What is an editorial cartoon?

Written by ECA Review

Newspaper editorial cartoons are graphic expressions of their creator’s ideas and opinions. In addition, the editorial cartoon usually, but not always, reflects the publication’s viewpoint.

Editorial cartoons are based on current events. That means that they are produced under restricted time conditions in order to meet publication deadlines.

Editorial cartoons, sometimes known as political cartoons, like written editorials, have an educational purpose. They are intended to make readers think about current political issues.

Editorial cartoonists use various tools including:
• Caricatures: Many editorial cartoons called caricatures are used to poke fun at popular people such as musicians, politicians, etc. in which certain physical features are humorously exaggerated to create joy.
They may also assist the main editorial of the day or deal with some other news item events for the day.
Caricatures of Richard M. Nixon often show him as needing to shave.
• Stereotypes are formulaic images used to represent particular groups. A stereotypical cartoon mother might have messy hair, wear an apron, and hold a screaming baby in her arms.
• Symbols are pictures that represent something else by tradition. A dove is a symbol for peace.
• Analogies are comparisons that suggest that one thing is similar to something else. The title of a popular song or film might be used by a cartoonist to comment on a current political event.
• Humour is the power to evoke laughter or to express what is amusing, comical or absurd.

Evaluating a cartoon
A good editorial cartoon combines a clear drawing and good writing.

A good editorial cartoon expresses a recognizable point of view or opinion.

In the best instances, the cartoon cannot be read or understood by only looking at the words or only looking at the picture. Both the words and the pictures must be read together in order to understand the cartoonist’s message.

Not all editorial cartoons are meant to be funny. Some of the most effective editorial cartoons are not humorous at all. Humour is only one tool available to editorial cartoonists.

Editorial cartoons provide a window into history by showing us what people were thinking and talking about at a given time and place. Today’s editorial cartoons will provide the same record of our own time.

About the author

ECA Review

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