Thursday, January 22, 2009

Race, Representation, & Illustration

In addition to all the writings and photographs focusing on the new president and his family, political cartoonists have been actively featuring Obama in their work. Rarely has race and in particular a black political figure gained so much coverage in editorial cartoons during the modern era.

Representations of black people in comics and cartoons, of course, have a long history--a history that is quite unpleasant if not downright racist at many points. The more disturbing elements of comic strip drawings of black folks have been documented by a few scholars, including Fredrik Stromberg in his book Black Images in the Comics: A Visual History.

Over time, white artists became more sympathetic to African Americans, and just as important, more and more African Americans began to produce and circulate their own drawings through national syndication.

To keep track of some of the ways that editorial cartoonists are representing Obama, and by extension race, these days, I'm collaborating on a project with three Black Studies affiliates--Jeremiah, Chris, and Kirk. We'll post syndicated editorial cartoons and offer short commentary on the images. We'll try to identify some of the trends and new directions related to race and illustrations in the realm of political cartoons.

As always, feel free to assist us in advancing the conversation by adding comments.

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