Political opinion cartoons in America date back hundreds of years: from the likes of Benjamin Franklin to contemporary editorial cartoonists of today such as Chan Lowe.  

Over his more than 40-year career, Lowe’s award-winning, nationally syndicated work appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times and most recently the Berkshire Eagle, until his retirement in 2019. 

Lowe shared his thoughts on the art of crafting opinion cartoons with Connecting Point. 

This segment originally aired on April 5, 2018. 

Read the full transcript:

Chan Lowe, Editorial Cartoonist: I’m a dinosaur, but I have to admit that this is a wonderful development, being able to use computer apps to color your work. And, I don’t think it’s cheating in any way because it still takes creativity and artistry to do it.

It’s the message that counts. I mean, without the idea behind the cartoon — without the message — there’s no point in drawing the cartoon. A reader is going to give you about 10 seconds of their time to look at a cartoon. You don’t want to overly junk up the drawing and make it more difficult and less accessible. You want to keep it simple and straightforward, like — almost like a comic book drawing.

I have a very soft spot in my heart for western Massachusetts and always — always wanted to return here. And I intended to come back and retire here, anyway. And my wife and I are both very happy we managed to escape Florida without being horizontal when it happened. Because a lot of people never get out once they check-in. And I’m back here now and I’m very happy about it.

It exercises different muscles in your head. There are two entirely different ways to approach a topic. There is nuance with editorial writing. There’s not there’s far less nuance with cartoons.

In fact, sometimes you go for the punch, you go for the the kick in the head. Whereas with editorials, you sometimes want to back into a topic and get people to see it your way through persuasion.

I particularly enjoy drawing cartoons that expose the situation for what it is very clearly for readers. I mean, you can do a lot of explaining in a cartoon that helps clarify an issue for folks.