What Exactly Is Editorial Cartooning?

editorial cartoon of two doctors. Caption reads "i order test after test but they just confirm he's a c+ patient"

Example of an editorial cartoon by Mark Litzler

It occurred to me that I’ve been blogging about my side-passion, editorial cartooning, for a few months now, and never fully delved into what the world of editorial cartooning is. This is a brief breakdown of editorial cartooning; this could be used as a guide for an aspiring cartoonist who isn’t entirely sure what direction to take their art.

What Is It?

  • Classically speaking, editorial cartoons are graphic interpretations of a cartoonist’s opinions and thoughts on a particular topic, created specifically for a newspaper
  • These days, editorial cartoons are created for newspapers, their affiliated websites, and  a variety of other sources of news that would not be categorized as official “newspapers”.
  • Although the phrase “editorial cartoon” is often used interchangeably with the phrase “political cartoon”, they are not the same thing. Editorial cartoons are not always political in nature.
  • Editorial Cartoons reflect current events, and are usually created within a specific time restriction to meet deadlines.
  • They are different from the cartoon strips that most people envision when hearing the word “cartoon”. Instead of the multi-panel set that is typically seen on the comics page, editorial cartoons are most often single panels with no recurring characters.

What Makes A Good Editorial Cartoon?

  • Most importantly: Excellent Linework & Smart Writing
  • Originality! Whether it be style of drawing, topic, or voice, original content is important.
  • A distinct opinion or angle
  • The drawing and wording cannot stand alone. The two must rely on each other to fully portray the intended point

What Should You Use in an Editorial Cartoon?

  • Symbols – Use widely recognized symbols to make a point. (Ex: a grapevine is a symbol for gossip)
  • Caricatures – Exaggerated features on prominent figures is a common motif in editorial cartoons
  • Humor – Be funny! The whole objective is to make a point through the power of humor or satire.

To see the article that inspired this post, click here.