patrick chappatte and will eisner and graphic journalism

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

I DON’T FOLLOW EDITORIAL CARTOONING, al­though I cer­tainly ap­pre­ciate the fact that we may be living in its golden age. There are so many bril­liant in­di­vid­uals who com­bine po­lit­ical and so­cial in­sight with in­tel­li­gence and with along with the ability to draw! While I have paid a cer­tain amount of at­ten­tion to avid Horsey, part of that is be­cause he is so well known here in the Pa­cific Northwest.

 But I only knew the world of Patrick Chap­patte from finding one of his pieces while re­searching other topics on the in­ternet. Then I stum­bled over the car­toon ti­tled “The Era of Fa­cial Recog­ni­tion” (below). The first thing I saw was the young woman in the coffee shop and im­me­di­ately thought I was looking at a drawing by Will Eisner.


“We are in a world where moral­istic mobs gather on so­cial media and rise like a storm, falling upon news­rooms in an over­whelming blow.”


I have been a fan of Eis­ner’s (one of the true ge­niuses in the comic book format/genre) for more than fifty years. I was de­lighted to rec­og­nize his in­flu­ence on a car­toonist of my gen­er­a­tion! As I looked at Chap­pat­te’s car­toons, I also saw hints of Harvey Kurtzman, es­pe­cially in the manner in which Chap­patte draws Pres­i­dent Trump. I searched for other in­flu­ences, es­pe­cially that of Ron Cobb, the undis­puted king of the un­der­ground news­paper ed­i­to­rial car­toons of the ’60s.

Here is a very brief bio of Chap­patte lifted from Wikipedia:

“Patrick Chap­patte was born in 1967 in Karachi, Pak­istan, but was raised in Sin­ga­pore and Switzer­land. He draws for Le TempsNeue Zürcher Zeitung, Der Spiegel, and the In­ter­na­tional New York Times. He also worked as an il­lus­trator for The New York Times and as a car­toonist for Newsweek.

Many of his car­toons re­flect events in Swiss and in­ter­na­tional news, such as the 9/11 at­tacks, the rise of the Swiss Peo­ple’s Party, and the Israeli–Palestinian con­flict. Chap­patte lives be­tween Los An­geles and Geneva. Since 1995, he has worked in graphic jour­nalism, or comics jour­nalism, a genre of re­porting using the tech­niques of graphic novels.”


PatrickChappatte EraOfFacialRecognition 05 25 2019 1000

WillEisner crowd 1000

I found this il­lus­tra­tion ac­com­pa­nying “Will Eisner and the evo­lu­tion of the graphic novel: He had a lasting in­flu­ence on comics” by Jean-Matthieu Meon for the In­de­pen­dent (March 8, 2017). The drawing above is from Eis­ner’s 1989 book City People Note­book. The young lady staring at her cup of coffee in Chap­pat­te’s “The Age of Fa­cial Recog­ni­tion” (April 25, 2019) would have fit in this crowd.

A bit on Will Eisner

I am un­fa­miliar with the term comics jour­nalism, but Wikipedia of­fers this: “Comics jour­nalism or graphic jour­nalism is a form of jour­nalism that covers news or non­fic­tion events using the frame­work of comics, a com­bi­na­tion of words and drawn im­ages. Writers, jour­nal­ists, and il­lus­tra­tors have at­tempted to in­crease the va­lidity of this genre by bringing jour­nalism to the field in more di­rect ways. This in­cludes cov­erage of for­eign and local af­fairs in which word bal­loons are ac­tual quotes and sources are ac­tual people fea­tured in each story.”

The graphic novel as is es­sen­tially the brain­child of Will Eisner, who pub­lished A Con­tract with God in 1978. (The con­cept of the graphic novel had been around for years and was a topic of con­ver­sa­tion in the more in­tel­li­gent fanzines of the ’60s, such as Fan­tasy Il­lus­trated.) I was in­tro­duced to Eisner in 1966 when Harvey pub­lished two comic books that col­lected reprints of Eis­ner’s The Spirit news­paper strips from the ’40s.

I was trans­fixed: I had never seen anyone use the comics form like Eisner did—and he did it with so much humor, much of it be­yond the grasp of a 14-year-old boy. I fol­lowed the var­ious reis­sues of The Spirit as ap­par­ently did Chappatte.

And I could ramble on about Eisner and the Spirit and the in­flu­ence of both on all the comic books that fol­lowed but in­stead, I am just going to present a gallery of car­toons by Patrick Chap­patte. His web­site col­lects 4,300 of his car­toons, from which I se­lected ten. They ap­pear below in chrono­log­ical order of pub­li­ca­tion, but I fa­vored his more re­cent work.


PatrickChappatte ClimateSkeptics 03 03 2010 1000

March 3, 2010


PatrickChappatte CaliforniaDrought 04 28 2015 1000

April 28, 2015


PatrickChappatte AmazonSupermarket 06 21 2017 1000

June 21, 2017

PatrickChappatte FacebookAndYou 04 15 2018 1000

April 15, 2018


PatrickChappatte GOPWall 03 01 2019 1000

March 1, 2019


PatrickChappatte SpareCryptoChange 06 18 2019 1000

June 18, 2019


PatrickChappatte ObamasAlies 10 15 2019 1000

Oc­tober 15, 2019


PatrickChappatte TrumpPelosiChristmas

De­cember 19, 2019



The end of political cartoons

On his web­site, David in­cludes an ar­ticle ti­tled “The End of Po­lit­ical Car­tooning at The New York Times” which is his swan song as the first ed­i­to­rial car­toonist for the  “paper of record.” Here is a por­tion of that piece (and I took some lib­er­ties with split­ting up the paragraphs):

“In 20-plus years of de­liv­ering a twice-weekly car­toon for the In­ter­na­tional Herald Tri­bune first, and then The New York Times, and after re­ceiving three Over­seas Press Club of America awards in that cat­e­gory, I thought the case for po­lit­ical car­toons had been made (in a news­paper that was no­to­ri­ously re­luc­tant to the form in past his­tory.) But some­thing happened.

In April 2019, a Ne­tanyahu car­i­ca­ture from syn­di­ca­tion reprinted in the in­ter­na­tional edi­tions trig­gered wide­spread out­rage, a Times apology and the ter­mi­na­tion of syn­di­cated car­toons. Last week, my em­ployers told me they’ll be ending in-house po­lit­ical car­toons as well by July. I’m putting down my pen, with a sigh: that’s a lot of years of work un­done by a single cartoon—not even mine—that should never have run in the best news­paper of the world.

I’m afraid this is not just about car­toons, but about jour­nalism and opinion in gen­eral. We are in a world where moral­istic mobs gather on so­cial media and rise like a storm, falling upon news­rooms in an over­whelming blow. This re­quires im­me­diate counter-measures by pub­lishers, leaving no room for pon­der­a­tion or mean­ingful dis­cus­sions. Twitter is a place for furor, not de­bate. The most out­raged voices tend to de­fine the con­ver­sa­tion, and the angry crowd fol­lows in.”

To read this ar­ticle in its en­tirety, click HERE.

We are in a world where moral­istic mobs gather on so­cial media and rise like a storm, falling upon news­rooms in an over­whelming blow. Click To Tweet

PatrickChappatte PolarBear SUV 12 29 2007 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: The car­toon at the top of this page is the ear­liest of the Chap­patte car­toons that I chose, having been pub­lished on De­cember 29, 2007. My ini­tial fea­tured image was the fa­cial recog­ni­tion cartoon—the one that caught my ini­tial at­ten­tion to­ward Chap­pat­te’s work. But the polar bear facing the SUV owner was too good to pass up.



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It hap­pens here too.

Apropos of the car­toons about the cur­rent en­vi­ron­mental sit­u­a­tion, have you watched planet of hu­mans Neal?