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 Temps, Neue 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.”
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.
March 3, 2010
April 28, 2015
June 21, 2017
April 15, 2018
March 1, 2019
June 18, 2019
October 15, 2019
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
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.