Hair styles. Nose shapes. Eye spacing. Ear size.
The discussion at Brocach in downtown Madison on July 18 could have been confused with gossip at a beauty salon.
Instead it was the musings of some of the state’s top political cartoonists explaining their craft (and their favorite targets) to about 30 people at a program sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Madison chapter.
“Drawing Fire: How Cartoonists Tackle Politics with Humor,” featured:
Joe Heller, editorial cartoonist for the Green Bay Press-Gazette since 1985. His awards include eight Best of Gannett Awards, six Milwaukee Press Clubs Awards, and three John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Awards.
Phil Hands of the Wisconsin State Journal, who recently won SPJ’s Sigma Delta Chi award for top cartoonist at a newspaper under 100,000 circulation.
Mike Konopacki, an independent labor cartoonist who began cartooning for the Madison Press Connection in 1977 and then went on to syndicate his work through the labor news service Press Associates and now Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons.
Alan Talaga, who contributes to the Isthmus with Jon Lyons. The words-and pictures duo won the 2012 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Milwaukee Press Club for Best Illustration or Cartoon.
Not on the panel, but joining in the discussion, was P.S. Mueller. Since 1969, when Mueller began contributing to the Daily Egyptian at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, his cartoons have appeared in scores of alternative weeklies, magazines and books. Today he contributes to: The New Yorker, Reader’s Digest, Field and Stream, Brand Week, the Funny Times, and The Onion.
The audience laughed, applauded, and hissed as each cartoonist flashed a sample of his favorite or recent work across a large screen. Then Talaga (doing double duty as panelist and moderator) quizzed the group on a series of questions, including how they got their ideas, when/how they were edited, and the future of editorial cartooning.
Later, the audience got into the act, asking panelists to discuss whom they liked to draw, why there weren’t more women and minority cartoonists, which older cartoonists influenced them, and whether liberals or conservatives got more upset at their drawings.
In an interview afterward, Konopacki said the delivery of cartoons will change as technology progresses, but the energy to comment on political and social issues is durable. “As long as there is injustice, people will fight it with every tool available,” he says.