Lines of Control

On his first India tour where he will interact with students,American political cartoonist Daryl Cagle explains why his ilk must refrain from words.

Written by Vandana Kalra | Published: September 8, 2012 3:56:32 am

On his first India tour where he will interact with students,American political cartoonist Daryl Cagle explains why his ilk must refrain from words.

Mitt Romney,Republican Party’s nominee for the US president,is a cactus standing tall in sunshine. China is a giant panda horrifying the US. Capitol Building is the toilet seat on which an elephant — representing the Republicans — mulls over another bill on Obamacare. American cartoonist Daryl Cagle’s world is filled with symbols and metaphors. He is not a man of few words but when he picks up his pen to sketch,Cagle prefers to abstain from alphabets. “People read enough in columns. In a cartoon,one should try not to use words,people should see it and know what it says,” notes Cagle,on his maiden tour to India,which has been sponsored by the US State Department. During the trip,he will be talking to students across the country — from Mumbai to Raipur and Delhi to Kerala.

“It has been great fun,” says Cagle,who is the political cartoonist for MSNBC.com and also runs the syndicate — Cagle Cartoons,Inc — which distributes works by 60 editorial cartoonists and columnists to more than 850 newspapers. “I started it in 2001,when the time was right,” he says with a smile,flicking the cursor on his iPad,running through some of his cartoons that made news and also those that did not. “I get angry mails. I apologise when I do not intend the message the way it is interpreted,and if people get it right and are still offended,it is another thing,” he says.

The cursor stops at a 2010 cartoon where he had a bullet-riddled eagle perched on a cactus on the Mexican flag. The next morning,it was on the front page of newspapers in Mexico,protesting that it was against the law in Mexico to alter the flag. “It was during the time when Mexican authorities were claiming to have control over the drug wars. And this indicated that even an American knew they weren’t,” jokes Cagle,adding,“Cartoonists the world over use the flag all the time.” Among others,he has wrapped President Barack Obama with the US flag,proving his patriotism,and the Pakistan flag was half mast and burning after the demise of Benazir Bhutto.

Raised in California,the 56-year-old says he has not been able to put his initial years,when he worked with Jim Henson’s Muppets and illustrated for publications and advertisers,past him. “I still see pigs,frogs,Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock characters when I closes my eyes,” he reveals.

Though no Indian media house is among his clients,Cagle keeps a close watch on cartoonists in this part of the world as well. “Aseem Trivedi is one of the best-known Indian cartoonists,” he says,speaking on the cartoonist who has been charged with sedition for insulting national emblems. He admits that every nation has limitations in freedom,he believes “these should be governed by the market and not the government”.

Back in the US,Cagle misses the number of opportunities that George W Bush provided to cartoonists but he is looking forward to the US elections — there is always fodder for thought.

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