Every year editorial cartoonists get together in the United States to celebrate, commiserate, or just totally avoid talking about the business of our craft. When I tell people about these conventions they often wonder out loud what we could possibly fill the hours talking about — ink brands? cross hatching? pen nibs? Invariably, the jokes turn to how a “cartoonist convention” is an eloquent way of referring to an elaborate drunken piss-up amongst doodlers. Yes, much alcohol is consumed, but no more than what would be downed at your average conference of journalists, accountants, or funeral directors. Everybody needs to blow off steam once in a while.
This year the Convention Itinerary was packed with all kinds of subjects which go beyond ink brands, cross-hatching and pen nibs. The position of on-staff editorial cartoonist is in decline, with one in our ranks suggesting that only 80 salaried cartoonists remain employed in the U.S. today compared with 2000 a century ago. Editorial Cartoonists in the U.S. are very concerned with their impending extinction, and at this year’s gathering they held townhall style meetings at the start and end to come up with solutions. Some cartoonists are figuring that in order to stay in the business of political satire they need to animate or go the way of the dodo.
One of the really cool things I was able to do while visiting D.C. over the Fourth of July holiday was attend a dinner reception on the rooftop of the Canadian Embassy. Editorial Cartoonists were invited to dine on huge shrimp and caribou meat while rubbing shoulders with diplomats, commissioners, and other big wigs. I took my father inlaw to the event — that’s him, above left, nestled between former ABC News White House correspondent Andrea Mitchell and her husband Alan Greenspan, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman. The photo on the right shows me with Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson.
On the left is a photo of me with Arnold Roth, whose book Arnold’s Crazy Book of Science served as an inspiration for me to draw when I was a kid. On the right is me with Malcolm Mayes, cartoonist at the Edmonton-Journal, who distributes my cartoons with his partner Fran Seary through the Artizans Syndicate.
One of my cartoons (shown at the end of the centre wall) was part of a show at The Katzen Arts Center at American University. The title of the exhibit, Bush Leaguers: Cartoonists Take on the White House is a collection of 99 editorial cartoons and is slated to appear in Pittsburgh and then Columbus, Ohio.