I’m often asked what editorial cartoonists “are like.” We’re a rare breed; there are only about 60 of us with full time jobs. What we do and how we do it can seem strange to most people.
I think the best way to explain it is with chickens. Editorial cartoonists are like chickens.
A flock of chickens is typically all female, with only one male. Editorial cartoonists are the opposite, all males in the flock with only a couple of females. We work in little cubicles, for chickenfeed. Editorial cartoonists and chickens are all white (it is possible that you might see a brown chicken, but I don’t remember ever seeing a brown one).
When there is a weak chicken in a flock, the weak chicken’s colleagues will peck it to death. Why? Social Darwinism. Killing the weak strengthens the flock – a noble cause. Chickens are little sociopaths, convinced of their righteousness and operating without feelings of guilt or empathy for what they believe is the betterment of the flock.
Chickens strut around like they are important, knowing their heads will soon be on the chopping block. Like chickens, when you cut off an editorial cartoonist’s head, he will keep running around. I haven’t tested that last fact, but I’m sure it is true – and it gives us hope for the future of our profession.