From My Anti-Socialist Mail-Bag

Added 9/10/09: Here’s an interesting column about my Obama school speech cartoon (the cartoon is below) from a newspaper editor, responding to some very vocal complaints from readers who misunderstood the cartoon.

Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 4:39 PM
Subject: Cartoon question

Dear Daryl,

I just got a surprise phone call from a reader who was mad at me because he thought your cartoon of little Jeffy was intended as an insult to the president. I told him that’s not the way I took the cartoon, and that I thought it skewered those who thought Obama’s speech would “indoctrinate” youngsters and turn them instantly into Communists. Our reader didn’t sound very convinced.

I know cartoonists don’t like to explain their work, but did I interpret your cartoon as you intended?

Thanks for the help,

Rowe Ray
Managing Editor – San Marcos Daily Record

On Sep 8, 2009, at 6:12 PM, Daryl Cagle wrote:

Hi Ray,

I’m being sarcastic. I think the conservative complaints and fears about Obama’s speech were silly, so I drew it up to look silly.  I did, however, label the cartoon as “conservative” on our download site, because I knew some conservatives editors would take it literally, and that amused me.

Satire is often lost on readers; sometimes it is a cultural thing. I recently gave a speech in Tokyo where the interpreter explained all of my cartoons to the audience who didn’t understand or appreciate our concept of sarcasm. I guess that explains why we rarely see political cartoons in Japan.

There will always be readers who don’t “get it” –better to keep drawing for the ones who do “get it.”

All the best,

From: Sally
Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 11:10 AM
Subject: Jeffy cartoon

I found the cartoon very offensive.  Yes, I do realize you were trying to be sarcastic.  However, this ran in our local paper before the speech was given.  I believe that many of the “extremists” who are not going to listen to the school speech will actually believe this is what the speech is about, and then go spread even more of their lies.  As I told the Editor and Publisher of our local paper, if it has run AFTER the speech, it would be quite obvious to all that you were just being offensively sarcastic.

I wonder how Ed, Chris Matthews, Olberman and the other news people on MSNBC feel about this.

Sally Sarina

Jeff Keane left this comment about the cartoon on my Facebook Page:

That cartoon does confuse me… I don’t know whether I am supposed to be going left or right… so I just have to keep running around in circles…


Lockerbee Cartoons …

I got the interesting note below from my buddy, Danish cartoonist Werner Wejp Olsen.  See our Lockerbee Bomber Freed cartoons here.

Hi Daryl:

I wonder if this story may be relevant/suitable for your newsletter:

I have a rather strange and macabre story to tell in connection with the release of the terrorist responsible for the Pan Am Flight 103’s crash at Lockerbie in Scotland on December 21, 1988.

At that time I was still living in Denmark, my home country. My comic strip “The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen” was syndicated in 30-40 US and Canadian papers by Asterix Features. Once a week I mailed my strips by Special Mail to American Color in Buffalo. And so I did on December 21.

A few weeks after Christmas I got a call from Tim Rosenthal at American Color. They were missing my package. I checked with Special Mail and they could only track my letter to London. After that they lost track of it. Apparently it had disappeared into thin air.

Six months later I got a letter from the FBI. The content was the package I had mailed on December 21. FBI had found it in he wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103. It was intact but for few smoke-colored spots here and there.

The package is still in my files reminding me that even though most of us normally find ourselves far, far away from major world events, we are often closer than we wish for.


That’s one of Werner’s cartoons below.  See more of Werner’s cartoons.


Stantis Starts in Chicago

Congratulations again to my buddy, Scott Stantis, who starts his stint as the cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune today.  The cartoonist chair at the Trib has been empty for a decade.  Scott starts out with his cartoon on the front page.

Scott’s old newspaper, The Birmingham News, is looking at portfolios and plans to fill Scott’s old spot with a new cartoonist.  I think they will get a big stack of portfolios; I have heard from a number of top cartoonists who are applying for the job.  There aren’t many job openings in this business.


How to Draw an Ugly Health Plan and Make it Pretty

I know how you all like to see my sketches and I get lots of requests to explain my cartoons, so here is the latest one.

The goal with this one was to comment on the speculation that the Democrats would use sentiment about Teddy Kennedy’s death to push health care legislation, possibly by attaching Kennedy’s name to the bill.  I started by making the health care character a generic ugly creature, but it occurred to me that a warthog is a better choice, because a warthog is understood to be ugly and it has the aspect of being a pig, to signify waste. Making the health plan a female is a little sexist, I suppose.  I think of a woman wanting her photo to look pretty, so making the wart hog a female made the gag work a little better for me.

Next I had to deal with the mask that actually makes the warthog pretty, and I thought that using a photo of Kennedy rather than drawing his face made the cartoon more interesting.  The mask was a little tricky because it had to have some perspective and Kennedy’s face is defined by its width, so squishing it makes it look less Kennedylike.  I found this photo that seems to be everywhere, and it looks pretty good, even squished, so that was the first hurdle to cross.  Nice photo, I like his eyes.

I did my usual quick pencil sketch.  The donkey didn’t look good so I drew a new one on top with a Sharpie marker.  That usually works for me; if I don’t like what I do after a Sharpie marker I’ll start over.  Here’s the sketch:

After that, I drew the finished line art on a vellum overlay.  In Photoshop I squashed the Kennedy photo into the sign, and drew outlines around it with a wider facing edge to make it look more two dimensional.  And I added gray tone to the rest of the drawing, so it would live in the same world as the photo.

That’s how to draw an ugly health plan, and make it pretty.


Best Wishes for Mike Lane's Recovery

Our thoughts are with Mike Lane, our brilliant, liberal, award-winning cartoonist, who is in the hospital after undergoing open-heart surgery.  He was scheduled to get an aortic valve (pig’s valve) replacement and one bypass.  Shortly before his surgery, Mike wrote: “I’m asymptomatic (pain and evidence free) but the valve’s about closed now and will kill me down the road, without surgery.  So, it doesn’t look like I’ll draw much in September.”

We’ll keep Mike’s spot on our site warm and we’ll report any news on Mike’s condition when Mike is feeling up to telling us how he’s doing.  Anyone who would like to send warm wishes to Mike can e-mail him.  Visit an archive of Mike’s cartoons here.  That’s one of Mike’s recent masterpieces below.


Something Fishy About These Cartoons …

It amuses me to reuse old cartoons; I don’t find much opportunity to do it, but when I do, I chuckle to myself and take an extra hour for lunch.  Today’s deja-toon is the stinky White House fish, which is “Crazy Spending” taking attention away from the Obama Administration’s health care planning.

Back in January of 2007 the fish was the Iraq War, stinking up george W. Bush’s White House when he wanted everyone to think that things smelled fine.

Back in July of 2003, before the days of color cartoons, there was a brewing scandal in the CIA, which lent its aroma to the Bush White House.

In January of 2002, the first dead fish to land on the White House was the stinky Enron scandal.

What I find most interesting about my bi-annual parade of dead White House fish, is that no one has ever noticed.  I haven’t even gotten a friendly email from a fan or editor saying, “Haven’t I seen that fish before, Daryl?”  No one remembers the fish.  It is entirely forgettable, which, I suppose, makes the point.  The White House never seems to notice the fish either.


New Cartoonist on

I’m delighted to announce a new addition to our site, cartoonist Mike Scott.  Mike used to illustrate as a staffer for the Newark Star Ledger, now he works for the start-up web site  See Mike’s cartoon archive here.


More of My Sketches

Readers seem to like it when I post my rough sketches, so here we go again, with my sketches for my last couple of cartoons.  The first one is the Obama Healthcare Caduceus.  I do the rough sketch in hard pencil on slick paper, so I’m not tempted to do details and render.

Then I trace over the sketch on drafting vellum, with a hard pencil that I scan to look like ink and save as a bitmap file for black and white printing.  The image below is what most readers see in the newspaper.

Then I add the color in Photoshop.  I use rather unsophisticated colors because newspaper printing is lousy, and if I use anything that isn’t pastel and bright I get complaints from editors.

Here’s the sketch for another health care cartoon.  Same thing here, hard pencil on slick paper.

I did the same thing with the pencil on vellum, but this time I just added a bit of gray tone to the drawing because I wasn’t quite inspired to color this one.


Welcome Back, Bill Schorr!

It wasn’t long ago that I was writing about Bill Schorr retiring from editorial cartooning.  I’m pleased to announce that Bill is coming back and will be drawing political cartoons that we will syndicate here at Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Bill worked as a staff cartoonist for the New York Daily News, The Kansas City Star and The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. He one of the best guys out there.  See an archive of Bill’s cartoons here, and his most recent cartoon below.

–And here’s a nice article from E&P about Bill’s return. To subscribe to our package and Bill’s cartoons, visit us at and email [email protected]


Jeff Kotebra's San Diego Comic-Con Presentation


Here is the second part of the editorial cartoonist panel I hosted at the San Diego Comic-con, which features Omaha World Herald cartoonist Jeff Koterba talking about his collection of cartoons. Jeff suffers from the effects of Tourette’s Syndrome, a disease he inherited from his father, and has recently finished a memoir about his life called Inklings.

You can view more of Jeff’s great cartoon work on our website here.


Video: Glenn McCoy’s San Diego Comic-Con Presentation


Those Darn Minority Prisoners

I just got this interesting email from the editorial page editor of the Pocono Record:

Cartoon by Daryl Cagle of

Hi Daryl,

Just wanted to pass along a criticism from a very, very angry white male reader.

On Sunday, Aug. 2 I ran an editorial on prison reform noting the U.S. claim to fame-high prison population and advocating that we look more closely at models where electronic monitoring, parole etc. are used.

This afternoon I came back from lunch to find a real lunatic-fringe, more than 5-minute-long diatribe on my voice mail. The guy ran out of time, so he called back and left another few minutes of vituperation.

To accompany the corrections-reform edit, I had used your March 5, 2008 cartoon of the guys in striped jail suits jumping out of the bursting can. I also ran, small, in the editorial, Adam Zyglis’ cartoon of the same date dealing with the same topic.

This caller was outraged because all the prisoners he could see in the cartoons were white. He took off on that big-time.

Adding fuel to the fire was a story we ran on page 1 that day featuring an interview of a local white woman whose son, a Marine, had been killed along with his black wife, while stationed in California. Four black guys, fellow Marines, have been charged. The guy took off on that, too, saying that if it had been four white guys it would be all over the news (It WAS all over the news, but apparently he missed that page-one point somehow · .)

Anyway I just wanted to pass along this guy’s seething, roiling criticism of the liberal media portraying criminals as white and victims as minorities.

So next time you depict jail birds, if you want to make this guy happy make sure they’re all black, okay?


Paula Heeschen
Editorial page editor
Pocono Record
Stroudsburg, PA

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis of the Buffalo News.

Glenn McCoy's San Diego Comic-Con Presentation


This year, I hosted a panel at the San Diego Comic-con on political cartoons featuring myself and syndicated cartoonists Glenn McCoy, Jeff Koterba, Steve Breen and Michael Ramirez.

Here is the first part of the panel, featuring Glenn McCoy talking about a collection of his funny cartoons. Check back all this week for more videos from the comic-con.