Tirelessly, I searched online for some competitions that encompassed multiple hobbies that I love, such as drawing, debating politics, and sports. After discovering a contest “Make an Editorial Cartoon” relating to current politics through The New York Times, I knew that I found the one. This competition encompassed both my passion for art and for politics, and allowed me to compete for a grand prize of being featured in The New York Times.
Since I was excited, I told my mother about it, and she realized she has a really close friend working at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). Through many back-and-forth emails with my mother’s friend, I was able to arrange a meeting with Mike Luckovich, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist for the AJC. Since Mike Luckovich is a very popular and prestigious political cartoonist, I was very reluctant in contacting him at first. Do you know that feeling when you meet a celebrity you admire? Well, that is how I felt, very nervous. In the news world, Mike Luckovich is the LeBron James of political cartooning.
Finally, the day came where I was going to meet the Mike Luckovich. Frantically, I started asking him questions relating to how to make a good political cartoon: How do you come up with so many ideas? How long does it take for you to make one cartoon? How, exactly, are you so good at art?
Progressively, our interaction turned into a very friendly experience, my questions about political cartooning turned more personal: Do you have any kids? Where do they go to school? How are your feelings about Obama? What do you do in your free time? How is your office so messy? Perhaps the best part of all: I got to sit in on him drawing a whole political cartoon.
I learned a lot about political cartooning and specifically Mike’s cartooning routines. He told me how he thinks up ideas for each drawing he makes. Every morning he wakes up at around 5 a.m. to go for his routine morning run, and while on his run he listens to podcasts about current issues. When he arrives at his office, he sketches about five different potential rough drafts of what the final cartoon will end up being. After, he shows each drawing to the same woman who tells him which one she likes the best, then he draws it in more detail. For his drawing process, he told me about his “special” pen, how to add color to the cartoon, and most importantly how much coffee he drinks.
“I have many different sites and podcasts that I read and listen to,” he said when discussing his ideas. “I like podcasts more, because in the morning, when I run, I just turn them on.” Besides the fact that it took him two and a half hours to make the cartoon, I enjoyed the process.
On Fridays, he makes his Sunday cartoon that goes out to almost all major papers in America, which also means he makes a sped up video of him drawing. The video allows his fans to view and see the cartooning process; apparently the videos are very popular.
The most interesting part of the whole time that I had with Mr. Luckovich was watching him draw his new cartoon. The cartoon, published October 18th, displayed Vice President Joe Biden deciding whether or not to “throw his hat in the ring.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, so Luckovich explained to me that it is a saying used when someone decides to run for president; they are so called “throwing their hat in the ring.”(On October 21, 2015, Biden decided to not run for office.)
I have been a fan of Luckovich and his work for quite a while now. I believe political cartooning is a major component of politics. Cartooning gives political bystanders a fun way to stay engaged with the country’s political system. According to the Pew Research Center, for every ten people there is one political bystander in America, or just 10 percent of the population.
While I still entered The New York Times cartoon competition, I didn’t win. I got something much better: to meet Mike Luckovich and it was amazing. When I meet a celebrity it is cool, but it is much cooler to meet someone like Mike Luckovich, someone I’ve admired from afar, and spoke one-on-one with for hours.
Rem Hellmman was inspired to draw the featured cartoon after his meeting with Mike Luckovich.