GoComics.com begins running my editorial cartoons today, so be sure to visit me on GoComics.com and leave a comment. The comments on that site are just as fun as the cartoons. If you’re a GoComics subscriber, don’t forget to add my cartoons to your comics page.
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The award was given for cartoons mostly focusing on race and on the killings of unarmed black men by police in Ferguson, MO and New York in 2014. Read more about it in this interview with the Washington Post.
DARRIN BELL is one of the brightest talents we have on America’s editorial pages, and that is perhaps because his political cartoons don’t communicate merely with cleverness and the practicals tools of satire. They also stand up and connect with the depth of emotional content.
When Bell comments on the larger events in Ferguson or Cleveland, Staten Island or Baltimore, for instance, this art from the heart of experience not only makes a razor-sharp point. You often also feel something that cannot be rendered if the artist is drawing from “on high,” instead of from bracing street-level clarity:
You feel, and sense, the fear and the outrage and the fatigue of repeated history, from the socially pent-up to the emotionally spent. These are cartoons that don’t just be; they also breathe.
My brand new editorial cartoon book is out. All 172 cartoons are printed large and in full color (hence the larger-than-usual price tag). I’ve written a preface giving you the backstory behind these cartoons, and explaining why they almost never existed. I’ve also included annotations for almost all the cartoons. Go get it now!
Book description: “The year in political cartoons by Darrin Bell of the Washington Post Writers Group, winner of the 2015 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Editorial Cartooning. From police brutality to corporate con artists, to rape, to Chris Christie’s Bridgegate, this was the year when everyone got away with everything. If they were rich or powerful, that is.
These beautifully-drawn, full color cartoons are thoughtful and evocative. As Amy Lago of the Washington Post Writers Group put it, ‘Darrin is like a sign language interpreter translating what whites say into what blacks hear. Bell prodded readers to consider how different celebrities are viewed through the prism of race. When two NYPD officers were gunned down, his cartoon illustrated how they lost their lives because of the uniforms they wore. Bell deftly takes on the pressing social issues of the day, from gay rights, to rape victims who are not believed, to children flooding into the United States, hoping for a brighter future.'”
The last time I visited D.C., I came to give another talk at the National Book Festival with conservative cartoonist Mike Ramirez. That morning, President Obama gave the dedication speech for the museum, and it opened to the public, after a 100-year-long struggle to build it. I wished I was in attendance. I thought it would be years before I’d have a chance to visit.The waiting list is eternal, so we had no hope of entering. We just asked the guard if we could go to the gift shop. But she looked at my wife and our six month old baby standing there in the howling cold and decided we should be inside. “You don’t have tickets? I have two tickets for you. Go on in.”
I won’t describe what we witnessed in that museum. I’m sure you can find descriptions elsewhere, but I think it’s something that’s so powerful, and so personal, that it shouldn’t be spoiled. There is something in there that’s going to stop you in mid-step and make you feel more than you thought you would. And that something is different for everyone. For me, it was rounding a corner and finding myself standing just inches from an artifact I’ve seen before only in faded photos… something I assumed had long ago been lost to time… but here it was perfectly preserved. And its simple caption revealing the origin of the artifact was unexpected, to me, and included what may have been the most uplifting eight words I’d ever read.
But I will say this: there comes a point, after you’ve literally risen through the centuries of struggle, persecution, and contributions of slaves and their descendants, where there’s a reflection room. You sit by a fountain that rains down from the high ceiling and come to terms with everything you’ve just seen. …Or you try to.I’m the great great great grandson of slaves whose contributions to America were ignored and lost to history. And here I was in the nation’s capital, about to accept an award for my contribution to the national conversation. One of the least important realizations I experienced in that reflection room was that compared to everything I’d just seen, standing up before thousands of people and saying a few words was nothing at all.