Cartoon PRecision

      3 Comments on Cartoon PRecision

As a teenager coming of age during the Watergate scandal, I became a huge fan of political or editorial cartoons. I actually used to cut them out of newspapers and glue them into a composition notebook to collect them (omg, what a nerd!). For the unfamiliar, these are (usually) single-panel drawings that appear on the editorial pages in newspapers. They are the original tweets, providing commentary on our world using an image often accompanied by a few words.

Editorial cartoons have been around for hundreds of years, but were popularized when Thomas Nast began lampooning corrupt New York City politics in Harper’s Weekly the late 1800’s. Humorous satire has come in countless forms since then. But editorial cartoons, with the possible exception to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report”, are still the most reflective and precise forms of social commentary we have today.

USA Today has compiled its best editorial cartoons of 2011, a hand-drawn “who’s who” and “what’s what” of the year. Check it out. It’s a superb way to take a month-by-month look at what we experienced this past year and how current events and people were perceived by some of America’s best unsung humorists. Some of these editorial cartoons were published in conservative-leaning newspapers, some in liberal, and they often spring from a specific political perspective. But all of them give us a funny, poignant, and mostly very honest view of our world. Click here to take a look. Combining a single image with just a few words can be very, very powerful. Your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Cartoon PRecision

  1. OkAnna

    I was going to say essentially what Jenna said. The comparison between tweets and political cartoons is quite fitting. The goal of both is to fit a simple message into a few words. The only difference is the creativity level. I don’t think that Twitter requires the level of creativity and artistic-ness of political cartoons. Sure, Tweets require creativity, but I think they are overall more simplistic than political cartoons.

  2. Jenna Weiller

    Professor, this blog entry is very interesting. Some of these cartoons really capture so much about a topic, and about a time period, without having to say much of anything. This concept really captures the saying that “a picture is worth 1,000 words”. An artist has to be very clever to choose the correct image to depict the message that they are trying to get across. However, once they find the perfect image, the message received from the cartoon is almost universal whether you agree with the message or not.

    It is also interesting that you relate these cartoons to tweets because you’re right, they are very similar. Tweets are a way to send out a message quickly, and without saying much, and so are these cartoons.

    Have a great holiday!


  3. Phil Hecken

    What’s a newspaper?

    On a serious note, I love political cartoons, and have for decades. Professor Morosoff is entirely correct in his assessment of how these cartoons can satirically (and tersely) reflect the mood of a large percentage of the nation at any given time — they are like snapshots in time. And, as a picture can tell 1,000 words, so too can a political cartoon. Even when I do not necessarily agree with the viewpoint of the artist, I often find myself chuckling. In other instances, sometimes I’m not even aware of the event/idea/trend being depicted — which, like a word whose definition I need to look up in a dictionary, I immediately try to educate myself. In this regard, they are very much like tweets or bullet points.

    Another very good site for collections of political cartoons are found on This is a site worth bookmarking. I believe I found them through Slate, which is another website well worth putting into your favorites.

    Good stuff, and Happy Holidays to all!


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