Let me count the ways:
1. They make for good parody precisely because many people do not recognize them as parodies. I did a double-take the first time I came across Ward Sutton‘s “Kelly” editorial cartoons in The Onion a couple years ago. At first blush they look like real Republican political cartoons. But it’s their over-the-top details that give them away as more than just Mallard Fillmore. They always contain layer upon layer of neatly woven satire that is fitting for The Onion, which has spent more than a decade lampooning the banalities of the American newspaper, and now skewers 24-hour television with its Onion News Network.
2. I’ve been fed up with editorial cartoonists for a while now. So much so that I gave up the profession myself some time ago. I realized that they are usually for grumpy older people because that is who reads the local newspaper. Of course a lot of editorial cartoons are good and funny (political cartooning is enjoying a Renaissance of sorts on the web), but the perspective of your average American newspaper ed. cartoonist (white, older, angry) isn’t changing nor will it as the media form of the local newspaper slowly dies out. Sutton’s “Kelly” character in the bottom right of each cartoon totally exemplifies the grumpy old Republican type who gets his morning rage on reading Anne Coulter, angry letters, or Ed Gamble on the editorial page.
3. Every time I see a fresh “Kelly” cartoon, I’m spurred on to start penning my own ed. toons again. What with the over the hill absolutely lousy Ed Gamble bungling all over the Florida Times Union (or has he resigned?) what’s to stop me? Oh yeah, all that other art I’m trying to get done. Maybe when I’m old and crabby even crabbier I can pick it back up as a post-retirement job. That is, if newspapers that are anything more than Kohl’s ads are still alive by then.
Check out The Onion‘s “Kelly” archive for more smart hacking of cartoon hackwork. And let JaxCAL know how you feel about the state of newspapers, editorial cartooning, web cartooning, and parodies of all of the above.