1. Let your eyes “float” over the cartoon. • The artist wants to capture the viewer’s mind • What part of the cartoon stands out most? • Often it will be a “caricature” an exaggeration or distortion of something for comic effect Late 1962
2. Follow the natural flow by discovering the interaction with the primary focus. • If it’s a person: • Who are they talking to? • Where are they standing? • If it’s an object: • What is being done to the object? • What is it doing there? • Look in the area of the primary focus • There is often an indirect reference to what is being described 1854 – Kansas Nebraska Act
3. Determine the audience. • Who is the intended audience? • What publication? Country? Location? • A conservative cartoon would be interpreted differently by a liberal audience. • Cartoons are made with consideration to the knowledge base of its audience. 1754 – by Benjamin Franklin
4. Understand the context of the cartoon. • More often than not the cartoon is published in context. • Associated with current issues. • If reading a political cartoon outside of its original source, you need to be well versed on current or historical events 2009
5. Look for widely recognized symbols. • U.S. – Uncle Sam, Bald Eagle, American Flag • Soviet Union – bear, hammer, sickle • China – dragon • Japan – rising sun • Freedom, Democracy – Statue of Liberty, torch • Justice – a set of scales • Democratic Party – donkey • Republican Party – elephant • Warfare – hawk • Peace – olive branch, dove, peace symbol • Victory– wreath of laurels • Time – hourglass • Death – skull and crossbones • Danger – cliff, falling object, skull & crossbones • Hope – rainbow • Slow pace - snail, turtle • Wealth – money bags • Power – large or fat people • Weakness – small or skinny people
6. Look at minor details in the cartoon that will contribute to the humor or the point of the cartoon. • Often, words or symbols will be used to convey minor themes • Usually found in the background or on the sides of the cartoon 1930’s – Any idea who drew it?
Late 1930s 1945