Monte Wolverton is best known as a contributor to MAD Magazine and son of Mad great Basil Wolverton. He is also the editor of The Plain Truth. magazine. He draws two editorial cartoons per week and is syndicated to newspapers around the world by Cagle Cartoons.
Milt Priggee is a freelance editorial cartoonist from northwest Washington State. His work has been reprinted in Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World report, The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today.
Recently, I spent two weeks embarking on a speaking tour of India on behalf of the U.S. State Department (check out all my blog posts here). Although the schedule was busy and sometimes hectic, I did manage to find some spare time to do some sketching of my trip:
The main thing most American’s notice when they arrive in India is the poverty. When I arrived in Mumbai and Delhi, the crowds of beggars were impressive, with newborn babies pressed against the windows of whatever car I was in as the desperately poor pushed through traffic on the streets. They followed me down the street wherever I walked in Mumbai and Delhi – but not in Kerala.
Probably the second biggest impression for me, and for most Americans in India is the crazy traffic. The disregard for traffic laws is awesome – combine with driving on the wrong side of the road there is a constant sense that my car is hurdling toward a head-on collision. India’s traffic is wonderful drama. I’m still shaking.
I gave speeches at schools all over India, and they all had a funny, common sequence of events. First, I would be invited for a cup of sweet tea with the Dean of the school or teachers, while a room crammed with students waited patiently until we were quite late for my talk. Then it would take ten to fifteen awkward minutes, after we’re already late, to set up the projector for my Powerpoint presentation.
After my presentation the students rush up to the front of the room, asking me to do sketches, which I’m usually happy to do. Sometimes I’d be given more tea, groups of girls would tell me about how they all knew my work already, because my cartoons appear in their high school textbooks in India (something I’d like to see). The college talks in India were great fun.
The food in India was wonderful – I think I was steered to the best places to eat, and the food was truly great. I can’t get used to eating with the fingers rather than a knife and fork, though.
I thought about eating with my fingers at a local favorite India restaurant here in California after I got back, just to show what I had learned, but my local manners got the better of me.
My portrait by the brilliant Shri Shankar Parmarthy of the Sakshi newspaper in Hyderabad, India.
I was so rushed with the end of my India trip that I neglected to do a post about my visit to Hyderabad, the huge, hi-tech city in the middle of India. The Hyderabad cartoonists were great, and I enjoyed drinking with them through the night in the backyard of the Press Club, where I had some particularly hot Biriyani that made me sweat and shake, to the amusement of my colleagues. I especially enjoyed meeting renowned, veteran Hyderabad cartoonist, Mohan, who moved on from being a local, Telegu language political cartoonist for the huge Sakshi newspaper, to running his own animation studio.
The US Consulate put on a lovely show of my work in cooperation with the Muse Art Gallery at the Marriott Hotel in Hyderabad – they did a great job. I was impressed that they included my more edgy cartoons that would have gotten me thrown in jail, if America suffered the same, poor press freedoms as India.
I gave speeches at the Sri Venkateswara College of Fine Arts and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and at each a bunch of girls ran up to me after my talk to tell me how they have known my work for years because my cartoons appeared in their high school textbooks, which was fun.
The controversial cartoon that was banned from india's textbooks, after a long debate in Parliament.
There has been a lot of talk in India recently about banning some cartoons from high school text books, in particular, this one (below right).
This textbook cartoon controversy was much more interesting to the Indian cartoonists that I met than the brouhaha about the jailing of Aseem Trivedi, which was raging at the time. The cartoon was the subject of debate in the Indian Parliament, where it was described as racist, for showing former Indian Prime Minister Nehru, supposedly whipping Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a lower caste politician who is riding a snail. In fact, Nehru is not whipping Ambedkar – both Nehru and Ambedkar are whipping the snail, because they want the process of writing India’s new constitution to go faster.