(Propos recueillis par Guillaume Doizy)
When and why did you create your website ?
My personal website www.davegranlund.com was created in 2001. The purpose for my website was an internet portfolio of my cartoons and illustrations and a way for readers to email me their negative or positive feedback. It also allowed me to show my personal background information if they would care to know. Another reason is that it is an online advertising for other newspapers seeking to use my syndicated cartoons or magazines and book publishers to contact me for any freelance possibilities. I sometimes illustrate books for authors and children’s stories in the USA, Sweden and Europe when the opportunity comes my way.
Do you remember when the main newspaper you draw for, the Christian Science Monitor, has published the first cartoon from you on its website ?
The Christian Science Monitor began using my cartoons on their website in 2008. Other newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and 560 other newspapers across the USA have also been using my cartoons on their websites from 2 years to as far back as 10 years.
Do you think that it was an important event?
There was no event that started it. The cartoons were just added to the opinion pages as the websites expanded. Within the past 5 years, newspapers have expanded their website because they are printing fewer newspapers. Newspapers must reach an agreement with the artists for printing the cartoons on the websites. If the cartoonist is a full-time employee of the newspaper, then of course the artist gets no additional money for the use on the newspaper’s website. Other outside cartoonists usually have agreements to allow the cartoons only to be used if they are part of a paid syndication contract package in the newspaper print editions. Only web “bloggers” and personal websites can use the copyrighted cartoons for free and long as it is a non-commercial, non-profit organization, but even then they still usually get permission from the artist out of courtesy. A business or educational site must also pay a small fee as they would for any copyrighted material such as textbooks, manuals or music. Fees demanded are very reasonable.
What is changing for cartoonists with the development of the internet ?
Cartoonists use bolder, thicker line when drawings, with fewer word captions as the size of the cartoons is much smaller than in the newspaper print editions. We also use more colour now. So we have to draw a black and white version and a colour version. But this is good also for marketing, because many more magazines are buying the colourful cartoons to publish sometimes on the cover of some editions. Newsweek magazine however still publishes my cartoons in simple black and white. The internet has diluted the impact. It used to be in a single media: Newspaper print editions. Even though my now cartoons reach a wider market of readers, the choices offered for news sources are too many to mention thousands of online news editions. There are fewer newspaper political cartoonists employed today. When I began in 1977, there were 275 full-time political cartoonists in the USA…today there are less than 80 full-time. The most recent job losses in the field are due to the economy though. Mine was. After 31 years working full-time, I was laid off from my job as political cartoonist. Many of today’s cartoonists, including myself, are self-syndicated, self-employed freelancers working from their homes. Today cartoonists are seen as high-paid and expendable, especially if they are drawing too-few local or city issue topics, Syndicated cartoonist are cheaper to use. Usually an editor can hire 3 news reporters with the money saved when a cartoonist has been terminated from his job.
What about feedbacks on your website about your cartoons ?
I do not publish the feedback I receive. I do not trust the sources of many of the email writers. Many are anonymous and are too vulgar to publish. I have always considered unsigned emails as nothing more than graffiti sprayed on a wall. They make their anonymous comments and are too cowardly to sign their names to their critiques about my work. So I will not give them a platform for their comments. I do however answer every email I get, good or bad, personally.
As online cartoons can be seen by all world, do you select the cartoons you publish on your website not to shock some surfers?
I know that many from around the world will not understand some of the domestic topics or American slang captions, but I include them anyway. Some of the USA politicians are not know to the foreign readers also, but still I include them, too. I have many readers in Europe and Asia and it is always interesting to read their comments. European and Asian cartoons are simpler in format and have less word captions and labelling. I do not sensor or omit cartoons from my website. What I draw daily is all included. As you can see by the content, some cartoons are hard-hitting topics on corruption, famine, racism, war, religion, sex scandals and disease to name a few.
Dave Granlund, editorial cartoonist, Massachusetts USA, November 2009, www.davegranlund.com