Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recap: Association of American Editorial Cartoonists Convention

At the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention on Friday, September 14, 2012 I learned more about how cartoons are a vital part of visually swaying public opinion with politics, advertising, symbolism, and more. Well-done cartoons are a quick read, smart, and make a statement. With comics or cartoon illustration, you can do things sequentially  to tell a story that you can not do as easily in other mediums. 

Many of the presenters at #!$% CARTOONS!!, including many Pulitzer winners, are now implementing interactive actions to their cartoons, such as including web page links, or specific tweets, and even audio interviews you can click on to get more content. This showed online visual journalism and reporting at another level and perspective outside of the art. Some of the animations shown were very clever, specifically "Super Pac Mad Libs" by Mark Fiore ( Many of the artists used their own voices for animation dialogue and have to promote their own work on multiple social media outlets, proving once again that now more than ever it is a requirement to wear many hats in production duties.

Apple was a topic that was very prominent. With cartoonists pointing out that the corporation has most of their money in overseas funds and child labor issues. However, people overlook that because they love the Apple brand and product because of their advertising. Youth is very connected with brands now more than ever and the new iPhone 5 is the big news story that overshadows more important global issues. Many cartoonists in the room might have disagreed with Apple's business choices, but they pointed out how much they love owning an iPhone.

There is a lot of injustice going on in our world. From a discussion about the earthquake in Haiti, I learned that only 1% of all relief donations actually went to the Haitian government. The rest of the money went to corporations. Also with the political attitude in that country, I was surprised to hear that many of the people in Haiti blamed the earthquake on gay people. I don't know where you stand on that issue, but last time I checked, gay people don't cause earthquakes.

From looking at the many cartoons being presented, I couldn't help but think of the "spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" lyrics from Mary Poppins. Since their incarnation, cartoons, specifically political ones, have humor integrated with servings of truth. A fun poke at this stupid thing or that evil thing makes it more manageable to poke fingers or even laugh at ourselves as a culture. Or speaking truth to power.

There was a battle with put "Man vs. Machine" with Steve Brodner drawing by hand and Nick Anderson drawing with Cintiq. Another batter took place between Mike Thompson and Nate Beeler when they debated animation vs. static image. A good point was made of traditional static cartoon because it can be powerful and instant.

During a break for lunch in the middle of the day, I got to test the new Cintiq 24HD touch from Wacom. It's an amazing product and I enjoyed experimenting with the different brushes and the touch screen. It was the first time I had ever used a Cintiq and would love to work more with them in the future.

Another interesting topic was "Blown Covers, New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See" with Francoise Mouly, art editor of The New Yorker. She showed many images of the magazine covers and discussed what it was like to work with illustrators, deadlines, and more. She said the editor is support and a cross between and air plane controller and a shrink. I enjoyed seeing the sketch process of the Obama Fist Bump issue that was so controversial along with the many other conceptual ideas that were were executed and beautiful.

More battles went on between the political right (Nate Beeler, Chip Bok, Scott Stantis) and left (Clay Bennett, Jen Sorensen, Tom Tomorrow) as they discussed the current 2012 presidential election. Many of them covered the political conventions from the convention floor or from their living room updating with sketches at a real-time speed.

I was glad to attend the event as an attendee and that my employer allowed "professional development" time for this. Maybe we'll allow for more cartoon usage, let alone illustration, to tell a story at the ad agency I work at. And I am happy to say it was the best $10 I spent all year. It was educational, fun, and at times a bit tense - but it was all worth it because cartoons make the reader feel emotions, make the world alive, and the people alert.

I was only able to attend the lectures during the day on Friday, because that following Saturday and Sunday I exhibited at Small Press Expo. Look for the SPX recap to come soon!

View more event photos on the Curls Studio Facebook page and give us a "Like" while you are there:

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