Pitt to Feature Editorial Cartoonists Who Take Aim at Iraq War

Issue Date: 
March 26, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Rob Rogers will moderate March 28 panel presentation

Pitt and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will host an illustrated panel presentation titled “There’s Nothing Funny About War: Editorial Cartoonists Take Aim,” featuring national editorial cartoonists and moderated by Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers at 7:30 p.m. March 28 in The Twentieth Century Club auditorium, 4201 Bigelow Blvd., Oakland.

Featured panelists will be David Axe, military editor for Defense Technology International Magazine; Ted Rall, columnist and cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate; Scott Stantis, editorial cartoonist for The Birmingham News; and Signe Wilkinson, editorial cartoonist for the Philadelphia Daily News.

Those interested in attending this free public event must RSVP by telephone, 412-624-6880; fax, 412-624-6885; or e-mail, uhcevent@pitt.edu, by March 23, providing name, phone number, and requested number of tickets, which will be available at the door.

Axe was born in Arlington, Texas, and attended Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and the University of South Carolina, studying medieval history. After college, he built a freelance writing career while managing a movie theater, working at a dog spa, and impersonating Star Wars characters for children’s birthday parties. He later joined the staff of the Free Times, a Columbia, S.C., weekly newspaper, convincing them to send him to Iraq in January 2005. In Iraq, he quit the paper and began a freelance career as a war correspondent, reporting for The Village Voice, The Washington Times, C-SPAN, BBC Radio, and Popular Science, Fast Company, and Cosmo magazines. Axe’s graphic novel WAR FIX, (NBM ComicsLit, 2006), drawn by Steve Olexa, is based on his first month in Iraq. After seven trips to the war zone, Axe joined Defense Technology International Magazine, which sent him to Iraq, Lebanon, and Japan.

After Lebanon, Axe launched a blog at www.warisboring.com, featuring a weekly comic drawn by Matt Bors. Axe’s first nonfiction book, ARMY 101: Inside ROTC in a Time of War (University of South Carolina Press, 2007), was named one of 2006’s top 10 nonfiction books for African Americans by Booklist.

Rall launched his editorial cartooning career in the late 1980s with a handful of small alternative weekly newspapers whose editors saw his photocopied work hanging from lampposts in New York City. In 1991, San Francisco Chronicle features launched Rall’s three-times-a-week editorial cartoon syndication with a dozen clients, including the Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Daily News. With Universal Press Syndicate for 11 years, Rall—called “the most controversial cartoonist in America” by the editorial cartooning site Cartoon.com—appears in more than 140 newspapers throughout the United States, ranging from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times to such alternative weeklies as the Village Voice and Los Angeles CityBeat. Via his trademark “Generalissimo El Busho” caricature of President Bush, Rall has become a lightning rod for criticism from the right, being smeared as “treasonous” by The Weekly Standard and “anti-American” by The Wall Street Journal editorial page. The Right Wing News Web site named him 2003’s “Most Annoying Liberal,” and he was ranked No. 15 in Bernard Goldberg’s book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (Harper Collins, 2005). Rall has won numerous awards, including the 1995 and 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for Outstanding Coverage of the Problems of the Disadvantaged. In 1996, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of 14 books, including the three-volume Attitude anthologies that highlight the best up-and-coming alternative cartoonists and their work.

Stantis has been the editorial cartoonist for The Birmingham News since 1996 and produces an editorial cartoon weekly for USA TODAY. His work is syndicated in more than 400 newspapers and has been featured in Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune and on CNN, “CBS This Morning,” and ABC-TV’s “Nightline.” He has been an editorial cartoonist for the Orange County Register, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., and The Arizona Republic in Phoenix. Stantis began the daily comic strip “Prickly City” in 2004. The character-driven conservative political and social commentary of “Prickly City” now appears in nearly 100 newspapers. Stantis is a past president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), the largest organization of its kind in the world. He is on the board of the Editorial Cartooning Initiative, the foundation arm of the AAEC, and is a member of the board of directors of the Epilepsy Foundation of Central and Northern Alabama. Stantis is a 2004 graduate of Leadership Birmingham.

Wilkinson began her career as a stringer for the West Chester Daily Local News, which published her first drawings. Finding that cartooning combined her interests in politics and art, Wilkinson moved to Philadelphia, where she took remedial drawing classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and began freelancing artwork at various local publications, including The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. In early 1982, she joined the San Jose Mercury News as editorial cartoonist. She was hired in fall 1985 in the same position for the Philadelphia Daily News. In addition to creating political art, Wilkinson has drawn mulch-based cartoons for Organic Gardening magazine; this resulted in her 1999 gardening calendar, “How to Draw the $735 Tomato.” Her work has appeared in many magazines and books. Most recently, she has illustrated a guide to composting and a book by Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Brooks Jackson, UnSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation, to be published in April. Wilkinson has written articles on a variety of topics, including the Danish cartooning controversy for Beliefnet.com, The AIGA Design Forum, and an Arab Web site. In October 2006, she successfully helped defend the proposition “Freedom of speech includes the right to offend” at a public debate at the Asia Society in New York City. Wilkinson has won numerous awards for her cartoons and is a past president of the AAEC.

Rogers’ work is nationally syndicated four times weekly by United Feature Syndicate. His cartoons regularly appear in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, and many other media outlets. In 1994, Rogers’ depiction of “The Gingrich Who Stole Christmas” graced the cover of Newsweek’s year-end issue. Born in Philadelphia, Rogers began copying his favorite characters out of the Inquirer’s comics pages as soon as he was old enough to grasp a pencil. His interest in “political” cartooning was cultivated at Oklahoma State University, where he was asked to draw cartoons about student issues for the college paper. He continued to hone his craft for The Vista at Central State University (now University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond, Okla., during which time he covered the 1980 Presidential election. After graduating in 1984 from Carnegie Mellon University with an M.F.A. degree in painting, Rogers was hired as staff cartoonist by The Pittsburgh Press and in January 1993 joined the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rogers received the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award, the 1995 National Headliner Award, and 10 Golden Quill Awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He also was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999.