The Editorial Cartoon of the Year

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted December 11, 2009





As a journalism student in the early 80’s I had a teacher named Ed Ballard.

He was a grizzly old fellow that entertained us with wild stories about the happenings around the U-desk.  And if you looked close enough you could almost sees the ink stains on his wretched hands.

An old school reporter, I think “journalism” was even something of a foreign word to him.

Of course, we didn’t know at the time but he wasn’t the only dinosaur in the room back then.  In a way, all of us were as we pounded out our stories in a symphony of clacking keys and ringing bells.

Twenty five years later, it’s not just the typewriter that has disappeared, but newspapers themselves. Nudged aside by the Internet and the 24 hour news cycle, the business is in a state of terminal decline.

Progress… perhaps. 

But I have to tell you there’s no screen in the world that can replace the feel of a newspaper in your hand and the ink it leaves behind.   Buggy whip or not, that’s something younger folks will never quite understand.

Meanwhile, lost along with it is the work of editorial cartoonists that could cut through all of the nonsense in a way a video never could—or ever will.

The most famous of them was undoubtedly Thomas Nast, widely recognized as the “Father of the American Cartoon.” A German by birth, his muckraking style single handedly brought about the downfall of Boss Tweed—all with the power of a finely sharpened pencil.

Not with words, mind you, but with powerful drawings that gave voice to the unspoken realities. For good measure he even gave us the images we think of today when the words Santa Claus or Uncle Sam worms their way into our brains.

That’s the power of a sketch that since been lost as print newspapers begins to fade. In the age of the Internet we simply don’t come across them the same way we did when we used to read the paper cover to cover.

These days one of my favorite cartoonists is still Michael Ramirez.

As you can see, his work speaks for itself….





Another great one Michael, I think old Ed Ballard would have loved it.  

This is how I feel everyday I go to work. Nothing but a sharecropper….

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