Well, it’s been a while since I last wrote about political cartoons, so I thought that I’d talk quickly about how you can make a political cartoon in a relatively short period of time. After all, political cartoons are topical, reactive things with a relatively short “shelf life”. So, they need to be made and posted online quickly.
1) Motivation (and research!): I’ve talked about this before, but (unless you are a professional political cartoonist) you should only make political cartoons when the idea of not making a political cartoon feels wrong.
In other words, only make them during moments of strong emotion. Make them during times when you feel like a political cartoon is the only way to make yourself heard or to laugh at a dismal political situation (that would otherwise depress you).
If you make them during these moments, then you’re going to be motivated to make them quickly. Just make sure that you’ve done some research about political cartoons beforehand (in other words, try to read political cartoons on at least a semi-regular basis). Strong emotion might motivate you to make a cartoon, but it won’t help you to make a good one. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then – at best – your cartoon will seem trite or preachy. And, at worst, it might overstep the reasonable limits of political speech.
In general, a good rule to remember is that your comic should include some degree of humour and/or surrealism. For example, here’s a cartoon I made the day that Donald Trump was elected as the American president. It’s dark and pessimistic, but I tried to include at least a bit of surreal humour to lighten the tone:
2) Choose a fast medium: Since you’ll be making your comic quickly (possibly with relatively little planning time), you need to choose an art medium that you can work in quickly and which can be edited easily.
If you’re more used to making digital art, then this would be perfect. But, since I use a mixture of traditional and digital mediums, my go-to medium for political cartoons is either a black and white drawing (using black watercolour paint to fill in large areas) or a greyscale drawing. This uses a similar set of skills to the ones I use for my daily paintings, albeit without having to worry about things like colour schemes etc..
Since the pictures only include 1-3 colours (eg: black, white and/or grey), then editing them digitally is also significantly quicker and easier than editing full-colour artwork too. Plus, on top of all of this, it also lends the cartoons a certain gravitas too. Even when they’re silly cartoons about silly politicians:
In addition to this, I often use a very similar format/ panel layout to the one that I use when making webcomics. Since I’m used to working in this format, it means that I can crank out a political cartoon more quickly than I could if I had to work out a new panel layout before I started planning the actual cartoon.
3) If you can’t draw the politician: Some politicians are easy to draw, some aren’t. There’s no real logic to this, and it varies from artist to artist. If you’re not sure if yout know how to draw a politician, then you could spend a while looking at photos of them, making studies and trying to work out how to turn those studies into cartoons. But, even this might not help you to draw a politician (former Prime Minister David Cameron was one politician that I just couldn’t seem to draw well).
So, if you don’t know if you know how to draw a politician, but you need to make a cartoon quickly, then find a way to make the cartoon without actually drawing them. There are lots of sneaky ways to do this – you can show other people talking about them, you can show them standing with their back to the audience etc….
But, if it comes down to either not drawing a politician, or drawing them really badly, then don’t draw them.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂