Some Kudos for Antiwar Cartoonists

By: Dave Astor

A dozen years ago, editorial cartoonists questioning the Gulf War received death threats, lots of hate mail, and comparatively little positive reader reaction (E&P, May 18, 1991).

Things are somewhat different today. In the early stages of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, some antiwar cartoonists are getting as much positive as negative mail, or not much mail at all. Clearly, there’s more sentiment against — or at least ambiguity about — this war than the one waged by the first President Bush.

Steve Benson of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix reported receiving “countless dozens of e-mails” since the start of the war, with opinions split evenly for and against his views.

The critics, according to the United Media creator, basically say: “World War II had Tokyo Rose, Vietnam had Hanoi Jane, and we’ve got Steve Benson.” But they don’t put it as eloquently as that. They’ve cursed Benson, and called him a “traitor” who should “shut up and support the troops” or go live in Iraq. The cartoonist noted that these e-mailers’ reluctance to accept dissent might make it more appropriate for them to live in a dictatorship like Iraq rather than in a country with a First Amendment.

Benson praised Republic executives for publishing his commentary even though the paper editorially supports Bush.

Ann Telnaes is also receiving as much positive as negative mail. “I’ve gotten the usual obscenity-filled rants but also encouragement from people telling me to ‘keep doing what you’re doing,'” she said.

Telnaes is “a little surprised” by the amount of positive mail and the number of papers running cartoons (by her and others) strongly opposing the Bush-administration’s Iraq policies. But she said this reflects the fact that many Americans have “a lot of questions” about the war.

The Tribune Media Services cartoonist reported no loss of clients.

When he did cartoons questioning the first Gulf War, Joel Pett of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader received unsigned letters cursing him out as well as pressure from religious groups threatening to boycott the newspaper.

Last week, Pett reported little reaction from readers. “Maybe they’re inured by now,” said the Universal Press Syndicate creator. “I was so against the war during the buildup.” Pett added that the Herald-Leader has been supportive in allowing him to express his opinions.

Pett, Telnaes, and Benson are all Pulitzer Prize winners.

Scott Bateman had also received little reaction as of last week. He recalled that his pre-war cartoons opposing a U.S. invasion drew an equal amount of criticism and support — ranging from “how dare you be so unpatriotic” to antiwar readers being thankful others felt the same way.

“Many people feel the case for the war was never really made,” said the King Features Syndicate creator. “They’re asking, ‘Why are we going there and not getting Osama bin Laden?'”

***

Columnist Analyzes From War Zone


Ignatius: Many Iraqis Hate Hussein, Mistrust U.S.

Amidst the many reporters and photographers covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq are a handful of syndicated columnists. One of them, David Ignatius of the Washington Post Writers Group, told E&P Online that it’s crucial to have columnist voices in and near the war zone.

“Columnists look at things with different eyes,” he said during an April 1 phone interview from Kuwait. “They can explain and analyze. Reporters don’t have the freedom to do that.”

As an unembedded journalist who was in Iraq twice last month, Ignatius talked with many of the country’s citizens. While numerous Iraqis hate and fear Saddam Hussein, they’re also afraid the U.S. will eventually “leave them behind to die” like it did after the first Gulf War. “Their experience with the U.S. is that we come in with a lot of big talk and then bail out. They don’t trust us,” said Ignatius. He noted that the Iraqis he spoke with are frightened that, even if Hussein is killed, members of the dictator’s “mafia” will exact revenge against citizens considered disloyal.

Journalists face dangers of their own. Ignatius recalled a mine in Iraq exploding soon after he passed over it, and also cited the threat of being shot or kidnapped. “It’s difficult to know which roads are safe,” said Ignatius, 52. “At this point in the war, if you try to travel very far in Iraq to do reporting, you need either armor or a gun, neither of which unilateral reporters have.”

The International Herald Tribune‘s former executive editor — who has spent a lot of time in and near Iraq during his career — has also written from Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia during the last two months. He has been filing three rather than his usual two columns a week.

Among the other syndicated columnists in the war zone are Michael Kelly of the Writers Group, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times News Service, and Oliver North of Creators Syndicate.

***

Map Sends Columnists in New Direction


Rodriguez, Gonzales Teaching and Making Movie

A map passed to the co-writers of a Universal Press Syndicate column several years ago led to two documentaries and a course Roberto Rodriguez and Patrisia Gonzales just began teaching at UCLA.

The map they saw indicated that ancestors of Mexico’s indigenous population migrated from what’s now the U.S. The columnists’ subsequent research (and discovery of other maps) indicated that Utah may have been the specific ancient homeland.

Their UCLA class — “Sacred Geography: Going Back to Where We Came From” — will include information about the origins/migrations of people in Mexico/Central America as well as discussion of the importance of Hispanic people knowing their roots.

The columnists moved from Texas to California to teach the spring course, after which they’ll attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison to pursue graduate degrees on topics relating to the pre- and post-conquest history of Mexico’s indigenous population.

Meanwhile, Gonzales and Rodriguez — who will continue their Universal column while in California and Wisconsin — are working on a maps-inspired documentary. Another documentary on the subject was produced by someone else (E&P Online, July 3, 1999). Also, Chusma House just published Gonzales’ book The Mud People.

***

New Content in King Package


Weekly Service Expanding and Changing

King Features Weekly Service (KFWS) recently added several new elements to its package.

They include eight editorial cartoons a week (twice as many as before), political commentary by Roger Hernandez and Rich Lowry, “Mark Trail Classics,” the “Just Like Cats and Dogs” cartoon by Dave Phipps, the “Rational Numbers” puzzle by Linda Thistle, “Papa’s Quiz” by Dave McGill, “Now Here’s a Tip” by JoAnn Derson, “The Garden Bug” by Brenda Weaver, and “Racing” by Greg Zyla.

Since 2000, KFWS has also done a graphic redesign, provided periodic “bonus” offerings, and launched a service for monthly publications, according to General Manager David Cohea.

***

Poynter Launches Cartoon Area


The Focus Is on Iraq War Commentary

An area focusing on editorial cartoons about the Iraq war was started by Poynter Online (http://www.poynter.org).

“We wanted to explore the creative process that goes into creating what we call the ‘persuasive art,'” Poynter faculty member Howard Finberg told E&P Online, adding that he hopes the cartoon area will continue after the war ends.

Poynter received submissions from more than 20 cartoonists (who can be from outside the U.S.) the first two days the feature went live last week.

***

Et cetera …



The “Iraqi Crisis Report” has been launched by the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (http://www.iwpr.net), whose articles are distributed in the U.S. by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services (KRT). The “Report” includes opinion, analysis, and first-person accounts of life inside Iraq by civilians. …

“Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen,” a weekly column by the renowned chef, is being syndicated by Tribune Media Services (TMS). It includes tips, recipes, and more. Puck is chairman of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, which includes more than 60 restaurants. He also hosts a weekly show on cable TV’s Food Network and has authored several best-selling cookbooks. …

The Fischetti award went to Association of American Editorial Cartoonists President Bruce Plante of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press. He won for a cartoon showing the ashes of an executed prisoner being released from an urn after DNA testing proved him innocent.

More details are emerging about the upcoming “Garfield” movie. It will be live-action except for its computer-generated cat star. Its producer is John Davis (no relation to “Garfield” creator Jim Davis of Universal Press Syndicate), who has been responsible for films such as Dr. Doolittle, Behind Enemy Lines, and Grumpy Old Men. The director is Peter Hewitt (The Borrowers). Screenwriters are Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow (Toy Story). The cast still includes Jennifer Love Hewitt, Breckin Meyer, and Stephen Toblowsky. Also, the Muncie (Ind.) Visitors Bureau will celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Garfield” June 19-21. Among the events will be a parade and a dance (“The Fur Ball”). …

Ted Rall will receive a 2002 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, in the graphics category, on April 14. Rall does editorial cartoons for Universal, a self-syndicated column, books, and more. …

Paul Gilligan’s “Pooch Cafe” comic is moving from Copley News Service to Universal effective May 4. …

Pat Byrnes is ending his “Monkeyhouse” comic April 27 after three years. He said there haven’t been enough readers to make his TMS strip “sustainable.” Byrnes will create more magazine cartoons, continue doing ad illustration, and work on a line of greeting cards. …

Cartoonist Guy Gilchrist is bringing “Night Lights and Pillow Fights” to DBR Media effective May 1. The Sunday feature was formerly with Copley. …

The “FoxTrot” comic by Bill Amend of Universal turns 15 on April 10. …

Charles Stouff is self-syndicating a conservative political cartoon called “Top Secret” (http://www.dwtoons.com/TopSecret.htm). …

“Antiques & Collectibles” writer Anita Gold (http://www.anitagold.com) is self-syndicating her weekly column at no charge. She was formerly with KRT. …

Another former KRT columnist switching to self-syndication is “Parent to Parent” writer Jodie Lynn (http://www.ParentToParent.com). …

Bee Epstein-Shepherd (http://www.drbee.com) is writing a “Mental Notes” column for golfers. …

Andrews McMeel Publishing released When Body Language Goes Bad by “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams of United Media, Never a Dry Moment by “Baby Blues” creators Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman of King Features Syndicate, Surf’s Up by “Sherman’s Lagoon” creator Jim Toomey of King, and BLTs Taste So Darn Good — the first “Pearls Before Swine” comic collection by Stephan Pastis of United. …

Creators Syndicate-distributed humorist Peter McKay (http://www.peter-mckay.com) has a new column collection called Welcome to the Nuthouse! …

Editorial cartoonist J.D. Crowe (http://www.Crowetoons.com) of the Mobile (Ala.) Register and Artizans.com has a new collection called Dark Side of the MoonPie. …

Self-syndicated columnist Deb DiSandro (http://www.slightlyoff.com) has a new book called Tales of Slightly Off Supermom. …

Former Universal executive Victoria Houston has authored Dead Frenzy, the fourth novel in her “Loon Lake Fishing Mystery” series. …

Tribune Media Services International promoted the London-based Pia Ingberg to director of European operations. …

Ian Spelling’s “Inside Sci-Fi & Fantasy” column distributed by the New York Times Syndicate was renamed “Strange Worlds.” …

“Frazz” creator Jef Mallett of United won a Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council. His comic stars an elementary-school janitor who’s also a Renaissance man. …

Dr. Marty Becker, who writes “The Bond” pets column for KRT, was named 2002 Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year by the Delta Society and the American Veterinary Medical Association. …

Copley is providing more color photos with its travel content. Among the features offered is one about a round-the-world voyage of the Queen Elizabeth 2 written by former Copley editor Bob Witty and his wife Judy. …

“The Hots” creators Stephen Hersh and Nina Paley are doing a weeklong Passover series starting April 15. Their King comic stars a newlywed couple living in New York City. …

Earlier this year, King columnist Heloise helped the USO of Metropolitan Washington distribute care packages to military people going overseas and families moving to other postings. …

“The Norm” cartoonist Michael Jantze of King designed a menu that looks like a Sunday comics section for a March event involving chefs from Bubba’s Diner in San Anselmo, Calif., serving lunch at the James Beard House in New York. …

Continental Features/Continental News Service (continentalnewstime@lycos.com) signed cartoonist Frank Hill, who has assisted on “Dennis the Menace” and worked in animation. … .

“Your Angels Speak” creator Guy Gilchrist of United is offering a free color print paying tribute to U.S. troops. It can be downloaded at http://www.yourangelsspeak.com.

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