In the aftermath of the death of former U.S. President George H. W Bush, editorial cartoonists are creating obit cartoons and reposting old cartoons from when he was president from 1989 to 1993. While a few of my drawings (here and here) included Bush Sr. in editorial cartoons during his son’s Presidency, I was a university student at the time when he was at the helm, and submitting cartoons to campus newspaper, The Fulcrum. Back then my political cartooning was in the form of a wordy, densely illustrated weekly comic strip called Alas & Alack. In November 1989, Bush had been President for less than a year, leading in the shadow of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, at a time monumental changes were happening in the world, among them the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war. At the time the President seemed desperate to put his own mark on history. With references to Ronald Reagan, Leonid Breshnev, JFK, and even Donald Trump.
Going Viral Virus
On any average day editorial cartoonists spend their days toiling on work for the purpose of filling a square for the print version of the next days’ newspaper for which they are employed. For the entire 20th century that’s how it worked.
In the next century, we began to showcase our cartoons on the Internet.
Take for example this cartoon, drawn in 2006:
It was drawn at a time when Canada was at war in Afghanistan, meeting its international military obligations, and contributing to an allied mission to neutralize al-Qaeda terrorists based in the region, and bring down the Taliban regime. My critique on May 20, 2006, was of the federal government’s dithering position on whether or not to extend the mission, which began in 2001, for another 2 years. The Liberal Party, leading the government at the time, had become deeply divided over its willingness to continue the mission as soldiers were returning to Canada in body bags at an increasing rate. It didn’t help that their commitment to the effort could be seen in the underwhelming financial support to properly equip the hundreds of armed forces personnel sent.
It’s not my favourite kind of imagery, familiar and overused, and quite frankly, if I could choose which of my cartoons could go viral this would be last on the list.
So to my surprise it resurfaced on a popular cartoon Facebook page 12 and a half years after, the image intact, and the captions butchered to suit an American audience.
As posted under the unauthorized version of my cartoon, it’s like I put this cartoon in a bottle, dropped it in the internet Ocean in 2006, and it’s washed up on my FB page, all pixelated with the captions all monkeyed up. You can almost smell the mothballs and cat pee coming from the account of whoever made the modifications.
It’s getting all kinds of likes and shares, and even after pointing out that the original work had been doctored, the usual sort of social media sewer rats emerged endorsing the act of butchering someone else’s satire to suit their political opinions.
In the past I’ve made a point of making examples of the sort who take pleasure ruining the work of professional cartoonists. I call it the Social Media Jackass Award. Today I’m pleased to announce that CJ Kalish (ChristopherJohn Kalish) who runs the above FB page, but refuses to delete the cartoon, is the latest winner of that award.
According to a colleague in the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists:
CJ Kalish is a known thief of other’s work. He frequently posts doctored cartoons on his “fan site” without checking their veracity, uses other cartoons without permission, and often publishes material with no credit or ID of the real artist.
A growing number of legitimate cartoonists have been having a running legal battle with him for years now. Clay Jones and Nick Anderson first discovered he was stealing and using doctored work of theirs in 2016, and when called on it, CJ responded with lies and abuse.
Sounds like the classy sort of fellow who’s more than deserving of this recognition.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: don’t change intellectual property that doesn’t belong to you. Do your own work! As for those in the know of these breaches, yet refuse to do anything about them, enjoy the shame and humiliation.
Update: CJ Kalish has removed the doctored cartoon. Ensuing discussion I’ve had with cartoonists both on and off Facebook indicate that he’s had many run-ins with many cartoonists. As Clay Jones put it, quite simply, “he needs to share from the creators’ pages”, instead of copying images to his desktop and reposting them from his FB page.
Recent editorial cartoons by Graeme MacKay are available for viewing (most of the time) at the online site of the Hamilton Spectator. You can also get a glimpse of the most recent work by scrolling down the right side of this page to what’s been posted to his Twitter feed…
Like most newspapers, the Hamilton Spectator is ending its give-away of online content. It’s been a nice 10 year or so free run, but with it has come a reduction in ad revenue and a loss of content providers, namely, journalists, photographers, and… cartoonists. This is probably the last chance to keep traditional newspapers, like the Hamilton Spectator, from completely sinking into the abyss in the transition to subscriber supported digital media.
Look for cartoons posted here 1 week after publication in the Hamilton Spectator.
If you care about local news and rely on professional coverage by experienced journalists to keep you informed, please consider subscribing to your local traditional newspaper.
Over the past few days I gathered in Sacramento with editorial cartoonist colleagues at the annual conference of the AAEC (Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.) How wonderful it was to get together with old friends and make new ones.
Beyond the collegial atmosphere found in the cocktail lounges, there was a packed schedule of presentations from across the editorial cartoon spectrum. Our friends in New Zealand were in full force led by Kiwi powerhouse Sharon Murdoch, and backed up by Rod Emmerson, Nigel Buchanan, and Toby Morris.
We Canadians took to the podium, first by our godfather, Terry Mosher AKA Aislin, who extolled the virtues of the slate of Canuck cartoonists and our perspectives of the U.S.A. satirizing in the era of Donald Trump.
Yours truly, alongside ACC (Association of Canadian Cartoonists) President Wes Tyrell, presented a short documentary praising the importance of local cartoons. We included a slideshow featuring the need for regional cartoons, and as an example, the recent repeal of the sex-ed curriculum in Ontario was highlighted.
Another highlight was a presentation entitled, “Evil Editors & Pandering Publishers”, by Rob Rogers, formerly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 25 year veteran of that newspaper was unceremoniously terminated after he refused to water down his criticism of the Trump administration. A series of his cartoons were spiked by editors leading to an ugly divorce and an insulting severance package. Rob, standing by his principles, has been suffering considerably, and while he knows the newspaper’s brand has received damage, he leaves many friends still working in the newsroom whom he wishes no ill-will.
A very emotional slide-show was presented by California graphic novel cartoonist Brian Fies who chronicled the tragedy of his home burning down during one of that state’s horrendous brush fires. “A Fire Story” is a compelling short documentary which won an Emmy Award. As Brian stated to our gathering, “it’s great to win an Emmy, but I’d rather have my old house back.”
Nicaraguan cartoonist Pedro Molina was presented with the Courage in Cartooning Award, on behalf of the CRNI (Cartoonists Rights Network International) by Malaysian editorial cartoonist Zunar. The Locher Award for aspiring editorial cartoonist went to the talented Charis Jackson Barrios of NYC. In recognition of those whose cartoons are rejected by editors, a competition ensues among members for the Golden Spike Award. This years’ recipient was Rob Rogers, for obvious reasons, and was awarded a giant golden spike. This year an inaugural award called “the Gable”, was issued by the ACC to an American cartoonist who embodies the most Canadian qualities in terms of world outlook. The 2018 recognition goes to Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes.
The icing on the cake at the closing gala at this extraordinary convention was being awarded the 2018 George Townsend Award, or “Townsie”. Since 2015, the Association of Canadian Cartoonists has presented the George Townsend Award, named after the first Canadian cartoonist, to two members (one English, another French) of the association it deems to have created the best drawing of the year. I was presented this award for a cartoon I drew February 3, 2017, commenting on the saturation of news related to President Donald Trump. What a huge honour for which I am truly humbled.
Big thanks goes to my friend, and the host of this convention, Jack Ohman, the very talented editorial cartoonist at the Sacramento Bee (also the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner!) Much of the pull to bring our Canadian bodies down to the California capital was due to his charm, but also to the dynamic enthusiasm of Canada’s Association President Wes Tyrell, whose leadership has energized our group in such difficult times facing our craft. A big tip of the hat goes to these two gentlemen, and we look forward to the next joint gathering of our two associations in Ottawa in 2020.