

From Ann Telnaes (whom I deeply respect):

This is a clear case of a cartoon syndicate trying to maximize profits by offering the same artwork but changing a few words to address both ideological sides of an issue. An editorial cartoon is supposed to have a clear point of view. Let me repeat that: an editorial cartoon is supposed to have a clear point of view; it should reflect the opinion of the creator. Otherwise, it?s not an editorial cartoon but just a cartoon. Distributing this kind of work demeans and devalues the profession.

Another cartoonist (whom I don’t respect and won’t validate his diatribe with a link) called Daryl “The Osama Bin Laden of Editorial Cartooning”.

So is this a new ground breaking business practice by Daryl as claimed by his critics? I looked through his archive thinking surely there must be evidence that this practice has been ongoing before jumping to such drastic conclusions. Nothing.

So let’s look at what happened with this cartoon. On Monday, Daryl posted this on his Facebook account:

OK! The chorus of complaints both here and in my e-mail box about the Miranda Warning/Boston Bomber cartoon has convinced me the change my mind. Here is a revised cartoon that I’m sending out. I don’t do this often, but sometimes I can be talked out of a cartoon.

I emailed Daryl for a response to this issue and he explains it like this:

I got such a strong reaction from readers against the first version of the cartoon, with many well reasoned arguments, that I changed my mind – something that doesn’t happen much in this profession. So I posted a revised version of the cartoon. I learned that Tsarnaev was given his Miranda rights shortly before I posted the revised cartoon, so I doubt that the second cartoon got much ink.


I’ve changed my mind before, not often, and usually over a longer period of time, but I won’t go back into the archive to delete the old cartoons. I posted them, I should live with my history. So both cartoons are up. My old cartoons supporting the run up to war in Iraq are still posted too – I’m more embarrassed by those.

I’ll let you be the judge of whatever sins Daryl is guilty of. He certainly has critics and detractors in the business, but in this case I find no evidence that this was a premeditated effort to capture more market space or syndicate dollars. For those cartoonists who profess to be journalists, whatever happened to asking questions, and getting context before rushing judgement to the presses?

23 thoughts on “When cartoonists attack cartoonists!! AKA: Jump to conclusions and ask (or don’t ask) questions later!!

  1. In this age of Red States and Blue States, I would commend anyone for LISTENING to others’ viewpoints and admitting they may have held the wrong position on an issue. It shows humility and respect.
    I’d give Daryl the benefit of doubt, since I don’t recall him ever doing this before.
    The fair thing to do is pull the first cartoon, don’t let any newspapers run it and don’t profit from presenting both positions on the issue.

  2. You’re going to quote someone and NOT even say who you’re quoting? Then you talk about journalism ethics. I think you “validated” by expanding the attention of this issue.

    I don’t get this: I have never heard of a cartoonist changing a cartoon because of reader complaints. I would have had to change every single cartoon I ever drew.
    I’m not going to accuse Cagle of trying to maximize profits because I don’t know what he’s doing. But if he regretted the cartoon he should have just pulled it and not alter it. It comes off as trying to appease readers when a cartoonist should be brave enough to back up his viewpoint.
    Changing his position so quickly shows he probably didn’t give the issue much thought to begin with.

    I’m not against cartoonists criticizing other cartoonists. I think it’s very healthy. At the same time I don’t think it should be so personal and directed out of jealousy because someone has something you don’t. That kills your credibilty as much as those being criticized.

  3. Funny that this happens at the same time as Ted Rall’s screed against lazy cartoonists (complete with examples).
    Every field has people who are successful and those who are not. Some of those successful people are very good at what they do, and some are not, but still successful.
    I can not like a cartoon, or a specific cartoonist’s work, but I don’t feel compelled to share those feelings via social media.
    Our vocation is threatened by so many outside factors that it seems counter-productive to criticize each other.

  4. Many writers have written novels that put forward two points of view, not just endings. John Foweles ( French Lt. Woman and The Magys). Why shouldn’t a graphic artist be allowed the same latitude?

  5. Why are you all assuming he COULD retract the first cartoon? Do you all know his business model? Do you know which rights he sold to which cartoon? I know that I do NOT know. And how often is a cartoon retracted? More precisely, how often is a popular major selling political cartoon from a popular major selling political cartoonist retracted?

  6. Criminal sneeches without Miranda rights have lawyers to car’,
    but those without such may have stars upon thars,
    but in the end all us sneeches live on the same beaches,
    and if a cartoonist type sneech gets paid twice for
    mirroring her peaches, it seems a trend That
    we should all be a’reaching.

    When did changing your mind become someone else’s affair?

    “An editorial cartoon is supposed to have a clear point of view. Let me repeat that: an editorial cartoon is supposed to have a clear point of view..” Clearly Ann Telnaes isn’t the boss of Daryl Cagle.

    Also I see absolutely no moral or ethical objection to ‘a cartoon syndicate trying to maximize profits by offering the same artwork but changing a few words to address both ideological sides of an issue.’ This seems the whole point of cartooning, save blind ideology for politics, please.

  7. Editorial cartoon is opinion and opinion is not journalism. It’s not reporting its opining. Big difference and if you take both sides of an issue you’re a salesman not a theorist. I don’t pretend to know DC’s motives but it is MY OPINION that it would take a h.s. debate team 3 minutes* to destroy the excuse of “I changed my mind”.

    *and that’s probably two minutes more than they’d need.

  8. If, in fact, it would be a good thing if a cartoonist were to offer both a “pro” and a “con” version of his work to readers, then it should apply to columnists.

    I, for one, would LOVE to see someone like Cal Thomas or Michele Malkin change their columns to read as less conservative and more progressive. The same could hold true for progressive columnists. Could they do it? Their heads would explode.

  9. @ M Lester #6- You seem to confuse jounalism with history. Any hs debater would need only to refer you to a good dictionary to demolish the premise of your post.

    Clearly Ernie Pyle, Andy Rooney, Studs Terkel and Paul Harvey were NOT journalsits by your criteria. I do believe that reporting opinions, your own and those of others you collect is often prize winnig journalism sez Puliter committees.

    “if you take both sides of an issue you?re a salesman not a theorist.” This is completely non-sensical because cartoonsts are both intrensically.

    Only your friends will tell you.

  10. Editorial cartooning is a commercial business. The point is to create pointed cartoons that sell. If you create editorial cartoons without “making money” in mind, I’ll suggest you’re a potential radical with a pen. After all, whom should we fear more, a cartoonist so attached to their beliefs that they cannot separate themselves from this dogma in order to consider/offer a different point of view, or a cartoonist who can stop both sides of an argument in their tracks and say, “Did you ever consider the possibility you might be wrong?”

  11. Mike Cope, I respectfully disagree.
    Have you ever seen the book, “Jim Borgman’s Cincinnati”?
    It’s a great example of the impact an editorial cartoonist can have in his/her community.
    Those cartoons wouldn’t make much sense to anyone living outside the immediate area, but they are examples of great editorial cartooning.
    Personally, a cartoon knocking a mayor of his/her perch would be a more meaningful feather in my cap than another cartoon on any national topic.

    I don’t think anyone sits at the drawing table and calculates how many reprints their cartoon is going to earn.

    Daryl Cagle is a businessman. He’s created his own syndicate with some top-notch cartoonists and he created the most comprehensive editorial cartooning web site on the Internet. He’s business savvy. He’s got the means to get cartoons out to publications as fast as news happens and I’m sure that helps his business. But in doing so, as we’ve learned from the tv networks, internet sites, etc. you sometimes make mistakes when you (please pardon the expression) jump the gun.

  12. I have often told kids that, just as some of them are more comfortable drawing a poster about a book than writing a book report, some commentators would rather draw a cartoon about a political issue than write a column, and that’s what an editorial cartoon is: A graphic column.

    As Paul Fell notes, Cal Thomas and Michelle Malkin have points of view that are consistent. Some papers feature only progressive columns or conservative columns, while most offer a mix. But you don’t expect Ann Coulter to offer a choice of columns, with one in which she proclaims the horrors of abortion and another in which she embraces a pro-choice position. Nor would you expect Paul Krugman to offer conflicting columns on economic stimulus.

    If you changed your mind, delete the version you have decided was wrong. Unless, of course, you feel that your opinion is worthless and will have no impact on the conversation. In which case, perhaps there is a department store chain that needs a graphic artist to illustrate their advertising inserts.

  13. This board reminds me of Harper Valley PTA.

    Instead of telling cartoonists what to do or not do; what a cartoon should be or should not be, instead mind your own cartoons! Do what YOU want to do and don’t let anyone boss you around.

    I love cartoons and cartoonists. I don’t make cartoons myself any more cause I’m only okay at it, and I found it to be too much work for too little money. I love making other artworks and happily do so. Life is good if you let it be.

  14. What political cartoon ever convinced anyone of anything?

    They are just opinion columns reduced of exposition to visually break up columns of text. While some elevate the art form beyond the wook of their peers, cartoonists earn a living by selling cartoons(period).

    If you really believe otherwise, perhaps a bit of introspection is in order.

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