Political Cartooning: Footing into a New Ground - The Statesman (2022)

Political Cartooning: That was somewhere in the early 90s. There was a panel discussion held in the Boimela or the Kolkata book fair where a number of famous Bangla cartoonists were invited for discussion. The topic of the discussion was ‘Relevance of cartoons in the newspaper’. Well, besides cartoonists other panel members included a senior journalist associated with a popular Bangla daily and a cartoon collector.

At that time the newspapers, both Bangla and English, stopped appointing cartoonists except one. In other words, most of the speakers of the panel discussion – the cartoonists – were essentially jobless. The only cartoonist associated with a newspaper was absent because of some health issues. These details are necessary because what was supposed to be a panel discussion on ‘Relevance of cartoons in the newspaper’, rapidly transformed into a grievance redressal event of the (jobless) cartoonists. There was a general agreement among the cartoonists that for a long time newspapers have simply stopped publishing editorial cartoons but they were clueless (almost) about why? But someone had to be blamed. Imagine who was held responsible for the joblessness of cartoonists? Bapi Chanachur (a dalmoth/mixture brand)!

Now, one may ask how a humble brand of dalmoth/mixture has anything to do with the art of cartooning in the first place. Well, according to the panel of the speakers (the cartoonists) it was this dalmoth/mixture brand whose advertisements were eating up the space for the cartoons!

Not only the viewers, even myself – as a young person struggling to become a political cartoonist – this was one of the greatest mysteries of the known universe. However, it’s also a fact that the speakers were once famous cartoonists but now they are unemployed.

What went wrong with the profession/art of political cartooning?

(Video) The Gracchi, Marius and Sulla by A. H. Beesly read by Pamela Nagami | Full Audio Book

The answer is a little complicated because there is more than one factor associated with the absence of editorial cartoons in the newspapers. There are a hundred ways to tell this story. This one is mine.

Printing in general and printing of daily newspapers, in particular, is a European concept. The oldest direct handwritten news sheets circulated widely in Venice as early as 1566 carrying information on wars and politics in Italy and Europe. The Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, printed from 1605 onwards by Johann Carolus in Strasbourg, is often recognised as the first newspaper.

In India and even in Asia things were different. There were royal chroniclers or royal historians but the concept of the news presented in printed form for the consumption of the masses is completely an alien thing to Indian society.

The British brought the concept of Newspapers in India. Published for two years, between 1780 and 1782, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette or the Original Calcutta General Advertiser, an English-language weekly newspaper published in Kolkata (then Calcutta), is claimed to be the first newspaper printed in India.

Newspaper, radio and film are considered to be the basic means of modern communication but there is a huge difference between newspaper, radio, and film. Take for example the technology of motion pictures. In 1888 England, Louis Le Prince of Leeds, Britain, filmed Roundhay Garden Scene, believed to be the first motion picture recorded and within fifteen years we had our own motion picture Raja Harishchandra.

The first voice and music signals heard over radio waves were transmitted in December 1906 from Brant Rock, Massachusetts (just south of Boston). In June 1923 the Radio Club of Bombay made the first ever broadcast in the country. The gap was just seventeen years.

(Video) Value

But for the newspaper, we had to wait for more than a century. Why? Because of the widespread illiteracy. You don’t need a literate person to enjoy a radio programme or a film but for a newspaper, a literate person is a basic necessity.

Since the art of editorial cartooning is closely associated with the newspaper, one can’t expect an editorial cartoon without a newspaper. However, there were some art forms like Kalighat paintings where that ridiculed the contemporary social hypocrisies but their reach and influence were minuscules compared to a newspaper for all practical reasons.

Political/editorial cartooning was an integral part of a daily newspaper from its inception and it had its own reasons. Most importantly the reasons were purely technical. Nowadays we can’t imagine a big story/news in a newspaper without a photograph but historically things were completely different.

As a part of the content of the newspaper, the pictures are latecomers. To put things into a perspective, although publishing since 1664, the newspaper from Mantu (Italy), Gazzetta di Mantova is the oldest living newspaper in the world the first-ever photograph appeared in the newspaper on July 1st, 1848. The name of the newspaper was L’Illustration, a French weekly periodical that published a photograph that showed Parisian streets barricaded due to a worker’s strike known as the June Days Uprising. In other words, the newspapers had to wait for roughly two centuries to print a photograph. This late entry of a picture in a newspaper was due to undeveloped (printing) technology.

But again the all-text newspapers were simply boring to the readers. At that juncture, the art of cartooning came to the rescue. Unlike a photograph (having halftones) cartoons were essentially line drawings and that’s why it is much easier to print. The first cartoon appeared in Ben Franklin’s newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754 entitled “Join, or Die,” depicting the eight colonies as a snake divided in eight pieces.

As a matter of fact, editorial cartooning had served two purposes for a newspaper. Being an image it broke the monotony of the text-heavy page and at the same time being an art form innately capable of ridiculing the powerful it had a popular demand among the readers. Soon cartoons became the most important content of the front page of the newspapers and the readers got cartoonists like Honoré Daumier, Rube Goldberg, Thomas Nast, James Thurber to name a few.

(Video) Trial of the Take: Part 4 | Critical Role: VOX MACHINA | Episode 21

The high stature of the editorial cartoonists continued for the next one hundred and fifty years or so. Not a small time for any profession at all. Isn’t it? However, this profession saw a number of challenges. In India the most severe attack was the emergency when even newspapers were banned let alone publishing cartoons. But the irony is this was the time, India witnessed some of the finest editorial cartoons of all time.

But this scenario was about to change soon after the last decade of the twenty-first century and the onslaught came not in the form of some ‘chanachoor manufacturer’ but from the advancement of the printing technology combined with a number of softwares. By the last decades of the 20th century, we got a number of graphic software and offset printing which enabled us to print pictures easily. First, it started with black & white pictures and thanks to the rapid development in printing technology newspapers were able to print colour pictures within a decade. It was like a revolution and like most revolutions it was a bloodbath for a section of the newspaper professionals.

With the revolution in the technology in the newspaper something very untoward (or the obvious thing) had happened. The editorial cartoonists who were ruling the roost were suddenly shown the door. Though it was very unexpected for the cartoonists but equally obvious for a newspaper. Why?

The new technology enabled the newspapers to print pictures which enhanced the news value of the story. Can we imagine a sporting event without a picture? No. It’s true with any other subject. A picture is much more desirable for the newspaper. If it costs the job of a cartoonist it would be a very little price for the newspaper and they were more than ready to pay the bill. Interestingly, the software that put an end to the profession of the cartoonists also ate up other professions associated with the newspapers like pesters, page makers, and proofreaders to name a few. Nonetheless like any revolution in history it also created something absolutely new. For the first time we came to know someone named designers, creative directors, creative heads, etc. Till the last decades of the twentieth century, the design of the page was the last thing to consider but thanks to these software and the ability to print colour pages, availability of different fonts, etc. the aspect of the design and the look of the newspaper took the centre stage.

Though it’s a different story altogether. Let’s return to the profession of cartooning.

We know that the first massive attack on the Indian press was the emergency, but we seldom acknowledge the fact that the time of emergency was one of the finest time periods for the art of cartooning. We experienced some of the boldest and most beautiful cartoons during turbulent times of emergency. The momentum Indian editorial cartooning gained during the emergency continued till the last decade of the twenty-first century. The decade of the 90s is a watershed moment for modern history. This was the decade when we experienced the fall of the Berlin wall, the fall and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union, the end of the cold war and changing of world politics from a bipolar world into a mono-polar world with a hegemony of the US as a nation. The market economy established itself as the only ‘economic thought’. That was the time when the end of history was declared.

(Video) Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History 66 - Supernova in the East 5

In domestic politics in India, the 90s was the era when after a series of political turmoil, economic liberalisation was introduced. It was also the decade of the destruction of the Babri Masjid which unleashed a new paradigm in Indian politics. The profession of cartooning thrives in the vibrant political scenario and needless to say every big change in the political canvas both on the national scale and the international scale eventually resulted in a new scope for political cartoonists. Going by the development mentioned above one may assume that the 90s onwards was the golden period for political cartooning in India but sadly the reality was completely different on the practical ground because during the last decade of the 21st century new technology and design software were introduced and soon the cartoonists were dethroned.

Soon cartoonists were transformed into ‘endangered’ species if not ‘extinct species’ like their pester, type-setter and proofreader colleagues.

However, this tide was changed with the advent of online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and last but the most important gadget the smartphone. There was a time when a set of technology devastated the art form of editorial cartooning, but it is another set of technology that has given a new life to editorial cartoonists. Now, they don’t have to get approval from an editor to publish their cartoons. With just a click of the mouse, s/he can share the cartoons with the whole world. Besides this, there is another advantage with this art form, that is, different cartoonists may develop a cartoon on a common topic but no two cartoonists will come up with the same idea. Moreover, no two cartoonists will draw a character, any politician the same. Every cartoonist has his/her own style and own pattern of thinking. These two factors make a cartoon absolutely exclusive. Contrary to Narendra Modi or for that matter any individual will look the same in every photograph irrespective of who the photographer is. That is another reason why social sites are flooded with cartoons nowadays. Social sites also provide no restrictions for a cartoonist, at least directly.

There are a number of Dos and Don’ts for a cartoonist working with a newspaper. Restrictions are sometimes direct and most of the time indirect. Have you ever noticed that the face of the PM is not there in the cartoon anymore? It’s ridiculous, to say the least because it’s the PM or the President of the country who is always supposed to be the prime target of the cartoonists. Strange enough nowadays, these are the Opposition leaders who are getting more and more space in the cartoon than the PM or other leaders of the ruling party. This abnormality is the new normal in the organised newspaper sector. The story is completely different in the unorganised information sector.

This little space is enjoying the freedom of expression like never before. Not only that, common people/readers share these cartoons making them viral. Online platforms are full of editorial cartoons. To cut a long story short, the era of newspaper cartooning is over. Indian editorial cartooning has entered the world of online platforms. However, things are not that easy. We need to develop a viable revenue model. There are some revenue models like subscriptions that are gaining ground.

Only time will tell what will happen in the future, I am more than sure that now no cartoonist (or a group of cartoonists) will blame some Bapi chanachoor for his unemployment. Welcome to the open market of online space. We the cartoonists have managed to get our permanent space in this super big bazaar. Now, we have to develop a strategy to sell our product.


(Sorit Gupto is Chief Cartoonist in Down to Earth Magazine)


What is the main message of the political cartoon about? ›

Their main purpose, though, is not to amuse you but to persuade you. A good political cartoon makes you think about current events, but it also tries to sway your opinion toward the cartoonist's point of view.

What is the message of the editorial cartoon? ›

Editorial cartoons, like written editorials, have an educational purpose. They are intended to make readers think about current political issues. Editorial cartoons must use a visual and verbal vocabulary that is familiar to readers.

What are the questions used when analyzing a political cartoon? ›

What's happening in this cartoon? What was happening when this cartoon was made? Who do you think was the audience for this cartoon? What issue do you think this cartoon is about?

What is political cartoon irony? ›

Irony is the difference between the ways things are and the way things should be, or the way things are expected to be. Cartoonists often use irony to express their opinion on an issue.

What does the political cartoon in two words yes and no mean? ›

However, in this political cartoon the state government is refusing to abide by the terms of the federal government. By saying "In two words, yes and no." the state government wants the benefits the federal government has to offer, but they do not want to agree to their specific rules on how to govern.

What is the cartoonist trying to point through exaggeration? ›

Cartoonists will exaggerate (make larger) the problem or issue in order to make a point. Cartoonists often place a label on objects or people to make it clear exactly what they stand for. Sometimes cartoonists will even label their symbols to make it very clear. An analogy is a comparison between two unlike things.

Which statement best describes the idea that Nast is trying to express in the political cartoon to the right? ›

Which statement best describes the idea that Nast is trying to express in the political cartoon to the right? The Tammany Tiger Loose—"What are you going to do about it?" Tammany Hall has broken the law, misused votes, and caused great harm to the republic through political corruption.

What does the cartoon represent? ›

a sketch or drawing, usually humorous, as in a newspaper or periodical, symbolizing, satirizing, or caricaturing some action, subject, or person of popular interest.

How do you analyze a political cartoon? ›

Steps to analyzing a political cartoon: 1) Identify the characters, symbols, and objects in the cartoon. 2) Look for clues and details that would give further meaning. 3) Identify the main idea of the cartoon by reading any captions and by putting the message in your own words.

What is the political message of political cartoons? ›

political cartoon, a drawing (often including caricature) made for the purpose of conveying editorial commentary on politics, politicians, and current events. Such cartoons play a role in the political discourse of a society that provides for freedom of speech and of the press.

What are 3 of the 5 elements used in a political cartoon? ›

Create your own cartoon, incorporating some of the five key elements: irony, exaggeration, analogy symbolism and labeling.

What is the cartoonist's point of view? ›

A person's belief or judgment on an issue. How might point of view affect a political cartoonist? A cartoonist will be guided by his or her point of view. Cartoonists might only express their own beliefs on an issue, or they might take the point of view of others into consideration.

How would you describe the thought of the cartoonist toward the thoughts feelings and adjustments experience among adolescent? ›

Expert-Verified Answer

It signifies the negative effect of being a young person and about mental problems and the way it can affect our personality and future. He uses his own experience about being a youngster he uses the word : emotional struggles, stress, curiosity, and peer pressure.

How does the cartoonist use analogy to express his viewpoint in this cartoon? ›

How does the cartoonist use an analogy to express his viewpoint in this cartoon? The cartoonist compares a seal to a meal to show the importance of the food chain. The cartoonist compares the ocean to a restaurant to show the importance of food safety.

What was the original meaning of the word cartoon? ›

While the word cartoon usually refers to an animation or a funny drawing, in an art historical context it can also refer to a full-scale preparatory drawing for a fresco, oil painting or a tapestry. The word we use today comes from the Italian cartone, which simply means a large sheet of paper or card.

What symbols are found in the political cartoon What do they mean? ›

Symbols used in Political Cartoons:
  • Peace - dove, olive branch, victory sign.
  • United States - Uncle Sam, flag, stars and stripes, shield.
  • Democrats - donkey.
  • Republicans - elephant.
  • Death - vulture, skeleton with shroud, skull and crossbones, grim reaper.
  • Love - heart, Cupid, Venus.
  • Money - dollar bill or dollar sign.

Are the political cartoons effective means of political communication? ›

Cartoons do not only act as news sources, but they can translate into a historical record of the political climate. In a time when journalism is constantly evolving, political cartoons have remained a timeless method of political commentary.

What is the purpose of exaggeration in story telling? ›

Exaggeration is any statement that creates a worse, or better, image or situation than it really is. It's used to highlight points and add emphasis to a feeling, an idea, an action, or a feature. Using exaggeration in your writing lets you describe something in a heightened way to make it more remarkable.

What do you call the ability of a cartoonist to overdo exaggerate the physical characteristics of people or things? ›

Exaggeration. Sometimes cartoonists overdo, or exaggerate, the physical characteristics of people or things in order to make a point. When you study a cartoon, look for any characteristics that seem overdone or overblown. (Facial characteristics and clothing are some of the most commonly exaggerated characteristics.)

How does exaggeration create irony in this cartoon? ›

How does exaggeration create irony in this cartoon? C: The oversized trophies create irony because readers expect that they are for winning, not participation.

What was Thomas Nast trying to solve? ›

He portrayed public support for religious education as a threat to democratic government. The authoritarian papacy in Rome, ignorant Irish Americans, and corrupt politicians at Tammany Hall figured prominently in his work. Nast favored nonsectarian public education that mitigated differences of religion and ethnicity.

What message was the cartoonist conveying about the League of Nations? ›

A political cartoon entitled "The Gap In The Bridge", which represents the United States' refusal to join the League of Nations they proposed. This cartoon implies that without America the bridge would collapse.

What was Franklin's political message in the cartoon? ›

Join, or Die was a political cartoon and woodcut created by Benjamin Franklin in 1754. It was designed to unite the American colonies against the French and their Native allies at the start of the French and Indian War. It is thought to be the first political cartoon that advocated unification of the colonies.

What do you think this cartoon is saying why is democracy written the way it is? ›

Answer: (i) The cartoon is saying that democracy is being established in Iraq with the help of the US military power. (ii) Democracy is written in this particular way because it shows that it is not true democracy and it is mockery of democracy setup by the US for its own interest.

How does a cartoon convey a message to the readers? ›

It is the ability to distill an idea, or a joke, into an few short words and images. It's this communication short-cutting that makes the cartoon carry the message so effectively. Often cartoons will use the power of observational comedy, which again allows the audience to identify with the message.

When analyzing a political cartoon what is one of the five things you should look for? ›

Create your own cartoon, incorporating some of the five key elements: irony, exaggeration, analogy symbolism and labeling.

Why are political cartoons helpful to the study of history? ›

Analyzing a political cartoon can lead to a deeper understanding of the issues addressed by the cartoon, as well as the historical context from which the issues arose.

How do you write a good political analysis? ›

Guidelines to Write a Political Essay
  1. Create an argument. Political essays often deal with normative issues. ...
  2. Develop a thesis. ...
  3. Apply theories learned in the course. ...
  4. Define your terms. ...
  5. Cite sources. ...
  6. Write an outline and several drafts.
25 Aug 2016

What was the message of the political cartoon The reason? ›

As the cartoon below from The Crisis magazine shows, lynching stood out as particularly horrific and unjust. Violently reinforcing the legal system of discrimination in the South, white mobs tortured and murdered black men for alleged wrongdoings or for the “crime” of prospering economically.

What was the purpose of the first political cartoon? ›

The first cartoon appeared in Ben Franklin's newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette on May 9, 1754. It appeared as part of an editorial by Franklin commenting on 'the present disunited state of the British Colonies.

What is the idea about political caricature? ›

"Political caricature" is understood to deal with the ridicule, debunking or exposure of persons, groups and organizations engaged in power struggles in society.

What are 5 key questions to ask when analyzing a political cartoon? ›

What was happening when this cartoon was made? Who do you think was the audience for this cartoon? What issue do you think this cartoon is about? What do you think the cartoonist's opinion on this issue is?

What are the 5 elements of the story and their meaning? ›

A story has five basic but important elements. These five components are: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. These essential elements keep the story running smoothly and allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow.

What are the 5 Elements Every story has? ›

There are 5 elements of plot:
  • Exposition.
  • Rising Action.
  • Climax.
  • Falling Action.
  • Conclusion.

What methods does the cartoonist use to persuade the audience? ›

Cartoonists will exaggerate (make larger) the problem or issue in order to make a point. Cartoonists often place a label on objects or people to make it clear exactly what they stand for. Sometimes cartoonists will even label their symbols to make it very clear. An analogy is a comparison between two unlike things.

What is the message of the Andrew Jackson cartoon? ›

Purpose. The political cartoon was first shown in 1832 in the Library of Congress and was a response to Jackson's veto against the United States national bank deposits in September. He is depicted as a monarch because opposers often viewed Jackson as an abuser of his presidential powers, not obeying the laws.

What was the message of Ben Franklin's political cartoon? ›

Join, or Die was a political cartoon and woodcut created by Benjamin Franklin in 1754. It was designed to unite the American colonies against the French and their Native allies at the start of the French and Indian War. It is thought to be the first political cartoon that advocated unification of the colonies.

What is the message the political cartoon is depicting about Standard Oil? ›

This political cartoon drawn during the Gilded Age depicts Standard Oil as an octopus which uses unscrupulous business methods to put the competition out of business. It was considered to be a monpoly that harmed many small oil companies and dominated the oil industry for many years.

What was the intended message and purpose of Benjamin Franklin's cartoon? ›

Franklin's goal was to unite the colonists to combat the French and their Native American allies, and to convince the British government to support a unified colonial government in America. He didn't achieve that goal, but the image was so powerful and persuasive that it took on a life of its own.

What is the main idea of Andrew Jackson? ›

While Jackson believed in a strict construction of the Constitution and in states' rights, he believed that when the Constitution had delegated power to the federal government, the federal government had to be supreme. Jackson also valued the Union and was not willing to see it compromised or to let it disintegrate.

What is Andrew Jackson's point of view? ›

Jackson was no deep thinker, but his matured policy positions did bespeak a coherent political philosophy. Like Jefferson, he believed republican government should be simple, frugal, and accessible. He cherished the extinction of the national debt during his administration as a personal triumph.

What was Andrew Jackson's speech about? ›

This document is included as one of the top 100 primary sources in American History. In the speech, President Andrew Jackson justifies the Indian Removal Act which allowed for the relocation of Native American tribes from the Eastern half of the United States to land west of the Mississippi River.

What is Franklin's main purpose in making this speech? ›

The purpose of Ben Franklin's speech at the Constitutional Convention was to explain that he did not support the Constitution in its current state, but he was willing to wait and help better the document until he fully supported it.

What was the message of anti Jefferson cartoon? ›

“Providential Detection,” 1797 via American Antiquarian Society. This image attacks Jefferson's support of the French Revolution and religious freedom. The Altar to “Gallic Despotism” mocks Jefferson's allegiance to the French.

What is the main idea of the political cartoon the bosses of the Senate? ›

Keppler's cartoon reflected the phenomenal growth of American industry in the 1880s, but also the disturbing trend toward concentration of industry to the point of monopoly, and its undue influence on politics. This popular perception contributed to Congress's passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890.

What is the cartoonist suggesting about the Standard Oil trust? ›

The cartoon is saying that the Standard Oil Company is taking over the oil company and branching out to the Government.

What is the main idea of the history of the Standard Oil Company? ›

The History of the Standard Oil Company, originally a serial that ran in McClure's, is one of the most thorough accounts of the rise of a business monopoly and its use of unfair practices; her reporting contributed to the subsequent breakup of Standard Oil, which was found to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust ...

What law did the government claim the Standard Oil Company violated? ›

The United States brought suit against the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, alleging that it violated the Sherman Antitrust Act because its acquisitions were an undue restraint of trade. The Court first ruled that Congress had the power to pass the Sherman Antitrust Act under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

What is the main point of Benjamin Franklin's speech in the convention? ›

What is the main point of Benjamin Franklin's Speech in the Convention? The Constitutional Convention should support the Constitution because the document is as good as it is likely to be.

What are the purposes of a political cartoon check all that apply? ›

What is a political cartoon and what is its purpose? A drawing created to provide a humorous or critical opinion about political events or persons. The purpose is to convince the audience to take a particular view on a historical event. A political cartoon expresses the opinion of the artist.

Which choices accurately describe the Albany Plan of Union depicted in this political cartoon? ›

Which choices accurately describe the Albany Plan of Union depicted in this political cartoon? -The plan failed as most colonies feared giving up the idea of self-government.


1. His Greatest Speeches: How Lincoln Moved the Nation
(US National Archives)
2. The Temple Showdown | Critical Role: VOX MACHINA | Episode 11
(Geek & Sundry)
3. Thomas Hobbes by Alfred Edward TAYLOR read by Jim Locke | Full Audio Book
(LibriVox Audiobooks)
4. Scholars at Wright: Ralph Lerner on Abraham Lincoln.
(David Grier)
5. The Life of Pyrrhus by Plutarch
(Classic Masterworks)
6. What Can Be Salvaged from Twentieth-Century Socialism?

Top Articles

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Catherine Tremblay

Last Updated: 11/13/2022

Views: 6269

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Catherine Tremblay

Birthday: 1999-09-23

Address: Suite 461 73643 Sherril Loaf, Dickinsonland, AZ 47941-2379

Phone: +2678139151039

Job: International Administration Supervisor

Hobby: Dowsing, Snowboarding, Rowing, Beekeeping, Calligraphy, Shooting, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Catherine Tremblay, I am a precious, perfect, tasty, enthusiastic, inexpensive, vast, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.