In my previous post, I wrote about how I practiced drawing editorial cartoons in hopes of one day actually making it into the big leagues…which in my case was my hometown newspaper, The Tustin News.
Well, wouldn’t you know it. Practice and patience paid off because in the early part of the 1990s, I indeed was hired by The Tustin News to be their resident cartoonist.
It was an extremely brief career.
This is my story.
Oh, my tenure started out well. The first item I set my sights on was an ongoing controversy over a wall on Tustin’s Pasadena Avenue. There was one contentious City Council meeting that generated many a complaint. Sadly, I do not quite recall what the actual kerfuffle was about, but my cartoon below leads me to believe that I had the feeling that the battle was not quite over. For this drawing, I do recall spending a good hour in front of the building that held the City Council meeting so I could portray the architecture correctly.
For my second contribution, I was able to portray something that I had always wanted to express whenever I saw a certain sign in our fair city. I only thought it was fair to give credit where fair credit was due. Eagle-eyed folk will notice that I was able to place myself in my own creation.
My third cartoon allowed me the opportunity to draw the faces of real local politicians. I honestly can’t recall what “Measure M” was, but I do remember having a fun time attempting to capture some of the members of the Tustin City Council in my own distinctive style.
My fourth cartoon is where things begin to go south. What you see below is the second version of my drawing and the version that was published. Originally, the text at the bottom right that says “Shows Every Other Monday” originally read “In Smell-O-Rama” (in honor of that wonderful cinematic gimmick of yore). The publisher of the paper took umbrage at the insinuation that the Mayor of our fine city – the subject of my satire – had an odor about him. So the publisher and I chatted and came to a compromise that I would alter the words.
My fifth submission never saw the light of day. As you can see below, the publisher of the paper himself penned the word “Rejected” next to my cartoon. He really did not like my comparing a section of our fine city to a pig sty. I was beginning to wonder if the publisher understood what the job of an editorial cartoonist was.
Sensing that perhaps poking fun at the political follies of our city was not something the publisher of the paper wanted his publication to actually do, my replacement cartoon for the “Sty” cartoon was what you see below. It’s corny, trite, and I’m not overly fond of it, but it did fill the space in the paper reserved for me.
Below is my last contribution to The Tustin News. It too is a replacement as my original submission was also rejected. The more alert among you might notice that the lettering for this cartoon (with the exception of the road signs) in not hand-drawn. It was actually printed from my computer. Yes, it was lazy of me to do this, but I also realized my days at this job were over, so why bother. Again, I apologize for the cliché of the cartoon.
Below is the cartoon that got me fired (or made me quit…there was some matter of debate over who pulled the trigger first). The short explanation for this drawing is that the titular Ross had retired as the superintendent of the local school district. His tenure was controversial as he was superintendent during the time teachers went on strike when I was a senior in high school. At the time of this drawing, Ross had announced he would be running for the school board. I thought this was a bad idea and, borrowing the imagery from a movie poster of the past, made my feelings known in ink.
In rejecting my cartoon, the publisher of the paper actually accused me of being a paid shill for the teacher’s union (who were no big friends of Mr. Ross). Like I said, there was some matter of debate of whether he fired me after making that statement or if I quit right after that accusation.
Either way, I did fulfill my obligation for that week’s cartoon by offering up the “Landscape” cartoon.
I may be a shill, but I meet my deadlines.
That’s my story.
P.S. I actually did create a pro-Ross cartoon for the paper, but that’s a story for another day.