It’s time for me to make a commentary on the decreasing use of cartoons in publications. Cartoons abound on Facebook, and that should tell any editor something- what shows up on Facebook is what people really like to see. And in that venue, cartoons are all over the place.
But nowadays in newspapers and magazines, there are fewer and fewer cartoons. The major mags like the New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post, Playboy, etc. still have cartoons. But many other publications no longer print them.
So I’d like to make a case here for the value of cartoons in any publication- a newspaper, a magazine, a blog, a website, or whatever someone wants to communicate.
There are numerous reasons format-wise that a cartoon or “spot illustration” can increase the readability of a page. In today’s attention-splattered culture, having to face a big page of pure text is daunting, no matter how good the article. The page can be broken up somewhat with photos. But a cartoon can make a point that is part of the article, and with color and humor- something everyone seems to like.
I’ve found that my cartoons at times are placed with an article around them that pertains to the cartoon. The reader first sees the cartoon, is drawn in, and then reads the article. This is a good use of page composition to make the text attractive visually.
Besides, I know of very few people who can resist reading a cartoon caption once they see the cartoon image! Can you? Curiosity draws them in.
Second, in an ideal world, every last square inch of available space would be used in full with articles, photos, and ads. However in the real world, there is often an unused space here and there, especially in the back ad section.
Here cartoons can be of good use as well. Rather than a bland ad page that most readers will skim over, placing a cartoon in an unused ad space makes even an advertising section interesting to read.
Here’s an example of cartoon use to enhance text. I did the below cartoon in 2014, just during the time when there was controversy about new laws in California and Western states banning plastic bags. Several papers picked up this cartoon to flag their articles about the proposed new laws and its pros and cons. From this, an important topic was brought to light on the page with a splash of color and humor and a message. This was far more effective than just a page of text.
I hope this article helps you in your design of text and pages. It’s all really common sense.
My private theory is that with all the cartoons and humor on Facebook, and its irresistible draw, there has got to be a connection. How many times have you gone onto Facebook “just to check notifs” and ended up browsing away, hours later? There- I rest my case.
You are welcome to browse my page for lots of quirky and unusual cartoons with a message, at my website of www.cartoonsbyshelli.com. Put up your feet and have a glass of wine and enjoy!
Cartoonist, Blogger, Marketer
Cartoonist, Blogger, Marketer