Politics and economics - illustrations
A friend recently wrote, "Time isn't real, deadlines are." How right he is, and there are no tighter deadlines than in the newspaper business. A pile of articles arrive on an editor's desk at noon and he may decide he needs an illustration for one or more of them - by 5 pm! And there can be four or more editors on duty on any one shift.
While working for various publications in Athens I sometimes had to produce as many as five drawings in one day. The working conditions were spartan: each journalist had a desk in a noisy, hectic open-plan editorial office without air conditioning (at 40 degrees celcius you need to use sweat-proof drawing ink). There were no computers, no photocopiers, nothing. My toolbox consisted of a range of pencils, pens, brushes, gouache, watercolours, a water jar and a pile of Letraset. Very lo-tech.
The toughest part was trying to squeeze an arresting visual image from several thousand words of text with my only muse being a harrassed editor yelling across the room "Hey, have you finished that graphic yet?" Sometimes I was able to escape from the chaotic inferno to the cool garden of a friend who lived nearby. While trying to dream up a pocket masterpiece, I would pray that the phone wouldn't start ringing. "Where's that goddam graphic?"
Very quickly I developed a fast, rough-and-ready line drawing style. However these illustrations are not strictly speaking cartoons. It is true that they owe much to the journalistic caricature tradition, but true newpaper cartoons are self-contained, needing only a caption gag or speech bubbles. Whereas much of this work is an adjunct to an article, which you need to read to fully understand the image.