Editorial cartoonist Paul Berge blogs. Mostly it is about his current cartoon, but on the weekends he gets historical.
This past weekend he entertained us with some background on dingbats:
Last Saturday’s post looked back on my abortive attempt to add a little character in my editorial cartoons giving postscriptive commentary on the topic of the day. Although I didn’t keep it up, such characters are a longstanding tradition that dates back at least to the marginalia in medieval manuscripts, if not to paintings on cave walls.
In editorial cartooning, they’re called dingbats…
But it was Paul’s closing that set me off:
Alas, none of us are including those beloved dingbats in our editorial cartoons any more. (Unless you count Stan Kelly.)
Perhaps that what’s ailing our profession these days…
Surely that can’t be right.
I set off to find the cartoonist that would prove Paul wrong.
Another long-standing tradition has vanished.
There are a few comic strip cartoonists still using dingbats but the use of them in editorial cartoons has ended.
Tom Toles famously used himself as the dingbat in his cartoons. But Tom retired a couple years ago.
That left David Fitzsimmon‘s quail, until he retired at the beginning of this year.
The editorial cartoon Dingbat is dead.
Unless one lives in a freelance editorial cartoon at some independent newspaper.
5 thoughts on “The Last Dingbat”
The end of an era. I’m pretty much in agreement that on the editorial side they are all gone. Back in mid-CoVID I did a shout-out strip along these lines:
Dead… for now.
Barry Deutch frequently uses dingbats, but he calls them “kicker panels”.
The latest was this one: https://leftycartoons.com/2023/02/13/the-myth-of-william-f-buckley-and-the-john-birch-society/
I have to disagree about calling those Barry Deutch kicker panels dingbats. Dingbats would be the same basic graphic, Barry uses a character (a different character every time) from his cartoon for further commentary. However I do like his use of a “kicker panel.”
Webcomics still do it but it’s often just alt text, not a little guy
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