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Annual State of the State of Cartooning Address

When I was a kid I didn’t listen when the Master Sergeant sarcastically encouraged me to consider a backup plan (to my plan to be a cartoonist).

“Doing what?”

“Carving gargoyles. See all the cathedrals in the want ads — hiring stone masons? Your odds of finding work are just as bright, Sunshine.”

I’m glad I didn’t listen. I got lucky. I drew in the last century during the Golden Age of Print and my luck continued through this century’s turbulent transition to digital. These days when young cartoonists ask me for career advice I tell them, “Learn to carve gargoyles.”

It’s impossible for cartoonists to keep up with today’s relentless whirlwind of news. By the time we’ve inked, scanned and uploaded our cartoons our subject’s been eclipsed by 12 new scandals. By the time we upload our hand-rendered cartoon it’s been preceded online by a multitude of memes and YouTube rants; not to mention overshadowed by the comic observers of late night TV. We can see why the producer of “This American Life,” Ira Glass, derided editorial cartooning as “a 17th century medium.”

Ironically, practitioners of our dissed and slowly dying 17th century art form are still sufficiently feared by tyrants to get killed, imprisoned or banished in this darkening century. To the benefit of tyrannies too many regions have become news deserts.

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