The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 2, 2001


Political cartoonist illustrates his profession

Dave Granlund, an editorial cartoonist from Framingham, presented an educational and entertaining assembly for the Carlisle School eighth-graders. Granlund's work has appeared in over 700 newspapers in the U.S. and Europe. The Cultural Enrichment Committee of the Carlisle School Association sponsored the presentation.

Events shape cartoons
Dave Granlund (Photo Cynthia Sorn)
Granlund began his talk by explaining how the subject of political cartoons can change after a major event. He described the subjects of his cartoons before the September 11th tragedy, such as "swivel headed" drivers looking at foliage or the Hanscom Field expansion. After September 11 most humorists were cautious in their illustrations. Cartoons that had as their theme law enforcement, firefighters, the American flag or being patriotic had to be presented carefully.

Granlund used overhead slides to display his cartoons, explaining how he developed his ideas. He gave a short history lesson on the development of illustrations, starting with cave drawings and discussing political cartoons from the Civil War up to the present.

Students inspire cartoon

What most interested the students were the drawings he did during the presentation. He began by sketching an old jalopy, explaining he liked to draw old cars, because "drawing a new car is like drawing a bar of Dove soap." He asked the crowd to suggest a character for the car. The students overwhelmingly wanted the driver to be Osama bin Laden. Granlund admitted to having drawn bin Laden just once before, but did a credible version of the accused terrorist. After a student suggested adding mountains, Granlund finished the cartoon by having bin Laden driving off a cliff. This was well received by his audience.

Offending humor?

He demonstrated how simple lines, in this case a golf ball hitting a man, could illustrate an idea. After he accidentally dropped his pen, drawing laughs from the crowd, he pointed out that misfortune is one of the main themes of cartoons.

While he drew, Granlund answered students' questions. One student wanted to know if cartoonists made a lot of money. He answered by explaining how syndicated cartoonists are paid, once for the original cartoon and a smaller amount each time the cartoon is published in other newspapers. Another student asked if his cartoons caused controversy. He said public figures do occasionally become offended, but after complaining they may ask for their own copy of the cartoon.

He finished his presentation by explaining why drawing is helpful in many other careers. "If you can think in pictures, you can explain things to people," he said.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito