Editorial cartoonist Bruce Plante prepares a presentation at the Sand Springs Museum | New
Cartoonists get used to being revered and reviled – often by the same people, and often at the same time.
When asked if this love-hate relationship made it hard to work, Bruce Plante replied, “Hey. That might do it a little Stronger. But I’ve been doing this for a long time. »
Perhaps best known in those parts as an editorial cartoonist for the Tulsa World for 13 years, Plante, 67, started drawing editorial cartoons in college and has been irritating people professionally since the mid-1970s.
He is now a syndicated cartoonist for Cagle Cartoons Inc., which distributes the work of 60 editorial cartoonists and 14 columnists to more than 850 subscribed newspapers worldwide, including more than half of American daily newspapers.
Plante, who lives in Sand Springs with his wife, Betsy Plante, will speak Saturday at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum as part of his new exhibit, “Lines with Power and Purpose: Editorial Drawings.”
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He will draw on his personal experiences to talk about newspaper wars, being an “enemy of the people” and the more technical aspects of drawing editorial cartoons.
Plante said the power of an editorial cartoon is that “it’s fast; it’s something fun to watch, hopefully; and it gives the reader something to think about with a simple message.
But even with that simplicity, he added, “it’s a dying art form.”
This is partly explained by the evolution of the written press. It used to be that publishers valued having a single, local editorial voice, but as corporations increasingly own newspapers, the lure of profitable syndicates offering a variety of editorial voices has won out.
Another part of the equation has to do with livestock. While skewering holy cows can be fun, skewering the wrong cow – some politicians, advertisers, community leaders – and the cartoonist is the one prepared for slaughter.
Plante, however, rejects the idea that editorial cartoonists should bow to pressure.
“If I don’t excite them, I’m not doing my job,” he said. “It’s to make a point – a salient point.”
And what better way to make this salient point than with humor?
Plante, who grew up in Texarkana, Arkansas, began drawing cartoons in second grade and performing stand-up comedy in sixth grade.
He graduated in 1978 from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville – where he had been a full-field baseball player – and began working as an artist and editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat.
He then worked for the Fayetteville (North Carolina) Times and the Potomac (Virginia) News.
In 1985, he became the Chattanooga Times’ first editorial cartoonist, a position he held for 22 years before joining Tulsa World in 2007, where he drew six editorial cartoons a week.
In 1989, Plante created the Syndicate PlanteInk, which has distributed its editorial cartoons to no less than 100 subscribers in the United States and around the world. The website contains his complete archive.
His cartoons have appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Newsweek International (Europe), Newsweek Japan, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Discover, CBS, CNN , college and high school textbooks, and even the Iowa Achievement Test – not to mention the Sand Springs leader.
Plante won the 2002-2003 Fischetti Prize for Best National Editorial Cartoon and was a guest panelist at the Harvard University Institute of Politics.
In 2015, he was named a public fellow (study of humor) for the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at the University of Tulsa.
He still does freelance cartoon work.