Which came first, Democrats or Republicans?

chicken or egg cartoon

Oops, did I spoil the cartoon? For Illustration Friday: propagate is the challenge. And chickens do that.

This is an easy idea to tinker with, if you’re good with words. The ending to Which came first, could be anything, and I think I’ve come up with half a dozen gags over the years. But politics has been a big part of my life this last year, working for Slate, so these hens have that on their mind, too.

I’ve been thinking recently about New Yorker cartoons vs Editorial cartoons – which I’m spending most of my time doing? now. New Yorker cartoons are easy, so easy that anyone can do it, and they can and do, with the little caption contests. I haven’t looked at the contests in years, but there are many clever entries, I’m sure.

“But I can’t draw,” they sigh. That’s what she said.

That’s what I said. I wanted to write them, not draw them, but I sent ideas to a couple of New Yorker guys, they said they didn’t buy gags, and I gave up on just writing right away. I’d have to learn to draw. Sigh.

I still don’t know if I CAN draw, but I like my drawings, and editors seem to, too. Remember, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks – you only have to please one person, the editor. (Although I sure like fan mail when I get it, and requests for books or originals!)

But political cartoons – you can’t believe how much harder they are. First of all, you have to know things, like current events, a little history. You can’t get by with a turn of phrase or a sick pun. Then there’s the people – you have to draw REAL PEOPLE! I’m not a caricaturist, nor are any magazine cartoonists I know of. But for political cartoons you have to draw people in the news who are recognizable. That takes research and practice, and sketches and study.

Then you have to take this real person or event or situation and make it funny. That might be the hardest, although for me it’s the most fun. But it can’t be word games. Almost all New Yorker cartoons are word play, which is why they’re so easy. Op-ed cartoons have to be like a good novel or script – the caption and humor must come from the character!

I’m the only New Yorker cartoonist or magazine cartoonist who has made the off-balance crazy jump into editorial cartoons. I had no idea it would be this hard, this time-consuming – and this much fun.

I kind of envy the New Yorker guys leisurely thinking of 10 good gags before lunch, however. I used to be them. Now I still do some of that, since I have to pay the bills, plus get to the really hard part of the day -? writing an op-ed cartoon that is relevant, makes sense, pops the color or design, and, if I’m lucky, is funny.

Cartoon Caption: My question is, which came first, Democrats or Republicans?


    • Ah, Diane, thanks so much! It’s so nice to get a comment!

      February 27, 2010
  1. I also do editorial cartoons for the Florida Farm Bureau’s “Viewpoint” section, although the editor advise what to draw….but it is a refreshing diversion away from gag panel cartoons. It seems that I get “bored” or feel like I’m in a rut if I continually draw the same desk or perspective on how someone sits in a chair or at a table, so I could relate to your posting on this. A big congrats for making that shift into editorial or political cartoons – as some call them. Are your editorial images created upon the instructions of a specific editor, or do you create them “as is” like with gag panel cartoons? Good work all around Donna….BTW, does this now signify you have two sites running in unison? If so, that is only a good thing and it’s something I hope to do in the future….keep my existing URL running (to keep my daily web cartoon up & running) and make the diversion to CSS….although my main image database has it’s own RSS feed. All in all, keep on ‘truckin!

    Dan Rosandich
    humorous illustration
    Web Design

    ps: a few of my politicals at http://www.danscartoons.com/political_cartoons.htm (although I try and keep them “lite”!)

    March 7, 2010
  2. Ooh, I really like the General one, Dan! I think it’s okay to be light. (The only reason the regular oped guys don’t do that is they don’t know how to…right?)

    I can do whatever I want for the political cartoons, but I have to do 2 to 3 a week. I also do one a week just on California politics, and usually use that as one of the others, too.

    Yes, my other cartoon site is http://opedcartoons.com/.

    March 9, 2010

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.