Now, it's time to think about what your cartoon will look like. This, of
course, depends on the subject. Political cartoons, like regular cartoons, come
in two basic styles -- single or multiple panels. Multiple panels allow for more story-telling, but single panels often have a stronger visual impact.
There are also different visual tools you can use. Caricature is one method. A
caricature is a drawing of someone or something that uses exaggeration to
make a point. For example, Nast exaggerated Tweed's weight to portray the
man as greedy.
Symbols can also be helpful. There are two kinds: symbols that make a point
about something and symbols that stand for something. A long nose -- like
Pinocchio's -- is a good way to make a point about lying. In a cartoon about
political parties, elephants and donkeys are often used to stand for
Republicans and Democrats. But remember, a symbol only works if others
easily understand it.
Labels can help as well. For example, if you wanted to do a cartoon about high
prices, you could show someone with empty pockets hanging out of their pants.
A label on that person that says "American consumer" could help make things
clearer for the viewer. Also, you can add a line or two at the bottom to explain the cartoon if it needs explaining. And like regular comics, you can have characters in political cartoon speak or think, using word bubbles.
Finally, there are three important things to remember about political
cartoons. If you are doing a cartoon about people you know, be gentle and use
caricature carefully. Nast used Tweed's fatness for a reason. Don't just make
someone fat because you want to make fun of them.
Second, political cartoons don't have to be funny. In fact, they shouldn't be
funny if you are portraying a sad or serious subject, like hunger or drug abuse. Some of the most effective political cartoons don't make people laugh, they make them think.
And finally, keep things simple. While cartoons from a hundred or more
years ago had lots of characters in them and lots of things going on, modern
cartoons do not. The best political cartoons are the simplest ones, with as few
people, events, and things in them as possible.
For some ideas about effective cartoons, look in your local newspaper or a
national news magazine. See how these cartoonists make their points. You
might also check out the following Web sites for some examples:
Professional Cartoonists Index
Features the work of more than 60 editorial cartoonists, updated daily.
Jeff MacNelly Editorial Page
Jeff MacNelly is a Pulitzer-prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the
Mike's Political Punches
Mike Peters's political cartoons.