Oh god, let's go, quick. Here comes an overweight cat with dollar signs for eyes and a hat that says "Social Security" pouring a bucket that says "Alternative Minimum Tax" over a sad Statue of Liberty holding a "Democracy" umbrella.
—Stewie Griffin to Brian
, in the Washington Post
Political Cartoon Universe.
These are those little boxes on the editorial page of your local newspaper where cartoonists try to educate and entertain the masses via their snappy, illustrated political commentary, usually on current events
. Done well, a political cartoon will creatively expose the social and political hot buttons of the day; in fact, one of the precursors of the Mexican Revolution was a bunch of perfect political cartoons
. Done poorly... well, they're easy to avoid.
The first political cartoons were drawn by William Hogarth in the 1720s, before newspapers as we know them. An early American example was Benjamin Franklin's drawing of a snake divided into 13 parts, which he captioned, Join, or Die
. Some famous political cartoonists of the past:
- James Gillray, late 18th and early 19th century cartoonist who is still cruder and more vicious than any of his mainstream successors.
- Thomas Rowlandson, Gillray's versatile contemporary.
- John Tenniel, who besides illustrating Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, also drew the famous "Dropping the Pilot◊" cartoon for Punch
- Thomas Nast, who created the Republican elephant and popularized the Democratic donkey◊ (and created the modern image of Santa Claus)
- Louis Raemaekers
- Bill Mauldin, who is remembered more for his wartime strips than for his Pulitzer-winning postwar political cartoons. The most famous is a picture of the Lincoln Memorial sobbing after JFK's assassination.
- Herbert Block ("Herblock")
- Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) made these circa WWII, before moving to kids' books.
- Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón, who in the first years of the 20th century ran the political satire magazine El hijo de El Ahuizote. During Porfirio Díaz's administration, in the middle of a harsh dictatorship, their presses were constantly confiscated, some of its journalists were even murdered, and both were promoted to national heroes for being among the instigators of the Mexican Revolution.
Some modern political cartoonists, such as Mike Peters and Jeff MacNelly, have also drawn daily comic strips.
The now-defunct UK magazine Punch
was famous for its well-drawn cartoons for a long period, a number of them turning up in school history books.
Most British newspapers still have political cartoonists on the strength. A typical example would be Steve Bell, who draws both editorial cartoons and a long-running daily political strip called If
for the Guardian
. Cartoonists of other political hues are also available.