Editorial cartoonists at the Harvard Kennedy School, 1995

By Jason Ong

[caption id="attachment1072" align="alignleft" width="300"]<a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/editoralcartoonists1.png"><img class="size-medium wp-image-1072" title="editoralcartoonists1" alt="Cartoonists at Harvard Kennedy School" src="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/editoralcartoonists_1-300x225.png" width="300" height="225" /> Cartoonists at Harvard Kennedy School, 1995 Courtesy CCTV[/caption]

In 1995, a group of editorial cartoonists came to the Harvard Kennedy School: Jeff Danziger, Jerry Holbert, Etta Hulme, Doug Marlette, and Paul Szep. At the time, Danziger, Holbert, and Szep were locally known as cartoonists for the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Herald, and the Boston Globe, respectively (Holbert is still with the Herald, but Danziger and Szep have left their papers).

The editorial cartoon is a challenging art form: artists have a few panels, many times just one, to present an opinion about a newsworthy topic. Sometimes these cartoons don’t even have any dialogue, but their message is perfectly clear. Artists use exaggeration and metaphor to illustrate their points. I chose to watch this program from CCTV’s archives because I’ve been interested in editorial cartoons for a long time; they’re one of the first things I look at when I read a newspaper.

Each cartoonist showed some of their favorite cartoons. Doug Marlette showed a couple which his paper had refused to publish. For example, when Howard Stern ran for Governor of New York, Marlette drew him in an open trenchcoat, flashing the Statue of Liberty. But other censored cartoons weren't risqué at all. After Japanese media reported that American workers were lazy, Marlette drew a pair of American workers who had fallen asleep while painting a "Buy American" sign. There was nothing in that cartoon that was really inappropriate, and it was pretty clever, so why wasn’t it published?

[caption id="attachment1083" align="alignright" width="300"]<a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/editorialcartoonistspaulszep.png">Paul Szep Paul Szep. Courtesy CCTV.[/caption]

Politicians are big targets for editorial cartoons, and every artist in the panel showed at least one cartoon that targeted Newt Gingrich, who was at the time Speaker of the House in a Republican-controlled Congress. Paul Szep showed one of his cartoons that depicted Gingrich and other Republicans as mobsters taking the Democratic President Bill Clinton “for a ride,” and said that “the Newt years” would be very good for cartoonists.

[caption id="attachment1084" align="alignleft" width="300"]<a href="http://bostonlocaltv.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/editorialcartoonistsettahulme.png">Etta Hulme Etta Hulme. Courtesy CCTV.[/caption]

And there was a throwaway “If they only knew” moment: Etta Hulme, a cartoonist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, said something very similar before her presentation: with George “Shrub” Bush as her governor, there was hope for editorial cartoonists in Texas. Of course, five years later, George “W.” Bush, as he was better known, would be in editorial cartoons across the country and around the world…