Been quite a busy last few days with Michael Jackson's death, the loss of Farrah Fawcett and of course, worst of all, being within mere inches of Steve Guttenberg in line at BedBath&Beyond... bad things really do happen in 3's.
For some, this could be considered a bad week. For others, however, mainly the dozens of still professionally employed editorial cartoonists out there, this is gold. I believe by noon today (Friday 6/26), the 'Jacko' tributes, both good and bad, along with the plentiful 'Charlie's (Real) Angels' puns you will see in honor of Fawcett's death will make you vomit. I decided to scrap a real cartoon in wake of an experiment to see how my editorial cartooning abilities are... something I once aspired to, which I realized is about 1/10th the effort I usually put forth plus the use of ink. More importantly, I wanted to find out, after the world and internet is flooded with cartoons this 'mourning', whether or not I would see any others similar or exactly the same as my own. It is essentially an experiment into how the mind of a cartoonist works and if it is at all universally similar, given the deadline and how you choose to represent The King of Pop. We shall see... though if you do come across one or many others with resemblence, let me know HeRe!
My findings were basically just as I expected: Most cartoonists doing some lame 'tribute' cartoon drawing (to me the word cartoon typically anotes a presence of humor) where MJ is either standing alone on a darkened canvas, or, and the even more irritating, MJ moonwalking on the actual moon... good god.
It gets worse. There were some cartoons, more than should be allowed by their respective editors, of just gloves. White gloves. C'mon! Listen, I know in circumstances like that you are under a tight deadline and you want to get something out quickly that shows how iconic the man is... but Christ, next time take three minutes to brainstorm, not two. The whole process of sketching and inking should not take more than 1-2hrs to complete an editorial cartoon and in an extremely tough and dying business, make some effort to have a great cartoon rather than a cartoon. Spend an hour and a half writing/developing a joke and have your 8 yr old son draw it in 15 minutes, because as we all have heard over and over again, "Good Writing Beats Good Art".
There were a few, however, that poked fun at the darker side of this disturbed man. The majority of those were from international papers/publications, where, I guess, it is safer to have a creative and HUMOROUS cartoon that is completely derivitive of the cartoonist's opinion. If you are just going to put some bland, thoughtless cartoon in the paper, then please don't place it in the Opinion Section... because it is very much not an opinion of the cartoonist, rather just some a piece of space that will go unnoticed and undisciplined - the ultimate fear of the profession.
I discovered most of these cartoons from Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonist Index, which is one of, if not the most, popular website among editors, fans and of course, the cartoonists themselves of the editorial cartooning business. This site is run by Daryl Cagle who, after some research, seems to be the 'Don' of editorial cartoonists and basically runs the show. The site claims to only run the best of the best of worldwide cartoons, covering the certain issues that are relevant now... this concerns me. I am not sure how a cartoon gets from an artist's desk onto the site or one of his annual compilation books, but I have tried multiple times to send him some of my relevant/political work via twitter, and never a response. I am not saying my work should be on there, but I know, for as many times as I have been on the site, there are many cartoons featured that offer little in the categories of 'provocative'. Do I have to be a professionally employed cartoonist to even get attention from this guy or is it that my stuff is complete shit? If it is, tell me... your mysteriousness baffles and frustrates me.