“Political cartoonists have it easy: we turn on the TV or computer and Sarah Palin has said some inane thing . . . and the cartoons can write themselves. In the world of cartooning, we’re the lazy bastards.”
Matt Wuerker, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, joins The Virtual Memories Show to talk about his career (including his fascinating non-comics work and his prescient move to the online world with POLITICO), the experience of winning “the Academy Award for cartoonists”, his artistic and political influences, what it takes to get on the NRA’s Enemies List, the opportunities for editorial cartoonists in a post-print world, how his parents felt about his decision to become a cartoonist, whether he had it easier during the Bush/Cheney era or the Tea Party era, and why he thinks the golden age of cartooning is still ahead of us!
“One of the great cosmic quandaries for cartoonists is that what’s bad for the world is great for cartooning.”
About our Guest
Matt Wuerker has been POLITICO’s editorial cartoonist and illustrator since its launch in 2007. In 2012, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, POLITICO’s first Pulitzer win. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning. Over the past 25 years, his work has appeared in publications ranging from The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times to Smithsonian and the Nation, among many others. Along the way, he’s also pursued other artistic tangents that have included claymation, outdoor murals, teaching cartooning in prison (as a visitor, not as an inmate), book illustration and animating music videos. Matt thinks Saul Steinberg is a cartoon god and the Peter Principle explains pretty much everything, and he also thinks the maxim “If you’re not confused, you’re just not thinking clearly” is one of the wisest things ever said. Matt lives in Washington, D.C., in close proximity to the National Zoo and the Swiss Embassy. Depending how bad things get, he hopes to find asylum in one or the other.
Credits: This episode’s music is Nobody’s Home by Ulrich Schnauss. The conversation was recorded at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C., on a pair of AT2020 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the other material on a Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone into Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band.
Every generation, we find ourselves fighting one of these insurgency wars, but the last one — Vietnam — was so awful that the generals threw out all the training manuals and lessons from it, saying, “We’re not doing that ever again.” The problem was, they didn’t have a choice.
Why was the U.S. Army so unprepared for the insurgency in Iraq? Why did it take years after the fall of Baghdad for the military and its civilian command to understand what sort of war we were fighting? What did we achieve in Afghanistan, and what did we hope to achieve? Fred Kaplan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, discusses all this and more in the latest episode of The Virtual Memories Show! (My contribution is a comparison of war analytics to pharmaceutical clinical trials.)
There’s a tendency for people to believe that everybody around the world is pretty much like us, and to the extent that they’re not, it’s because a dictator is stomping his boot on their heads. The thinking goes, when that boot is lifted, they’ll become like us. It’s a very one-dimensional view of conflict.
About our Guest
Fred Kaplan writes the War Stories column at Slate.com and jazz reviews for Stereophile magazine. In addition to The Insurgents, his books include 1959: The Year Everything Changed, Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power, and The Wizards of Armageddon (Stanford Nuclear Age Series). His articles, reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, The Boston Globe, Time, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The New York Observer, The Forward, Architectural Digest, Home Theater, GQ, and a whole lot of other venues over the years. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 while at the Boston Globe. Visit his website for more about his work.
Credits: This episode’s music is Start a War by The National. The conversation was recorded at Willard Spiegelman’s home in New York City, on a pair of AT2020 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the other material on a Blue Yeti USB mic into Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Also, I have a yucky headcold, so that’s why the intro/outro sounds so bad this time around. I’ll come up with another reason for next episode’s bad intro/outro.