Cartoonists, Picking Fights, Draw Complaints

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 20, The Sun's cartoonist KAL blasted George Bush 7 times while The Evening Sun's Mike Lane hit Mr. Bush 17 times and Dan Quayle twice. They virtually ignored Bill Clinton.

According to this informal count, Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) knocked Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush together twice and all candidates once while Mr. Lane skewered Mr. Clinton once. The artists ridiculed Ross Perot four times.


Welcome to the world of the political cartoonist.

If you're looking for balance in the normal sense, you won't find it here or in cartoons on other big papers. The Baltimore Sun's cartoonists at times are unfair, rude, vicious, tough, in bad taste, liberal, disdainful of the president or incumbents and unmindful of Mr. Clinton's faults, readers have told me in recent months.


Mr. Lane and KAL are palms up and out on some of those charges. If you're a Clinton or Perot fan and one of those two men wins Nov. 3, you'll learn to dislike Mr. Lane and KAL too. It remains to be seen how hard and how often they would hit Mr. Clinton.

The cartoonists are virtually free to draw what they want. While their offices are next to each other, they aren't close friends but are equally aware of Boss Tweed's famed fear of Thomas Nast's caricatures: "Stop them damn pictures. I don't care so much what the papers write about me. My constituents can't read. But, damn it, they can see pictures."

Mike Lane sees cartooning as the last test of First Amendment rights, saying what you want, period. "It's not enough to simply depict opposing factions. It's good to pick a fight. But it's not noble or courageous; it's just my job. Any less is pandering to popular opinion. Too many cartoonists value popularity over doing their jobs. I have a long history of angry letters to the editor. One of my proudest is from the general counsel to the National Rifle Association."

KAL sees cartooning as challenging conventional wisdom, not being politically correct. "The cartoonist's only weapon is ridicule. He has the subtlety of a howitzer, and if he likes something, he doesn't say it. He's not the court jester -- the comics are for that -- and he doesn't say just nice things, those cartoons are ineffective. He doesn't want to gratuitously offend people. It's a negative art. I'm of the kind who combines humor and attack."

Here are the cartoonists and three remaining Sun editorial staffers not previously profiled:

Mr. Lane, 51, of Roland Park; born in Olney and grew up "all over Maryland"; University of Maryland and Loyola College; was accountant for General Electric before becoming Evening Sun cartoonist 20 years ago; one of the few left working exclusively for The Evening Sun; has received "8 or 9" national awards including best 1986 cartoonist from the journalism organization Sigma Delta Chi; and in top 10 Pulitzer Prize ranking three times in 10 years; interests include "avoiding exercise whenever possible, eating fatty foods and tasting fine wines from around the world."

Mr. Kallaugher, 37, of Glyndon, Baltimore County; born and grew up in Norwalk, Conn.; Harvard College; lived in England 11 years; after college, played and coached basketball with Brighton Basketball Club in England; became the first resident cartoonist of The Economist in its 145 years; became daily political cartoonist of The Sun in 1988; has won several awards, including best editorial cartoonist in a Hungary cartoon festival in 1990; interested in international affairs and U.S. role in it.

Editor, Opinion * Commentary page, The Sun: Harold D. Piper, 53, of Jacksonville, Baltimore County; born in Baltimore and grew up in Towson; Princeton University and the University of Maryland Law School ("I never practiced law, but learned what makes society tick"); came to The Sun 27 years ago; correspondent in Moscow, 1975-79; Bonn, 1980-83; London, 1983-86. No special interests or expertise -- "I'm the last of the generalists." He avoids using "blue sky dreamers full of their moral superiority or just decrying hypocrisy."


Editor, Other Voices Page: Michael H. Bowler, 51, of Rockdale, Baltimore County; born and raised in Helena, Mont.; Columbia College and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism; reported for the White Plains (N.Y.) Reporter-Dispatch, the Suffolk Sun and the Atlanta Constitution; came to The Sun 21 years ago ("I'm the only person I know of to work for both Sunpapers twice"); special interests -- education and beer can collecting. He needs no more stories on "How my cat died" but could use a few more good controversial stands on local politics, crime, education.

Editor, Perspective Section, The Sunday Sun: M. William Salganik, 45, of Columbia; born in Baltimore and grew up there and in Baltimore County; Brown University and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism; worked at the Providence Journal from 1969 to 1977, mostly as an education writer; as Sun reporter, covered education, City Hall, general assignment. Was weekend metro editor before becoming Perspective editor in 1984. He tries for mix between light and heavy essays on subjects including religion, culture, sports and press criticism.

Ernest Imhoff is readers' representative for The Baltimore Sun.