Refresher on Editorial Cartooning 101
Last week I drew a cartoon in advance of the day the world was to find out the results of the referendum on Scottish independence. Of course, no one knew how the final numbers would turn out, but the pollsters said it was to be close. The choice for me therefore was to draw something that would work with either a yes or no victory. There was an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the cartoon, as one can tell from this particular forum for outrage, yet with all the thumbs down communicated to me through social media, I’m still not clear why this cartoon is so repulsive to so many.
Independence movements come in many forms. The ones I depicted of cheery folk in traditional garb are looked mostly upon as romanticized rebels who’ve sought their aims mostly through democratic or civil disobedience means. Many of the causes the cute characters represent have compatriots who’ve used the violent tactics to make their points known, in the form of letter bombs, kidnapping, and assassinations, as well as other means not much different from the kind ISIS uses this day to achieve their so called ‘Caliphate’.
Despite my given name I’ve never been supportive of Scottish Independence for my ancestral homeland, and I’ve always believed Quebec should always belong to my native Canada. I’m repulsed by the notion of ultra nationalism and, if anything, I hoped my cartoon would have conveyed caution to those blinded by jingoism and radicalism.
I assume, I guess, that some reacted rather negatively to this cartoon because they expected a bit of giggle at the end. Yes, cartoons often end that way and my cartoons are better known for using humorous satire as opposed to shock.
Perhaps readers didn’t appreciate having their emotions jostled by a cartoon?
Did some anticipating a yes victory wake up to the reality of a no vote only to find a cartoon referencing Scottish independence with the lunacy of statehood sought by ISIS?
Did readers think the now familiar image of an ISIS terrorist about to commit murder was terrible gag using a poor word play on ‘separation’.
I don’t expect people to always agree with my cartoons, or for anyone’s cartoon for that matter. However, I do wish people would have a better understanding of what we editorial cartoonists do and what the point of an editorial cartoon is. I wish people would take more than 6.5 seconds to actually view and process the images we draw before leaping to conclusions. Editorial cartoons are often funny, but they can also be quite pointed by provoking thought, anger or even sadness with its audiences.
Given how several demanded the cartoon be removed from the Spec.com, and the odd one, rather ironically, wanted editors to metaphorically lob my head off as a punishment for this cartoon, I wonder how conscious some readers are of rights to expression we apparently enjoy in our free world.