Why draw alternative political cartoons?
Dear readers, forgive your cartoonist for having an existential crisis, but I've been asking myself this question a lot lately, and you may have noticed this blog and the email list have been relatively quiet as a result. I've been drawing the cartoons as usual, but have been slow to post or email them due to aforesaid existential cartooning funk.
Some arguments FOR drawing weekly political cartoons:
- To make a difference. I don't have any illusions that political cartoons will change the world or end the war or have a huge mind-blowing impact, but I really love the awesome fan mail, especially in regards to my cartoons on LGBT issues and transgender issues. Clearly my cartoons are making a lot of people happy. I'm just not sure how happy they're making me!
- To vent my personal anger and outrage and to have an outlet for my views/voice. This was the main reason I started drawing The Boiling Point, as the name implies. It's still a pretty good damn reason, as I'm a pretty damn angry cartoonist. I'm a passionate person and I need an outlet.
- Because drawing is cool/fun. Well, sometimes it is. Still, I could draw a lot of more fun things than George W. Bush. Like really adorable kittens.
- Because being a cartoonist and hanging out with other cartoonists is awesome. This is a really, really good reason. I love hanging out with my fellow Cartoonists With Attitude, and I've made some of my best friends in the world via cartooning.
- To make money. Just kidding! If I drew a sci-fi webcomic featuring snarky hipster video game romance in space*, maybe I could sell some T-shirts and figurines and live off that. But there's little to no money in alt-weekly cartoons unless you've got a slew of papers. Many papers pay as little as $5/week. NOT JOKING. (See this depressing comments thread on the Daily Cartoonist for more on this topic--the basic conclusion is that there's no money in online editorial cartooning).
- It builds an audience... that could later support me should I pursue other projects I care about, like a graphic novel or children's book or what-have-you.
Some arguments AGAINST drawing weekly political cartoons:
- It's a lot of work for very little pay/reward. This is my main beef. I'm a big believer in the "less work, less stuff, more of what matters" philosophy espoused by Juliet Schor and Your Money or Your Life. I believe Americans work too much and have too little quality leisure time. I believe Americans spend too much, save too little and own too much stuff. And I believe in fair wages.
SO WHY DO I SPEND SO MANY HOURS SITTING ALONE BEHIND A DRAWING BOARD OR AT THE COMPUTER FOR WHAT AMOUNTS TO LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE WHEN I COULD BE OUT RIDING MY BIKE OR SPENDING TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY OR DOING ACTIVIST WORK? (I work an awesome full-time job in addition to cartooning, in case you're wondering). Where's the light at the end of the tunnel? Sorry for E-shouting, but I ask myself that question a lot. I feel like such a hypocrite sometimes--my life philosophy is in direct opposition to my life reality.
- It's damned depressing. War, genocide, injustice, bigotry, hatred, bombings, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, power struggles, Dick Cheney, repeat, repeat, repeat. Following the news so closely and being engaged with it so deeply while feeling I'm having so little practical impact is incredibly demoralizing.
- It has no future and nothing to look forward to. Newspapers are in trouble and slashing budgets left and right, and editorial cartoons and editorial cartoonists get no respect. Graphic novels and animation seem to be where it's at right now.
OK, end whiny rant. And no, I'm not quitting, just venting. But I sure could use some supportive comments! I promise to have a bunch of cartoons and other cool stuff up for you all soon.
*This is not a slur on sci-fi webcomics. Science fiction is my favorite genre (I love you Octavia Butler and Battlestar Galactica). I'm only bummed because it seems like pretty much everything is more "monetizable" than political cartoons. Also, I hate the word "monetizable."