Adjusting to the punchier format of a single illustration or a three-panel strip has given both cartoonists the opportunity to exercise different cartooning muscles. “Sequential art has a flow like a roller coaster or a hike through the woods. You guide the reader visually through a page as the story dictates, pacing the emotional beats for maximum impact. You can draw it out slow or make it a staccato onslaught of pictures,” Guerra explained. “With editorial cartoons it’s compressed to one image, so you have to make it clear, find the elements that convey the most information and connect the reader to the issue as quickly as possible. They’re both challenging ways of telling a story but when you get what you want to come across the satisfaction is about the same.”
Norton added, “It’s much more difficult. Trying to get something across in such a small amount of space is very challenging, but that’s also the fun of it. Limitations often breed creativity. I prefer long form comics though.”
“Herblock was a huge influence after seeing a documentary about his career and process a few years ago,” Guerra said on the subject of political cartooning influences. “Whenever I tried to draw an editorial cartoon I felt like I was missing something in the execution, like maybe I needed specific education or knowledge to get it right. But seeing his approach clarified things for me and made me want to experiment more.
“I don’t have a list of names of cartoonists in my head like I do with comic book artists but a few that stand out right now are Bruce MacKinnon and Matt Davies.”
Norton said succinctly and chivalrously, “Political cartoons really never entered my headspace until recently. Pia Guerra’s stuff for The Nib is killer though.”
And while both remain committed to voicing their political views to interested followers, they’re also working hard on a variety of other projects. “I’m currently halfway through a mini-series for comiXology with Tim Seeley called Grave Danger,” Norton said. “I’m starting a new series with Albatross Funnybooks called Grumble. I have a Hellboy mini I’ve finished that starts in November, and I’m drawing a short story for DC’s Nuclear Winter Special.”
Guerra’s political work opened new creative avenues to her. “Working for The Nib led to being asked to contribute to The New Yorker. Along with my husband and writer Ian Boothby, we’ve been collaborating on cartoons since last winter. It has been a lot of fun and a nice break from all the snarkiness of the editorial work.
“I’ve also been working on my own sci fi comic series. It’s coming along.”
Lil’ Donnie vol. 1: Executive Privilege and Me the People are both available now, from Image Comics.