Editorial Cartoonist  What They Do

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dotEditorial 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.

dotEditorial 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 Dewar.

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.

dotCartoonist 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."

dotEditorial 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."

dotWorking 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.

dotEditorial 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 the past?

"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."

At a Glance

Make us chuckle at the news

  • The Internet is the future of this industry
  • Working to meet deadlines is an absolute priority
  • Artistic talents and post-secondary training are recommended