Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

Cartoon Corner: Artists aim for catharsis after week of anguish

04/21/2013 12:00 AM

04/20/2013 7:59 PM

With the truly horrific bomb attack at the Boston Marathon came heartfelt responses from America's editorial cartoonists. I can tell you, if poorly handled, your work becomes self-parodying and trite. Done well, strong cartoons can help create a small moment of catharsis for readers.

Boston, more than any other city, is the cradle of America, and an attack there during its hour of celebration made the impact even more profound. When I first heard the news, my mind raced back to visiting the John F. Kennedy Library, going to Boston on my first book tour and seeing the stunning Colonial houses, and hanging out at the original Cheers bar. Personally, a branch of my family, the Danas, were Bostonians, and, many generations back in the 1700s, one of my forebears, Francis Dana, was chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

My first news of the attack came from my youngest son, who told me that his best friend from Oregon was a block away from the blast, but that he was safe. Like 9/11, the Boston tragedy has tendrils stretching into every corner of our country.

Drawing about a story of this magnitude is extremely difficult, and four of the cartoons jumped out at me, of the 30 or so I saw:

Matt Davies, who has a very idiosyncratic style, managed to do the best of the "marathon runner of terror" metaphors (I think there at least 10 or so). His bold style made it work.

Jeff Stahler had a very different take on the "What do we tell our kids?" theme, which was a well-worked scenario as well. I liked how he equated the other national tragedies of the past year, and including 9/11.

Clay Bennett did the only commemorative ribbon cartoon, amazingly. After national horrors, there is often a full skein of ribbon cartoons, but his brilliance at Photoshop and simplicity made this idea work well.

Finally, Matt Bors did what I called a Day Two cartoon on Day One, skipping the strictly mournful approach entirely and heading right for the predictable outcome of what we may see from our hyper-reactive lawmakers.


To read Jack Ohman's blog and see his cartoons, go to www.sacbee.com/ohman

For more editorial cartoons about the Boston bombing, go to www.sacbee.com/polcartoons

About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.


Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service