Alan Moore claims the word cartoon comes from the Italian word cartone, or cardboard, a reference to the caricatures of political opponents that 17th-century Italians scrawled on cardboard boxes. They could be seen by everyone and understood even by people who were illiterate. Whether or not that story is accurate—cardboard tomboy a graphic memoir pdf weren’t invented until the 19th century—it is true that historically, comics have been an excellent means for engaging with politics and current events. To take a famous example, in an 1831 caricature, French artist Charles Philipon depicts the head of King Louis Philippe morphing into a pear, in four stages.
For decades, editorial cartoons were the only comics that engaged with the news of the day. But as the graphic novel medium has become more popular, creators are using it for ambitious books about politics, international affairs, and other issues. Online, creators use short comics to provide context on an issue, such as Andy Warner’s Failed State, a depiction of four decades of war in Afghanistan, and commentary, such as Adam Bessie and Erik Thurman’s essay on school choice and segregation.
Meanwhile, in an age when the tools for creating media are available to everyone, comics are talking back: the events of the past year have energized a number of creators to self-publish anthologies, often by crowdfunding, that address current issues. These projects make for interesting reading—and provide a model for students who want to make their own comics. Ronell Whitaker, an English teacher at Harold L.