David G. Brown is an award winning artist, educator and the winner of a 2009 NAACP Image Award. In 2003, he became the political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper. He has been awarded the prestigious Merit Award for “Best Editorial Cartoon” from the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). His work is featured in the 2005 thru 2010 editions of the “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year” by Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. Brown also received the 2007 American Graphic Design, International Davey Silver and Communicator Print Media Awards for his work with the Southern California Automobile Club and California African American Museum.
Barack, Race and the Media: Drawing my own Conclusions is a 2009 NAACP Image Award winning book features a collection of satirical cartoons highlighting the historical campaign of the first African American U.S. President Barack Obama and other significant events effecting America.
(1)Considering that most writers can use an article to make a point, what are your steps in drafting a few cartoon panels to do the same thing?
It all begins with a good idea or concept for the cartoon (which is the most challenging step). Secondly, what is your opinion or perspective on the concept and how do you convey this idea in the simplest and concise way possible. Third, lay out and design (usually involves a series of thumb nail sketches). Fourth step involves the execution of the final illustration
Throughout this entire process I am constantly revising experimenting and exploring different possibilities. The creative process does not stop until the project DEADLINE.
(2) Taking liberties with a well-known quote, are your cartoons worth a thousand words?
I think that there are concepts, ideas and situations that can best be conveyed in a cartoon. Additionally, we live in a visual society and images can leave a much more powerful and lasting impact then words.
(3) Your work has been widely celebrated and published. What was your favorite moment as a cartoonist?
Sharing the stage with Halle Berry, Tyler Perry and my son at the NAACP Image awards and accepting the Image award for my book.
(4) Who inspires you? Do you have a favorite author or cartoonist?
LIFE and the human spirit inspires me, especially when I think of the challenges of my ancestors. My favorite political cartoonists include Pulitzer winners Paul Conrad and Clay Bennett.
(5) What was the experience like in producing “Barack, Race and the Media: Drawing my own Conclusions“?
During the Obama Presidential campaign when I was producing the cartoons that would later appear in my book, my focus was on capturing the excitement, challenges and drama of this historical time in America’s history. I had been doing political cartoons for five years and though it would be a good time to put together a collection of my work. It then occurred to me to give the collection an Obama theme. I did not decide to do the book until the summer of 2008 only months before the election.
(6) What are your thoughts on the popularity and Hollywood’s, i..e., the film industry’s, big interest in graphic novels? Any plans on doing your own?
I began my career in publishing in the comic book / graphic novel industry. My first self-published book was about an African American Super Hero called the “L.A. Phoenix” (http://www.facebook.com/pages/LA-Phoenix-super-Hero/141008859274669). It was inspired by the Los Angeles riots of 1992. There was interest for a movie or television treatment at that time and I had a few meetings with the studios (Fox Studios, Sabad Entertainment, New Line Cinema and Motown Animation). However, we could not agree on a deal. I do plan to resurrect the character next April, on the 20th anniversary of the riots.
In general I do think the movie studios have done a good job at bringing these properties to the big screen.
(7) What’s next for you?
I will be releasing a new L.A. Phoenix comic book next year, perhaps an updated version of the “Barack, Race and the Media: Drawing my own Conclusions” about the Obama Presidency and I have a children’s comic strip in development.
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my work.
David G. Brown
(Interview posted, August 2011.)