12.22.2010 0

NetRight Daily and ALG’s Award-Winning Cartoonist Talks Skills, Passion and Talent

Award-winning cartoonist William Warren has a challenging, but entertaining job.

Record DeficitsHe produces three original political cartoons for the free-market based nonprofit Americans for Limited Government (ALG) each week. Warren’s cartoons have won him many awards over the years, and most recently, five of his cartoons are featured in the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, 2011 Edition.

Warren’s talents mixed with his passion for news and politics makes cartooning an easy fit for him.

ALG talked exclusively with Warren about his skills, his passion and how he got started in the editorial cartoon business.

Q. What made you want to be a political cartoonist? How did your passion evolve and what got it started?

A. I have always loved drawing. When I discovered Calvin and Hobbes at age six, I began to draw my own comic strips with my own characters and adventures and such. When I was in high school, however, I developed a profound love for politics and current events. When I realized I could fuse my passion for art and politics in the form of political cartoons, it was a no-brainer.

Q. What makes a funny political cartoon?

Veered to the LeftA. First of all, not all political cartoons have to be funny. Some of the best can be downright depressing. However, a funny (and successful) cartoon must be rooted in truth. If it’s a lie, no one will find it amusing. Secondly, it has to put a clever spin on an issue and twist that issue to the point of absurdity. And it has to be delivered well (which is where art, caricature, composition, and style come into play).

Q. Is it any different being a conservative cartoonist as opposed to a liberal one? Why is the conservative worldview funnier?

A. In principle, there is no difference. The job is essential the same: skewer those that need to be skewered, stimulate thought, and maybe cause a few laughs and controversy along the way. I think conservatives have more fun though, because, unlike liberals who default towards anger and criticism most of the time, conservatives are generally more optimistic, appreciative, and an overall happier lot (if I do say so myself).

Q. How do you choose the targets or subject of your cartoons on a daily basis? How do you keep your ideas fresh?

Earth to NASAA. You have to be constantly reading the news and keeping up with what’s happening in the world. Also, you have to know where you stand on the issues. As someone with strong convictions and an addictive love for the news, these aren’t too hard for me. Other than that, I pick topics that are relevant and, most importantly, interesting to me. If I’m not interested in the subject at hand, chances are the cartoon will be mediocre at best.

Q. How has your style shifted in the past three years? We note that your Obama has departed from a more realistic version. Now he looks as skinny as a rail!

A. The art and style is constantly evolving. A few key elements have stayed the same, but I try to keep the art fresh and let it develop on its own. For instance, I’m more restrained with the cross-hatching than I was a few years ago. And yes, my Obama has changed a lot…he looks different every year. I used to make him look more realistic, but now he’s become a more surreal, alien-like caricature of the man. He’s become skinny (almost an empty suit), shorter, and his face has become something of an upside-down carrot with two ears, big eyebrows, and a massive grin. I think my depiction of Obama hinges on how good of job he’s doing. You get the point.

Q. How long does it take to produce a toon?

How bout a cold drink?A. The idea phase can take hours and even days. That is the hardest part…choosing a topic and coming up with the idea. Once that is down, however, the art can take anywhere from 2.5 hours to 4 hours from sketch phase to the final product.

Q. Is it just penciling, inking, and Photoshop for color? What other techniques have you used? Briefly explain the process you go through for our readers.

A. I start with a pencil sketch and then use a light box to trace the sketch with good ink pens onto a good drawing paper. I then use a variety of drawing pens and sharpies to do the black line art. I used to use a crow-quill dipping pen for this, but traded them in for the less messy drawing pens. When I am satisfied with the art, I scan it in and use Photoshop for coloring and various effects.

Q. Will the new structure of power in Washington shift the way you approach your cartoons?

A. Yeah, it definitely will. As a conservative, it is easy and second nature to skewer Pelosi, Reid, and Obama. However, everyone needs to be held accountable in Washington, including the Republicans. Although I may not like attacking a politician with whom I generally agree, if he or she messes up and deserves a good whacking, I won’t hold back.

Q. This year you have five toons in the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year. Out of all the toons to pick from what made you choose these five?

A. I chose these five because a) I thought they were funny, b) they covered a broad range of topics, and c) I think they’re some of my more successful cartoons of the last year.

Q. So, of the five, you’ve got Obama driving the nation off a cliff, Obama with his fire hose to kill the recovery, Obama desperate to win the midterms, and Obama’s spending monument—a big ditch. Why don’t you tell us what you really think about Obama? Has he been too radical as suggested by your toons?

A. You don’t want to know what I really think about Obama. Just kidding. Obama has been the best gift I could ever have gotten as a conservative cartoonist. He is always doing crazy, radical, or downright goofy things (ex: bowing to foreign leaders) that provide me with an endless supply of material to work with. It has never been easier or more fun or more important than it is now.

Q. Are you looking forward to the 2012 race? Do presidential candidates provide for more opportunities for humor?

A. Sure am! It’s always fun to welcome a new batch of faces into the scene. I love caricatures, so election season is always my favorite. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever caricatured Gingrich…I bet he’d be fun to draw.

Q. 2009 and 2010 have seen the reemergence of limited government issues as embodied by the tea party movement. How important has the movement been? Will its broader message continue to appeal to a majority of Americans? Is there still time to save the nation from a descent into European-style statism?

Insurmountable OddsA. Although it’s been painted with a broad, spiteful brush by the media, the Tea Party movement has been a fascinating thing to watch unfold. It encapsulates so much of the American spirit and what has made this

country so exceptional. And its message is certainly appealing to the American people (the majority of whom do not like the Big Government agenda of this administration) and I definitely think there is time to “save the nation.” We just have to make sure that our newly elected leaders stay true to their word and fight for the things the American people elected them to fight for.

Q. What kind of advice would you offer to anyone who wants to become a cartoonist?

A. Read the news and know where you stand on the issues. Form your beliefs and know why you believe them. Be able to defend yourself and defend your work. Then draw, draw, and draw. Study others’ examples but make an effort to distinguish yourself. And then draw some more.

William Warren’s five cartoons included in the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, 2011 Edition: “Veered to the Left,” “How Bout a Cold Drink,” “Insurmountable Odds,” “Obama Monument” and “Earth to NASA.”

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