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PANEL DISCUSSION

Their True Colors, in Black and White

August 15, 2004|Joel Pett | Joel Pett is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader. His work also appears in USA Today.

TV news attacks our senses with an urgent array of must-see footage, grabby graphics, computer animation and the relentless, ubiquitous crawl. And splashy teases and colorful, above-the-fold art are the newspaper norm in today's USA. But on the mostly monochromatic editorial pages, cartoons still present things in stark black and white. While Op-Ed writers and columnists can type "on the other hand" with both hands, cartoonists try to deliver a single ham-fisted knockout punch.

This unequivocal approach explains why cartoons are often lightning rods for angry readers, who threaten our employers with canceled subscriptions and vow never to read our "so-called cartoons" again. But that's a subject for another so-called column.

The fact is that the accompanying cartoons work best in black and white. And if you accept the premise of my paint-store piece, then cartoonists' collective penchant for oversimplification puts us squarely in the camp of, well, President Bush! And that dissembling Democrat, deftly drawing distinctions without differences? He must have been an editorial writer in a former life.

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