I was saddened to hear of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. She died at a bad time for editorial cartoons, late on Friday when the cartoonists are off and the newspapers had been put to bed for the weekend – and she died at an even worse time for the nation as her pivotal, conservative successor is likely to be confirmed by a hypocritical, lame duck, Republican Senate. Here’s my cartoon.
Our reader supported site, Cagle.com, still needs you! Journalism is threatened with the pandemic that has shuttered newspaper advertisers. Some pundits predict that a large percentage of newspapers won’t survive the pandemic economic slump, and as newspapers sink, so do editorial cartoonists who depend on newspapers, and along with them, our Cagle.com site, that our small, sinking syndicate largely supports, along with our fans.
I was saddened to learn this morning that cartooning legend, Mort Drucker has passed away at 91.
I grew up loving Mort’s brilliant artwork in Mad Magazine and he was a great influence on my own work. I think Mort was the greatest caricature artist ever. Mort drew the best and most memorable Mad Magazine movie and tv parodies.
I got to know Mort through the National Cartoonists Society. Other cartoonists would trail after him and ask him to draw their portrait, to which Mort would always respond to draw the backs of their heads –that was easier, and quick, and it looked just like them. Mort was a gentleman. I also like that he called everyone “darling.”
Mort was a staple in advertising and magazines, not just in Mad Magazine. He drew tons of magazine covers, advertising and movie posters, including the iconic poster for American Graffiti. I loved his work in black and white, but his color was fantastic. Mort painted over his ink linework with Dr. Martin’s Dyes, a difficult medium that I could never wrap my head around, but it made his colors glow.
The video below comes from the National Cartoonists Society. It shows Mort interviewed by John Reiner (a great guy who is a brilliant caricature artist himself).
This piece is the front cover of Mort’s book, “Mad About the Movies” …
A fond memory of Mort who drew many Star Wars parodies …
Mort did lots of advertising work. The odd map (below), of how to get to the Mortgage Bankers Association convention in Atlantic City, was a strange journey for me. The ad agency had hired Mort Drucker to do it, and Mort quit after doing the sketch. The job paid pretty well, and Mort’s sketch was nice, so I gave him a call and asked, “What’s up with this job?” I paraphrase from my 30 year old memory – Mort told me this was a job from hell, and the art directors had so many changes he couldn’t stand it any more.” I asked if he minded that I take the job and work from his sketch, and Mort was fine with that, as long as he never had to hear from those art directors again. So I rendered this brochure artwork from Mort’s lovely, rough sketch. And the art directors from hell didn’t give me any trouble – I think Mort wore them down before I stepped in.
If I was an art director, I would never think of asking Mort Drucker to make changes.
Twenty years later, in 2008, the mortgage bankers would destroy the economy – oh! The irony!
Mort is my hero. He taught a generation how to draw. His inspiration lives on.
Nearly twenty years ago I started my CagleCartoons.com syndicate; Mike was one of the first cartoonists to join our group and Mike’s brilliant work was a very important boost for us as we were starting up. Mike had a unique, expressive style and I really appreciated his support in our early days. Mike drew for The Baltimore Sun from 1972 to 2004. He joined CagleCartoons in 2002, drawing for syndication for seven years after he left The Baltimore Sun.
Mike pulled no punches in syndication, blasting George W. Bush from the left. Mike drew with a profound sense of morality. His art is bold and funny. Mike was a liberal champion of the downtrodden. He was an all-around great cartoonist!
Here’s a quote from Mike, from an obit in the Baltimore Sun, “It’s not enough to simply depict opposing factions. It’s good to pick a fight. But it’s not noble or courageous; it’s just my job. Any less is pandering to popular opinion. Too many cartoonists value popularity over doing their jobs. I have a long history of angry letters to the editor. One of my proudest is from the general counsel to the National Rifle Association.”
I tell our cartoonists that if they draw urine in a cartoon, that editors won’t want to print it. Here I am, not following my own advice. I’m probably also inviting some angry mail.
I don’t think Trump shed any tears over McCain’s passing.
I didn’t agree with his politics, but McCain was an interesting and likable character and I usually drew him as a foil, suffering from events around him. McCain certainly suffered from his poor choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin, a hockey mom, made a joke describing the “difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull,” the difference was “lipstick.”
Obama picked up on Palin’s joke, and dissed McCain’s “change” mantra, calling it “lipstick on a pig.” We had weeks of lipstick cartoons, like mine …
The big thing I didn’t like about McCain was that he was a hawk, in favor of jumping into every conflict in the world. I remember him singing “Bomb Bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann.” Obama warned Syria’s Assad that using chemical weapons was a “Red Line”; when Obama didn’t attack Assad after the chemical weapons use red line was crossed, McCain fumed.
A big presidential debate was held on national TV at “Ole Miss,” the University of Mississippi; the university hired me to do art for the debate, for their program, posters and visual theme for the event. Here’s what I drew. It was fun to be a small part of this debate. (The art fades out at the top because that’s where the title graphics went.)
Palin liked to accuse Obama of “palling around with a terrorist,” at every opportunity. During the campaign in 2008, the economy crashed and we went into the worst recession ever as financial institutions failed around the world and threatened a second depression. Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, described my cartoon below in great detail in multiple interviews for a news cycle, and Biden’s comments were spread all over the media. The economy suffered, but at least my cartoon had a good day.
McCain put Obama down for the fact that celebrities liked Obama, who had the support of Hollywood and rock stars and acted like a popular celebrity himself. the Republican base didn’t like Hollywood liberals, and didn’t like that Obama was perceived to be exciting while McCain was seen as dull. The cartoon below doesn’t make much sense now, but at the time Britney Spears had just shaved her head and was caught by a photographer getting into a car while wearing no underwear.
That sounds complicated now, but back then it was simple math.
I don’t like Antonin Scalia and I was originally going to draw Lady Liberty and Lady Justice dancing on his grave – but that was nasty and I went a softer route with the empty chair. I understand that in the upcoming Supreme Court cases his chair will be draped in black. The idea that Scalia was a doctrinaire “originalist” who was dedicated to the constitution over his own conservative views flies in the face of his Bush vs. Gore decision. Scalia was a hypocrite.
This is a revision of a cartoon I did some years ago, about the Supreme Court being partisan. I think it is better with the empty chair.
Here’s the video of my day drawing this cartoon and the one after this one! Sit back and take a look.
We’ve had a lot of Steve Jobs obituary cartoons come in. And I mean a lot (view them all here). Obituary cartoons frustrate political cartoonists – most hate to draw them, but readers love them. With a public figure so important to modern culture and universally liked and admired, it’s almost obligatory that a cartoonist notes his passing.
It’s interesting to track our analytics and see which cartoons are getting shared more, and which ones are the most popular. According to our numbers, here are the five most popular Steve Jobs cartoons from the last couple of days.