In the United States, political satire is also common through the press: editorial cartoons, also known as political cartoons, are very popular. Editorial cartoons are illustrations containing commentaries that usually relate to current events or public figures; an artist who draws such images is known as an editorial cartoonist. They typically combine artistic skills, hyperboles and satire in order to draw attention to corruption and other social ills.
During the 19th century, the most important newspaper created editorial cartoons to express the publisher’s opinion on the politics of that time. Thomas Nest, who was a German-born American editorial cartoonist and caricaturist, is considered to be the father of American cartoons; among his notable works were the creation of the modern version of Santa Claus and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party. He worked during the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era.
Political cartoons can usually be found on the editorial page of many newspapers, although a few are sometimes placed on the regular comic strip page.
Most cartoonists use visual metaphors and caricatures to address complicated political situations by showing the current event with a funny or emotional picture.
David Levine, who died in 2009, is considered the king of political satire. He was an American artist and an illustrator best known for his caricatures in The New York Review of Books. He is considered “The greatest caricaturist of the last half of the 20th century.” In addition to the New York Review of Books, for which he drew 3,800 sketches from 1963 to 2007, his illustrations have appeared in Time, Esquire, Playboy, The Nation, Rolling Stone and The New Yorker.
He is a milestone of political satire thanks to some biting caricatures, like that of the former US President Lyndon Johnson who lifts up his shirt to reveal a scar after a gall-bladder operation portraying the map of Vietnam.
In the field of modern editorial cartoons Jen Sorensen is one of the most esteemed editorial cartoonists. She writes Slowpoke, a weekly comic strip that often focuses on current events from a liberal prospective. Her strip was chosen for the Cartoonist With Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonist, an anthology published by Ted Rall, an American columnist, an editorial cartoonist and an author. His political cartoons appear in a multi-panel comic-strip format and they appear in 100 newspapers around the United States; he was also the President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from 2008 to 2009.
Rell’s cartoons have appeared regularly in Rolling Stone, Time, Fortune and Men’s Health magazine.
Another important American cartoonist is Jules Feiffer, most notable for his long-run comic strip entitled Feiffer. In 1986, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorial cartooning in the Village Voice; his cartoons and illustrations have also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker , Playboy and the Nation.