A Thousand Words in a Cartoon

A Thousand Words in a Cartoon by pendragon David Whelan The editorial cartoon is such a fantastic art form. This is no slight against the brilliance of people like Gary Larson, the creator of Doonesbury, whose daily strips over the past 30 plus year have been insightful, cutting, and a laugh riot. But there’s something particularly gratifying about how editorial cartoonists sum up so much in a single frame.

One of my favorite spots on the Web is the New York Times’ collection of cartoons by nationally syndicated cartoonists. Whether it’s Jeff Danziger with his remarkably detailed illustrations or Tom Toles very round, very cartoony figures (and the ever-present added editorial by the little artist the corner!), you get an incisive delivery of humor or thought-provoking commentary.

National Public Radio’s Renee Montagne interviewed two cartoonists prior to the 2004 Democratic national convention. Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mike Peters of Ohio’s own Dayton Daily News both provided pointers on what they looked – or perhaps hoped for – from each of the candidates for president and vice-president. I particularly enjoyed the riffs on John Edwards and Dick “F@#!% You Too” Cheney.

Shakespeare is credited with noting that “brevity is the soul of wit&quot and the editorial cartoonist must take that maxim to heart. It is true that a picture can say a thousand words, but the prominent editorial cartoonists today do it with such flare, while twitting both major political parties and just about everything else, that it seems imperative to dig up their work and find out what the latest chapter in this fascinating art form has become.

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