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According to the Edmonton Journal, “editorial cartoons by the Journal’s Malcolm Mayes attract more page views than any other piece of content on the website.” So why don’t publishers put their cartoonists’ work front and centre online? Although editors vary in temperament, editorial cartooning seems to be endured rather than encouraged by management. Perhaps one problem is that the political sentiments of the average Canadian caricaturist lie somewhere between Stéphane Dion and Jane Fonda, while the editorial position of many Canadian newspapers ranges somewhere between Barbara Amiel and Genghis Khan.
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Given today’s political and economic climate, what should be the purpose of the contemporary editorial cartoon? “Foremost – a means of dissent,” Dan Murphy replied by email. “States, corporations, institutional political parties have big budgets for promotions, can erect big PR statues to try to legitimize their vision. A political cartoon is graffiti around the base of those statues. The wittier, the funnier – the more memorable, the more powerful.”
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As of late July, [political cartoonist] Dave Rosen has spent almost a month looking for work in his field, while maintaining his blog (www.takeoutallthewords.blogspot.ca). “In that time, I have confirmed for myself the sad truth that no one wants to pay for editorial cartoons anymore,” he tells CG. “The websites I’ve approached simply won’t pay. They want free content, unfortunately because of precedents set by freelance writers who use the sites primarily for self-promotion.