The new blog Bad Cartoonist is written by someone who is obviously a political cartoonist, but he’s keeping his name to himself. (Or she. But odds are, given the demographics of political cartoonists, it’s he.)
And he’s pissed off by the laziness, hackery, and lack of imagination that characterizes most political cartooning nowadays. For instance:
Todays lesson is a follow-up on yesterdays lesson on how you too can be a cartoonist with out really trying. Today we’re going to learn from one well-paid, syndicate, award-winning cartoonist; Jeff Stahler.
Yesterday we learned how you can rip off Hollywood or Cnn when realise you don’t have a creative bone in your body. For those of you who are so insipid that you can’t even make a cartoon out of a movie poster we have the following technique. We’re going to call it the ‘Stahler’ because he does it more than anybody else but, keep in mind, every cartoonist on the planet does this, repeatedly. And they all hate it with a passion.
The idea is simple. If you can’t come up with an idea about a news story, just draw a cartoon of people reacting to the news. Most often this cartoon will be of two people, husband and wife, sipping coffee at the breakfast table reacting the newspaper in their hands. The cartoonist must draw the newspaper. No one knows for sure why, but it is a rule that is followed religiously. Subtle variations include: two people at a cafe; two people in front of the TV (in this instance the cartoonist must draw the remote control. Don’t ask why, just do it. It’s a rule.); two people reading a sign and so forth.
Two illustrate “the Stahler,” he posted this image, which was created by overlaying two different cartoons by Stahler which were published less than a month apart.
I don’t share all the values of Bad Cartoonist; I think you can be a good political cartoonist without being good at caricatures, and for some styles of cartooning repeating images works. But I think that whatever style you work in, any good cartoonist strives to be creative and demonstrate good craft within the parameters of that style. Within the style he’s working in, Stahler — like way too many successful political cartoonists — displays virtually no creativity and cheats on the craft. Which is why political cartooning — and in particular, the kind of political cartooning most often found in mainstream newspapers — has lost almost all creative vitality.