"The pen is mightier than the sword" is a phrase from a play coined by 19th-century British playwright Edwards Bulwer-Lytton. This quote sums up the nature and power of editorial cartoons better than just about anything ever said, except for the well-known phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Editorial cartoons exemplify both these statements; together they define the long tradition of biting satire and social commentary that makes up the blood and guts of editorial cartooning.
To be an editorial cartoonist, you have to be able to express your opinion, which means that you have to have opinions and be willing to expose them to a sometimes less than adoring public.
To be an editorial cartoonist and express your opinion, you follow this daily routine to come up with your cartoon:
People don't read cartoons that discuss things they have no interest in. In today's 24-hour news environment, a new story is always being reported. As a result, there are many stories and topics from which to obtain subject matter. Check out the next section for more hands-on advice about finding ideas.
2. Form an opinion about an issue.
It helps if you actually have opinions before becoming a political cartoonist, because people will look to your cartoons for a particular slant.
3. Draw a cartoon that illustrates how you feel about that issue.
Every issue or news story has a story behind the story. A good editorial cartoonist will try and say something about what's really going on under the surface of an issue, to make the reader think or look differently at an issue or situation, like peeling back the layers of an onion.
One thing that an editorial doesn't do is report the news. That task is left up to the reporters and news gathering organizations. The cartoonist's job, by comparison, is to comment about the story. A cartoonist is a political and social commentator.
The rest of this chapter breaks down how you can discover ideas, create opinions, and then draw a cartoon to show that opinion.
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