WashingtonPost.com Launches ‘Toles vs. Toles’ Feature

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By: Dave Astor

It’s usually Tom Toles vs. George W. Bush or Toles vs. another editorial-cartoon target. Now it’s also “Toles vs. Toles.”

That’s the name of a just-launched feature on WashingtonPost.com. In it, the Toles cartoon published in that day’s Washington Post is shown with the rough sketch of a Toles idea that didn’t make the cut. Site visitors are asked to comment about the cartoons and which one they like better.

How unique is this kind of feature? “I’m not aware of it being done before,” replied Toles, who draws an average of four sketches a day — one of which becomes his published cartoon. Only one of each day’s runner-up sketches will appear on WashingtonPost.com.

“Toles vs. Toles” started this week with the Wednesday cartoon. “We may or may not do this every day,” Toles told E&P Online. “We’re trying it out and seeing how it works.”

One thing that might be tweaked is the way the published and unpublished drawings appear on the same page and at the same size when visitors first access the Toles area of WashingtonPost.com. Toles said he’d like the published cartoon to be displayed more prominently.

Why is “Toles vs. Toles” being tried? “You learn more about a cartoonist and how they see the world by seeing more of their work,” said Toles. “And you get more of an insight into the creative process.” He did note that it feels “a little risky” showing the public his unfinished work.

The published Toles cartoon on today’s WashingtonPost.com is about global warming. His sketch is about the politicization surrounding the “Plan B” emergency contraceptive. The latter cartoon does not include the famous “corner commentary” featuring a tiny Toles at the drawing board.

Universal Press Syndicate distributes Toles’ Pulitzer Prize-winning work to about 200 newspapers. Might “Toles vs. Toles” also appear on some of these clients’ Web sites? The cartoonist said it’s way too soon to think about that; he’s more focused on whether or not “Toles vs. Toles” — which he labeled “an interesting experiment” — will work well on WashingtonPost.com.

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