Alt cartoonists

Joel Pett is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader. His work also appears in USA Today.

While mainstream press cartoonists recover from their wretched run of astronaut diaper doodles and appalling Anna Nicole Smith gags (class action paternity suits?), let’s look in on the alternative-press inkers. This restless crowd is joyfully impertinent, blissfully unencumbered by meddling editors and able to stretch the bounds of taste, subject matter and edginess. They’re angrier too, probably the result of working day jobs without benefits or continually being overlooked come awards season. And while some lament the long-winded presentation, there’s often a payoff in context, detail and having the space to mention obscure facts. (Who knew you couldn’t mock the king of Thailand?) Besides, these four comics average about 80 words apiece, about the same as a brief letter to the editor. Pretty good stuff … but can they exploit a salacious celeb tragedy?

Joel Pett