I’m sure you’ve heard of that little cartoon that ran in the New York Post last week and got Rupert Murdoch in trouble. You know, the one of the chimp getting shot at by cops who say, "They’ll have to find someone else to write that stimulus bill." The cartoon was reportedly based on an incident that happened earlier that week involving a chimp who attacked a woman, but many, including Rev. Al Sharpton, have publicly condemned it for being what they see as a racist depiction of President Obama. And even though Murdoch issued a statement saying, “As the Chairman of the New York Post, I am ultimately responsible for what is printed in its pages…I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted," you can’t help but wonder, what the hell was he thinking? Sure, cartoonists make a living off making fun of politicians and exaggerating their features, but this seemed to cross a line. Or maybe cartoonist Sean Delonas really didn’t think twice about the U.S.’s history of racist imagery. Either way, I think it’s safe to say newspapers will be extra careful going forward.
One of the best editorial cartoonists out there is Chicano Lalo Alcaraz, known for his daily syndicated comic strip “La Cucaracha,” which appears in over 65 newspapers nationwide, and for illustrating the book Latino USA: A Cartoon History. In fact, earlier this year, the New Yorker ran a cartoon by Drew Friedman of Obama wearing a Founding Fathers-esque white wig, which was suspiciously similar to a cartoon Alcaraz created a year before, and which was used often during the Obama campaign to rally the Latino vote. Whether it was indeed a rip-off is still unclear, but no one doubts Alcaraz’s skills as a great cartoonist. He was interviewed just a few days ago by the Associated Press with regard to the Obama cartoon, and as someone who voted for (and continues to support) Obama, he says he “bends over backwards not to make him look like a cartoon [or racial] stereotype.” Click here to see more of Alcaraz’s work.