June/July, 2008

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The Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist has animation roots. See her Flash editorials at washingtonpost.com .

1. You made the unprecedented segue from Disney Imagineering to editorial cartoons.   How did that happen?

It wasn't something I planned, that's for sure. Even though I've always admired editorial cartoons for the art, I was never very interested in politics in my younger life.    I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't read a newspaper regularly.  

While working at Imagineering I started freelancing gag cartoons on the side, which resulted in many late nights with the news on.   I guess I finally became more interested in issues, began watching
C-Span regularly and after seeing the Tian an men   Square Massacre unfold on TV, tried to create my own editorial cartoons.   The   Clarence Thomas / Anita Hill hearings pushed me over the edge and I put together a portfolio.   To make a long story short,   a few newspapers picked up my work, I moved to DC, and became syndicated in 1995.

2. What makes a great editorial cartoon?

A great editorial cartoon has to grab the reader visually and make it's point clearly.    It has to have an point of view; otherwise it's not an editorial cartoon.

When I think of great editorial cartoons , I think of work by Robert Osborn- powerful images drawn with simple, forceful lines.

For my print work I use brush and ink on bristol.   The color is done in photoshop. For my animation, I also use brush and ink (and I still flip by hand).   I'll then scan my poses into flash.

In editorial cartooning, you're always researching; it's an ongoing process.   I always start my day online, looking at several news websites and blogs and I continue listening to the news throughout the day.

I comment on most anything which interests me, although there are subjects I address frequently - like civil liberties, separation of church and state, women's issues. Freedom of speech and expression is another one which seems to come up quite a great deal, especially after the Danish cartoon controversy.

3. You moved from LA to DC.   Do you think location a factor in editorial work?  

Well, for me it made a difference.   I just loved being in a place where it seems most everyone is interested in politics on a daily basis.   I don't remember having too many political conversations in LA; but to be fair, that was before 9-11 and the Iraq war.   I'm sure more people are interested in what what the clowns in Washington are doing nowadays.

4. Have you encountered any of your subjects in person, and if so, what do they say?

No, never in person.   I've had politicians (or more specifically, their office) contact me for originals.   I'm always amazed that they want a cartoon where they're the object of ridicule.

I once met Ben Bradlee- very charming.

5. You won a Pulitzer Prize.   What does that mean in editorial land?

I didn't really realize it at the time, but it's a pretty big deal in the journalism world.   Being a freelancer was a blessing in a way because I didn't have the pressure

my colleagues who were on staff   had - I was blissfully ignorant and completely surprised when I won.

+1. Is there an editorial cartoonist community or is it a solely independent experience?

We all get together for our annual conference where we crab about jobs being eliminated.     I keep in touch by email with a few but for me it's basically

a solitary job since I'm a freelancer.   I've always done this on my own, although now with the WPost animation I work more with my editor.

+2.   As a former WDI artist, what do you think of their plans to redo "Its a Small World"?

Like many of my former CalArts classmates, I'm a fan of Mary Blair's work and this redo sounds like another unfortunate move by people in the company who have no business making creative decisions.   It also sounds very political, adding a big "Up with America"   scene at the end.   Maybe they should include animated Bush and Cheney Dolls.










See more off Ann's work on her site.

Check out Humor's Edge, a collection of Ann's editorial cartoons. Go on, buy one!

All artwork for this article is the property of Ann Telnaes.


Part 3: First Harvest

We're over our heads in lettuce, and it was easy to do. I had never grown it until last year, when I got sick of paying premium prices for lettuce that was brown at its core and had its outer leaves removed to hide its age.

Conversely, our lettuce looks so good I hate to cut it; though I noticed some of the low leaves had little holes in them - bugs!

Dad said, "I've got some powder in the garage for that."

"Powder? What is it?"

"It's powder."

"What powder?"

"The powder in the garage. On the shelf."

"Yeah. But what kind of powder?"

"It's powder. You put it on the plant."

"But what is the powder?"

"Bug powder."

My wife declined the mystery powder. Are we organic farmers yet?

Chris sows while Megan reaps.

In the middle of May, with the help if my kids Chris and Megan, we transplanted seedlings that were growing on Dad's porch. This required another round with the beasty roto-tiller, then my son Chris plowed rows for planting.

On this drizzly day, we planted tomatoes: Better Boy, Beefsteak, Roma, and Cherry. After planting them, Dad shuffled outside and said "What about the poles?"

Megan pays close attention to my instructions.

In my haste to beat the rain, I forgot to set the poles, which should have been done first. So I set them after-the-fact, being careful not to step on the plants.

Lesson learned, I set the bean poles before planting. If you're setting poles, be sure to set them a good two feet deep. Later in the summer, the vegetation gets heavy and a shallow set pole may fall over. This is especially important with limas, because the poles are linked together with twine. If one falls over, ther's a domino effect. I learned this the hard way last summer, after a wind storm flattened the back end of my Lima beans.

Setting poles for tomatoes . DEEP!

The kids planted the limas, then the cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash. Then bell peppers, sweet peppers, and cayenne and jalapeno chiles.

I still had some open space left, so I thought I'd try corn, which I've never grown. I asked a neighbor who grows a lot of it, and he was glad to give me enough seed for three rows of corn. The seeds are kernels that are all shrivelled up. There's some kind of pink coating, like you'd see on candy corn. If anyone knows what this is - WRITE ME! I was advised to plant four seeds together, to be thinned out later, and to do this every couple of feet along the row.
We'll see how it it goes. 

Garden-o-rama.

The broccoli is almost ready. This was another one I tried for the first time last summer, and we had a small but steady supply for a two months. At dinner time, I would go out and cut what was ready, and we'd have enough for a side dish. Easy! Not all veggies are easy to harvest. I'll get into that in the next issue - Lima Beans of the Damned.


Rob the Broccoli.

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