Pia Guerra, New Yorker cartoonist and editorial cartoonist (not completely separate categories), has a hardcover book, Me The People, of her editorials coming out a month before the mid-term elections in the United States. Andrea Ayres talked to Pia about the book and editorial cartooning.
Up until now I drew comics pages that when finished, got sent to a team of people who did their magic to put it all together. With Me the People I get asked a lot of questions about production that is totally new to me, some of it familiar from working at a print shop back in the 90’s like paper weight and end sheets, some of it absolutely charming like what colour the end threads should be on the binding? (We went with fake tan orange!). I’m learning a lot and enjoying it quite a bit.”
“Editorial cartoons pass on incredible amounts of information in an instant. They’re informative, thoughtful and entertaining and a lot easier to share than a 1000 word essay. If the subject is resonant, if it connects with a viewer’s feelings that she or he wants to express, then it can act as a courier of thoughts someone may not have the time to put into words themselves. We see this with memes, videos… we want to share the things that affect us, to let others know we’re here and we care about what’s going on even though we may be buried in other commitments.
“Even before the internet, you could walk into any office break room, cubicle, bulletin board, and see cartoons cut from the newspaper that someone wanted to share with others. This is the same thing, we’ve always done it, only now we have a much more wide reaching bulletin board.”
“Hero’s Welcome” – probably Pia’s most widely distributed cartoon.
“With Hero’s Welcome, I was up all night watching the news, I was crying and angry and upset. I got pissed at the idea that the 2nd Amendment was more important than a child’s life, that other countries (including the one I live in) have somehow managed to have sensible gun control but for some reason the US couldn’t, the country that has laid claim to being able to doing anything better than anyone… you know the line, and this made me think of my niece and how parents have to just let their kids go out into the world everyday. The image of a mom apologizing to her daughter at the school gate came to mind and I quickly drew it up, sent it to The Nib. It was a huge relief to get something down, it was dawn and I was getting ready to go to bed when the news released the name of the first of the three teachers who were killed, Aaron Feis. They showed his picture, said he was a father, he was young and he shielded students with his own body and well that just made my brain explode. Like, holy shit, all this potential and goodness just snuffed out… joining the club of all these other students and teachers full of life and vibrancy and- pop. There was the image. Feis being welcomed into this tragic group of beautiful people who should still be here.
“I was exhausted. I should have gone to bed but I wanted to get the image out before someone else got to it so I stayed up. When it was done, I submitted it, heard back that The Nib wanted to stick with the first cartoon so I posted it on Twitter and went to bed.”
The Nib went with Pia’s first idea.
The fascinating interview is posted at comicsbeat.com
“Yeah, I’ve done a fair amount of duds. It happens. The main criteria is if it punches down, it shouldn’t go up. If the target is the oppressor then pretty much anything goes.”