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September 4, 2015

Paul Conrad: Drawing Fire - an early look

by Adam Finley, posted Oct 19th 2006 12:22PM
paul conradThe PBS series Independent Lens will feature the documentary Paul Conrad: Drawing Fire on November 7 at 10 pm as part of the documentary series' salute to politics and journalism during the month of November.

Paul Conrad is now a freelance political cartoonist, but spent the majority of his career as a political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times. Before joining the Times he drew for the Denver Post after graduating from the University of Iowa where he started drawing political cartoons for the school newspaper, The Daily Iowan. Conrad drew his scathing cartoons through eleven presidencies, starting with Harry S. Truman and continuing to the present day. Ostensibly a liberal, he had no desire to adhere to the party line, and, while his favorite targets were the likes of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, he would also occasionally upset people on the left with his opinionated drawings, and attacked Clinton for what he considered selling out the Democratic party.

The special mixes interviews with the Pulitzer prize-winning Conrad, his friends, family and colleagues with a surfeit of his cartoons that covered some of the most tumultuous times in recent history, from Vietnam and Watergate to 9/11 and the current conflict in Iraq. It's a wonderful piece of film making about an outspoken man who does what every artist strives to do: create images that convey what is impossible to express in words.

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I'm sorry, but as a longtime reader of the Los Angeles Times, I think Paul Conrad is the most overrated political cartoonist in history. I don't necessarily disagree with his politics -- it's his limitations as an artist that bothers me. His work is loaded with simplistic, overblown imagery, and his ideas are cliches. While others might find him "controversial" because he offends, say, Christians and Jews by frequently making a point by drawing a big cross or Star of David, I think they're actually mad because he's co-opting their religious symbolism without actually saying anything that hasn't been said before -- mostly because he lacks the ability to draw anything more complex.

I think that if the L.A. Times hadn't adopted him as their own "genius" cartoonist and constantly promoted him for years, no one would care about his career one way or the other.

October 19 2006 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
andrás hann

hello! This comment is not for this post, but another one, i just put it here in case you don't check the other:P that post was about favorite childhood shows and you wrote that you saw a show with a rabbit with checkered ears and he could fly... well, i am your man! This is a Hungarian cartoon, it has 26 episodes, and it was made in the 70's. Since i gave my real email address, you can contact me for further info...

October 19 2006 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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