At cagle.com, in reaction to the nearly-identical Rosa Parks cartoons, they’ve got a blog post from cartoonist Mike Lester on the issue. It raises a point that, in my disgust, I hadn’t even considered:
I’m curious and -not that they need defending, but I would like to believe that a great many in our profession are dictated their cartoons and the heft of the message by some cleverless editor who assumes to feed readers what they think readers need to be fed. Since when do we give people what they expect? It’s my belief that no job pays enough to illustrate opinions that are not ones own but the true pity is that we’ll never know what kind of work would be produced without creative constraints.
I like this. He gives these cartoonists an out, but if they choose not to take it, he hits them with a well-deserved insult that stings more when applied to a cartoonist who should know better. While it is tempting to believe that there’s no way so many cartoonists could think alike in such a dull way, it’s not exactly easy to believe that the same number of editors share the same brain (cue some quip about 10 editors having one whole brain between them).
And let’s give these guys the benefit of the doubt and operate under the assumption that these editors forced this identical idea upon their staff cartoonists. If so many editors have the same concept of dull cartoons for a somber moment, who is to blame other than the years of cartoonists who’ve worked so hard (or not) to build this precedent?