Editorial cartoonists give newspapers their bite. They bring satire to
the table in an age when television, radio and popular magazines have lost
their edge. But they might be a dying breed.
Thirty years ago, according to editorial cartoonist Terry Mosher, it was
much easier to land a job with a newspaper or a magazine. Today, there are
fewer publications. And those cartoonists who currently have jobs aren't willing
to give them up.
Editorial cartoonist Sue Dewar agrees that there are few jobs out there
for aspiring cartoonists. And with ownership of many newspapers being concentrated
in the hands of just a few media magnates, she's afraid cartoonists might
lose their bite.
"Newspapers are going to be different in the future," says Dewar. "In the
States, editors are reluctant to get into a war with anyone over a cartoon.
At a lot of papers, nobody is doing local news. Syndication is safer."
But there is a place for hard-hitting cartoonists to go -- the web. "Young
cartoonists today have a far better chance of getting onto the Net," says
The future is in the Internet for most up-and-coming editorial cartoonists.
Many of them have already embraced the technology by setting up websites and
adding animation elements to their creations.
Cartoonist Rob Rogers points out that would-be cartoonists aren't just
competing with other newcomers. They're also competing with older, more experienced
cartoonists. Rogers suggests young people look at other avenues for publication,
such as the Internet.
"There will be fewer newspapers in the future," says Rogers. "You have
to make plans for that. But I do think there's always room for quality stuff."
Editorial cartoonist Jeff Stahler says a good editorial cartoonist must
have consistency. "Everybody can pick one or two good cartoons from what they've
done," he says. "But even on a bad news day, you still have to fill that four-inch
by six-inch space."
Working to meet deadlines is an absolute priority. "Editors don't want
to know about dead relatives or any other excuse. They have a white space
to fill and they want to fill it right now," says Mosher.
Editorial cartoonists have a long and venerable history in many cultures.
Satire of public figures has been around as long as there has been someone
to puncture an over-inflated ego. But is there any truth to the widely held
belief that editorial cartoons today are not as biting as they have been in
"People are not as well-informed about important events today," says Rogers.
"They can tell you which Hollywood stars have personal problems, but not who
the vice-president is.
"We comment on the culture of the day, and if the culture is all about
Michael Jackson... then that is reflective of our society. The look and style
of cartoons has changed, but that's not necessarily a bad thing."