I’ll be a special guest at the “Red Man” cartoon festival and competition in Guiyang, China, from the 20th through 25th of November – in a couple of weeks. If you’ll be in Southern China, stop by. I’ll give a speech and be on their contest jury. Also there as special guests and jury members are my cartoonist buddies, Ross Thompson from Britain and Marlene Pohle from Germany.
Sorry to be so slow about posting my new cartoons – I’ll catch up now. The newest one is this cartoon about the Nazi stolen art treasure that was found last week in Germany. Given the subject matter, it may be better in grayscale. What do you think?
After I finished this and sent it out, I had second thoughts about the color, and I did this revised version, starting with a nasty sepia-tone and moving up the saturation to the last panel. I think it is better, so I sent out a revised version. It makes the older panels seem older, and nastier.
I heard some pundit describe Obamacare as a “heavy lift” for the president, which got me thinking about this caduseus cartoon …
I’m trying to go lighter with my colors, and have a little bit of texture in everything. Bad printing darkens everything up so much, many cartoonists are shocked to see how muddy their cartoons look in print.
I did two versions of this next “X-Ray Specs” cartoon about President Obama and his intrusive spying, which made Germany’s Angela Merkel angry when she learned that the NSA had been tapping her cell phone for years. It should make most Americans angry too, at lack of deference shown to our privacy rights by our paranoid, overeaching government – so I drew the Statue of Liberty as the victim of the X-Ray Specs too. Perhaps our young readers are too young to know, but there was a time when there was an ad for “X-Ray Specs” in every comic book – and we all read comic books because there were no video games. And no cell phones. And we had manual typewriters. I’m so old. OOooh.
Here are the X-ray Specs in SPANISH!
The troubles with Obamacare’s roll out, and lousy web site, have been great fun for the Republicans – so I drew them dancing on Obamacare’s and Secretary Sebelius’ graves, a bit early.
The recent election didn’t go too well for Tea Party candidates and moderates stole the day.
I was interested to see how the liberal cartoonists all turned so quickly on Obama when the Web site was bad. Here’s my bad Website cartoon.
This is one I missed from way back when we had the government shut-down. It seems so long ago now – Republicans have had some good days with Obamacare’s troubles since then. Times change fast.
Here I sit in my new Nashville, Tennessee apartment, trying out a new restaurant for every meal, and finally drawing cartoons. I finished my second cartoon in Nashville today – a busy, crowd scene cartoon about Obama and foreign aid to Egypt. Here is my rough pencil sketch.
I drew this first with a light, hard, #5 pencil to get the people in the crowd into the right composition, so they are interacting with each other, have expressive body language, their faces aren’t obscured, the feet and arms are on right … all those details need to be thought through for each figure; better to do it in a sketch than on the fly in in finished art. The line art is below. I debated whether to go with just line for the black and white version that most people see in the newspaper.
Here is the gray-scale version. I thought it read a bit better with tone. I do the gray-scale separately. It isn’t just a gray version of the color cartoon.
I usually avoid doing crowd scenes. When I was an illustrator, I used to do a lot of crowd scenes. I think art directors would sit in a brainstorming meeting and come up with a list of too many things that they needed to put in an ad – so they would call a cartoonist to jam it all into one piece of art. Cartoonists get these jobs because the lists are too long, so the art has to be crazy. In fact, crowd scenes are usually not very effective compositions. The most effective compositions show powerful character and expression, which is better done with large figures and faces. With too many little figures in a crowd, the power of the expressions and body language are lost to tiny details. That said, I hate to admit that sometimes a concept calls for a crowd scene.
Here’s the color cartoon …
This one suffers from low resolution on the web, and will look much better in print, with crisp lines and texture in the tiny characters. Here is a detail.
One funny thing about cartoon crowd scenes; when readers send me unsolicited ideas for cartoons, the ideas are almost always for crowd scenes. The reader wants to say so much in his cartoon idea, that he comes up with a list of junk to include, just like the sloppy advertising art directors. Some ideas I get start with, “draw an army on the left, and another army on the right …” or the reader will write, “fill the sky with helicopters …” Not only am I too lazy for this, all the tiny details would be ineffective in the composition, and the cartoon would be lousy. For people who think in words, not images, these list-cartoons make perfect sense; to cartoonists, they are nonsense.
The previous cartoon is another Egypt/Arab Spring drawing. Here’s the rough pencil sketch. Notice that I drew Obama too low and made a note to move him up. I make lots of mistakes. Mistakes are easy to fix. Better to make lots of mistakes and have no fear of mistakes – at least in cartoons. I wouldn’t give that advice to my dentist.
Here is the line art version that most people will see in the newspapers. No gray version for this one. I like to keep them as line art if possible – there is something more elegant about not having to rely on tone.
And here is the color …
This cartoon is similar to one I drew a week earlier, with Obama and the Republicans. I like the yellow ochre texture background for dirty fighting scenes.
Obama doesn’t actually wear pinstripe suits. He wears plain black and blue suits, which are no fun to draw. So I take some artistic license. This recent Detroit-in-the-toilet cartoon also uses the yellow ochre, grungy theme that I’m fond of right now.
Another recent one I neglected to post is this one about the chilly relations with Russia – not much of a cartoon, just an illustration of chilly relations.
Sorry, with the move to Nashville I’ve fallen behind. I’ll catch up soon.
Nashville is starting to grow on me. I’ll get used to it soon – when it cools off and the humidity goes down.
Here’s my weekly blog about my latest cartoons! The last two are about the drop in the stock market and rise in interest rates after remarks by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Here’s another take on the Wall Street bull.
And here is Bernanke, trimming rates, only to see a little sprout of the economy bloom.
Bernanke, and Greenspan before him, have been trimming rates for a long time. This cartoon adds sprouts to a three year oldie (right). This one amuses me because it is the kind of thing our editorial cartooning professional organization will be discussing next week – whether to ban editorial cartoons that consist of alterations to previously drawn cartoons. The cartoon police may come down on me for ethical infractions like this one. Cartoonists are a humorless bunch, when it comes to “cartoon ethics.”
The previous cartoon was about the NSA eavesdropping scandal. Presidential ears tend to grow over the years in editorial cartoons, and Obama’s big cartoon ears have become absurdly huge among my colleagues. I once met Obama’s buddy, Susan Rice when she was UN Ambassador, and all she wanted to talk about was why I draw Obama’s ears so big. I didn’t have a good answer, except for “peer pressure.” I may keep drawing Obama’s ears small. Maybe the cartoon police will cite me for a small ears infraction too.
The next cartoon is about “Value Added” testing of teachers. This cartoon is just a list of the bad things value added testing encourages teachers to do. There have been lots of testing scandals around the country featuring these abuses, among others. I got an interesting response to this cartoon from defenders of teachers, who saw the cartoon as “teacher bashing” rather than testing bashing.