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Hey Kids! First Amendment Comics!

 

Matt Wuerker and Ann Telnaes, in association with Jenny Robb and Lucy Caswell, are going to try put together a small book/bookazine/catalogue based on the current Front Line: Editorial Cartoonists and The First Amendment exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

Matt is asking for some help in gathering material for the project:

Hi guys—

Awhile back Ann and I got talking about maybe doing a small self published book based on the great show that she, Jenny Robb and Lucy Caswell put together at Billy Ireland.  We’re putting some ECI money toward it and some of us are kicking in too to make it happen.  Seems like not a terribly heavy lift since a lot of work has been done by Ann, Jenny and Lucy.  Here’s a short blurb on the show that will be up most of the rest of the year— http://cartoons.osu.edu/events/front-line-editorial-cartoonists-and-the-first-amendment/
The idea is to do a smallish book that expands on the show and explores the role of editorial cartooning out there on the front lines of the first amendment.  Sadly the past few months have made that role clearer than ever.
I’m writing all you dukes and duchesses of Cartoonlandia to enlist your help.  I can use your help and input shaping the contents of the book and also some help with the legwork and editing.
Here’s what we’ve got so far:
About 70 cartoons on the topic from the show.
 
This great foreword from Floyd Abrams—
 
On Political Cartoons and Freedom of Speech 
Of all the commentary uttered about political figures and issues, none tends to be as sharp, as cutting, and often as lacerating as a political cartoon. By its nature, as one cartoonist put it, it is “a weapon of attack, of scorn and ridicule” and “usually as welcome as a bee sting.” 
No political figure of note in American history has been spared from being caricatured by cartoonists of his or her day—George Washington was portrayed as an ass, Abraham Lincoln shown dressed in bloomers and high heels, Richard Nixon memorably depicted as climbing out of a sewer. 
American First Amendment law, unique in the degree to which it protects even the harshest criticism of political leaders, has long since concluded, as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy put it, that “political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence.” 
So it has. In the only US Supreme Court case dealing with cartoons about public figures, political or otherwise, the 1988 ruling of the Court in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, sweeping First Amendment protection was afforded to such speech. As Chief Justice William Rehnquist put it, “the art of the cartoonist is often not reasoned or evenhanded, but slashing and one-sided.” Just such speech, he concluded, must be protected. If it were not, he wrote, “our political discourse would have been considerably poorer.” 
This exhibition well demonstrates how rich we are as a people that such speech is celebrated and not suppressed. 
–Floyd Abrams
 
And then the idea is to gather a few essays to weave through the cartoons—-
 
Lucy has a nice essay on the history of cartoonists getting in trouble going back to the sedition act and espionage acts, and with that we’ve got a bunch of historical cartoons.  This would make for a great introduction.
 
Roslyn Mazer has a agreed to write a piece on Hustler v Falwell
 
Then it seems we could do a couple more essays.  Maybe one on free speech in the international context that would touch on Charlie Hebdo.  Although it might be better to keep this focused on cartooning in the US.
 
Another chapter could be about Patrick getting sacked by the NYT.  That could get broadened to get into the issue of social media shit storms and spineless editors. Patrick’s eloquent response could work as the text for the chapter— https://www.chappatte.com/en/the-end-of-political-cartoons-at-the-new-york-times/ .    Pett wrote a short piece on this too that was good.  https://unherd.com/2019/06/what-is-the-new-york-times-so-scared-of/ .  I’m sure I’ve missed others
 
Seems we could devote a chapter to cartooning in the age of Trump— using Rob Rogers and de Adder’s stories as a hook— maybe repurpose something from Rob’s new book.
 
And then perhaps a final chapter to try and end on a positive note, something about the unique power and endurance of political cartoons
It’s been a shitty year for or two for cartooning and a narrative is shaping up that we’re all a bunch of dodo birds on a sad little doomed island.  It seems a book like this could be a nice retort to that narrative.
Yours truly,
Pollyanna
 

I hope they can get it assembled and printed in time for the
2019 Association of American Editorial Cartoonists/CXC convention in late September.

 

 

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