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PANEL DISCUSSION

You Be the Judge

August 22, 2004|Joel Pett | Joel Pett is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader. His work also appears in USA Today.

The quadrennial coincidence of the Summer Olympics (Faster! Higher! Stronger!) and the presidential elections (Nastier! Lower! Go #@&* yourself!) makes for a field day for cartoonists. No, not a field day, a field season. The news events of the games may seem as old as the Parthenon -- security, attendance, doping and flagrant nationalism (emphasis on flag and rant) -- but at least the scenery changes.

In the opinion of this biased observer, the degrees of difficulty for Olympic cartoons are as follows:

Difficult: Illustrating something we all already know in an interesting, compelling, original way.

More difficult: Illustrating something we already know in a way that is not only original but funny.

Even more difficult: Making an Olympics-related point that maybe we all haven't thought about.

Most difficult: Using the Olympics as a springboard to make a much larger point.

Judge for yourselves.

In all categories, award extra style points for provocation, profundity, poignancy, irony and, naturally, humor. And, as in gymnastics, score higher for composition and execution. Concepts aside, you still have to stick the landing.

My perfect 10 for this week goes to Chip Bok of the Akron Beacon Journal. To me, his piece on soccer captures the complexities of the situation in Iraq. Of course, the French judge may feel differently.

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