Thursday, December 12, 2013

Q Toon: RIP Madiba

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
†Dec 12, 2013
The death of a beloved, historic figure presents editorial cartoonists with both opportunity and challenge. Our memorial cartoons tend to be our most popular works; but for most of us, it's not enough to draw something saying that, gee, it's sad someone's gone. A cartoon that is truly worth the effort should say something unique and memorable about the person eulogized. The best do so simply and directly: Joe Heller produced his tour de 46664 within hours of the news breaking that Nelson Mandela had died.

Like many cartoonists, I often look for quintessential quotations on these occasions. At first, I wanted to draw a cartoon with Mandela's quotation that "to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." But Scott Stantis and David Horsey used that statement from Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom in their cartoons on the AAEC web site the very next morning.

Not being on a daily deadline, I still had some time to find just the right quotation, so I wasn't worried about other cartoonists using all the good ones before mine made it to print. (Although I didn't foresee Keith Knight's memorial cartoon, for which one single quotation just wasn't good enough.) I spent several hours combing through his speeches on the African National Congress web site.

I settled on a 1998 speech marking World AIDS Day. Late in his presidency and into his retirement, Mandela became a campaigner for HIV/AIDS awareness; the disease had not yet claimed the lives of his son and daughter-in-law at the time of the speech quoted in my cartoon. I didn't get a World AIDS Day cartoon done in time for December 1 this year, so, tardy as it is, my cartoon this week pulls double duty.

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