Jack Ohman

Hangover from all those cliff cartoons

Published: Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2E
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 - 6:00 pm

Watch Jack in action drawing cartoons for The Bee. Video at bottom of this story.

Political cartoonists, as a rule, are professional meme hunters and gatherers. So when the media culture spews out a new meme, they happily leap on board – or off the cliff.

The past few months have given us the "fiscal cliff," which has provided hours of stress-free employment for dozens of our colleagues. Ordinarily, the "some hapless vehicle or Heavily Labeled Person falling or driving off a cliff" drawing is an all-too common metaphor in this business.

Personally, I've avoided drawing them as a general rule – prior to this fall (pun alert); however, with the advent of the official creation of the fiscal cliff, I have been happy to indulge in many fiscal cliff drawings, as if to engage in a kind of purge.

In the future, I promise that I will avoid them if possible, but we should look at some recent cliff renderings in general and fiscal cliffs in particular. In my own case, I draw a very idiosyncratic Southwestern U.S./Wile E. Coyote version of a cliff: larger boulders, more parallel and horizontal than vertical, and with little gravel pockets to amuse myself.

In examining the work of my peers, I see several different aesthetic cliff approaches at work:

• Nick Anderson drew what I consider to be the traditional cartoon cliff: regular sized, randomly spaced boulders with a tuft of cartoon grass on top:

• Jeff Stahler did an intersecting semi-vertical line cliff with a smaller, flatter grass on top:

• Dan Wasserman did a kind of spare-looking, horizontally crosshatched cliff, with some falling rocks (I've done this, to keep the cliff less static-looking):

• Chan Lowe did a completely vertical line cliff, with the optional branch sticking out:

Next time, we may examine how cartoonists draw fiscal ceilings (boring).

Watch Jack in action drawing cartoons for The Bee:

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