By: Dave Astor
Things are changing for Jeff Danziger. The editorial cartoonist recently switched syndicates, returned from two years in Germany, and came out with a new book. But Danziger cited one thing that hasn’t changed much: The Iraq war reminds him very much of the Vietnam one.
“I was in Vietnam in 1970 when almost everything was falling apart and we knew we weren’t going to win,” said Danziger, one of today’s very few syndicated editorial cartoonists who served in the military (from 1967-71). “It was a mess. I see many parallels with Iraq.” He added that the United States has, in effect, “announced to everyone in the world the limits of what we can do. That’s a very dangerous thing to have done.”
Danziger moved from Tribune Media Services to the Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate, whose features are marketed by the New York Times Syndicate. He said the reasons he switched included the ease with which customers can download his cartoons at http://www.nytimages.com, the respect he has for CWS President Jerry Robinson, and the fact that CWS and NYTS — like himself — are based in New York City.
But Manhattan is not always home for the 60-year-old Danziger. He lived in Frankfurt, Germany, from 2002 until last month while his significant other, bank executive Kim Gale, was working there. That European sojourn gave Danziger an interesting vantage point for commenting on topics such as the Iraq war. Most Germans, like numerous others across the globe, oppose what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. But Danziger said there’s a reservoir of good will towards America in Germany because of the way the U.S. helped rebuild the country after World War II.
His stay in Germany also gave Danziger the experience of living in a country where the government is more involved in education, health care, and other aspects of its citizens’ lives than the U.S. government is for its population.
“I know from my own experience that you see things more broadly and from different points of view when you travel,” said Robinson, the CWS head who’s also a cartoonist and author.
Danziger had no trouble continuing his career while abroad — he told E&P that a cartoonist can “pretty much live anywhere” in an age where news and facts can be found on the Web and art can be delivered electronically. And Danziger, who might eventually end up in Singapore or South Korea if Gale starts working there, is mobile because he’s not employed by a particular newspaper. Indeed, he’s one of the most widely syndicated (about 100 clients) editorial cartoonists without a staff position; others include Pat Oliphant, Ted Rall, and Ann Telnaes, to name three.
Earlier in his career, Danziger did have positions at specific newspapers: The Christian Science Monitor (1986-96) and the New York Daily News (1982-86). And, since 1975, he has been a regular contributor to two Vermont papers: the Rutland Herald and The Times Argus in Barre. Among the clients for Danziger’s syndicated work are The Sun of Baltimore, The Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune of Paris, The Times of London, the Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian of Portland, The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., and The Washington Post.
Danziger has also written for newspapers as well as The New Yorker magazine, and authored an early 1990s novel for Doubleday called “Rising Like the Tucson” that drew partly on his Vietnam experiences. In addition, his cartoons have been compiled in about a dozen book collections. The latest — “Wreckage Begins With ‘W’: Cartoons of the Bush Administration” — was published last month by Steerforth Press in Hanover, N.H.
In September, the self-described independent (http://www.danzigercartoons.com) is scheduled to speak and see his work exhibited at a cartoon festival in St. Just Le Martel, France.
Robinson said of Danziger: “Jeff is a thinking man’s cartoonist. He’s sharp, incisive, and knows world politics. And no one else’s work looks like his. He’s a superb draftsman.”