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I'm Linda Bellens and welcome to the show. This is a strange political season. We have a president who people love to hate, yet his numbers are unprecedentedly ahead of Dull. We have Perot getting more airtime over being barred from the debates than if he were actually in them. We have Deja Vuol over again, sort of, with Helms and Gantt. Then there's Congressman Heinemann, who's running his campaign behind closed doors in an unnamed hospital, a governor's race that practically allows two Republicans to run against each other. Then there's another couple of Republicans, Richard Petty and David Funderberg, who went to the same driving bump and run school. And then on top of it all, we have Hurricane Fran, who's rained on the political campaign parade. What fodder for political cartoonists? And, as luck would have it there with us today, Doug Marlett is on the phone from New York. He's the Pulitzer prize-winning
editorial cartoonist for Newsday, and his cartoons are syndicated in hundreds of newspapers worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. Doug Marlett was a Neiman fellow at Harvard University, and he's the creator of the comic strip Kudzu, which the Red Clay Rambler's adapted to a musical. He also writes a column for Esquire, and he's the author of a new book that's not out yet, and it's called, I Feel Your Pain. It's soon to be released. He lives part-time in Hillsboro, North Carolina, and part-time in New York. Dwayne Powell is here in the studio. He has been the editorial cartoonist for the Raleigh News and Observer since 1975. He's the author of three books. Is that all you do? Is one of them? Surely someone can still sing bass and the Reagan Chronicles. His work is also seen in the book, Jesse Helms quoted, compiled by the insider. Dwayne Powell is a farm boy from Arkansas, and he's won the Overseas Press Club Award for Excellence in Cartooning and the National Headliners Club Award for outstanding editorial cartoons. He's syndicated by the
Los Angeles Times, and his work can be viewed online through John Cole is with us, and he's actually, I think, drawing me as I speak. And he's the editorial cartoonist for the Herald Sun Papers. He's also the Herald's artistic director. Well, graphics editor. Oh, well, I prefer artistic director, but he's in charge of how that paper looks. And John Cole has won the Kentucky Press Association Award for Writing and Photography, and the North Carolina Press Association Award for News Design and Illustration, and he received honorable mention in the Feshetti editorial cartoon competition in 1994. John Cole's originally from Kentucky, and he's been with the Herald since 1985. He's the author of Politics, Barbeque, and Baldur Dash. Welcome, man. Hi. Hello. Glad to be here. Well, you know, we've got these three Southern boys lampooning the world. Are we getting a kind of distorted view or a particular view? What about that? Yeah, I think we are getting a distorted view from
the politicians. And that's Doug Marlette's voice. Do I know you? What about that? Well, we have a southerner in the White House, and actually, I find it kind of tough because I'm being being from Arkansas myself and growing up pretty much like Bill Clinton did. I feel his pain. He doesn't seem to be having much pain right now. No, he doesn't. And I could have told people that writing his obituary years ago or two or three years ago that you can't underestimate Bill Clinton. This guy, I mean, I watched him in Arkansas, and this guy is amazing. He really is. I met him at my class reunion back in 82 when the guy was down and out, and he's just one of these people he made him. He's really hard not to like. Why is that? Well, he's a good old boy, you know, and I don't know. He just has that. He just has a best politician I have ever run a cost. Well, you know, Doug Marlette, you recently had the opportunity to try to teach him how to draw. You were
on a tour bus with him. Yeah, when I flew around the country last week on Air Force One, and then we went to the Grand Canyon and then to Seattle and took a bus to Portland. And so one leg of trip I was on the bus with Bill and Hillary. And it was pretty amazing. Did you end up calling them Bill and Hillary by the way? No, you know, you learned to call him. You know, I met him years ago at this Renaissance Week in that infamous year-end thing. And I did call him Bill back then when he's only the governor of Arkansas, but when he became president, you found quickly that you call him the president, Mr. President. Everyone does. But on this thing that struck me about, I told him that if I was concerned when he left office, that he might not have a trade and that if he wanted I could teach him to draw a doll, you know, he said the doll had to kind of a rough week, but he would draw the press. He volunteered and drew this drawing of the media, which was interesting to me because I would have been more intimidated about, I mean, that kind of thing. You know,
I am more as a professional like all of us. I choke more than he did. He immediately started drawing and drew about four images. And I'm looking at those images right now. We have a stick figure with a hatchet. Yeah, I asked that was Sam Donaldson. He said, no, no, no, especially, but it asked me no question. Right. Well, didn't you find him a really easy guy to be around though? Oh, yeah. Yeah. He's quite comfortable with his skin and that's one of the reasons. I, as a matter of fact, I've never met a politician who is more at ease. And especially campaigning. He just feeds off the crowds energy. I mean, we were all exhausted. The press was, but he was still going and they told me that he sometimes works the crowd, you know, when you're standing, barely standing up and then he goes back and works to get the same people shaking hands. I might point out he was very thin when
I met him, but he ate his way through our reunion. So I assume you guys wrote up front and I'm back where Newt did, huh? No, actually, you know, the press, the press, it does on Air Force One right in the back, but they tend to McCurry and Clinton will come back and visit, but on the bus, it was just basically Bill and Hill and Bill and Hill. If you had had the opportunity to teach him how to draw a doll, what would you have done? How would you have begun? Okay, we're all sitting here now. We can all have a pen and I think- Well, doll, you know, we all do this individually and everybody, you know, but I think everybody here would agree that doll is kind of like a faded carbon of Richard Nixon. I mean, he has this heavy eyebrows. The only thing that stays in from looking almost exactly like Nixon, I mean, a couple of things is he has, he doesn't have that woodish peaking. He also has cheekbones, which kind of gives him chisel. But around the eyes, it really looks a lot like Nixon. He does, he really does, and the nose too, you know, take off, he's
like Nixon with a rhino plastic. Yeah, and he has that same uneasy way about him, you know, when he's in front of a crowd. Well, his shoulders are up near his ears. They both have that look to them with their shoulders up high. Remember, he makes Nixon look like a, you know, a smoozer and a party animal. That's right. Is this particular campaign of political cartoonist dream? Seems to me it will be. Talk about that, Dwayne. It's not for me. I don't know why. I wish I could get real excited about just blasting the heck out of Bob Doe, but you know, I don't like Bob Doe, and they were dead, but the guy just almost seems pathetic now. Yeah, I mean, watching him on the camera. It's, I don't know, I just can't get real excited about. He reminds me sort of my grandmother, who was back in Winchester, Kentucky. She always recalled it was, I think it was a 34 election where she voted for Alphaland, and when he ran against FDR, she felt sorry for the poor man. And I mean, it's really sort of, he's so far down in the polls and he just, you don't
want to kick him while he's down. No, no, he wanted to get nominated, and that was not, you know. But the thing that's interesting about this campaign, I think it really what it gets down to, at least for me, is that you have two men running for office. I mean, the two front runners, certainly, and then there's Ross Perot and Ralph Nader with the Greens and things like that, is that you have two men who's most profound, closely held belief as they should be president of the United States. And Bill Clinton just does a much better job convincing and pulling off that sort of pulling and getting people to, getting people to buy that idea. Well, I don't know whether Republicans should be worried anyway. They've already got a Republican in the White House. Yeah, that's right. Let's go on from here. I wanted to ask you though, if we could focus a little on the North Carolina race races, and if there's, if that's a political cartoonist dream, or not, I mean, you've already, can you pull out your Harvey Gantt, Jesse Helms cartoons from the last time or what? I don't know how to say this. I wish, maybe I'm just been in the business too long or something.
It's hard to get excited about this political season. Maybe they're hurricane interrupted things. I think that's probably true. I mean, I know that people could care less about that. I know I could, you know, sing there with a tree on my house and everything. And no one could get TV anyway to see their ads. And once they've got cable again, I think they probably turned their TV sets off called to have disconnected. And a lot of the candidates also agreed right after Frank hit that they were going to put a hiatus on, I think it was two weeks or something like that. I know that Heinemann in price, of course, Heinemann's in hospital right now, but they agreed to withhold their campaign, you know, hold it, withhold their campaign advertising until, until the area recovered from a friend. But I mean, it's just, it's a lot more fun when the race is a lot closer. And it's like when you got Jesse Helms, 10 points out in front of Colleagues, according to the Mason Dixon polls, 10 points out in front of Harvey Gain. That's a, that's a poll that's not highly regarded, though, for me. Mel is, yeah. But I mean, he's, he's out in front. And also,
you know, Robin Hayes is trailing Jim Hunt badly. And how many of those can you cart to, right? Yeah, right. Exactly. Hey, Doug, it's gotten so bad down here, the Jimmy Greens and the news again. That's right. And in fact, I was looking through, through one of your books here, Dwayne, 1981. How prescient of you? You've got a cartoon here of Lieutenant Governor Jimmy Green. You've got him stuffed up in an upside down glass cookie jar. We don't get his hand caught. He's got his entire body wedged smashed up against the glass. And he's saying, he's saying, I can't read it. You can't read from that part. He's saying, of course, I'm grateful for being clear to any wrongdoings. And, and here he is all these years later, finally, in the news. Oh, that's guys. He's got eight Z in lives. That's amazing. So, so who is interesting for you to do cartooning? Well, you know, actually, it's always, now, when you do this for a living, I think you, you learn to kind of work on automatic pilot
with a book cause you see so many people come and go and, and people who are in the spotlight. And, but you learn to find, you find, find a way to make it interesting for yourself, I think, even when it's dull, I mean, what, what, what they're talking about is that, that it's, when things are predictable, you know, if you get conflict and you get a horse race, it's always, that's why the media wants that because it makes their job easier. But, but I find these, I find Clinton and dull just the lobs. I mean, like drawing about them is, is, is quite easy. There's such a distinction between Clinton and dull. And, and it seems in the North Carolina race that, with Harvey Gantt and Jesse Helms are, they're so distinct. I mean, I think part of what's going on is Helms, as Helms gets older, I think he, you know, becomes less vitriolic or something. Well, yeah, I mean, he's softening his views now. He's even understanding pro-choice people a little bit. He says, so does that mean
you all grab onto that because that's the only new thing? Is that, does then the political cartooning make that more important than that? What happens is it's kind of like when Michael DeCoccus ran in DeCoccus for cartoonists should have been great because he had a great phase. He had, he had Bushy, Nixon, eyebrows, and Kennedy, John, and, and, and, and hair. And he had, he had all these features that should have been a good cartoon, but he had no personality. And, and so we ended up, what you end up doing, even though he was dull, is you end up caricaturing his boringness. I drew a sheep trying to call it fall asleep, counting DeCoccus. But you, what you do, what cartoonists will do is they try to find even in boring situations trying to find what the spark of interest. And you're, the voice you're hearing is Doug Marlatt. He's on the phone from New York with us. He's the Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist for Newsday. And Dwayne Powell is here in the studio, the editorial cartoonist for the Raleigh News and Observer, author of several books. And of course, Doug has another new one coming out called I Feel Your Pain. And John Cole is the editorial cartoonist
for the Harold Sun Papers. And I wanted to check in with you, John, on a particular one, because this brings up a cartoon I'm looking at, brings up for me. Where do you draw the line? I don't mean literally, but, but you have a cartoon I'm looking at Morris, you know, recently. Dick Morris. Dick Morris recently caught with a prostitute. Hey, speaking of book deals. Speaking of book deals. There you go. And this cartoon, we have all the media's, we have the media with all their microphones in this picture, screaming, Mr. Morris, any comment on reports of your relationship with the prostitute in the White House? And you have Mr. Morris answering. Yes, I've resigned for the good of his campaign. Oh, well, so, wow, that's really, well, there are a lot of people who have, you know, like made that, you know, I'm just following out the, the, to the extent that Bill Clinton, in addition to being what Dwayne said is a superior politician can basically just change and turn on a dime, you know, and that's probably part. I mean, there are a lot of people,
a lot of people, Mary and Wright Edelman and probably a lot of people out there who feel he really has prostituted himself for the, in the name of what the polls say and that sort of thing. I don't know if, you know, I don't, I didn't, I went, I had to run that by maybe a couple of editors, but then I convinced them that they would, you know, and I got a little bit of reaction to it. What about there, what about you other guys here? What, do you have a line that you draw? And then I'm interested in also talking about editors, cartoon editors. What about you, Dwayne? Whatever my editors will let me get away with. Do you have your own personal, the three of you, do you have your Dwayne, your personal line that you won't cross? Is there anything that's absolutely off limits for you? You mean topic wise? Topic or approach or style? Well, I mean, you're drawing for a family newspaper. There are some lines, I mean, some places you have to stop. You have to draw a line somewhere. You know, when you get, if you get into scatological metaphors or things like that, I mean, you can carry this to a certain extent, but not, you know, you don't want to go too far. I really think a lot of times, I've had cartoon shut down for reasons, you know, because it may contain something that you will see
three or four times on primetime television, primetime network television. And, you know, there's, that's not an argument in favor running it because most of the primetime network television is just absolute garbage. But, yeah, you know, it's a family newspaper and kids see it. And, you know, I think that probably just, there are certain, there are certain terminologies, there are certain, you know. Give me some examples of what you, what an editor or you might not allow in the paper. And I'm going to talk to Doug in a minute about this because you've had some experiences that we're interesting to. I don't really think of it in those terms. I'm just looking for something that works, you know, and it's, I'm not trying to just shock the daylight side of somebody every day. I want a cartoon that says what I want to say. I want people to understand it. I want to, I want it to have a point. And I want it to go to the, I want it to hit the target that I'm directing at that. Yeah, what you, you know, cartoonists don't really think in terms of, you know, what can I, what, what a, in terms of being inhibited, I mean, editors tend to be more of that tribe of, you know, oh, we can't say that. I mean, cartoonists, the best cartoonists
tend not to think like little ladies. But now, wait a minute. But, but that's the job of editors is to think like that and, and worry about things like that. Why don't you talk, Doug, about when the N and O suspended your Jesse? Oh, cut. Yeah. The Jesse Helms cartoonist. I did a bunch in the comic strip of, on Jesse Helms and it was during the last, last election. And, and so the N and O dropped the job because they said there's no room for satire on the comics phases. Although, you know, of course, there's always been, well, they dropped Kathy too. And when she came out in favor of what was it? Do caucuses, a daycare, federal daycare plan. So they editors tend to think in categories and they think, they, you know, they want things that compartmentalized and, and they're uncomfortable with coloring outside the lines, you know, and that kind of stuff. But, but we were kind of hired as a cartoonist to think that way, actually. And, and as I had an editor once he said, you know, if I hadn't had a cartoonist who thought like an editor, it'd be pretty dull. And, and so they have to learn to kind of deal with it. But what you do as a cartoonist is try
to find is when, Dwayne said that you try to find what interests you and, you know, for me is what keeps me awake through the drawing. And then let Sips fall. And if, you know, if it's something the editors are worried about, we tend to, you know, that you deal with it. But we, we tend to plow the North 40 out, you know, we tend to do, go for ideas that will, will be lively and interesting and keep us awake and, and have a pulse. And, and, and if you, if you're doing that, you're going to have cartoons that, that cause editors to be upset sometimes. And, you know, and readers. But you're just doing your job and, and you just kind of negotiate those you go along. I wanted to, to say though, that the, the, the difference though in newspapers when you're thinking of a political cartoonist or an editorial cartoonist, we should say, and a reporter is aren't, aren't you guys reacting to the news? You're not out searching for it. You're not out writing, reporting on the news. You're always a little beat right behind, aren't you? Because you have to respond.
Yeah. Well, that's a frustrating part of this business for, I think, for some of us. There's a lot of issues out there. Things going on that we, that we, I would love to cartoon about. But it's like what? Well, I'm not going to specify right now. But I mean, there's just, but, you know, if, if it hasn't been reported on, it's hard for us to do the cartoon. If it's something that's not in the public consciousness for a man, whatever, whatever, whatever. Well, what you can do is amplify the news. I mean, there are a lot of times, I'll take a cartoon idea from literally the back pages of our paper. It doesn't have to be, your topic doesn't have to be in 72 point above the fold every day. It's whatever floats your boat. I mean, some days you wake up, you know, you open the paper and it's like the story, the lead story is about, you know, interest rates don't rise. You know, that's the lead story. So, and so what do you do is you go to the inside and look for something else? Do you look at other newspapers or just your own? Oh, I look at it. Yeah, look, I look at, I look at as many papers as I can.
Mm-hmm. Do you have to be cynical to be a cartoonist, the kind of cartooning you do? No, but it helps. How about you, Dwayne? I guess you have to get angry. You know, that's why I got in this business in the first place. I mean, I started out in grade school sitting around. I didn't like what some of my teachers were doing or whatever, the school administration. That's the same thing I'm doing now with politicians. You know, it's, it's what makes me want to draw. I don't draw because I love to draw. Sometimes people ask, you know, well, what do you do when you're not doing the cartoon? Do you go home and paint? And I don't, I never draw a line unless I'm either having a beer and a bar and drawing on a napkin or drawing at the office. I mean, it's often the same place. No, politics, amazing how these politicians can get your fingers itching, you know, you just can't wait to get to a board and do something about them. Yeah, I think the, the answer is less of a sentence than just the kind of a healthy skepticism that any kind of any adult wants to have. You learn to mistrust authorities and, you know, whether it's politicians or doctors or whatever and, and take
things with the grain of salt. And I think you have that, that orientation anyway, I'm mistrust of authorities, questioning authority. I think, you know, the cynicism, I just for, unfortunately, I was a philosophy major and so we studied like the cynic school of philosophy was basically the cynic. That comes from this Greek word which conoccus, which means liken to a dog in the cynic school of philosopher thought that no one had, that no values were important or everything was equally meaningless. And so they would behave like dogs and, you know, sounds a lot like politics. Well, but, but, but what, what I think cartoon is the best cartoon. So I know actually do have values and have a, and they're not cynical, they're just, they're actually, I find, I find them sadderous to be idealistically, you know, who are, who are disappointed in the way things. John Cole, you, you wanted to, did you want to jump in there? Well, I think one of the motivating factors for me is also, I,
I guess that probably if you follow politics after a while and the same, you know, idiots get elected, you know, term after term after term, you cannot help, but, you know, start feeling, I guess, a little dog like, but I think that, uh, my main, my, what gets me to the drawing board a lot of times in my source of frustration isn't really a lot of times so much positions, exact positions that politicians take. It's just the arrogance, you know, the arrogance of power, I think a lot of times is, is my primary motivating factor and I think that it, that's, that's the main function of the press. To me in a lot of ways, um, the function of the press finds, it reaches a nexus, add editorial cartooning because editorial cartooning is the one point of the paper that doesn't equivocate, you know, editors and editorial pages tend to say it, but on the one hand, some people say A, some people say Z, we feel strongly M, you know, right in the middle. Um, cartoonists will go ahead and just like, you know, say it and, and, and, and really hold and, and basically bring to a, bring to a head what, what the press is working at. I don't know where I'm
going with this. Well, actually, that's one of the things I'm noticed is that you can say more in one panel, you just go right to the heart of the matter than maybe the whole article and we're sitting here talking about political cartooning and this is the Linda Bellenshow on 91.5 WUNC. Welcome back to the Linda Bellenshow. We're talking about political cartooning today and
I'm talking with Doug Marlett. He's on the phone from New York, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist for Newsday and a new book coming out called I Feel Your Pain. Dwayne Powell is here in the studio. He is the editorial cartoonist for the Raleigh News and Observer and Nando Online. That's And we also have John Cole, who is the editorial cartoonist and page designer, page designer for the Harold Sun Papers. And also, you guys have won lots of awards. You've got these books coming out and what I would love to be able to understand is if we watched you at work, we might just think you're sitting around goofing off, huh? Is that what you look like? Yeah, probably. Yeah, they decided to do a staff film. They came around. They wanted to interview the different staffers for a publication they were putting out for the office. So they had a crew come in and a reporter and a
cameraman follow me around for the day. And about 3.30 in the afternoon, they just gave up. Well, you were just sort of sitting there staring? Well, you know, doodling. Yeah, going back and forth to the snack bar, walking through the newsroom or whatever we do, you know, reading, staring at the computer. Still something hits you. So what I like to try to do is recreate what happens typically, how you get from staring, walking around, going for the extra snack to making a cartoon happen. And Doug, you have a wonderful essay in your book, I feel your pain about that free association process. So I thought, maybe I could throw out a couple of ideas and have you guys free associate. How about it? Oh, no, it takes me all day to do this. I know. Well, just try it if it doesn't work what the heck. But so here's something that's on my mind and a lot of people's minds today. A six year old boy who kisses a girl on the cheek and gets booked with sexual harassment and suspended from an ice cream party. Great fodder for Russia limba. Where do you go?
Okay, six year old boy kisses girl gets suspended. What happens in your head? What's the first thing that happened? An overzealous school administrator. Okay, so you go from there to what? Where might you go, John? Well, at least you didn't bring a gun to school, right? Aha. So now we might see guns happening. How about you, Doug? Oh, I think, you know, I think about treating children as, you know, like adults and children, electric chairs for children, high electric high chairs, with the ice cream out of reach, electric high chairs, putting out a little kids in isolation, but maybe you're something. That's right. Keep going. Keep going. Where else would you go? Well, I think, you know, this process that you're, that you're trying to get at for one thing is it's a solitary process. Well, I understand that well, it's a solitary process. But that's part of the part of the energy comes from a free association of, you know, this implies, this, you know, makes you think of this, but it's also, it's a, a, aim inhibited.
There's, there's, you're trying to get at what you want to say. So it's not just like all over the map, free association, although it may feel that way. It's, it's for a particular point, and it's very hard to describe how you learn to think like that. Yeah. But it is. I have had, there are times I go home and I just have no idea where an idea came from. I mean, just it's a, it's, like you said, it's free association. It's a, the train of thought jumps the tracks oftentimes and you run up blind alleys and, and eventually some, somehow you get a cartoon in there. And I would say probably, I'd say close nine out of 10 times. I opened the paper the next day. I can think of some better way I could have said what I wanted to say. Yeah. The best ones are the ones that surprise you. They're up, up out of the depth, you know, like, you know, it really is strange how these things come from me anyway. I can struggle all day. I can go in early in the morning, you know, say, okay, I'm going to get my idea. I'm going to draw that sucker up, get out of the office and go play Rocketball. But it never happens that way. I'm sitting there at 330 or 4, maybe 5 in the afternoon. And it gets, sometimes it gets so frustrating. I don't think I'm going to be able to even come up with anything. And it's like someone walks in my door finally and says, here's
your idea, Dwain. It just comes to you. It's, that's the way it happens. I find a deadline is probably the greatest single source of inspiration. I think that's right. So, you know, just happy to get something in. I mean, it's, I hate it. There are times when I like, in my job, there are occasions that I just don't have time. I have a staff of artists who work for me. But there are times when it's like during Hurricane Fran or something like that where I have other responsibilities. I just don't have time to do a cartoon. But it's on those, and it's on those occasions and also the occasions when I just genuinely get skunk, you know, I'll come up with 10 ideas. None of them I wanted like inflict upon the readers the next day. And it's just, you know, it really, it's a sense of failure, you know, it really is sort of it's a, it's a disperning. In some ways, this job has become harder for me because I used to just, it seemed to issue seem to be more clear cut. And now it's really hard to cut through these things sometimes to to find out what what it's hard for me to sometimes to find exactly what I think.
Is that a function of getting, as we get older, things are more gray than they are black and white when we're young we just go right for it and we say that's that's it right there do you think that's a good one? Well maybe partly so but when we were you know growing up in the seventies I mean there were some pretty clear cut issues that you knew you were right or wrong you know you know and in my experience with all this is it when I first started drawing in twenty twenty five years ago it would take all day to get the idea or four or five hours of hours and you worry about it all the time what I've done though is by having more deadlines and practicing more it's like a muscle and the ideas now come fairly quickly and within you know when I am within sitting down you know within an hour or forty five minutes I usually have some and I have the opposite experience and I think some of this has to do with with it just what I tried to do is do a lot you know and and one of the things I find found with myself is I tend to torment myself a lot about things and trying to learn what I wanted to learn was to be more spontaneous and direct and I thought by having more deadlines that that would teach me
that because you know you kind of have to think or swim and you and you and all those self-tormant things fall away over time and so so I find myself actually I enjoy it more than I've ever enjoyed it and ideas come a lot quicker that they come much more naturally but you also learn your your that free associate capacity is streamlined and and you learn you recognize blind allies a lot quicker and you get to where you yeah about what you want a lot quicker so but my experience is not that of of frustration or boredom with it actually I'm more interested and more excited I'm interested in it and and I and I know I know an issue I can pick an issue that I want to comment on but sometimes it's just very hard to distill these things down some issues are pretty complex and when you start making an issue complex you've already put up a big wall in front of yourself right because yours has to be straight ahead that's part of what you learn I mean you
learn to find ways into things that's part of the part of what is tricky about it is finding ways I want I've learned not to do things that I'm bored by I mean I if I'm bored by it even if it's something that that everybody is talking about even if it's a princess dive I'm not interested in I I will not be able to come up with a good idea so I've learned to drop them quickly and move towards where the heat is where the fire is where the energy I actually want to I want to move on to something I'm looking at John I seem to be going after you today here but I'm looking at a cartoon you have that's a picture of Hillary Clinton's face that is oh the old ball and shame unbelievably huge and it's just her head and big teeth and we have Bill Clinton attached to her it's her earring that becomes the chain attached to his to his ankle shackled like he's shackled and it says he's holding a sign and it says and I repeat I did nothing wrong and she on her cheek has the words whitewater legal conflicts of interest and underneath you have the old ball and
chain now as a woman John I want to talk here a little bit about women in cartoons we hardly see them I I mean you I'm looking at women in cartoons or in cartooning both I'm looking through your books here and I swear I don't see any women that was the first woman that jumped off the page women no blind justice I can't believe you don't oh wow yeah blind justice there but what no lady liberty what about this well women may have a point I there's a woman that calls me about once a month the she lives in carry and she's compliant she says she always starts out with how much she enjoys my cartoons but then she goes on to say what ask me why I don't put more women in the cartoons and you answer more women if they get more in power than he will right and women politicians right well not too many but it's but why does fine when I don't know it's just more fun to draw them in with the big old bellies and no way to be doing was taking a feminist
position there when they used to be there need to be more women in power he was saying that is a feminist position and no what you see when you look at that there already are a lot of women in power so you agree I mean there are not enough yeah but you're side stepping the issue now come on guys where are the women in in first of all political cartooning it's kind of like jazz now there's a lot the one one plus a prize a couple years ago singing they're two or three but I think part of the reason that there are not I think it's the same thing as comedy you're seeing more and more women because this women get the green light more for expressing aggression as men have had for centuries then that comedy is about humor is about aggression really and and so women now as they're moving into positions of power and are being able to express that more but there's women in cartooning as opposed to women who are being cartooned is that well I'm talking about both of those categories so women yeah I've done a lot you know I have a drawing in that in that book you're talking about yeah of of Litty Liddell and Hillary Clinton has two
spiders in in a in a track you know two black widows in a in a jar and there's caution females I mean yeah well this woman was complaining because just in the generic cartoons where you've got a lot of people sitting around or whatever that she said I always had men and then you know when you draw the the legislature where you've got a bunch of old guys standing around debating a bill or something I'd always draw a bunch of guys standing around of course if if you if you drew women in the same way that you draw men you'd probably be blasted by women and exactly now are we are we calling for more cartoon women to be cartoon more and criticize and ridicule yeah I have women come when I do draw women no wait a minute I think they've opened up the wrong door here when I do draw women I have these these women call up to tell me how I hate the way I draw women so I like the way you draw women oh well thank you Doug well I wanted to know what things make you laugh what tickles you John Coles cartoons oh that's all I don't know it's hard to it's hard to say the Simpsons I think the Simpsons make you all I just I think the the CEO Jay and Nicole
that's right but no I think that I have seen I've seen I've seen episodes of the Simpsons which I've talked with some other cartoonists before and I think they ought to they ought to be eligible for the Pulitzer Prize just for their broad satire of American culture and society and politics but I mean that's awfully specific what other kind of things it doesn't even have to be cartoons what what things make you laugh is there a comic who makes you laugh is there a politician who makes you laugh who makes you guys laugh God you don't laugh that's the trouble look at this you can't figure it out who make nothing make we're tough audience you are you're tough we'll come back to this what do you agonize over that's going to be easier I have a feeling the next cartoon the next cartoon yeah you're only good as your next cartoon the question is about laugh what makes this laugh I agonize over that I'm agonizing even as we speak do you do you ever feel like you want to throw in the towel you know I was think I was listening to what Duane was saying earlier in it
and issues aren't as clear cut as they used to be I mean when you agonize about what you want to draw and what your topic's going to be and and one way I've found out about I've found let's take for example the pro choice pro life you know the abortion argument that's going on in the country right now and I drew cartoons for a long time I'm pro choice I drew cartoons for a long time that basically bash the pro life and and you know they're bunching the Andertals and who are they to tell a woman what to do with her life until I sort of realized a couple of years ago that I really wasn't contributing anything to the argument I mean it was like we've got a conflict going on in the country I think that's you know you talk about a complex topic it's intractable I mean literally it's like the Palestinians and Israelis it's almost like the North and the South I mean you have two sides that compromise means defeat on either side you cannot give with the other side so to me the argument itself has become is interesting if not more interesting than the two sides of the that's what you end up cartooning you end up cartooning that whatever you're feeling
I mean I don't I don't I find the thing about issues not I think editorial is an editorial writers and and people like that are are more hung up about that I think cartoonists are cartoon states more towards art than towards towards journalism anyway I mean it's not we're not interested I'm not cartoonist as ideologs expressing position is not are generally boring cartoonists I mean it's it's what what you can find a way of looking at things that book like about anything for instance what John just said is that yeah those issues on either side are very complex and difficult but what you can end up cartooning is that complexity just like when you have a boring politician you cartoon the boring so when when some when you when you draw cartoon what what are you hoping when I'm reading it in the morning sitting at the table and I I flip your cart you know the page open I look at your cartoon what are you hoping my face registers or goes on in my head what whether your your throne back worth any spit out your cereal and your feet and then you
would draw it then we would be pleased you would be pleased well that would be good I and I'll be honest with you I think it's you know I like it also when there's the the shock of recognition when people you know you know when if they laugh openly laugh and and find an in agreement with it you know I'm not trying you can't you can't make everybody mad I think just the worst thing that can happen is just have somebody not get the cartoon idea you know and then I've had that I've you know it's like of course when you have people miss the worst thing that can happen is when people like you know start flooding in flooding the flooding the phone lines with calls to complain about the cartoon for the wrong reason they misinterpreted the cartoon yeah you want people to hate you for the right reasons you don't want to hate you for the wrong reason you just hope it stimulated people to think about something whether they agree with it or not and I'm talking here about cartooning editorial and and political cartooning with Doug Marlet who's on the phone from New York who sometimes lives in Hillsboro did you have any did you have any fran damage yes we did we lost
some trees oh but your house remain we have flooding you have I'm sorry Dwayne Powell you you had some flooding from from Fran and you lost a lot of cartoons yeah it was a mess I had two years of cartoons from the 70s sitting here in my basement now I have a sump pump and the electricity went out so the basement flooded oh man now they're just a massive pulp oh John Cole who's the editorial cartoonist for the Harold Sun Papers you survived Fran yeah I was really lucky I live over in Duke Park in Durham and within two doors of my house in any direction there were just enormous trees through roofs and I basically had I mean you know it took me about a day I cleaned my lawn and it looked better than it did before the storm came through well you know the reason I'm bringing the Fran thing up is because you know you mentioned earlier it really kind of superseded any political cartooning but also when something happens to you personally when you are affected by whatever is going on does that affect how you're gonna draw something it did me because I mean well the first Friday the day after that thing hit I mean I couldn't even get out of my street you know we all
had to grab chainsaws and saw our way out to even get to work I didn't get to work till five o'clock that day well I got hammered I've been over to Raleigh a few times and still I mean you get down around Hayes Barton some of those downtown streets it's just but you know but it's how you draw I think that's what you're what you're saying is is what we all what I always try to do is define the Fran in every issue I mean you want everything personal you want everything well here you are bringing you back to cartoons right yeah yeah like it's affecting you I was though it's affecting you so so when you what happens if you really like a particular political candidate you really you go after their opponent good good answer there was there was there was a great political cartoonist who who who died not too long ago and he was in Canada and I think it's probably one of the greatest cartoonist certainly so latter half of the 20th century ducking big first and he said even if you agree with a man and his attitude is wrong pick on his attitude yeah I think that I don't know it's you don't want to be seen cowtowing you know and I don't I don't like cartoons that
count out a particular political candidates are political particular point of views and in in a in that they're they're sort of like you know Slavish and and also not to mention boring but I think I can't remember who it was who said everybody had everybody every politician every public figure deserves one last one good cartoon one positive cartoon that's usually their obituary cartoon you know I found one that actually the Clinton as as Dwayne said the the Clinton ascendancy has been interesting because I think like Dwayne says we we all identify with him and I like basically like Bill Clinton personally what I've been pleased to notice is that that doesn't seem to my cartoonist look like they're drawn by New Gingrich if you look in them it's not seem it's like it's almost like your instincts are you own a pit bull that you you don't have the leash but it's out there just gnawing away yeah that's how much you do that what's true I voted for Bill Clinton you know I'm not ashamed to admit it but I don't work for him well he's definitely got to be a PR guy that's right right you know I'm looking here
excuse me dog at your book I feel your pain you you you have you take on the media itself yeah yeah I guess you all do enough well that's the the thing is we were talking earlier about the arrogant politicians but what I find and what's interesting is is the arrogant media and our position and it's very interesting to watch the whole the whole thing I I think Clinton has brought out a lot of this I noticed that the the New York Times hostility towards Clinton I think the people who are the most hostile the things they're hostile about are the things that go on within themselves and I think cartoonists and and reporters very often the thing I find as I get older you're talking about the shifting is I find myself more admiring of of politicians and an interesting way than when I was younger because I realized that those people at least are willing to get on the playing field and journalists there's something pretty and self-righteous and highest about our tribe it is it will not we'll and we will not get our fingers dirty we will not go out on the high-wire and yet we're going to tell them how to do things and then so I
so I find find that self-righteousness in politicians offensive I also find it in our own tribe you know yeah well I think it in a lot of ways you know I don't I think it's certainly particularly in a in the level of national media I mean I really didn't know what to think originally when Ted Coppel decided to bail on the Republican convention because he said no news will be out here and in hindsight really and I was thinking that at the time it's just this is sort of air to what he did that said don't these people realize we're in charge you know they're not playing along with us this is a large infomercial and it is there's a lot of sanctumoni and a lot of arrogance on the part of the media too I'm wondering when Dwayne Powell when we're talking about politicians here for a minute you've had some interactions with Jesse Helms haven't you yeah with the years uh usually he calls wants a copy of a cartoon or something he's actually quoted as saying he likes to put your cartoons on his walls well it's not just mine Jesse is uh maybe that's his
way to get back at us or something yeah he looked he looked like look guys I can take it yeah he said sometimes though it reminds him that he takes himself too seriously do you believe him I don't know I do not I will say that he can be very disarming over the telephone he's very very courteous and interesting to talk to yeah yeah so at least a politician you know it's if if he were really the villain a lot of a lot of us and a lot of other people make him out to be he wouldn't be reluctant it doesn't mean that he isn't the villain that we make him out of he is a very smart cunning villain and he knows how to demoralize cartoonists by asking some people who are the other same thing a Bill Clinton though yeah that's right well they talk about the power of the pin you know I say Doug I think you would draw on a batting when I came to the state and I've been drawing about him since 75 and John's been drawing about him for 11 years and he's still there oh yeah but so are we so are we that's right well but you you vilify Clinton as well I mean it's it's not like you're just we vilify everybody absolutely that's your job we don't like anybody well like my mom so I have to say my mother didn't like my cartoons my dad couldn't figure out
why I wanted to become a cartoonist I he always read political cartoons but when I decided like back in the mid 80s this is really what I want to do after years of being a reporter in a photographer and and sort of jack of all trades and master of none at very small newspapers told him I want to do it and he just could not figure it I mean he always read political cartoons but he didn't think anybody was actually paid real US money to do them my dad's comment was I don't know about you son but I work for a living oh as he's still waiting for you to get a job a real job he finally got into it I think Doug I'm looking at a cartoon I have to tell you there's one I don't get maybe you can explain it to me but one out of one out of a whole book is pretty good huh I'm looking at one here you have dull standing behind the podium with a couple of microphones and it says good news Phil Graham has thrown us his support and in comes his jockstrap flying yeah now is that a guy thing or what no it sounds like Dwayne got it yeah they they got somebody explain this to me Dwayne we call that's called an athletic supporter
right yeah it's a jockstrap right I'm okay that was just an athlete but I'm glad you found that one and that we can you know hold it up to light and look at it and I promise I won't do that again I actually still don't get it but that's okay those are the kind of things the editors look like look at sometimes well I don't know but we can't on them not knowing yeah sometimes they let them go you know yeah so what but thanks for holding it for looking at the one out that you didn't do that okay I'm gonna find one that I do get here's a here's a pretty good one I figured you're tough you have a Pulitzer prize I'm looking at one that that has Uncle Sam are you still there I'm looking at Uncle Sam laying on the ground snorting his lines of coke in a big circle here yeah and it's it's a snorting himself he snorting himself what was that one in response to do you know that was just a lot about drug the hyper drug use because that was in 1989 it looks
like so that it could be something that's current that's one of the things I'm really struck with in your work all of you is that that's why I went back to a 1981 so many of them can still be current mm-hmm does that mean things never change well we have to be careful not to repeat ourselves I mean I I did a cartoon last year that I thought was a great cartoon and I took it out and I was walking through the newsroom and quite often I'll stop and show the cartoon to a couple reporters for someone just to see why they react to it one of the guys looks at this thing says well yeah it's a good cartoon Duane but didn't you do this about 10 years ago what a memory and no I'm serious I had redraw on the cartoon I had done 10 years ago oh you really did redraw and yeah and I mean I once he pointed it out I finally I remembered it Duane you were mentioning to me that even though we we open the paper every day we see political cartoonists and it seems like the perfect thing for America is to be able to go straight to a cartoon because it's easy it's quick you're actually getting laid off in numbers aren't you not you personally but
but that there is some trend that people are out of it it is it is it's a cartoon it's a tough road to hoe these days I think a lot of cartoon I mean the old the old saw goes that there have been probably a grand total I have no idea I mean it used to be only about 120 full-time cartoonists in the country and I think that number may be down to a little over a hundred now there are only a few more cartoonists and there are US senators what's discouraging a lot of papers with traditions of having cartoonists are either firing their cartoonists laying them off not replacing them when they're out do you know I mean it's becoming more like like a like a bank or an insurance agency and it's about the bottom line and you know actually we are an indulgence I mean it we came about just like CBS news I mean we are about we're about a dedication to the spirit of free free inquiry and free speech and and and as as the newspapers become less interested in those things and more interested in just making a buck then they start the cutting away you know
they start firing the cartoonists running your cartoons instead that's right that's right they can get dug for nine ninety five a week or whatever we play so that's what happens the homogenization is that is syndicating yeah I mean cartoons are kind of designated feelers we're the you know kind of as I said earlier cartoonists are more towards art and and journalism and say we're the kind of carriers can be you know at at their best or the carriers of kind of the the heart or the soul of the paper and as they get less interested in heart and soul they you know they get rid of those things they get away and it's it's also as competition dies down because I think a cartoonist a lot of times helps you know I may be tuning my own horn here or our horns but a cartoonist really helps establish the personality of a paper yeah but as they become less interested in having a person I know this when these papers and some that I work for is that they they get more and more dull and and and the people who oversee this do not have the kinds of sensibility that even can recognize that they're dulling down the paper and dumbing it down
and making it well it's interesting so I think it's no accident I always look actually to how newspapers treat their cartoonist is an expression of the basic spirit of the of the place you know and and and the editors I've been lucky of having working with some some people who have a great appreciation and feel for that and value that but it's the same thing that's going on in the arts I mean that we're going in a time where they're cutting back the arts it's the same thing they're cutting back cartoonists the artists are always kind of marginalized and always kind of assaulted and it's not this is not self-pity or anything it's just the it's just the way it works it's nature and and it requires a kind of a consciousness about that and it requires good people being in positions of power who care about you know you know beautiful buildings or are are having having artists be able to work plays ballet or having cartoonists working for newspaper not just making money we're really glad that we have you cartoonists working for
us and starting our and ending our days every day and we've been talking on the phone with Doug Marlett you come on you come on back home now I'll be done next week and he's the full surprise winning editorial cartoonist for news day is new book about to come out I feel your pain Dwayne Powell the editorial cartoonist for the Raleigh News and Observer and Nando online and author of several books and John Cole editorial cartoonist for the Harold Sun papers and author of the name of your book is politics barbecue and boulder dash and we want to thank you so much today man thank you thank you and you know we have we've spent time here a lamp pooning some politicians a bit and uh but we're going to give these guys a chance to redeem themselves throughout the month of October beginning next Saturday with rebroadcasts the following Sunday mornings I'll be interviewing high profile candidates in closely watched races next Saturday along with political analyst Farrell Gillery I'll be interviewing gubernatorial candidates Robin Hayes and governor Jim Hunt at three and four o'clock respectively we'll be asking them your questions
and those we also think should be asked in the weeks to come I'll be interviewing second congressional district candidate Bobby Etheridge his opponent David Funderberg has declined our request for an interview David Price and Fred Heinemann will each be here in the studios and I'll be joined for those interviews by political writer Rob Christensen of the news and observer Harvey Gantt will be back he was here in the primaries um well we asked his opponent Jesse Helms he declined to be interviewed we took him on his word um in an article in the news and observer in which he was quoted as saying he'd be happy to talk to any reporter who came to Washington to interview him we told him that we would he still turned us down we will however do shows about Funderberg and Helms because we think you that you should have as much information about them as you do about the candidates who actually come here for interviews and we will bring your questions about them to a panel of diverse experts who know Helms and Funderberg's voting records and their histories and I want to thank those of you who have sent in all of your good questions for the candidates you've emailed you snail
mailed and you've called us and you can still do that for Bobby Etheridge and Funderberg Helms Gantt Price and Heinemann you can do it by calling the Linda Bellens show comment line at 6851000 or you can email me Bellens B-E-L-A-N-S at now remember register to vote if you need help in figuring out how to do it pick up today's news and observer for their special pull-out section on how to do that I'm Linda Bellens and I'll see you next week
The Linda Belans Show
Episode Number
Political Cartoonists
Producing Organization
WUNC (Radio station : Chapel Hill, N.C.)
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WUNC (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
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Episode Description
Linda Belans talks with three political cartoonists.
Episode Description
Bill Clinton, Congressman Bob Dole, Jesse Helms, Harvey Gant, Hurricane Fran, Robin Hayes, Jimmy Green, "I Feel Your Pain," Dick Morris, Kudzu cartoon, Michael Dukakis, satire, employment, syndication,
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The Linda Belans show is a weekly public and cultural affairs program featuring issues, ideas and people who affect North Carolina
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Politics and Government
Copyright North Carolina Public Radio. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (
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Guest: Powell, Dwayne
Guest: Cole, John
Guest: Marlette, Doug
Host: Belans, Linda
Producer: Press, Paula
Producing Organization: WUNC (Radio station : Chapel Hill, N.C.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC
Identifier: LBS0042 (WUNC)
Format: DAT
Duration: 00:55:27
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Chicago: “The Linda Belans Show; 42; Political Cartoonists,” 1996-09-28, WUNC, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2023,
MLA: “The Linda Belans Show; 42; Political Cartoonists.” 1996-09-28. WUNC, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2023. <>.
APA: The Linda Belans Show; 42; Political Cartoonists. Boston, MA: WUNC, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from