While some might see this as a watering down of sorts or an oversimplification of grave social and political issues, there are many who view conservative political cartoons as a sophisticated graphic art form and the caricaturist as an educator. Political cartoons in the USA date back to as early as the late eighteenth century. There are many yesteryear graphic artists who have taken up serious political issues in their own trivial fashion and etched their cartoons in the annals of American political journalism. It is also interesting to note how the graphic humor of a generation of cartoonists is essentially a vernacular archive of the socio-political history of that generation.
Current political cartoons are recipients of highly coveted and prestigious awards in journalism, such as the Pulitzer Prize. While photographs show the viewer ‘what’ happened, pertinent graphic depictions are primarily concerned with ‘why’ something happened. This is one of the main reasons why sports cartooning never quite thrived. The question of why something happened never really arises in sports, or for that matter, any other newspaper section. While we passively consume most of the news in a daily, we are always questioning and criticizing political news. It would be a wondrous feat for a newspaper agency to go one day without publishing any political news that hasn’t been met by the reader with much distaste and dissatisfaction.
Editorial cartoonists are therefore vested with the onerous task of expressing the multitude’s skepticism and sarcasm through a cartoon. Conservative political cartoonists are always publishing relevant, moralistic political observations on a daily basis and sharing a common ground with the reader. While their job is not so easy, the graphic medium is an aide of sorts. The pithiest of political writings will not have the same impact as any of the recent political cartoons, simply due to the fact that the graphic medium strikes harder and with more immediacy.
When a graphic artist takes on the mantle of a political cartoonist, he does so with a purpose. He does not simply wish to draw, but to draw and make a difference. From the earliest days of conservative political cartoons, the caricaturist has been a truly strident critic of the social and political space that we inhabit. Often misconstrued as trivial, his warnings have been unheeded and his words unheard. But there is no denying that the conservative political cartoonist is an honest critic, if there ever was one, without any prejudices and predilections.