You say tomato, we say cartoonist …

September 27, 2010 in News

Bloghorn Opinion logo Bloghorn must take issue with the US political cartoonist Daryl Cagle over a blog post in which he talks about the “cultural” difference between cartoons created in America and those from the rest of the world.

Cagle, who also syndicates cartoons through the Political Cartoonists Index argues that there is a ‘‘BIG cultural gap’’ between American cartoons, where the emphasis is on humour and/or making a clear point, and those created by ‘‘world cartoonists’’, which are more oblique.

He takes the view that in America cartooning is a proper job, but for ‘‘world cartoonists’’ it is merely a hobby, as all these cartoonists do is enter competitions.

‘‘The American cartoonists’ idea of actually making a living from our work, and judging our success by the size of our audiences, or our wallets, seems strange to the obscure foreign cartoonists, who are busy building their CVs and planning their travel schedules.’’

He goes on to say;

‘‘Most world cartoons look strange to an American eye and we have a hard time finding world cartoonists to syndicate, whose work can be understood by our audience.’’

Bloghorn is not saying we don’t recognise his view of some foreign cartoons, particularly those seen in international competitions, but we think he has got American and ‘‘world’’ mixed up with English speaking and non-English speaking.

We would ask Mr Cagle to take a broader view, perhaps by looking at UK cartooning for a start. There are plenty of cartoonists here who draw cartoons which are funny and make clear points.

And many UK cartoonists are as baffled by wordless and often worthy competition cartoons as Cagle is. Indeed, not too long ago John Jensen wrote a three-part article for this blog in which he outlined the difference between British cartoons, which focus on being funny, and those created by our European neighbours, which are about a more serious form of wit.

Indeed, just as Cagle characterises them as ‘‘daisies in the gun barrels’’ cartoons, so Jensen talks of ‘‘countless brick walls, endless rolls of barbed wire, and doves of peace in need of a vet’’.

You can read John Jensen’s series here: Wit and Wisdom: part 1, part2, part 3.

And in response to Cagle’s view of ‘‘world’’ cartoonists as hobbyists, we would like to point out that there are many cartoonists in the UK making a living. They may be striving to do so against the odds – and the PCO which runs the Bloghorn does all it can to help them – but they are professional cartoonists and funny to boot.

7 responses to You say tomato, we say cartoonist …

  1. As a political cartoonist who makes a very nice living I can say with confidence that Cagle has got this completely wrong and his views are I’m afraid typical of the way world the sees many Americans in it’s inward looking attitudes and ignorance of how things are in the real world. The very nature of international cartoon competitions means that language is a barrier to appeal in that not everyone speaks English (or should I say American this article is so wrong-headed?). However if you look at European magazines and newspapers in individual countries they have the same word driven lampoon approach Cagle appears to believe is unique to the American way. To outsiders American political cartoons leave many of us cold when dealing with issues regarding individual senators and states (just as I wouldn’t expect Americans or indeed Germans, Italians etc. to understand some of my cartoons regarding individual British ministers), and personally I find them very formulaic and with a highly generic style with many artists simply choosing to us the accepted blueprint instead of creating their own unique style. The world is a big place and someone needs to tell Cagle that if he sailed east or west from the US he wouldn’t just fall of the globe.

  2. I know of many American ‘hobbyist’ cartoonists (and caricaturists). I think Cagle has been hit by a spurious generalisation which has expanded out of all control in his mind. It happens to everyone (geddit?)

  3. This’ll be the same Daryl Cagle who recently found himself at the centre of a diplomatic storm, after depicting the eagle in the centre of the Mexican flag lying bullet-ridden on the flag, in a pool of its own blood. ( http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/09/03/mexico.flag.flap/index.html?hpt=T2 )

    Yeah, that was funny, Daryl. It seems the world outside Cagle’s America missed the clear point he was trying to make with that one.

  4. I have always found the humour of Mother England to be infinitely funnier than that of The United States of America. That’s likely because I am living on the North American continent but am Canadian. We Canadians have always been less beligerent about Dear Old England (except in Quebec, of course). And, if we are to compare the British vs. the American (USofA) approach to TV sitcom, perhaps that explains my preference, that is, the “Americans” seem to spend an inordinate amount of time yelling at each other to get their point across, the Brits do not. I prefer the “quieter” approach. Well, yes, I do get paid for most of the cartoons you see on my blog, not huge bags of loot, but pay it is. But then, we Canadians are known to be not much more than Scallywags, Lallygaggers and Ne’erdowells (I’ll keep you posted). And as to “international” or “world” cartoons, i have the greatest admiration for Iranian cartoonists, since they have to produce their creative works under such dangerous circumstances. The danger probably produces the “edge” that you can see in their work!

  5. I was listening to a Robin Williams stand – up the other night. His “world view” makes Mr Cagle’s sound rather narrow.

  6. And another thing – re cartoon competitions – the US and the UK are quite similar in that neither country offers cartoon competitions internationally. Why should that be ? It might be a linguistic thing, i.e., no verbals in or under the pic, or is it that other countries value art – based humour/satire more than the US and UK ?

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