2. Sketch Uncle Sam's long lanky arms and legs on each side of the torso area.

In this pose, he's facing to his right and looking downwards. His arms and legs are long and lanky, like that of Abraham Lincoln's. Draw his left arm so that it falls down by his side while his right arm is bouncing the ball. His legs are really close together so draw them so that they come straight down from his torso and his shoes point to the left (see Figure 11-14).

3. Draw his facial features (refer to Figure 11-14).

He's facing to his right so you see only the facial features on his left side. His eyes are small and he has high, narrow cheekbones. His hair is slightly long in the back, and the tall top hat sits atop his head.

4. Fill in the final details, like in Figure 11-15.

You can add features like the stripes on his pants and the stars on his tie, hat, and jacket lapels. His clothing can be worn in many different ways depending on his situation and the task he's doing. Without his jacket and his sleeves rolled up he looks like he's ready to get down to the business of defending the nation.

Figure 11-14:

This Uncle Sam has a strong American resolve.

Figure 11-14:

This Uncle Sam has a strong American resolve.

Figure 11-15:

Uncle Sam is ready to defend America.

Figure 11-15:

Uncle Sam is ready to defend America.

Roll with the punches: Dealing with readers' responses

One of the most interesting things about being in a profession that specializes in forming opinions is the strong response, both positive and negative, you generate from individuals who read your editorial cartoons. Sometimes people like what you have to say. Other times people are vocal in their dislike of your opinions, and they usually don't hesitate in expressing their own opinion.

If you pursue editorial cartoons as a career, have some published, and then get some reader responses, I suggest you do what I do. Most of the time, regardless of what the readers say, I simply respond with a single sentence that says, "Thank you for your interest in my work." I've learned over the past decade not to take what readers say personally. Take the comments with a grain of salt and as further evidence of the power and importance of editorial cartoons in our political and social discourse. Besides, it's fun to ruffle people's feathers!

E-mail has changed the way editorial cartoonists get feedback from the public. You may get complimentary e-mails and comments from readers who like how you expressed an idea or drew something. On the flip side, you can get some negative e-mail, so be prepared. An unsettling trend in e-mailing is that people are much more vicious and mean-spirited when they e-mail than they would be if they wrote a letter or confronted you in person. Perhaps this is because e-mailing is a much more instantaneous thing, and when they stumble upon a cartoon on a Web site they find disagreeable, bullets start flying and hit their target (that's you) quickly.

Some of the more memorable comments I see regarding my editorial cartoons are things like:

"You're nothing but a conservative Nazi."

"You're nothing but a liberal scumbag."

The last two depend strictly on how the reader perceives the point of the cartoon. In their eyes, if you criticize a conservative politician or cause you're liberal, and if you criticize a liberal politician or cause you're a conservative. You may be amused that readers can make assumptions about your political affiliations based on one cartoon, but they do!

The Obama cartoon controversy

In July of 2008, The New Yorker gained national attention and attracted a firestorm of controversy over its cartoon cover. The cover was entitled "The Politics of Fear," by Barry Blitt and depicted Democratic nominee Barack Obama in a turban, dressed in a long Middle Eastern style robe, fist bumping with his wife, Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama was portrayed with a large Afro hairstyle while wearing camouflage pants and holding an AK-47 assault rifle. Both were standing in the Oval Office with a portrait of Osama bin Laden hanging on the wall while an American flag burned in the fireplace.

According to the magazine's editors, the intent of the cover was to satirize the rumors and misconceptions about Obama. Vicious rumors about the Obamas had been floating around and were beginning to be reflected in public opinion polls. The magazine set out to throw all the images together in an attempt to shine a harsh light on the rumors in an effort to satirize them.

However, on the heels of the controversy that followed, the editors acknowledged the misunderstanding, particularly by those unfamiliar with the subtle humor the magazine is famous for.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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