By Darius Kwak and Joshua B. Milien
During a routine nine to five workday, Matthew Davies sits alone on a lightbox desk in his Newsday office with a metal quill pen in hand and a bottle of ink by his side. After two hours of sketching, inking, water coloring, scanning then photoshopping, he’s ready to submit another cartoon to his editor Rita Ciolli.
Davies is a 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial political cartoonist with over 20 years of experience. He can now add conventional host to his resume as the 2017 AAEC Political Cartoon and Satire Festival takes place at Hofstra University Nov. 1 through Nov. 4.
“[Hosting is] a logistical nightmare, but I believe the high level interest in political satire, given the current administration, is unprecedented, so it’s worth it,” he said. “I hope that cartoonists who show up, whether they’re old, grizzled pros or newly-minted hopefuls, understand that their voice is really important and that political satire and cartooning is vital in this festival’s discussion.”
Starting in 2006 at Denver, CO, the reunion allows political cartoonists to educate students, professors and administrative staff about the business of editorial cartooning and how the role remains necessary in maintaining America’s democracy.
Founded in 1957, by a small group of newspaper cartoonists led by John Stampone of the Army Times, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists promotes the interests of staff, freelance and student editorial cartoonists in the United States, appropriate as Davies estimated that there are only 50 full-time salaried editorial cartoonists in America today.
“We’ve never needed editorial cartooning and satire more than we have today”, Ann Telnaes, the 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and current president of the AAEC, said. “With a president who doesn’t understand the role or importance of a free press in a democracy, it’s vital that editorial cartoonists continue be watchdogs and aim their pens at the people and institutions who are abusing their power.”
This year’s festival, which is sponsored by Newsday, will feature panel discussions with cartoonists from The New Yorker, MAD Magazine, The Economist and the Baltimore Sun, among many others.
Discussions on free speech in the Trump era, women in illustration, Hustler V Falwell court case and the First Amendment, led by Floyd Abrams, a leading authority on the First Amendment and U.S. Constitutional Law, highlight the festivities.
“This conference is so important because politics now is as polarizing as it is conflicted,” Dr. Meenekshi Bose, Executive Dean of Public Relations for Hofstra’s school of government, public policy, and international affairs, said. “Students are passionate about politics and keen for heated discussion and debate.”
This is the first time that Hofstra, which has held the last three presidential debates, will host AAEC’s convention. The event will be free and open to both students and the public.
“The Political Cartoon and Satire Festival will be a unique educational opportunity that will only enrich what happens in the classroom,” Karla Schuster, Assistant VP of University Relations at Hofstra, said.