Once in a while the cartoon gods (who I imagine resemble Marvin the Martian and the Tasmanian Devil) look down upon a cartoonist and reward him or her with a gift that keeps on giving. Sometimes they are national gifts like Richard Nixon, Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton. Other times they are state or regional gifts. Sadly, Pennsylvania governors look pretty boring when you compare them to the likes of Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich. Click HERE to see my cartoon about Blago that appeared in yesterday's paper.
National icons are great, but nothing brings a twinkle to the eye of a cartoonist like a recurring local character they can really sink their ink into. Cy Hungerford had Pa Pitt who became a staple of the Post-Gazette's editorial pages for 50 years. Tim Menees, who followed in Cy's footsteps, had Cyril Wecht, the LCB Gestapo, and county row officers like the "Profanitary." Tim had a real knack for skewering local politicians. I miss seeing his work in the paper.
Since I began my career at the Pittsburgh Press in 1984, the city has been blessed with two "novelty" mayors, Sophie Masloff and Luke Ravenstahl. One, a Jewish grandmother prone to malapropisms and beehive hairdos. The other, the youngest mayor ever elected to a major U.S. city. Tim Menees and I both had a great time drawing Sophie. He dubbed her "Mayor Poppins." I loved finding ways she could mangle words (some felt she did this on purpose to heighten her folksy appeal.)
Nowadays, the gift that keeps on giving is the other mayor. Part Dennis the Menace, part Opie Taylor, Luke will always be a little boy to me. He may grow older an wiser, but I will always depict him as an exaggerated version of the youngster he was when he first took office. When Bill Clinton stopped eating fast food and lost all that weight, did cartoonists start drawing him thinner? No, of course not. Dennis the Menace and Charlie Brown never grew up. Why should Boy Mayor. Thank you cartoon gods.
Below is the cartoon I drew for today's paper. Click HERE for a larger version. Who is your favorite local cartoon icon? Better yet, who would win in a fight? If Boy Mayor and Pa Pitt faced off in an ultimate cartoon icon cage match, who would emerge victorious?
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