Political cartoon: a journalistic resource between exaggeration, questioning and criticism

Quito, November 5 (Andes).- Whether its exaggeration, enquiry or criticism, the political cartoon has become one of the most used tools in the editorial and opinion sections of the  written press and on social networks around the world.

From its beginnings this form of communication has been used to expose world leaders and public persons to criticism of their views on politics, religion and local issues. The Real Academia Española dictionary defines caricature as a satirical drawing in which someone’s features and appearance are deformed.

Fabricio Gavilanes, an Ecuadorian caricaturist with the El Telégrafo newspaper, believes that for political caricature to be helpful within the social context it must always be remembered that a political cartoon is neither a news item nor is it informative in nature; it is an opinion and a type of editorial in some forms of media. According to Gavilanes, “a fundamental part caricature is that it should invite people to reflect, interpret and perceive.”

The Ecuadorian semiologist Lobsang Espinosa explains that political caricature became part of mass communication after the Second World War. It was transformed into an instrument of protest and a call to arms about what was going on at the time.

“One of its principal characteristics is that it is always of its moment. We find it in the now, that is to say an old caricature makes no sense because of its loaded meaning. Whenever we find caricatures in newspapers we are able to immediately read the political, economic and social situation of a particular country”, says Mr. Espinosa.

He adds that a caricature is a very powerful instrument and will always be tied to the ideology of the medium in which it is transmitted. However, in Gavilanes’s view, when it defends institutional positions, it won’t reach an audience other than its own followers and allies.

Despite being a legitimate outlet, the specialist Romel Jurado says that caricatures do not seek to ridicule, denigrate, demean or make fun of people. "The caricature is a communications resource that can have a strong critical sense, but you have to respect people. The caricature as communication content must meet the basic rule of respect for human rights," he said.

"In Ecuador, the Communications Act provides that entertainment, humor, news and political opinion have to respect the lexicon of human rights. Humor and art are exceptional communication content because of their recursive and imaginative nature, but being humorous does not involve mocking and insults, humor involves ingenuity and imagination," he said.

The challenges of caricature

"It’s about reaching out to people with a well-made product that the readers understand in the context in which they live and which therefore can illustrate both what those on the right and those on the left think. In the end, communication should be a debate in which we all express our views," says David Nicolalde.

Jurado added that the challenge is to move away from making value judgments and create something that is intelligent and imaginative yet critical and respects people’s fundamental rights. For him, the best example of witty social criticism is the film Modern Times, written and directed by Charles Chaplin.

Taking up the idea, Lobsang Espinosa suggested that Quino is an artist who is able to criticize with intelligence and humor, what is happening in the world and at home. Espinosa adds that another challenge is to understand that caricature evokes emotional and psychological sensations, as each reader will interpret differently what is meant by the representation.

"The caricaturist has the power to uplift or disparage the event or person represented. The cartoon always takes sides, makes the reader take a step back and generates discussion on a topic," he says.

The Noticias Andes Agency did try to register the views of representative caricaturists from other Ecuadorian media outlets like Xavier Bonilla "Bonil" and Asdrubal de la Torre, however, the invitation was declined.

Important Information:

The history of caricature in our country goes back about 120-130 years.

Caricatures interact with the right side of the brain, the part related to emotion.

Historians claim that the political cartoon is a British invention.


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