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?