Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cartoon War Continues...

For those of you still interested ... the cartoon war widens, with cartoonists striking back. Here above is a MAD strike by John Darkow, of The Columbia Daily Tribune, February 10, 2006.

Professor John P. Palmer has also posted this one on his EclectEcon blog, along with still more images from the mighty war between the pen and the sword. Once again, I'm indebted to Egyptian blogger extraordinaire "Sandmonkey," who linked to these images at EclectEcon.

Incidentally, does anybody know of an online history of editorial cartoons? Since they represent a form of free speech and are overtly political, then they must have a history of struggle stretching into the past. I imagine that earlier provocative images also encountered intimidation, and I'm curious how the cartoonists responded.

Wikipedia has a short piece describing editorial cartoons and helpfully distinguishing between two styles: the 'nasti' style and the 'alti' style. The latter "tells a linear story, usually in comic strip format," whereas the former (and aptly named), nasti style usually limits itself to a single frame.

The nasti style, by the way, derives its name not from being "nasty" (though it often is) but from the family name of Thomas Nast, a famous American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist of the 19th-century who drew political images during the American Civil War and the subsequent period of Reconstruction, also turning his satirical pen against Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall, among others.

Nast is just one famous name among many, and Americans will recall that the polymath Benjamin Franklin also tried his hand at political cartooning, including his famous "Join or Die" image of a serpent.

Free speech has a complex history useful for its own defense in today's cartoon war, and the tradition of political cartooning is one to be drawn on (so to speak).


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