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New Yorker Cartoonist Shares Insight

By Angelique D’Alessandro
Assistant News & Online Editor

Joe Dator, a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, shared insights about his work and artistic process with students and professors during common hour on Thursday, March 28. The lunchtime lecture, held in the Life Science building, was sponsored by the political science department. The room was filled to capacity with political science, journalism, art and other majors.

Photo by The Pioneer
Students sitting in on lecture by New Yorker cartoonist, Joe Dator

A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Dator said that he got off to a slow start in the business of drawing cartoons.

“I got out of school, and I was kind of lost and moved away from [cartoons],” Dator said. “In 2005, when I was nearly 40-years-old, it all clicked in my head and it occurred to me that this was what I was supposed to do.”

Dator’s first published cartoon premiered in The New Yorker in August 2006. Since then, he has had many cartoons in the magazine, with some going viral online.

In one of his viral cartoons, Dator illustrated two children playing with toys on a carpet. The caption reads, “What do you want to do when you give up?”

Another of his viral cartoons illustrates a game show called “Facts Don’t Matter!” Three contestants stand across from a judge, and the caption reads, “I’m sorry, Jeannie, your answer was correct, but Kevin shouted his incorrect answer over yours, so he gets the point.” This “Jeopardy” spin-off cartoon, according to Dator, is a direct nod at today’s political climate.

“I made [the cartoon] political because it was so important to what was going on at the time,” Dator said.

Despite trying to continue to make political cartoons in 2016, Dator said he did not have much success in illustrating Donald Trump. “I was making a conscious effort to do cartoons about Trump,” Dator said. “It just wasn’t working. I started reconsidering my role.”

Dator decided that he did not want to add to the conversation surrounding the President. “I started to realize that a lot of comedy about Trump wasn’t really hurting him, it was just putting more Trump out there,” Dator said. “The endless parades of memes from people who think they’re anti-Trump- it’s not working. [Trump] has normal sized hands, and they’re choking the country to death.”

In reexamining his role, Dator said he decided he did not have to make his cartoons political.

“I think I’m doing something good by just putting some dumb joke out there,” Dator said. “Maybe my role is to be a respite from all that.”

Gabrielle Clark, a sophomore political science major, said she enjoyed the explanation Dator offered of his drawing process.“He was really honest about the process of how his works come to be,” Clark said. “I liked the humor in it.”

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