The comics, the funny papers, the cartoons — whatever you call them, you have to admit they are a feature of the paper that always draws your eye. Some make you laugh, others make you cringe, but there is always at least one that will make you stop and think.
This is the goal of editorial cartoonist Joel Pett, who will lead a talk Wednesday about his particular brand of outspoken art.
About the artist
Pett got bitten by the cartooning bug in his teenage years when he saw editorial cartoonists speaking out against President Nixon’s Vietnam War policies and realized there was a unique way to make his voice heard.
For him, there are two types of cartoonists: artists who end up using their art to voice their opinions, or opinionated people who discover art as a way of speaking out. He classifies himself as the latter, saying that he knew his opinions before he knew much about art and ended up teaching himself a basic drawing style that could convey his thoughts.
For Pett, editorial cartoons are his own kind of personal therapy — they help him express what he calls his “frustration with the human condition.” It doesn’t make sense to him that we can live in a world where we have the potential to create technology such as the iPhone and tackle diseases such as cancer yet also mass-murder our own kind and cause widespread destruction to ourselves and the planet. He gives vent to this frustration through his cartoons, which engage any and all subjects: politics, economics, science, war, religion — you name it, he draws cartoons about it.
Do cartoons matter?
While the word “cartoons” might make us think of Mickey Mouse or Family Circus, the art form does hold an important place in our society as a unique tool of intellectual and artistic expression. Pett recognizes newspapers are in an especially difficult situation due to the changing nature of media — printed material can’t always keep up with the continual feed of electronic information we are exposed to every second of the day.
Nonetheless, he maintains editorial cartoons still manage to pack a punch because they convey so much information at a glance. Ultimately, editorial cartoons have persisted because of their sarcastic, confrontational and pointed nature. As Pett explains, “We like stuff that defies authority.”
IF YOU GO
Lunch with the Arts
Featuring Joel Pett and his editorial cartoons
Noon-1 p.m. Wednesday
Community Arts Center
For lunch, register by 6 p.m. Monday online or call (859) 236-4054; cost is $10 with lunch,
$5 without lunch
SO YOU KNOW
Joel Pett has been with the Lexington Herald-Leader since 1984. His cartoons have been featured in The New York Times, Times of London, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Time, and MAD, to name a few. He has won numerous awards recognizing his outstanding journalism, culminating in 2000 with a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.
The DANTASTIC Race is back! Four-person teams work together to solve physical, mental and gastrointestinal challenges as they search for the finish line. Winning teams get $500, and all proceeds from the event benefit the Community Arts Center.
Teams that raise $500 for the Arts Center will get a challenge bypass, allowing them to skip a particularly difficult or disgusting event. At only $25 per team member, it’s an easy — and fun — way to support the arts.
Participants must pre-register online at www.communityartscenter.net.