Inside Media: KAL

October 25, 2008

Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher drew caricatures of tourists on the streets of London before The Economist hired him as its first editorial cartoonist. Thirty years later, Kallaugher still loves his job, because it lets him combine two passions: cartoons and politics.

Whether he’s sketching President George W. Bush or former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, his job is "to not necessarily make people laugh, but to make them think. Humor is the vehicle for the message," said Kallaugher, who draws 300 to 500 cartoons a year.

Asked which cartoonists he most admires today, Kallaugher said he is inspired by cartoonists in countries with fewer press freedoms than he has and who risk their lives daily in that effort to make people think.

Always under the strictest deadlines, Kallaugher admitted he never knows what he’s going to draw until the last minute.

"I scan the news first, because cartoons have to be journalistically sound. The actual drawing comes last," he said.

Kallaugher, whose work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, said he and other artists are moving toward using 3-D animation. That new direction represents the next creative wave in political cartooning and reflects tumultuous changes in the newspaper business, he said.

"Twenty five years ago, there were 200 newspaper cartoonists around, and today there are 85 in the United States and 100 in the rest of the world," he said.

But the award-winning cartoonist remains undaunted.

"Political cartoons represent some of the most potent forms of satire. [These drawings] will last the test of time," he said.

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