Question of the Week: Who Is Your Favorite Political Cartoonist?

Daniel J. Mitchell
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Posted: Mar 04, 2013 12:01 AM

If you asked me that question 30 years ago, I would have said Jeff MacNelly without hesitation.

Not that I was exposed to many options in the pre-Internet dark ages, so my choice may have been driven by lack of knowledge. Nonetheless, MacNelly was a genius with the details, as you can see from these cartoons about IRS complexity and government shutdowns.

But what about today’s cartoonists?

Based on the number of cartoons I’ve shared, the easy answer would be either Michael Ramirez or Chuck Asay, but there are cartoons from other artists that are absolutely superb.

MacNelly Shutdown Cartoons

So I’m going to turn this question around.

Here are my favorite cartoons from various artists and you can answer the poll about which one you would rank highest.

In no particular order, the options are:

Michael Ramirez – This gem about Obamanomics is the most-viewed professional cartoon in the history of this blog, and his European lemming cartoon is great, as is his masterpiece on taxes in the Garden of Eden. But if I had to pick only one, it would be his Julia cartoon.

Chuck Asay – Since I’m a budget wonk, I should choose his cartoon about the garbage-in, garbage-out approach of the Congressional Budget Office. But for mass appeal, this tractor cartoon and this regime-uncertainty cartoon are much better. And my favorite is this nothing-left-to-steal masterpiece.

Henry Payne – For sentimental reasons, I might pick this Robin Hood cartoon. But for political cleverness, his Obamacare-Romneycare cartoon is a classic, and his Valentine’s Fairness Act cartoon is satire that could become reality. But given what I focus on every day at Cato, you’ll understand why this cartoon about Greek fiscal policy is at the top of my list.

Lisa Benson – This cartoon about California tax hikes would be near the top of the list, except taxpayers were tricked into voting for the referendum. I very much like this fiscal cliff cartoon, this Keynesian economics cartoon, and this one about jump-starting the economy with tax hikes. But the top prize goes to this cartoon because it perfectly captures Obama’s fiscal policy.

cartoon-obama-icebergEric Allie – More than anyone else, he shows with this cartoon and this cartoon how even well-intentioned government goes awry. And the teetering-on-the-edge-of-the-cliff cartoon accurately shows Obama’s mindset on fiscal policy. If forced to choose, though, I’ll go with this forward-to-the-iceberg cartoon.

Robert Ariail – I think I’ve only used three of his cartoons, but the image he produced about Greece, the euro, fiscal policy, and the rest of Europe is a classic. The other two I’ve used (here and here) are funny, but not in the same league. But if you need some added humor to compensate, this map showing how the Greeks perceive the rest of Europe is very amusing, as is this video and this video about the Greek mindset.

Gary Varvel – Here’s a good Halloween cartoon, but Varvel is the best at exposing the spending-cut hoax in DC, as you can see from this sequester cartoon and this deficit reduction cartoon. This cartoon about Bernie Madoff and Social Security, however, is at the top of my list.

Scott Stantis – Here’s a cartoon strip about involuntary contributions to support the green-energy boondoggle. And we also have a cartoon showing Obama’s less-than-stellar appreciation of the Bill of Rights. But without doubt this cartoon about Keynesian stimulus is the best Stantis cartoon I’ve ever seen.

Jerry Holbert – I was tempted to use this cartoon about the rich involuntarily financing a continued spending spree. And the Obama-as-magician cartoon will make you laugh, as will Holbert’s sequester cartoon. My favorite, though, is the one showing big government as a ravenous, spoiled, and destructive brat.

Glenn FodenGoing to Greece in a handbasket doesn’t seem like an obvious topic for a cartoon, but Foden pulls it off. And you’ll understand why I appreciate a cartoon that makes fun of sequester hysteria. But for what it’s worth, I think his best cartoon is the one mocking Obama’s private-sector-doing-fine assertion.

Chip Bok – He’s got a couple of amusing cartoons about Obama’s class-warfare agenda that can be seen here and here. I’m also partial to his cartoon about the Fed helping to bail out the euro. But the one that makes me laugh the hardest is his cartoon about the “war against women.”

Glenn McCoy – He has a great pair of cartoons on condoms and gay marriage, and I also like his cartoon on sequester hysteria. McCoy’s cartoon on gullible voters being bribed with their own money normally would be a contender. I don’t think there’s any question, though, that his cartoon on media bias is the best of the bunch.

A.F. Branco – Since I’m sick and tired of Obama and the special interests complaining about the supposedly savage sequester, I obviously like Branco’s cartoon portraying the sequester as a roadblock that may save us from fiscal destruction. But I’m even more partial to his cartoon riffing on Obama for his you-didn’t-build-that comment.

Unknown – Last but not least, here’s one of my favorite cartoons, though it’s really a parody of the Wizard of Id. And I don’t have any idea about who produced it. But how often do you find first-rate analysis of labor-supply incentives in a cartoon?

That was more work than I thought it would be, but I enjoyed getting a second look at many of these cartoons.

Now it’s time for your input. Which cartoon/author would you rank first?

Best Political Cartoonist

P.S. Though I lack any artistic talent, I’ve played a role in creating some cartoons. Here’s my photo-shopped cartoon that uses Lucy and Charlie Brown to show why it is utterly naive to think that tax increases will lead to deficit reduction. I even have an award for gullible GOPers who don’t grasp this simple lesson.

Welfare State Wagon Cartoons

We also have the famous set of cartoons showing how the welfare state begins and how it ends. These images were drawn by a Cato intern, but I selfishly take credit for developing the concept and guiding her work. Especially since these cartoons are the most-viewed post in the history of this blog.

I didn’t include either of these in the voting, though, since I’m sure they would have received all the votes. Right? Surely you agree? Hello…anybody there? Can you hear me?