Q&A: Dangle To End 'Troubletown'

After working for several years at newspapers like the Village Voice and Michael Moore’s muckraking Michigan Voice, Lloyd Dangle took to self-publishing and saw his first “Toubletown” cartoon published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian back in 1988. Over the years, Dangle grew his list of newspaper subscribers to upwards of 30 alternate newsweeklies and lefty political magazines (and he has been a long time contributor to our site)¬†before tough economic times hit the newspaper industry and slowly whittled his newspaper list down.

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Now, after 22 year, Dangle is retiring “Toubletown” to move on to other projects. The last strip will appear at the end of April, giving Dangle some time to squeeze in a few last cartoons.

Why are you ending “Troubletown” now, after 22 years?

I have changed over 22 years, and the thrill is gone. Having to read so much news and opinion to stay on top of events is a grind that I would like to be free of.

It has nothing to do with the state of the industry though. I’ve been satisfied with my relationships with my newspapers and thrilled that I’ve had the readership I’ve had.

What was the harshest response you ever received for one of your cartoons?

Hipsters went nuts when I did a couple cartoons about parenting. My wife and I had a new baby and I wrote about it in the strip. It was unbelievable the negativity that produced. Lately I have been gravely offending gun owners and tea party activists.

What will you miss most about ending “Troubletown?”

A platform with a population of readers is very hard to give up. That’s why I agonized over the decision.

Hipsters went nuts over this 2002 Dangle cartoon about parenting (click for full version).

How did you get your start drawing cartoons, and what gave “Troubletown” its longevity?

I did cartoons in college as an antidote to the “training” I was receiving in art school. Troubletown went on for so many years because the concept was open ended, so I was able to change the focus to accommodate my interests and my changing ideas of what was relevant.

As someone who leans far to the left, what’s your assessment thus far of the Obama administration?

Obama is a stuffed suit who put together a very convincing, even inspiring campaign, but is now governing as a moderate Republican. Why he’s so hated by the right is baffling to me.

What do you think of the current crop of conservative cartoonists?

I don’t know. I find cartoons tedious except for the ones I really like. Conservatives, when they try to be funny, annoy me, but not so much that I would write them the kind of emails I receive. I find liberals ridiculous too.

Will you still be doing any political commentary, possibly drawing the occasional political cartoon when current events drive you nuts?

After a break I imagine that I’ll get the bug from time to time. I’m going to continue blogging at, where I’ll post sketches and commentary and share weird things that I discover. I also tweet acerbic comments occasionally.

Who are your favorite cartoonists?

I’m loving the young up and coming cartoonists like Jen Sorensen and Matt Bors. I also love the old timer Oliphant. David Sipress is my favorite of the New Yorker style cartoons.

Do you think there’s much of a future in cartooning for them?

There doesn’t seem to be much of a future for cartooning with the models that we know. The internet hasn’t been our friend. I hope they find a way to make it work.

What exactly is “graphic recording” and how did you get involved doing it?

It’s live cartooning in front of an audience, which I do at conferences, lectures or brainstorming events. I learned about it from a colleague who had started doing it and I’ve been learning and building a practice. I can draw extremely fast and spontaneously so it’s a good fit for me and it gives me access to people and fascinating worlds I never knew existed. I just did a gig at a university that was all about the intersection between neuroscience and engineering. It’s the exact opposite of the isolation of working alone in a studio.

What will you be working on next?

I am writing a novel, which I will be happy to finish one of these days. Of course publishing is a crap shoot, but at least I’ll be able to amuse my friends with it.

When it’s all said and done, and cartoonists are drawing pearly gate cartoons of you, what would you like to be known for?

Did you hear that Elizabeth Taylor’s obituary writer died six years before she did? I’m too young to be asked that question!

Here are some of Lloyd’s recent “Troubletown” cartoons:

View more of Dangle’s Troubletown cartoons here.

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the publisher of and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc, which which is a major distributor of editorial cartoons and columns to newspapers and digital publishers. See Daryl's blog at:, see his site at: get permission to reprint his cartoons at: