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Those Zany, Bloody, Colombian Cartoons – UPDATE

Editors: Due to new developments in Colombia we’re sending this updated version.

Those Zany, Bloody, Colombian Cartoons

I just got back from a cool editorial cartoonists’ conference in Colombia last week. Bogota is a huge city of about 8.5 million people, full of universities and libraries and a thriving community of cartoonists. Colombian politics are crazy, bloody, complex and difficult for me to digest in just a week of cramming. Colombia is the second biggest country in South America and the third largest recipient in the world of U.S. foreign aid, because of all the drug issues there. The U.S. State Department brought me to Colombia on a speaking tour to attend the conference as the only American cartoonist.

The Colombian cartoonists are a spirited bunch, with odd one-word pen names such as Mico (monkey), Chócolo (corn-on-the-cob), Matador (killer) and Bacteria.

Mico is also a national TV star; he dresses up like a woman, holds an umbrella and talks about politics with his actor partner on a popular show that he writes each week called “Tola y Maruja.” Bacteria took his name to honor his mother who died from a bacterial infection soon after giving birth to him. Some of this Colombian stuff is pretty strange.

The Colombian political cartoonists have a macho attitude and take pride in speaking truth to power. Their cartoons are gory. Many recent Colombian cartoons are about the so-called “false positives” where the Colombian army was paid to kill paramilitary guerillas, and killed many innocent, civilian “false positives” along the way, identifying the innocents as militants in order to collect more government bounties.

The only two Colombians who came to mind when I first arrived were Juan Valdez and Pablo Escobar, the Medellín drug kingpin. Colombia had many years where drug gangs ran roughshod. Colombians order delivery of everything — even McDonald’s, harking back to the days when it was unsafe to walk the streets. The government didn’t do its job of protecting the people from lawlessness, so Colombians banded together, funding paramilitary groups for protection from the criminals. Of course, once they were formed and armed, those paramilitary groups became lawless themselves.

The FARC is a Marxist guerilla group that raises their funds through kidnappings, drug dealing and contributions from nutty euro-communists. In 2008, the Colombian security forces successfully rescued some hostages that the FARC had been holding for years, including former beauty queen, senator, presidential candidate and French dual citizen, Ingrid Betancourt. A high profile Colombian raid into Ecuador killed FARC leaders and led to a diplomatic wound with Ecuador, which seems to have recently been healed.

Now the streets are safe enough that pedestrians can worry about being mugged rather than riddled with bullets from narco-Marxist-terrorists, thanks to scandal-plagued Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, supported by the USA, who has done a messy but assertive job of crushing the paramilitaries. The Colombian cartoonists savage Uribe, who is term-limited out of office soon and just had his hopes for a third term quashed by the Colombian Supreme Court.

The Colombian cartoonists love to ridicule their neighbor and FARC supporter, President Hugo Chavez, who cut off economic ties between Venezuela and Colombia to protest Colombian military cooperation with the USA. Newspapers have stories every day about Chavez’s dysfunctional regime.

With such a bloody circus of local events, it is not surprising that the Colombian cartoonists draw almost exclusively about issues concerning Colombia and its neighbors. Editorial cartoons from around the world are not reprinted in Colombia, just as we don’t see Colombian cartoons reprinted in America.

There were lots of questions at the conference about censorship and about where cartoonists should “draw the line” on topics they won’t touch. I encouraged everyone to think of editorial cartoons as a barometer of freedom. In many countries, cartoonists never draw their leaders; cartoonists in Venezuela aren’t allowed to draw Hugo Chavez; cartoonists in Cuba never draw Fidel Castro. In Colombia the cartoonists ridicule their president Uribe every day and their lack of respect for their president speaks well of healthy press freedoms in Colombia.

Cartoons are important in Colombia; it is great to see the respect that cartoons command and to see how they have an important spot in so many newspapers and magazines. Even so, Colombian cartoonists complain about many of the same business problems that plague American cartoonists. Business is bad for newspapers everywhere and cartoonists are poorly paid.

The Colombian cartoonists also like to complain about editing; American cartoonists complain about editing too. It can be difficult to explain to foreign audiences that editing isn’t the same as censorship. Freedom of the press belongs to the guy who owns the press.

With all their complaints, the bloody, gory cartoons show that the Colombian cartooning profession is relatively healthy.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons as well as 50 other cartoonists, at www.caglecartoons.com are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

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2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Entertainment and Celebrities

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Entertainment and Celebrities

Here are some suggestions for Entertainment and Celebrity cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the selection of entertainment cartoons that we have. For more options please enter a keyword or proper name like “Oprah” into the search engine and you’ll find more great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

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2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Here are some suggestions for Iraq and Afghanistan cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the huge selection of war cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword Iraq, Afghanistan or war into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

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2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Economy

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Economy

Here are some suggestions for Economy cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the huge selection of economy cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword ECONOMY or similar into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

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2009 Year in Review Cartoons – by Daryl Cagle

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – by Daryl Cagle

Here are my 2009 Year in Review cartoons. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

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2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Scandal

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Scandal

Here are some suggestions for Scandal cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the scandal cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword or name into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

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2009 Year in Review Cartoons – In Memoriam

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – In Memoriam

Here are some suggestions for Memorial/Obit cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. For more options please enter a keyword or name into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

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2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Sports

2009 Year in Review Cartoons – Sports

Here are some suggestions for Sports cartoons for 2009. Just click on the cartoons below and choose the download option you prefer. This is just a small sample of the huge selection of sports cartoons that we have. For more options please enter the keyword Sports or similar into the search engine and you’ll find many great choices.

For more info or help please call our editor Sales at (805) 969-2829.

Best,

Daryl Cagle

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Let’s Run This Up the California Flagpole

My home state has been kicking the budget can down the road for years and is finally running out of road. California is facing its biggest budget deficit ever — a staggering $21 billion, or 49.3 percent of the state’s general revenue fund.

As a political cartoonist I look for bad guys to skewer in my cartoons. In California there are bad guys everywhere to be blamed for our fiscal mess: our good-for-nothing Governor Schwarzenegger; our greedy, irresponsible legislature; the media that ignores state issues; and the electorate who votes for more debt to fund wasteful projects like multi-billion dollar trains people don’t want to use. Voters have approved more bond debt than the state can sell. In short, everyone is a bad guy.

Different groups point to their own favorite villains. Liberals like to blame Proposition 13 for limiting the legislature’s ability to raise taxes, even though our taxes are crazy high. Conservatives like to blame labor unions for milking the state dry, and liberals for chasing away business with taxes and regulations. The media likes to blame voters who vote for constitutional amendments that micromanage our dysfunctional legislature. Populists want to tax the rich more, even though the state has gotten into trouble by relying too much on income taxes and crashed when the incomes of the rich fell with the current recession.

But cash-flow isn’t California’s only problem — we also have a water crisis. In Los Angeles I’m limited to watering my lawn after 5:00pm on Monday and Thursday, and I struggle with a low-flow toilet, that has to be flushed three times to work, while rice farmers flood their farms with cheap subsidized water and the legislature has approved a whopping $11 billion bond measure, laced with porky giveaways, to fix the “water problem.” California would have plenty of water and money to go around if we had leaders who could step up and make some serious choices.

My favorite California money pits are the state commissions; out-of-work legislators, who have been term-limited out of office, are appointed to these six figure, do-nothing jobs while they relax and wait for their next electoral opportunities.

We have colorful problems and goofy characters who should make great cartoon characters for me, but they all share the blame so equally, and are so uninteresting as individuals, that my life as a California editorial cartoonist is more frustrating than it should be.

Of course, this all leads me to suggest that we change our state flag.

The bear on our flag might be the only state government character who stands blame-free, and who looks good in a cartoon. We should keep the bear — but let’s change him every so often to let the government know how we feel about them. Here are a few of my suggestions for a new state flag.

California’s governor and legislature could run a few of these flags up the flagpole, and see who salutes them.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons as well as 50 other cartoonists, at www.caglecartoons.com are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

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Mix Apple with Politics – Not a Good Recipe

I’m holding my breath. I’m now into my third month of waiting for Apple to approve my iPhone app. Yesterday I heard from Apple that they need more time to think about it.

My app is pretty cool; it is called “MSNBC.com Cartoons” and it features a real time news feed of political cartoons by top cartoonists from around the world. My app will be supported and promoted by MSNBC.com along with their other iPhone apps … that is, if Apple approves it.

It seems I have plenty to worry about. Apps for the iPhone have been multiplying at an exponential rate, with over 100,000 now approved. Developers are looking to strike it rich with the next “iFart,” but as the sheer numbers of apps explodes, the chance of an app being a hit becomes more remote and frustration with Apple’s app approval process grows. Developers have to invest in creating a finished app before submitting it to Apple, which can arbitrarily trash the investments and hopes of aspiring developers – as happened to a friend of mine this week.

My buddy Tom Richmond, the brilliant Mad Magazine artist, just finished drawing 544 caricatures of members of congress for an app called “Bobble Rep.” The app works as a directory of every congressman, displaying their contact information by zip code or by the GPS location of the iPhone user. Shake the iPhone and the rep’s head “bobbles.” It is a cute app, and the caricatures are not unflattering. Apple rejected “Bobble Rep.”

A letter from Apple explained the rejection:

“… We’ve reviewed Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:

“Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”

A screenshot of this issue has been attached for your reference.”

Ray Griggs, the producer of the “Bobble Rep” app, suffered a blow as he saw his investment in programming and in 544 Tom Richmond cartoons arbitrarily flushed away. Griggs writes, “I wonder if they saw my website (www.iwantyourmoney.net) that promotes the iPhone app and rejected the app because I am making a Republican Documentary. Are they trying to shut me down? (Just speculation. However, it is uncanny that the “offensive” page image they sent me is of the California reps.) Is there anything on this page that could possibly be found offensive?”

My cartoonist buddy Tom Richmond writes, “Clearly this app does not ‘ridicule public figures’ and is violating nothing, but Apple has decided the world must be protected from the insidious subversiveness this would force upon the public and the brutal, heinous ridicule that my cruel, cruel caricatures would subject these politicians to.

Hard to believe that anybody could be this blind. Maybe they just have a monkey doing the approval of their apps, and he throws a dart at a dartboard with “approved” and “rejected” targets on it and whatever it hits is the fate of that app. That would explain how they could approve an app with a cartoon baby picture and when you shake the phone hard enough the baby dies. Yes, that one got through only to be yanked after some outraged people complained, but no way are a bunch of flame-throwing caricatures going to get through!!!

Unbelievable.”

Prolific iPhone app developer Brian Stormont has this advice for hopeful app applicants:

“Don’t make any jokes about political figures, past or present, in either your app or the description in iTunes. Apple will most-likely reject your app.”

Apple would seem to be a bi-partisan offendee. App developer Brandyn Brosemer reports that his “iBush” app was rejected for the same reason. The app was a collection of actual George W. Bush quotes that the reader could scroll through.

Another Apple political app rejection is “MyShoe” which allowed users to throw shoes at President Bush.

Studies show that people use the iPhone differently than other mobile devices – they read news content on the iPhone and tend not to do so on other phones. The iPhone’s market share for news and opinion is dominant, while all other phones have an insignificant market share. Although any publisher can decide what content he wants in his own publication, Apple’s phone-news monopoly brings with it a public trust and responsibility in controlling content for a whole category of media.

And with my own political cartoons app review dragging on, I’m still holding my breath.

Turning blue now.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons as well as 50 other cartoonists, at www.caglecartoons.com are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

____________________________________________________________

NOTES FOR IMAGES INCLUDED WITH THIS COLUMN:

Caption for “OffensiveImage.tif”image:

Apple cited this image as “objectionable” in a rejection letter to “Bobble Rep” developer Ray Griggs.

Credits for the images:

Screenshots from the “Bobble Rep” app, ©RG Entertainment, Ltd., Artwork by Mad Magazine’s Tom Richmond.

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Veterans Day Cartoons to Warm an Editor’s Cold Heart

Veterans Day Cartoons to Warm an Editor’s Cold Heart

I run a syndicate, Caglecartoons.com, that distributes political cartoons to newspapers, and every year at this time we hear from editors complaining that there are few or no Veterans Day cartoons.

Some editors think of editorial cartoons as nothing more than little, topical jokes — this is troubling to political cartoonists who want to draw cartoons about solemn topics and bring a tear to the reader’s eye.

Unfortunately, editors for some of the biggest, most influential publications treat editorial cartoons as trivial jokes; a good example is Newsweek magazine, which likes to reprint cartoons that are like Jay Leno jokes, about a topic in the news but conveying no opinion that anyone would disagree with. Jay Leno jokes about the news all the time, and I have no idea what his personal opinions are.

Another wretched publication that diminishes editorial cartoons is The New York Times, which prints a weekly round-up of insipid cartoons under the title “Laugh Lines.” Don’t expect to see any thoughtful Veterans Day cartoons under the title “Laugh Lines.”

So, if a cartoonist wants to get his cartoons reprinted in The New York Times, Newsweek or some other big, national publication that likes funny, trivial jokes, he won’t be drawing any Veterans Day cartoons.

I have gathered a batch of some of my favorite Veterans Day cartoons from cartoonists who don’t care what New York Times and Newsweek editors think. These cartoons will bring a patriotic glow to even the dimmest editor as the cartoonists express their appreciation to our veterans.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.

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Israel-Monsters and Arab Cartoonists

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians still looms large in political cartoons around the world, with an endless flow of cartoons from Arab countries showing monster-Israel assaulting, eating, crushing or somehow decimating the poor Palestinians. The dove of peace has been killed by Israel in every imaginable cartoon — crushed, squeezed, stabbed, burned, eaten. Poor bird.

The conflict goes on forever, long after every original cartoon idea has been exhausted. Americans don’t see much of these cartoons because they would be regarded here as anti-Semitic at worst, or as the same thing over and over, at best.

I just got back from a speaking tour in Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories. At my first event in Cairo I spoke to a group of Egyptian journalists who brought a newspaper up to me, proudly pointing out that in Egypt, editorial cartoons are often printed big and in color on the front page of the newspaper. The cartoon they showed me would make an American editor choke; it showed a spitting snake, in the shape of a Star of David; inside the snake/star was a peace dove, trapped behind bars, and above the snake, in Arabic, were the words, “It’s not about the bird flu, it’s about the swine flu.”

I explained that in America this cartoon would be regarded as anti-Semitic, and it would never be printed. The Egyptian journalists were emphatic, explaining to me that the cartoon was about Israel, not about Jews — an important distinction to them.

“Israel isn’t mentioned anywhere in the cartoon,” I said.

“But we all know the Jewish star is the symbol of Israel,” they responded.

I said, “It is a religious symbol. It is the same as if I took the star and crescent off of the flag of Pakistan and drew a similar cartoon, saying it was about Pakistan.” The journalists didn’t respond to me, my comment was such nonsense. I continued, “This cartoon seems to say that Jews are snakes and pigs.”

“No, no! We have lots of symbols for Israel that we all know, like the Jew with black clothes and a big hooked nose!” one of the Egyptian journalists insisted with some passion. “We like Jews, we just don’t like Israel!” The Egyptian journalists all continued to insist that I misunderstood what the cartoon meant.

I later had an opportunity to meet with a group of Palestinian editorial cartoonists in Gaza by teleconference. I sympathize with their plight; the poor cartoonists had almost no outlets to print their cartoons. One of the Gaza cartoonists showed me a cartoon he was proud of, showing an alligator eating a dove. I told him I didn’t understand the cartoon, and he explained that the alligator was blue, “which everyone understands to be Israel” and the dove had green wings, “which everyone understands to be Palestine.”

I tried to come up with some advice for the Gaza cartoonists on how to get their work published. I suggested that they could submit their work to international publications, but that it would be tough if every cartoon was another Israel-monster cartoon. The cartoonists responded to say that in Gaza, they are under siege, and they don’t care to draw anything else.

I suggested that the Gaza cartoonists need to coax Western editors into printing their cartoons, and they would do well to consider some other angles; for example, drawing about their personal experiences and day-to-day difficulties. Palestinian cartoons criticizing Hamas and Fatah are rarely seen and would get reprinted.

I explained to the Gaza cartoonists that when the Israel/Palestine conflict is big in the news, and we post cartoons about the topic on our site, our Web site (www.cagle.com) traffic goes down. Americans are not very interested in events that happen outside of America, especially when it is the same news story, year after year. I told them that the most popular topic ever on our site was Janet Jackson’s boob, and that our readers really like cartoons about cute puppies. Hearing this, the Gaza cartoonists stared at me blankly, and then urged me to organize an international exhibition of cartoons that highlight their plight at the hands of Israel.

I spoke with one West Bank Palestinian cartoonist, Amer Shomali, who lost his gig with his newspaper because he insisted on drawing cartoons critical of Fatah; he was so frustrated that he rented a billboard to post a Fatah cartoon that his newspaper refused to publish. The billboard was swiftly taken down.

I met an excellent West Bank cartoonist, Khalil Abu Arafeh who draws for Al Quds, the big newspaper in the West Bank; he makes his living as an architect. Another talented West Bank cartoonist, Ramzy Taweel, breaks the Israel-monster cartoon mold, drawing about everyday life in the West Bank; his cartoons are seen only by his friends on his Facebook page. Ramzy could use some more Facebook friends; I encourage everyone to befriend him.

It is tough to make a living as a cartoonist anywhere these days — especially tough when the world has grown weary of what you want to say, when a market for your work doesn’t exist where you live, and when passions run high.

The fact that there is still a market for cartoons about cute puppies and cats who like lasagna probably doesn’t make the Palestinians feel any better.

Daryl Cagle is a political cartoonist and blogger for MSNBC.com; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to more than 850 newspapers, including the paper you are reading. Daryl’s books “The BIG Book of Campaign 2008 Political Cartoons” and “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition” are available in bookstores now.