Making Political/ Editorial Cartoons

2014 Artwork Cowardly replacement for the political cartoon I'd originally made for this page

It’s a bit of a cliche by now, but although I try to keep my political opinions out of this blog as much as possible I still find that, every once in a while, I’ll end up drawing an “editorial cartoon“. Like this one:

"Britain, THIS Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" By C. A. Brown

“Britain, THIS Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” By C. A. Brown

Most of the time, I set myself a rule that I’m only allowed to make political cartoons about censorship, since this is an issue that affects all creative people – regardless of their political views.

But I have to admit that I’ve certainly been tempted to make political cartoons about a whole range of more controversial subjects. Still, given my strong and varying opinons about most political topics, I’m too terrified of causing an internet controversy to actually produce any of these cartoons.

In fact, I sketched out a brilliant idea for a political cartoon in June after reading some arguments in the comments below a political opinion article about football (of all things) on The Guardian’s website and finding that I disagreed with both the article itself and the criticisms of it in the comments – mainly because I’m not a football fan and don’t really care about the sport at all, regardless of whether the players are male or female.

I thought about turning this initial sketch into a fully-fledged political cartoon with the reasoning that, since it satirised both sides of the argument equally, then there wouldn’t be any controversy. But then I realised that it’d actually cause twice as much controversy- so it remained nothing more than a sketch. Which I won’t publish here.

So, yes, I try to avoid politics on the internet out of sheer cowardice more than anything else. But I’m still fascinated by political cartoons, both as a reader and as an artist.

Whist it can be relaxing to let your emotions, thoughts and feelings out by writing poetry, there’s just something a lot more… well… cathartic and dramatic about turning them into comics and cartoons instead.

It might be that comics have a much more “countercultural” history than poetry does but, whenever I make a political cartoon, I actually genuinely feel like I’ve made a small difference in the world. Ok, I probably haven’t, but at least it feels like I have. Not only that, I also like to think that – in some small way- I’m part of a grand tradition of political cartoonists (after all, I come from the country that invented editorial cartoons).

As for how to make political cartoons, well that’s fairly easy. The first thing to do is, as I mentioned in yesterday’s article about comic composition, to read a lot of these cartoons in order to get a general sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Not only that, it’s also very useful (if not essential) to take the time to develop your own art style too because this will really help your cartoons to be instantly recognisable and stand out from the crowd.

As for the quality of your art, it doesn’t matter as much as some people would like you to think. The most important thing in a political cartoon is that the meaning of the cartoon comes across to the reader quickly and easily.

Some political cartoonists produce elaborate works of art (eg: Martin Rowson’s cartoons in “The Guardian”) and some produce badly-drawn cartoons (like the editorial cartoons in the Daily ******* which make me think “I can do better than that!” every time I have the misfortune of seeing one of them).

So, remember, the message is more important than the quality of the art. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist to produce editorial cartoons – although it probably helps.

The other thing to remember about political cartoons is that they should primarily be a way for you to express your own personal views about things, albeit in a way that other people can understand quickly.

I mean, from every Youtube video I’ve watched about political cartoons, the most important thing seems to be to remember that it’s ok to be liberal about some issues and conservative about others and vice versa (unless you’re lucky enough to work for a newspaper).

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Sorry that this article was so basic and opinionated, but I hope it was interesting 🙂

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