During the Fourth of July I try to recount some of the things that I love about this country. One of the things I love about this country are the great American cartoonists who have shaped this great art form.
I first became interested in art because of Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. I would drive my mom nuts because I used to draw Charlie Brown and Snoopy on any scrap of paper that I could find. Then I discovered old reprints of the old Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Fantastic Four comics and was mesmerized. In the 741.5 section of the library, I discovered collections of old reprints of comic strips like Terry and the Pirates, Pogo, Little Orphan Annie and was captivated.
There is a great tradition of American comic strips, comic books and editorial cartoons. Growing up, my big dream was to be a syndicated comic strip cartoonist. That dream fell by the wayside. But in doing editorial cartoons for the Philippine News Today, I feel like I’m living part of my dream. Though I don’t earn a living from those cartoons, I get published every week, I’ve met editorial cartoonists whose work I admire, and I have gotten a chance to meet courageous political cartoonists from other countries who are risking their lives criticizing totalitarian governments, military death squads and religious extremists.
Sadly in America, comic strips and editorial cartoons have declined in influence as newspapers have declined due to the internet. Cartoonists are trying to figure out a way to earn a living publishing their work in the internet, with mixed results. I think the next generation of cartoonists are probably going to go to graphic novels, which is such an exciting genre.
Here is a documentary about the history of the comic strip. It’s a great documentary that talks about the history of comic strips and the struggles of comic strips today.