“Cartoons are a great barometer of freedom. If a cartoonist can draw the president, then that’s a free press” said noted American Political cartoonist Daryl Cagle. Daryl, currently the editorial cartoonist at NBC News, was in the city on Friday as part of a nationwide speaking tour.
“If I say anything positive, it’s a lousy cartoon. Cartooning is a negative art form,” said the 56-year-old cartoonist while addressing students of the JJ Institute of Applied Art.
Rifling through a host of his own cartoons – covering everything from petrol prices and Supreme Court judges through nuclear weapons and Wall Street bankers – Cagle’s daily brief is to scour the news, pick up the zeitgeist and translate it into memorable images.
Luckily for him, his government doesn’t care. “Which is exactly how it should be,” he said. A whole lot of other people, however, do which makes the art of mockery a tricky business.
The satirical anger lubricating Cagle’s cartoons have landed him in trouble with different groups and issues such as gun control, abortion and religion always tend to inflame audiences.
”Needless to say, when I draw Jesus I get angry mail, but that’s not going to deter me,” said Cagle, while admitting, “Sometimes I have to compromise.”
As a lampoon target par excellence, Cagle no doubt misses Kim Jong il, the North Korean leader who recently died. “As much as it was nice to see him go, I miss him. He was a good character,” he said.
On his first day in the country, Cagle said he had never drawn cartoons on India because he just didn’t understand it well enough to have an opinion. “If I don’t draw cartoons, that’s a good thing. It’s good not to have cartoons about your country,” he said.