Cartoon contest encourages political discussions at Temple

The annual contest, organized by the College of Liberal Arts and the political science department, will accept submissions until Nov. 27.

Dave Blazek draws a cartoon in his office at home in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 6. Blazek sits on the jury panel for the annual political cartoon contest. | SYLVAIN BATUT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated at 7:28 p.m. on Nov. 13.

Cartoons need a certain element to be more than just a drawing.

“The best cartoons start with a really good idea,” said Dave Blazek, creator of the Washington Post Writers Group-syndicated comic “Loose Parts” and president of the National Cartoonists Society’s Philadelphia chapter. “If you do all your heavy lifting in the thinking of the idea, the drawing part of it shouldn’t matter that much.”

The first political cartoons Sandra Suarez liked were drawn by Joaquin Salvador Lavado, an Argentinian cartoonist, whose comic “Mafalda” satirized the oppressive regimes in Latin America from the perspective of children.

“Mafalda is the main character, she’s the most sarcastic of all of them,” said Suarez, a political science professor.

Suarez and Blazek sit on the jury panel for the College of Liberal Arts and the political science department’s second annual political cartoon contest. Robin Kolodny, the chair of the political science department, said the creative competition is open to all Temple students and aims to promote political discussions at Temple University.

“We always want more political participation from the students,” Suarez said. “This is just one other avenue through which we can encourage that.”

The deadline is Nov. 27 and students can submit their work online via Google Forms. The three best cartoonists will receive prize money ranging from $100 to $500.

Signe Wilkinson, an editorial cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, will judge the contest alongside Suarez and Blazek, former creative director of Philadelphia Media Network’s Media Lab.

Suarez thought of the idea for the contest when she and Kolodny attended a CLA Graphic Thinking conference in October 2017, Kolodny said. The one-day conference featured a variety of creative works like graphic illustrations and comics.

“We’re hoping that the idea of the contest will get people to focus about the issues that matter to them, and think more about their obligations as citizens,” Kolodny said.

She added the contest is also an opportunity for students to be creative in expressing their views.

Blazek is interested in seeing how students portray Temple-related issues, like the university’s proposed on-campus stadium, campus safety and the Fox School of Business rankings scandal, he said.

“A good cartoon, the best cartoons don’t lay it all out for you, they let the reader finish it in his or her head,” Blazek said.

The jurors will review the submissions after the deadline. There is not an estimate on the number of cartoons submitted this year, Kolodny said.

Kolodny added that students can feel discouraged by the artistic challenge of the contest.

She helps connect interested participants with students from the Tyler School of Art to collaborate on a cartoon.

“That would be the best possible outcome if people from different parts of the university engaged with other students from other divisions that have different talents,” she said.

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