Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The End of "The Boiling Point"
I've been considering this seriously for over two years now, but I'm not ashamed to say that when I came to my final decision yesterday and notified my major remaining clients via email there was indeed some uncontrollable sobbing on my part.
I've been drawing political cartoons since high school. I started drawing them regularly again in college with a vengeance in 2001 (which is when I started this blog) and I've been drawing them professionally for newspapers and paying web clients since 2002. Over the years my cartoons have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Boston Phoenix, Bay Windows, Metro Times, The Rochester Insider, Women's eNews, In These Times, Ms., The Funny Times, Campus Progress, Girlfriends, The Minnesota Women's Press, and other assorted fine publications. I've been interviewed by NPR and the BBC, appeared in art exhibitions such as "She Draws Comics: A Century of Women Cartoonists" and come in third place in the Detroit SPJ Journalism Awards for editorial cartooning. This past fall I was elected Vice-President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (a position I'll hold until this September).
So why am I quitting? It's not as if the world is running any lower on evil wars, economic injustice, environmental disaster, homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny... And while he's no Bush, I'm certainly no big fan of Obama.
- The political cartooning market sucks (and I suck at marketing.) This is really no secret. I started out in 2002 with one paying client, the Boston Phoenix. Over the years I picked up and dropped more, and at my peak I was appearing regularly in six or seven print papers. In the past two years, as my clients eliminated or cut their political cartoon content, that number dwindled down to two, and finally, just one (the Metro Times). I made some marketing efforts, pitched to editors, sent out packets--but got little to show for it. I did have a few fabulous web clients, but my cartooning income had halved, then quartered itself.
When I first began freelance political cartooning I had hopes of somehow making it a full-time career, but after a few years it became clear I would always need a full-time job in addition.
- The relentless deadlines. There are no vacations or sick days in freelance weekly alternative political cartoons. When I had pneumonia in 2003... I had to draw or risk losing my papers. When I had severe carpal tunnel problems in 2008, my husband Masheka had to illustrate my cartoons for me. I had to draw a cartoon the morning for before my wedding and while on my honeymoon. Sometimes you need to take a break--but you just can't. (And yes, I know I could have drawn some extra cartoons and saved them up for a rainy day, but still!).
- I'm just TIRED. And it's not just because I'm hugely pregnant and exhausted all the time, though that certainly doesn't help. I've tried to develop a thick skin and ignore or laugh at the nasty hate mail, the "hope U burn in hel" and "you can't draw" and "you uggly dike bitch I hop the papers cancel you're stupid cartoons" letters and comments, but after a while, it gets a girl down. I wasn't getting paid enough for that kind of abuse.
- I need to make room for other things (and a tiny new person) in my life. I have a lot of other passions and projects I've been wanting to tackle over the years, but drawing political cartoons in addition to working full time and having some vague semblance of a social life has made it difficult to pursue them fully. With the peanuts I was earning for political cartooning, I was theoretically doing it for fun--but I wasn't really having fun anymore.
I'd like to do a graphic novel or a cartoon book on body image issues (along the lines of my "Your Yucky Body" cartoons) someday. I love writing science fiction. I LOVE to make things, and I've recently been having an amazing, hate-mail-free time blogging about sewing and style at Polka Dot Overload.
Not to mention that Masheka and I are expecting our daughter (our first child) on June 18. I'm going to be going back to work full-time after a 12-week maternity leave, and if I'm this exhausted and finding it this hard to draw cartoons and while pregnant, I'd be foolish to imagine it would be any easier while taking care of a newborn.
Despite all that, it was still a hard decision. I'll definitely miss:
- Having a regular public outlet to express my outrage. I'm still furious and I'm still angry and I still want to fight injustice and make change in this world. But I'll just have to do that in other ways and venues.
- The fans. You are awesome. Every time in the past I thought about quitting I'd get an amazing and inspiring letter or comment or meet someone at a cartooning convention who'd been reading my work since the beginning and I'd get new energy to keep drawing.
- Hanging with fellow political cartoonists. I've loved being a part of the AAEC and Cartoonists With Attitude, and I've made some of my best friends through these groups. Obviously I'm still a cartoonist and they're still my friends, but I will miss some of the camaraderie in griping about what it's like to be a regular political cartoonist.
But as I said above, I won't miss the hate mail, the comment trolls, or the never-ending deadlines.
So what's next for me? As mentioned, I have a new blog about sewing and style for those of you who care about such things, Polka Dot Overload. And Cartoonist Baby will be here in a matter of weeks. I'll be leaving this blog and my complete cartoon archives old (1998-2008) and more recent up indefinitely.
I may post occasional political thoughts or cartoons here again, and I'll let you know about those graphic novel or book projects, but it'll probably be rather silent here for a while. For now you can always read the work of my amazing friends in CWA, folks like Ted Rall, Brian McFadden, Matt Bors, Jen Sorensen, Stephanie McMillan, Keith Knight...
Signing off for now...
Your Angry Cartoonist
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Cartoon: Hollywood's Glass Ceiling
Sorry, meant to post this a little while ago! What a nice surprise that such a well-made film by such a talented director actually won--I was really nervous it was going to be "Avatar" (or way worse yet, "The Blind Side").
Drawn for Women's eNews (temporary link here).
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Cartoon: It’s Not Easy Being a Health Insurance Executive
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Cartoon: The He-Cession!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Cartoon: The Future of Airline Seating
Friday, February 19, 2010
Cartoon: Afghanistan Apology Card #157
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I realize I don't look particularly angry in the above image, but that's only because I clipped it from an illustration I did of a vintage dress pattern I'm sewing. But trust me, I'm still SEETHING with RAGE, even in my fabulous orange floral silk maternity dress.
Here's the retired banner:
Here's the image I pulled the new banner from:
I'm in the L.A. Times Week in Review!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Not cartooning: Basquiat Onesie
Click to enlarge
I made this from a repurposed T-shirt by Brooklyn Industries featuring an image of the late great artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It used to be one of Masheka's favorites until it shrunk drastically in the wash!
Yes, readers, I'm getting bigger by the day and Cartoonist Baby is kicking like a soccer player. June is the big event!
Cartoon: Purity Ring Refunds
Friday, February 05, 2010
Cartoon: Dangerous Living
Click to enlarge
And don't forget those shower curtains and Teflon pans...
Friday, January 29, 2010
Cartoon: More on Women in Haiti...
Click to enlarge
All Haitians are suffering right now. But, women are often hardest hit when disaster strikes because they were at a deficit even before the catastrophe. In Haiti, and in every country, women are the poorest of the poor and often have no safety net, leaving them most exposed to violence, homelessness and hunger in the wake of disasters. Women are also overwhelmingly responsible for other vulnerable people, including infants, children, the elderly, and people who are ill or disabled.
Because of their role as care-takers and because of the discrimination they face, women have a disproportionate need for assistance. Yet, they are often overlooked in large-scale aid operations. In the chaos that follows disasters, aid too often reaches those who yell the loudest or push their way to the front of the line. When aid is distributed through the "head of household" approach, women-headed families may not be recognized, and women within male-headed families may be marginalized when aid is controlled by male relatives.
It is not enough to ensure that women receive aid. Women in communities must also be integral to designing and carrying out relief efforts...
Update: The New York Times has more on this issue.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Cartoon for Women's eNews: Relief for Haitian Women
Here's the cartoon at Women's eNews, and below is a permalink (the eNews link expires in a week or so):
Metro Times (Detroit)
Jan 21, 2010
I will add that I received a really disturbing bit of pro-rape (seriously!?) email from a Mr. John Napolitano in response to this cartoon this morning. An excerpt (warning--this is really horrible, so please don't read if it will upset you... it certainly upset me):
But do you understand that the rapist could be another (male) earthquake victim. pushed over the edge from being denied the aid they need?No comment. That really soured my morning.
But most women's advocacy is full of this sort of narrow short sightedness, which does nothing but make another part of the people feel less than equal. I sometimes wonder if this isn't the real aim.
The end result is the furthering of the "Women's Agenda at the expense of Humanity.....
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Cartoons on Haiti from the Mikhaela Archives
For some reason (not sure why I didn't do any cartoons about the coup against Aristide?) I hadn't drawn any cartoons about Haiti since 2004. Here's one from 2004 and one from 2002. I was appalled to hear that the U.S. has told Haitians that even if they manage to get to the U.S. via dangerous boat journey, they will just be jailed. At least no one is being deported to Haiti at the moment.
Click image to see full-size for either.
Cartoon: Haitian Cruise
Click to enlarge
Seriously? They seriously claim this is the BEST way to help, sunning in a fenced-in resort 60 miles from hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of immediate aid? Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders had difficulty getting their mobile hospital supplies into Port-Au-Prince...
Caption: Royal Caribbean cruise ships continue to dock in Haiti
Dialogue: Buying trinkets in a fenced-in resort is the LEAST we can do for those lovely unfortunate people! Absolutely! More champagne, darling?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Blue Doodle Cartoon Hoodie
Click to enlarge
OK, ok, I know--enough with the baby stuff. But this is cartoon-related--I sewed up a little blue hooded sweatshirt this weekend with Masheka's cartoon doodles on it (fabric printed via Spoonflower).
I didn't have a baby-sized mannequin or doll to put it on, so Masheka kindly used it as a puppet here.
And, by the way, this is a gender-neutral item (baby is a Mystery Baby right now)--I don't believe in "blue is for boys", etc. I love blue, so whatever.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Jay Smooth on Haiti: "Haiti is a Nation of Heroes"
Via Racialicious. Only caveat to this otherwise excellent piece--at the end he mentions several organizations to donate to, including Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health--but also Wyclef's Yele foundation. After recent revelations, I'd avoid the latter and stick with the former two.
Cartoon: Screw Blue
Click to enlarge
Yes, I'm playing cartoon catchup again--this one ran over a week ago in print. I must admit I've been a bit busy preparing for the arrival of the Cartoonist SuperBaby (as in, Masheka and I are both artists and packrats, and we have to get rid of over 1/3 of our earthly posessions and furniture to make room)...
Cartoons on Haiti coming this week of course.
By the way, you may remember this nameless couple--they've appeared a few times over the last year or so, starting with the election. Maybe at some point they'll get actual names.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Hey Detroit (& Dearborn)! Check out the COVERED exhibit at Headspace Gallery!
Masheka is one of many awesome cartoonists featured in this exhibit at Green Brain Comics' Headspace gallery in Dearborn. Here's his contribution, and the details from his blog:
Check out my version of Gil Kane's cover to Sensation Comics #109. The original art and a color print are on exhibit (and for sale) at Headspace Gallery in Michigan's Green Brain Comics (see press release below) -----
Green Brain Comics is proud to announce the opening of a new exhibit entitled COVERED on Wednesday, January 13th in the recently named HEADSPACE Gallery inside Green Brain Comics.
Inspired by a similar theme at the Covered blog (www.covered.blogspot.com) HEADSPACE curator Dan Merritt has assembled several pieces by artists that have brought their own touch to famous, and infamous comic book covers from several different decades.
"The theme for this exhibit has really sparked a creative flame." says Merritt "Each of these pieces has been lovingly recreated in tribute to the original art and the original artists that created them."
Featured in the exhibit will be works from Michigan based comic creators Paul Sizer, Matt Feazell, and Sean Bieri. Joining them will be other well known local artists Eric Millikin, Jennifer Rose Evans, and Chris Houghton. The Covered exhibit also features new work by many others, including Bryan Durren, Heather Hansma, Lizz James, Jesse Hughes and a piece by Masheka Wood from New York.
The opening reception for the Covered exhibit will be on Wednesday January 13th from 7pm to 10 pm. And the art will be on view until Saturday March 6th.
HEADSPACE Gallery is inside Green Brain Comics which is located at 13210 Michigan Avenue in East Downtown Dearborn. More information is available at www.greenbrain.biz or by calling 313-582-9444