Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher’s visual style is instantly recognizable to readers of the Economist magazine. He’s the first (and only) resident cartoonist in the British publication’s hundred and seventy year history. Last month Kal returned to the editorial page of his hometown paper, the Baltimore Sun. We discuss satire, politics and the hi-tech future of editorial cartoons.

Guests

  • Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher Artist-in-Residence, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Political Cartoonist, The Economist and the Baltimore Sun

All cartoons courtesy Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher

Short sample animation by Kevin KAL Kallaugher from a live interactive Presidential debate held at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Arts Center. This is part of “The Art of Satire” a stage show sponsored by The Economist:

Transcript

  • 13:25:27

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIHis art work is instantly recognizable to readers of the Economist Magazine. For three decades, Kevin "Kal" Kallaugher has drawn Presidents and Royals, Terrorists and petty Dictators. As the first and only resident cartoonist in the Economists long history. But Kal lives and works in Baltimore. And last month he returned to the pages of the Baltimore Sun training his pen on national and statewide politics. Take the republican Presidential primary. In Kal's imagination, Super Tuesday is a wrestling death match.

  • 13:25:59

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIPitting Mitt, the android, Romney against Rick, the Reverend, Santorum. Romney's weapon of choice, the flip-flop. Santorum's power move, the leap of faith. Kal joins us in studio. Kal Kallaugher is artist and resident at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He's a political cartoonist with the Economist and once again, the Baltimore Sun. Kal, good to see you again.

  • 13:26:21

    MR. KEVIN "KAL" KALLAUGHERIt's great to be here.

  • 13:26:23

    NNAMDIToday is primary day. So it makes sense for us to start with the primary season. Last presidential election, political cartoonists had some trouble figuring out how to draw Barack Obama and John McCain. This time around, how are you drawing the Republican candidates? What are the visual ticks of the aspects of the candidate's personas that you're playing with?

  • 13:26:45

    KALLAUGHERWell, you know, it's an interesting time, not just for the cartoonist but I think for the cartoon consumers to try to understand what these guys looked like. Because a year ago, nobody knew what Rick Santorum looked like.

  • 13:26:56

    NNAMDIThat's true.

  • 13:26:57

    KALLAUGHERAnd, you know, Ron Paul was still kind of a fringe character. He still is a fringe character, I guess, but his face is more familiar, after 45 different Republican debates, you know.

  • 13:27:07

    NNAMDIHas it been 45?

  • 13:27:08

    KALLAUGHERYes. I don't know, getting up there. So, well, the things that I look for is -- imagine that you're seeing somebody from about 40 feet away, rather than seeing them up close. And you see the clearly defined important features and that's where you start. And the most important feature of a person is the shape of their head. And it's the reason why you can recognize somebody from behind, is often the shape of their head, most clearly defined thing. And so imagine as anyone would, if you think of Mitt Romney, the thing that helps define his shape of his head is his hair.

  • 13:27:38

    NNAMDIYep.

  • 13:27:39

    KALLAUGHERHis hair escalates up to the ceiling and it's really profound and dark. And he's got these deep eyes that are kind of buried in the shadows of his heavy brow and they kind of peer out like a lost deer sometimes. And he talk 100 miles an hour. He's an interesting -- that's what kind of resides with me with him. But for Santorum who's got a kind of your average, you know, middle American kind of face, but he's got these teeth that seem longer than most people's teeth and they are extremely bright. They're almost as bright as Barack Obama's teeth.

  • 13:28:11

    KALLAUGHERI think they ordered the same teeth from wherever you get these things. And then Ron Paul increasingly reminds me of a grandfather. I have to tell you, you know, I have a feeling that nobody -- and people may like what he says, but imagining him in the Oval Office is, even for his supporters, has got to be a far stretch.

  • 13:28:33

    NNAMDIWhat's the challenge of drawing Obama? Historically, cartoons have been used to play up racist stereotypes about African-Americans. So now you're confronted with, first, a presidential candidate and now a president that you have to draw. When I stand 40 feet away, for me, the ears stand out.

  • 13:28:49

    KALLAUGHERYeah, that's right. And he's also got a very strong jaw. But here's the thing to note, if you look at the cartoons that drew him during the last campaign, 2008, in the course of four years, he has aged exponentially as presidents...

  • 13:29:05

    NNAMDIAs Presidents tend to do.

  • 13:29:05

    KALLAUGHER...as they tend to do. And, of course, the natural place people may look is the graying of the hair. But the line that really gets me is that there is a set of parenthesis that go around from your nostril and down the side of your face and those lines have gotten really deeper in him. His color has gotten more pale and so he just looks a little bit more worn. And you know, it's easy as a cartoonist to have established a caricature of somebody as a sort of a postage stamp. And you use the stamp caricature all the time. But really because the characters change and evolve, the caricatures also have to evolve.

  • 13:29:41

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is our number. If you'd like to join this conversation, what future do you see for editorial cartoons and satire? 800-433-8850, you can send us an email to kojo@wamu.org, a tweet @kojoshow or you can simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. A couple of weeks ago, we spoke with the Egyptian-American journalist Ashraf Khalil about the cultural environment in Egypt in the run up to the revolution.

  • 13:30:10

    NNAMDIAnd he told us about the great tradition of humor and satire in that country and how jokes became a sort of common cultural form of resistance against dictators. You have traveled around the world and met with cartoonists. Why does humor seem to be such a powerful tool? Why are cartoonists apparently so effective?

  • 13:30:29

    KALLAUGHERWell, I would suggest, Kojo, that there's two and two and a half, three reasons why that's the case. The first is, I think there's doctors have come out with studies that show that laughter is actually a physically a good thing for your constitution. And as animals it's an important thing for us to do to respond to things. But perhaps more importantly as we are members of societies and in so many societies around the world, individuals are disenfranchised from the power of their own lives.

  • 13:31:03

    KALLAUGHERAnd even in places where there's supposedly a democracy and people vote and let's say like a (word?) election recently, is it doesn't mean that you really have any control about what's happening. And so satire is an amazing kind of weapon because it's a way to take the powerful people and not bring them down a notch or two.

  • 13:31:25

    KALLAUGHERAnd then cartoons are a particular kind of satire and are particularly effective because they're tackling the face of the people who are in charge. And the face is, you know, your most prize possession and the ability of a cartoonists and a caricaturists to take that face apart and reassemble it under their control, makes them a, you know, a powerful person in some way. And while the rest of their lives, they don't feel so powerful.

  • 13:31:50

    NNAMDIDo you think cartoons play an important role in your understanding of the news? Give us a call, 800-433-8850, tell us why you think that or go to our website kojoshow.org and tell us there. You have invoked Mary Poppins to explain what it is you do. "A spoonful of sugar...

  • 13:32:07

    KALLAUGHERYeah.

  • 13:32:08

    NNAMDI...to help the medicine go down."

  • 13:32:09

    KALLAUGHERYeah, well, because, you know, I consider myself a columnist, really. You know, political cartoons is kind of a deceiving thing because people assume that you're just a joker but in fact you, you know, you live within these two polarities. You know of editorial that's serious and cartoons that is funny. And every day you plot yourself on a different place on that spectrum according to the appropriateness of the subject matter. So in the weeks and months after 9/11, you weren't using humor as much in your cartoons. You were being much more serious in your work and using pictures as a way to kind of deliver your message.

  • 13:32:43

    KALLAUGHERBut I guess where the Mary Poppins metaphor comes in, Kojo, is where we use this kind of eye candy of, you know, caricature and funny stories and making people -- we pull people in and they think they're going to get something funny, but at the same time, we're delivering a message and that's the medicine.

  • 13:33:01

    NNAMDII often think of cartoonists as the people on the editorial pages of newspapers who are really allowed to go farthest but at the same time, by being allowed to go farthest, they're the ones who enable us to see most clearly some of the contradictions in our politicians.

  • 13:33:19

    KALLAUGHERWell, you know, I think that's certainly where cartoonists would like to be. It's hard to do that every day, though. To distill these complex issues of the day is hard. We talk before and here we are on Super Tuesday. Super Tuesday is like an awesome day for cartoonists, right, because everybody's focused on the campaign, on the characters and the cartoonist can help illuminate people as to who these characters are. Now, let's go over to the situation in Greece.

  • 13:33:49

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 13:33:49

    KALLAUGHERAnd the Greek, you know, debt crisis.

  • 13:33:50

    NNAMDIOh, by the way. You can find Kal's cartoons at our website, kojoshow.org. Yes, the one about Greece, go ahead, please.

  • 13:33:56

    KALLAUGHERYeah, and so here's a really complicated financial mess. And it's really hard to distill something like that down to something which is simple to understand but yet you don't avoid those subjects. In fact, I would believe that it's most important that you cover these complicated stories and try to make them accessible to people.

  • 13:34:20

    NNAMDIYes, the way the one -- what you did with Greece is to be really enjoyed. Again, you can go to see -- to our website kojoshow.org to see some of Kal's cartoons there. In one of your recent Economist cartoons, you drew the Syrian President shooting his own people with Russian weapons. I'd like to contrast that with the story of Syrian cartoonists Ali Farzat. When he drew his President thumbing a lift from a fleeing Moammar Gadhafi in a getaway car, he was severely beaten by government forces. Sometimes we don't fully seem to appreciate the freedom to antagonize our government officials, do we?

  • 13:35:03

    KALLAUGHEROh, well certainly we don't, Kojo. You know, I have had the opportunity to travel around the world, speaking often as a, sort of, an emissary of the State Department to tackle issues of freedom of expression. And, you know, clearly, you know, 2/3 of the world, they don't have the opportunity to do what we do here, to draw our own head of state. And when they do, what happened to Ali Farzat happens. He was picked up by, you know, a bunch of government thugs, severely beaten, his hands were broken...

  • 13:35:34

    NNAMDIBoth of his hands.

  • 13:35:34

    KALLAUGHER...all his fingers. Yeah, and dumped on the street as a kind of warning. The curious thing, though, is that it was counterproductive for the Syrian Regime because he's an institutional ally in Syria. But across the Arab world, his cartoons have been widely reproduced in Europe. He was actually named by the European Parliament the annual Sakharov award for freedom of expression, was given to him. And he's become a, kind of, the poster child of the brutality of that regime.

  • 13:36:03

    NNAMDIIt was actually a great cartoon. As you mentioned, you've been a cultural ambassador and worked with journalists from around the world. What kinds of challenges do cartoonists face worldwide? You mentioned 2/3 of the world are people who live in countries where they cannot really draw the impressions of the head of the state in those countries.

  • 13:36:25

    KALLAUGHERWell, the cartoonists are crafty folks. And so just as you said, it seems to be built into our DNA...

  • 13:36:33

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 13:36:33

    KALLAUGHER...that we want to criticize and want to take on those who kind of put us down. Is that, there's some classic examples. There was a cartoonist, a Palestinian cartoonist, who, during the time when Arafat was in charge, that even there that he just felt that it wasn't appropriate for him to draw Arafat. So he created a character that everyone knew was Arafat, but didn't look like Arafat. And he could get away with things in that case. A Cuban cartoonist was telling me a great story.

  • 13:37:06

    KALLAUGHERHow in Cuba, they have these neighborhood watch dog groups like they do, you know, probably around here. And every night they, you know, they would assemble and march around the neighborhood and check to make sure that all the lights were off and there was no prowlers or whatever. But these little groups are kind of mini military types. And the people like to wear uniforms and march around.

  • 13:37:29

    NNAMDII've seen them.

  • 13:37:29

    KALLAUGHERSo, yeah, right. And so when they wanted to make fun -- the cartoonist wanted to make fun of the government and what they're doing, they would make fun of these groups and that would be kind of the symbolism for what was going, general, in the country.

  • 13:37:40

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here is Andy in Frederick, Md. Andy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:37:46

    ANDYHi, guys, good program. I'm in a different genre of, I guess you would call it, socially realists, entertainment or expression musician. And in the almost decade that I've been performing, it seems to me there's a risk that we're running in making these really pertinent social issues entertainment. And so my question is, what do you feel about this risk that we're running? People are more interested in John Stewart, what he has to say versus doing research on their own and coming to some very easily reachable conclusions. What are your thoughts on that?

  • 13:38:29

    KALLAUGHERThat's a great question. And there's also another edge to that sword that Norm Ornstein who is, you know, the sort of...

  • 13:38:37

    NNAMDISure.

  • 13:38:37

    KALLAUGHER...the think tank fellow from town here, was addressing a bunch of cartoonists a few years ago. And he said that we have to kind of beware a little bit because everyone's aware of the terrible discourse that we have going on in Washington today and the shouting back and forth. And the concern is that if the satire can be too heavy of looking at our politicians in Washington, said basically, they're all idiots rather then, you know, breaking down to a more sophisticated look.

  • 13:39:04

    KALLAUGHERThen you're going to get the voters not interested in participating or that they're just going to distrust the democracy. And so, you know, you want to make sure that you're kind of smart with your satire and smart with the way that you deliver things. Well, it's interesting that you brought up John Stewart because I work at UNBC, I'm working with a bunch of, you know, with a great group of college students there. And the rub is that many people think, well that mostly college kids get their news...

  • 13:39:34

    NNAMDIThat's the rub.

  • 13:39:34

    KALLAUGHER...and information from John Stewart. And I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case, not just for college students but for many other Americans. And he actually does a very good job because he's quite responsible, that is. I think, that he takes on subjects and, you know, he tries to elevate them. He's not just there to make topical jokes. He's there actually to try to create an idea and maybe even get a dialogue going, and get people thinking about things critically.

  • 13:40:05

    KALLAUGHERBut so I'm almost rather having Jon Stewart than no Jon Stewart. I remember ten years ago, right, when our caller was starting his music when there was no Jon Stewart and the satire level was kind of low in the country, particularly compared to Europe where I had worked before, and I was desperately hungry for it. And so seeing him on the scene was great. But there is also the problem that his notion like Rush Limbaugh calls himself an entertainer...

  • 13:40:34

    NNAMDIMm-hmm.

  • 13:40:35

    KALLAUGHERAll these people out there, assuming that they're in the position of entertainment, they can kind of water down really, you know, what's right and what's wrong.

  • 13:40:45

    NNAMDIBut Andy, I'd also like to talk a little bit about context, because as Kal was pointing out, before Jon Stewart came along, he was concerned about a certain lack of satire on the airwaves, and if you've ever picked up the Economist of Baltimore Sun, you will realize that the work of the cartoonist is surrounded by very serious work of journalists and commentators and the like, and some people find that a little down, a little depressing even, because so much of it is serious.

  • 13:41:15

    NNAMDISo they are in a way some lighthearted relief from the stuff that we're constantly reading, so to suggest that they may be making too much fun when they are generally found in periodicals where you don't find a great deal of fun being made I think might be not seeing the forest for the trees.

  • 13:41:35

    ANDYMay I say one more thing?

  • 13:41:37

    NNAMDISure.

  • 13:41:38

    ANDYWhat -- if the message is too strong, in my experience, I pull no punches, I'm college-educated, I understand essentially development and energy issues thoroughly. And if I speak candidly, I find that the response from listeners is they almost just turn away and the risk of -- I guess my main concern with making it entertaining is that when -- I mean, things are depressing, really. The truth is very depressing.

  • 13:42:17

    ANDYBut depression is merely one stop in that movement to awareness and more importantly, action. And entertainment almost seems to kind of keep us in one sense held back from facing the things that are less exciting or...

  • 13:42:36

    NNAMDIWell, Andy, allow me to have Kal talk a little bit about this before we take a short break, and that is the difference between the number of cartoonists there were in newspapers at the start of the 20th century compared to today.

  • 13:42:51

    KALLAUGHERHmm. Hundreds of cartoonists. And now we're down to kind of 78, and so maybe if Andy started to draw, we could have more cartoonists having that kind of attitude. Well, yeah. It's fewer and fewer of us. However, I still remain optimistic and hopeful, Kojo, about the future with the new technologies.

  • 13:43:11

    NNAMDIAt the turn of the 20th century, it's my understanding there were 2000 staff cartoonists working at U.S. newspapers. Today, fewer than 40 full-timers remain, and that's from a Herb Block Foundation report. Thank you very much for your call, Andy. We're going to take a short break. If you have called, stay on the line. We'll return to our conversation with Kevin "Kal" Kallaugher after a short break, but you can still call us, 800-433-8850. Do you think satire, do you think cartoons play an important role in understanding the news, editorial cartoons, and what kind of future do you see for editorial cartoons and satire? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:45:42

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking with Kevin "Kal" Kallaugher. He is artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and political cartoonist with the Economist and now back again with the Baltimore Sun. Over the last decade, Kal, there's been no shortage of gloom and doom stories about the decline of local media, and as I mentioned earlier, editorial cartoons have been on even more of a decline. But you recently returned to the Baltimore Sun. Tell us how that came about.

  • 13:46:06

    KALLAUGHERIt was kind of a happy story in this crazy world of newspapers. Just before Christmas I got an email from the editor at the Baltimore Sun, Andy Green. The publisher said to him, hey, what can we do to get Kal back here? And so they contacted me...

  • 13:46:26

    NNAMDINot a conversation being heard at a lot of newspapers around the country.

  • 13:46:29

    KALLAUGHERI'm telling you. And it surprised me, and when I started looking at my schedule, you know, I'm very fortunate I have so many great stuff that I'm doing at the moment, I figured that I might be able to squeeze out one day a week. When I went and talked with them, I had to make sure that I had the sufficient amount of freedom to do the cartoons that I want to do, and also maintain the rights to the cartoons which I thought was important, and they agreed and we started about weeks ago. And I tell you what, I'm having a great time.

  • 13:47:00

    NNAMDIYou maintaining a right to the cartoons, that's a little different than it used to be. Didn't the newspaper used to have the right to the cartoons?

  • 13:47:05

    KALLAUGHERYeah. This is an arrangement that I've had with the Economist for the past 34 years, and I told the folks at the Sun, that this is something that is important to me where the, you know, the actual physical property of the cartoon would be mine and then the actual reproduction rights would stay with me with as well.

  • 13:47:21

    NNAMDIWe got this tweet from Editsusan. "For Kal, when did you know you wanted to be a cartoonist, and who were your biggest influences?"

  • 13:47:31

    KALLAUGHERWell, I'll tell you who my biggest influence was is Dr. Seuss.

  • 13:47:36

    NNAMDIReally?

  • 13:47:36

    KALLAUGHERYeah. And it's because, you know, the thing about Dr. Seuss is when you look at his cartoons on a page, you don't think you're looking at a piece of paper. You think you're looking into a window to another world...

  • 13:47:49

    NNAMDIMm-hmm.

  • 13:47:49

    KALLAUGHER….where all the characters, you know, are breathing oxygen and there's a kind of a sense to that area, and the best cartoonists always have that, you know. Calvin & Hobbes had that.

  • 13:47:58

    NNAMDIMm-hmm.

  • 13:47:58

    KALLAUGHERAnd Crazy Cat, back in the day, had it.

  • 13:48:01

    NNAMDIMm-hmm.

  • 13:48:01

    KALLAUGHERAnd so I was just kind of taken in by the magic of what this line can do, and it was also he was very playful, and if you think about this week, the launch of "The Lorax," he also would introduce messages in to his work as well. So even at a young age, that was kind of really important. But the second thing took place when I was in college, and I had done cartoons in high school, and I was doing cartoons, you know, for the high school and the college newspaper as well.

  • 13:48:27

    KALLAUGHERMy senior thesis, I'll add, was a 13-minute long animated cartoon. But it was right when I was at school, Watergate was going on and I would go to the front page of the newspapers and they would be packed full of gray, turgid text, talking about all these various different guys, and I had no idea who was going where and what was going on.

  • 13:48:50

    KALLAUGHERBut then I went to the cartoons, and the cartoons would give me these little hints and give the stories, and I was able to piece together what was going on and I basically tell people cartoons are a gateway drug into the current events.

  • 13:49:05

    NNAMDIThat's what they were for me as a young person who was not interested in current events until I started seeing cartoons in the newspaper. That was my window. You did not study economics in college as you pointed out. You didn't arrive in the United Kingdom expecting to be an editorial cartoonist. In fact, you were there to ride a bicycle and play basketball?

  • 13:49:25

    KALLAUGHERYeah. I led a bicycle tour of American teenagers around the country for about five weeks, and then had it carried on. When they left, I cycled around for a few more weeks and got my first job as a semi-pro basketball player where I played for three years, yeah, until the team ran out of money and then I started doing caricatures in the streets.

  • 13:49:44

    NNAMDIAnd that led to the Economist?

  • 13:49:47

    KALLAUGHEROver a course of time it did, yeah. It was a kind of a funny story. I mean, the...

  • 13:49:51

    NNAMDIBicycling and basketball?

  • 13:49:53

    KALLAUGHEREvery cartoonist, this is how we start, you know.

  • 13:49:55

    NNAMDIYeah, right. On to the telephones again. Here is Joe in Baltimore, Md. Joe, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:50:04

    JOEYes. Thanks Kojo, and hi Kal. I'm a loyal Baltimore Sun subscriber, so I just want to thank you for coming back.

  • 13:50:11

    KALLAUGHERGreat. It's great to be back.

  • 13:50:13

    JOESo I had a couple questions. Number one is what do you think about comic strip artists commenting on political issues, namely Garry Trudeau in Doonesbury and the corollary to that is, I thought it's interesting how Garry Trudeau didn't draw Butch 43, and he doesn't draw the president. So I just thought -- I wanted to get your comments on that and what you think about that in general.

  • 13:50:34

    KALLAUGHERHmm. Well, you know, the controversy of that kind of reached its head I guess about a decade ago, you know, when Trudeau -- there was a lot of papers around the country that were rejecting him, taking him off the comics page and putting him in the -- like the Baltimore Sun does, and putting them on the Op Ed page, and then subsequently more and more political kind of oriented strips. There's a conservative strip called Prickly City by Scott Stantis, and so some papers were feeling well, if they had Garry Trudeau, they needed to have an alternative and so on.

  • 13:51:09

    KALLAUGHERSo I'm the kind of person where I don't mind it kind of bleeding into the comics page, you know, cartoons -- there's a lot of topical conversations in the comics anyways, but it's one thing where you're doing a topical conversation to doing commentary, and for some people that's, you know, using a great English expression, over-egging the pudding. But for me, it doesn't bother me so much.

  • 13:51:39

    KALLAUGHERTo your second, though, about the device that Garry Trudeau has employed for a long time, boy, of using symbols to represent characters, I remember Dan Quayle was a feather I think...

  • 13:51:53

    NNAMDIYes, correct.

  • 13:51:54

    KALLAUGHER...that used to be in the air, and then was it George H.W. Bush, the father, was a waffle.

  • 13:51:58

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 13:51:59

    KALLAUGHERYeah. And then things like that. And it's kind of cute. I don't know. I'm getting, you know, it's not as fun for me. Also, I love caricature, and I'd love to see the drawing of people, and it's kind of a way around doing that, you know?

  • 13:52:14

    NNAMDIYes, that's true. That's true.

  • 13:52:15

    KALLAUGHERBut at the same time, Garry Trudeau is -- he's an astonishing, you know, that he's been doing this for ever so long.

  • 13:52:21

    NNAMDIFor that long.

  • 13:52:22

    KALLAUGHERAnd of the kind of the generic quality that he's provided, he did tell me recently that, you know, I told him, you know, they understand that his readers are kind of growing older with him, he's not getting very many young readers, and he says because coming into Doonesbury right now is like opening the middle of a Russian novel and start reading. He says it's just too hard because there's so many threads there, but my hat's off to him.

  • 13:52:49

    NNAMDIJoe, thank you very much for your call. Part of the reason that people tend to be dismissive of political cartoons maybe they think that the medium is dying along with print journalism. You've explored new storytelling techniques and new technology including a project that allows you to create animated political cartoons in real time called Digital W.

  • 13:53:10

    KALLAUGHERRight.

  • 13:53:11

    NNAMDIIs this the future of the editorial cartoon?

  • 13:53:14

    KALLAUGHERWell, I think that there's gonna be lots of futures for cartoons, and what I mean is, is that there's all sorts of technologies becoming available, new platforms, and visual satirists will find a way to master whatever medium is at their disposal and make it a work for the betterment of society as well as to their own self-enjoyment. So I had done the last election cycle in 2008, I did a nationwide tour with Second City...

  • 13:53:44

    NNAMDIMm-hmm.

  • 13:53:44

    KALLAUGHER...you know, the improv comedy troop?

  • 13:53:45

    NNAMDISure.

  • 13:53:46

    KALLAUGHERAnd as part of it, I would be dressed in a motion capture suit, I would be backstage, and I created 3-D versions of George W. Bush and Barack Obama and John McCain and Hillary Clinton, and we would do live press conferences with the audience where I would be back there and I'd take questions from the audience and try to get the questions right? I tried. I'm not so good at it, though. And...

  • 13:54:15

    NNAMDIYou are good at it.

  • 13:54:17

    KALLAUGHERAnd we would do that, and my favorite one was we were in San Francisco, and we did a show where we did a dance off between Barack Obama and John McCain.

  • 13:54:26

    NNAMDIOh, God.

  • 13:54:26

    KALLAUGHERAnd we got dance styles selected from the audience and then I backstage would have to dance first as John McCain to the music, and then I would shift and then I would be Barack Obama and do that. But there's other stuff, you know, I wanted to share this interesting project I'm doing with the technical director from Pixar, a guy named Apurva Shah, who's developing a new kind of storytelling engine for creative people whereby, you know, you take something like your iPad and other tablets, and we're familiar with graphic novels and comic books.

  • 13:55:02

    KALLAUGHERHe's creating something that's based on the, you know, the creation of animatics that they do at Pixar where artists can use these narrative devices and drop in within each photo, sound and animation or games and other elements, and create these amazing devices that people can use. And so as technology expands, new sources and new platforms for cartoonists and satirists will come.

  • 13:55:30

    NNAMDIYou make it sound like an exciting, expanding world for you.

  • 13:55:33

    KALLAUGHERIt is. It's awesome.

  • 13:55:36

    NNAMDIHere is Jim in Lewes, De. Jim, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:55:43

    JIMHi Kojo. The name of our town is actually pronounced Lewes. Thank you for taking my call. I listen to your show regularly, and it's terrific. I share a common past with Kal, your guest. I also played semi-pro basketball Europe, but that was in the dark ages as I approach the ripe old age of 60. I'd like for him to talk a little bit about the dark side of political cartoons. I'm thinking in particular of a story I read this morning in the New York Times about the federal judge in Montana, Richard Cebull, I believe it is, who had forwarded a racist and sexist cartoon to some of his buddies and then subsequently issued an apology to the president.

  • 13:56:23

    JIMI was intrigued by the story. It didn't give the content of the cartoon, but I tracked it down eventually on the Huffington Post, and after reading the description of the cartoon and its caption, I was just literally dumbfounded at how crude and racist and sexist it was. And so maybe if you could talk just a bit about the dark side of political cartoons and how they can fan the forces of just bigoted ignorance.

  • 13:56:48

    NNAMDIKal?

  • 13:56:49

    KALLAUGHERAbsolutely. And there's been some stories, maybe even worse stories, than that about how particularly racial depictions have been used to help say the Nazis in their time, and other groups before them to help dehumanize certain groups, and some cartoonists played along with it, and there are some terrible cases. In fact, before I left England, a cartoonist was arrested and jailed for -- he had written a comic book that was a neo-Nazi comic book, and was distributing them outside of schools.

  • 13:57:27

    KALLAUGHERThere's -- absolutely. The power of this line is really something that you have to be very aware of when you -- in this business. You only have to look as far as the Danish cartoonist controversy to see that just a few lines going in a certain wrong direction can cause deadly riots, and cause consternation around the world. So when you're a professional in this business, you have to understand that you're dealing with a hand grenade and you want to make sure that you throw it in the right direction, because if you don't it will explode right in your face.

  • 13:58:00

    NNAMDIKevin "Kal" Kallaugher is artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, political cartoonist with the Economist and the Baltimore Sun. Welcome back, Kal, to the Baltimore Sun.

  • 13:58:11

    KALLAUGHERGreat. Awesome.

  • 13:58:12

    NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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