On Reading: Mike Peters’ Editorial Cartoons

There are a thousand metric tons of notable cartoonists online, and a quick stroll through the overwhelming archives of Behance, DeviantArt or (really) any other portfolio site will show you–if anything–just how much recognition amazing artists don’t get.

Still, none of them are Mike Peters:

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With a vivid mix of sometimes dark humor alongside bright, outlandish tones, Mike easily guides complex, sometimes murky concepts to clarity so that they’re easy enough to view using your moral compass. What I enjoy about him personally, that I feel is missing from a lot of otherwise “liberal” or “conservative” political commentary in general, is that his ideas are not purely conceptual or outrageously cartoonish: they are factual reflections of spin, de-rationalizing the things life’s high-stakes players say when they gamble away our futures in front of us. Bringing light and lightheartness to otherwise bleak political or social realities.

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I personally have always enjoyed political cartoons, and this Age of the Internet (let”s call it) has made available some great, what would have otherwise been lost American political cartoons. Still, look more deeply into illustration’s history and you’ll often see only lose threads of understanding, meant to tie the political illustration together with the message it is trying to convey. The fantastic blog Monster Brains, for example, features a gallery of political cartoons from turn of the century Puck Magazine, and though the process of illustration commanded more attention from audience in an age without photography, the featured images are not particularly high-concept. In fact, many of them are blunt and recognizable… imagine Occupy Wall Street using this in their poster art:

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Though conceived by the immorally talented Joseph Keppler (who is a titan and whose skill is unmatched, I’d like to qualify), this and many other political illustrations in the golden age of political cartooning were less than subtle, just consider the whole “Snowball in Hell…” script at the bottom.

I had the pleasure, once, to be at a San Diego Comic Con panel titled “Speed Drawing,” where Mike Peters blew through something close to 100 character sketches in less than 40 minutes. More shocking than his sheer ability was that each was clever, profound and funny, which matters more today, in our age of unfair diversity and instantaneous digital dismissal.

Visit his site (here) and mine his archives, there is no possible way for you to be disappointed.