HALL OF HEROES is a new comic convention for Jacksonville. This partnership between publisher, promoter and COLLECTIVE CON co-founder Max Michaels and SUPERHERO HIVE & SUPERHERO BEACH comic shops brings together a show celebrating the art and creators of comics. This one day con is scheduled for Saturday November 12th, 2016 (Veteran’s Day Weekend) at the Snyder Armory on Normandy Boulevard. More information at HallofHeroesJax.com
Ed’s cartoons and political illustrations have been featured in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Tallahassee Democrat, The New York Time’s Scope Magazine and on CNN Headline News. Over the last several years, Hall has won 9 Florida Press Awards, 3 Newsmaker Awards, and numerous fine art awards in national and international competitions. In 2003, Ed was presented the 53rd Annual Green Eyeshade Award for weekly cartoons by The Society of Professional Journalists. He has also won the Florida Press Club Award three times (2003 & 2006, 2008), competing with cartoonists from newspapers up to 75,000 in circulation.
When did you first decide to pursue a career as a political cartoonist?
I was a senior in Graphic Design at The University of Florida. Our professor gave us an assignment where we had to research a global news story and then illustrate it. I did a black and white, pen & ink illustration about the rise of robotics in Japan. My instructor was so impressed that he suggested I might apply at the college newspaper. I did so, got the job, and the moment I stepped into the newsroom I was hooked.
Your work has been featured in USA Today, the New York Times, LA Times and the Washington Post, not to mention a dozen others – where did you get your first big break?
I was back home in Jacksonville after graduation, working a small self-syndicate of Northeast Florida newspapers. At the same time I had been trying to get a job at a National paper, and that was going nowhere. Out of the blue, a cartooning colleague of mine offered me up his slot at his syndicate. He was moving on to another syndicate and he thought I would be a good match for them. I was. That was the late nineties. My second syndication came in 2001, and I have been with them ever since.
What’s your process like?
I usually wake up with a handful of topics for any given day. The trick here is to pick the one topic I am passionate about and that will afford the reader the greatest reaction. Then it’s all about research, reading or pulling up video streams about the given topic, and sketching down quick thumbnail ideas. At this point I am forming an opinion about what I’m going to say. Once I’ve done that, I start hunting down interesting images for the cartoon and/or caricatures. Most people are surprised that the process is 95% research and thinking, and only about 5% drawing. That’s how it is for me anyway.
With everything shifting to digital, has that changed the way you approach your work?
Somewhat. I still like to do all of my preliminary sketches with pencil and paper, and I still ink all of the cartoons by hand. I have tried doing the entire cartoon digitally from start to finish, but I find it loses something when the tactile approach is completely taken out of it. That’s not to say that I don’t make proportional and compositional changes in Photoshop. I also use Photoshop to color them once they are scanned into the computer. I look at the computer and digital drawing pad as just another tool on the road to the finished cartoon.
Is there a particular public figure that has given you the most fodder?
Without a doubt, Donald Trump has been a Godsend to cartoonists. I have probably drawn him more times than any other political figure, and that includes sitting Presidents. Trump demands that everyone pay attention to him, so we do. He is a walking caricature, a cartoon of himself, so we lampoon him. His orange complexion, the crazy hair, his giant body and tiny hands all scream for satire and ridicule. So that’s what we do.
Do you have a particular piece you’re most proud of?
I like the covers that I’ve done for The Washington Post. They’ve allowed me to use both my cartooning skills and my figurative background to produce some pretty eye-catching illustrations. I’ve also done several covers for National Journal. Those were fun as well.
Who inspires you the most and why?
I would not say that any one person or cartoonist inspires me. Everything inspires me. Art, literature, movies, architecture, music, theater. I studied the German Expressionists almost exclusively in college. Egon Schiele, Kokoschka, Gustav Klimt. Those guys were getting it done at a time when I would have liked to have been working. The raw energy of the Expressionists still fires me up to this day.
If there’s one piece of advice you could share with all the aspiring artists out there, what would it be?
Don’t worry about sending too much stuff to an editor or art director. It’s their job to sort through stuff. They’re used to it. I used to fret over pissing off editors by sending them tons of cartoons until one of my editorial cartooning buddies gave me this piece of advice. And you know what? It worked. I kept sending and within a year I got a job with the publication I was soliciting.
Oh, and draw all of the time. Keep a sketchbook active at all times, and look for the beautiful mistakes in there – those sketchbooks are where the magic happens.