Cartoon For Whurk


I drew this cartoon for Whurk Magazine which ran in their November issue. The editor asked me to wait a couple months before I posted it on my site. If you follow me on social media or read Whurk then you’ve have probably already seen it.

This was a lot of work. Whurk is published locally and is available throughout Virginia. The editor had been after me for a few years to give them a full page cartoon. After I finally gave in I consulted with a couple of cartooning colleagues on size and dimension and I had my favorite rock star copy editor friend, Hilary, proof it for me.

The editor wanted me to do something on myself which might be the subject that inspires me the least. It took me a while to write. I think I put nearly 20 hours into this which I did over a Saturday and a Sunday. I’m gonna go over each panel for you.

Panel One: I’ve been doing this for over 25 years yet there are editors who ask me to work for them without pay and they promise the exposure will be good for me. I’m sure the exposure is good but I’m too old to do this for free. Cartoonists have to eat too. The people who ask you to work for free aren’t working for free.

Panel Two: Editors love obituary cartoons. They love soft cartoons in general, but they go ape over a cartoon about a dead person. When I worked at The Free Lance-Star the main editor of the newspaper once told me that the best cartoon he had ever seen was on Katharine Hepburn’s death. I was horrified. This guy, who would kill a cartoon if even one person in the newsroom expressed concern, was managing an entire newsroom and he was totally clueless on what made a good cartoon.

Panel Three: Too many Trump cartoons. I get emails from some of my clients complaining that I draw too many cartoons on Donald Trump. I agree that I draw a lot on Trump. I kept promising them that we’d soon be done with Trump and then that idiot won the election. I’m going to be getting a lot of hate mail over the next four years. The real irony of this will be explained in the fifth panel.

Panel Four: A lot editors are frightened human beings. They’re scared shitless. At FLS we ran a caption contest. Someone once complained about the cartoon before we even put a caption into it and one of our editors tried to kill the entire feature because of it. I asked if we could actually express an opinion before people get pissed off. Obviously not. The cartoon was on Sarah Palin and we were letting readers insert words into the text balloon. I’ve discovered conservatives, who argue about whiny liberals and safe spaces, are the biggest crybabies in the world. This example in the panel actually happened. An editor in Kansas kept writing about, again, too many Trump cartoons and told me “people” were complaining. Turns out it was just one person who sent him an angry letter and they lived in another state in another time zone. Editors are afraid of their readers. I really appreciate brave editors when I come across them and I know quite a few.

Panel Five: And back to the Trump thing. While editors are screaming that there’s too many Trump cartoons, it’s all their readers want. It’s also the subject all over their front page. I get idea submissions all the time. All the damn time. Thank you for sending those but I’ll never use one. Since Trump declared his candidacy I have not received one, not one, idea on a subject other than Trump. I’m not exaggerating. There’s a few things about reader submissions. First, they’re usually extremely obvious ideas or something laden with labels. Second, there’s ethics involved. I can not draw something, put my name on it, if I didn’t write it. Third, why? If you like my work so much then why do you want me to get a new writer or change my style? I got this.

Panel Six: No one has ever actually mailed me a ticking package. I have had a tire slashed before. I receive death threats which I don’t think have ever been serious. A colleague of mine once received an Iraqi flag covered in excrement. Someone really has to be pissed off to do that as most people are too lazy to use snail mail anymore. Fortunately you can’t email a turd.  When I worked at newspapers liberals would call me and complain. Conservatives would call my boss and demand they fire me. When conservatives did call me the conservation never started with “hello” on their end. It usually started with “you piece of…” Though one time a minister called me to complain and it was the nicest complaint I ever did receive. The people who are the easiest to anger are Republicans, Catholics, and firemen. Though I don’t take the threats seriously, I’m glad my business address is at the post office.

Panel Seven: This actually happens. It’s not just on social media either. I had a friend, had, who kept bugging me to draw cartoons for conservatives. He even suggested that I draw cartoons for both sides. I really appreciate that some people don’t think I have any principles. A lot of conservatives say there’s not enough right-wing cartoons. That’s not true. There’s just as many Republican cartoonists as there are liberals, maybe more. If I drew Republican cartoons I’d probably have more clients. I actually get angry replies from conservative editors when I send out pitches to recruit new papers. It’s kinda shocking when a newspaper editor uses the term “libtard.” In this panel I got to drop an F-bomb. I was going with curse symbols but the editor told me to go for it. You don’t have to ask me twice. I’d never do something like that for a family newspaper. Sorry if I ruined your Sunday.

Panel Eight: When I took the Whurk assignment money never came into the discussion. Adding this last panel took care of that. Whurk did pay me and the editor was a very good sport about this aspect. He did tell me to do whatever I wanted and he didn’t nix anything. Because this was local and a friend asked me to do this, and I felt bad I blew him off for a few years, I wasn’t very businesslike in taking the assignment. I was also kicking myself for doing it in late October at the height of election season. But you know, I don’t think there’s ever a time with a light work schedule.

Did you like this cartoon? Want to help a cartoonist make a living? Look to the right of this page and make a donation through Paypal. I need to buy pens, paper, sandwiches, etc.. The starving cartoonist appreciates it. If you’ve donated in the past, THANK YOU!!!



  1. I was going to tease you & (jokingly!) offer a cartoon suggestion. But, I’m no cartoonist so I wouldn’t even know where to begin to get cartoon ideas. Also, I’m pretty sure, even as a joke, it would be irritating.

    So, instead, I’m gonna say – you rock!! I love your cartoons & I think your stand that you use only your own ideas in your work is commendable. In fact, it’s downright impressive. 🙂

    Happy New Year, Mr. Clay! Keep up the great, & wholly original, work. XD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with qmiller6. Keep up the good work. A lot of people get asked for free work, like doctors asked for diagnoses at parties. The cartoon also reminded me of Tony Auth’s cartoon about friendly discussions with his editor, in which he was mentally picturing the editor as a fat stogie-sucking pig in a suit, and the editor was mentally picturing Auth as a bomb-throwing maniac.

    Funny I didn’t notice the F-bomb until you mentioned it… probably because I agreed with it. The (UK) Guardian had a column a while back about their printing bad language, and the one complaint in the comments about too much swearing was balanced by someone else saying there wasn’t enough. Most of the comments on that column turned the screen blue, and it was hilarious. But most US papers know the readers don’t expect swearing… no matter how justified it will be in the coming year(s).

    Liked by 2 people

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