Editorial Cartoon

Analysis of a political editorial cartoon 1
Analysis of Political Editorial Cartoon
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Analysis of a political editorial cartoon 2
A political cartoon is a satirical comment which is usually humorous and often a caricature about
a political person, event, institution or even an idea that reflects the cartoonist’s values or
opinions. Another term for political cartoon is editorial cartoon and can also be said to be a
drawing that contains a commentary that expresses the artists’ opinion. The artist who writes and
draws these images is called an editorial cartoonist. Is the editorial cartoonist engage in their
work, they do combine their artistic skills with hyperbole and satire while questioning the
authority. This results in the drawing of attention to such issues as corruption, political violence
and other social ills. (Christopher, 2009). Political cartoons use imagery and text to comment on
a number of contemporary social issues. Through the examination of the pictorial elements of a
cartoon accompanied by the textual elements one can start to understand the message being
conveyed by the cartoon.
Analyzing political cartoons
One should be in a position to recognize exaggeration. It is often the trend of the artists to more
often than not exaggerate or at times distort some certain elements of the drawing in order to
make a point. An example of some of the most commonly exaggerated pictures are a character’s
facial features or even other body parts.
Artists at times may use symbols as placeholders for themes or ideas. To understand this concept
better an example of a whirlpool would fit since it may be used to signify the problem of getting
involved with the messy political situation of a particular country.
It is important to understand labelling. At times the cartoonist may label certain elements in the
cartoon which helps to identify different pictures and even ideas in the cartoon. It is usually
Analysis of a political editorial cartoon 3
common for labels to be paired with symbols. Using the example above of the whirlpool, it may
be labeled as the country that it represents. Understanding analogy is also key. It is possible for a
cartoonist to compare two things that are actually not alike. The technique is used in situations
where there is a complex idea or topic that is in fact hard to understand. A good example is if a
politician represented in the cartoon is pouring money into a toilet, this may that his policies on
government spending are wasteful. Finally one must strive to recognize irony since an artist may
use irony by using pictures or words in order to describe the opposite of what is, such as what
should be.
Political modern cartoons
Political cartoons are normally found in the editorial pages of most newspapers although there
are some that can be found on the regular comic strip page. It is common in most cartoons to
have the usage of metaphors and caricature while trying to address complicated political
situations thus summing up a current event and this is achieved using a humorous or emotional
picture. Yaakov Kirshen who is an Israeli comic creator stated that the objectives of his cartoon
is to “seduce rather than offend”. He designs his cartoons to make people laugh and this leads to
people dropping their guard and start to view things like he does.
The modern political cartooning is based on the traditional visual metaphors and symbols. Good
examples of symbols would be the donkey for the Democratic Party and the elephant for the
Republican Party. A political cartoon usually draws on two events that are unrelated and brings
them together in an incongruous manner thus achieving a humorous effect. This helps the society
since humor has been shown to reduce political tension.
Analysis of a political editorial cartoon 4
Editorial cartoons have at times been controversial for example the publication of Muhammad
cartoon and the Bangladesh cartoon controversy.
Cartoon analysis
In order to analyze a cartoon effectively, one must focus on the picture. Identifying the visual
elements is key. One should take a look at the cartoon as a whole making notes on the drawing
that one sees, make a list of the visual elements like people, animals, any other objects, and the
settings or in other terms the background.
The analyst should identify the main focus of the cartoon. This is achieved by finding the portion
of the particular cartoon that most stands out. This in most instances is a caricature. It will be an
exaggeration or distortion of a person or object with the goal of providing a comic effect. One
should also identify for the widely recognized symbols and this may include some metaphors
that are commonly used by political cartoonists. Examples of these metaphors an eagle for the
United States, a lion for United kingdom, a beaver for Canada, a bear for Russia, a dragon for
China, a sun for Japan and a Kangaroo for Australia.
One should take note of the distortion or exaggeration by focusing on the visual elements and
paying close attention to how they are drawn. It is possible for people or animals to be distorted
in a way or another. Some of the visual effects may be stereotypes and need to be identified. This
helps the reader identify the visual effects more clearly. These can call the attention of offensive
and outdated stereotypes.
Illusions to contemporary events or trends should be identified. One will find that some cartoons
may link their subject matter to a current event or trend that is widely recognized. When one is
creating a cartoon about voting, it may include a ballot box, names of the candidates and
Analysis of a political editorial cartoon 5
celebrates. This may be an indication that most people may be inclined to vote for celebrates
rather than the government officials. The effects of these illusions diminish gradually as people
tend to forget about the particular events or trends.
Pictorial symbols convey minor themes or ideas and are usually located in the background and at
times on the sides of the cartoon. One should pay attention to how the visual elements interact
with each other, how different symbols are drawn in relation to each other. Labels must also be
focused upon since they help the reader identify what a particular object represents. One should
look at the text bubbles since people in a cartoon often speak to each other and are usually
represented by solid circles or boxes around the text. Some political cartoons have captions that
are phrases placed at the bottom of the cartoon, and give more information regarding the cartoon.
After one has identified the symbols and other visual elements in the cartoon, focus should be on
how the words describe them, what do the words add? Then identify the issues that the cartoon is
referencing, identify the people involved in the issue, the perspectives of this issue and determine
the audience. A political cartoon is created with consideration to the experiences and
assumptions of the intended audience.
Identify adjectives that describe the emotions in the cartoon. Many political cartoons are
intended to portray some emotions, determine the artist’s perspective on the issues in the cartoon,
and consider the rhetorical triangle that is the ethos, pathos and logos. Think about how the
different elements about the cartoon shape the overall message.

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