With more than 7,000 published cartoons, five books and a sixth being released in March, Kevin ‘Kal’ Kallaugher said he is at the height of his career and a name known to politicians around the world.
Kallaugher is a political cartoonist for both The Baltimore Sun and The Economist of London. Thursday, Sept. 20, Kallaugher gave Towson students, faculty and staff an informal lecture on his career and his cartoons.
Kallaugher grew up in Norwalk, Conn. and attended Harvard University as an art major.
After graduation in 1977, he went on a bicycle tour overseas and eventually found residence in the UK playing semi-pro basketball.
It was in London that The Economist discovered him and hired him as their first resident cartoonist.
He spent 10 years there until he was offered a job at the Baltimore Sun and moved back to the United States in 1988.
However, he remained in contact with The Economist online and was able to continue sending his cartoons to them on a weekly basis.
“We were one of the first people to be able to send news through the Internet, now of course everyone does that, but at the beginning if we wanted to send a 300K file, which is a tiny little file, it took two hours,” Kallaugher said. “Now of course you can just do it in a sneeze.”
Kallaugher said his interest in political cartoons was a gradual process, beginning in high school and college, where he wrote a humor strip in the school’s paper.
In his junior year of college, the Watergate scandal occurred, and Kallaugher said he discovered that by looking at cartoons, he could gain a simple picture of what was newsworthy about an event.
“It was a little like a gateway drug into the news, these cartoons,” Kallaugher said.
As a writer for both American and global audiences, Kallaugher said he has discovered that some humor, such as irony, is universal.
He has learned to create metaphors that his readers all over the world can relate to and find amusing.
“I thought he was very entertaining and funny,” junior mass communication major Linsey McFadden said. “It’s cool to see the different things you can do in a newspaper beyond just writing.”
The job of a political cartoonist can be a serious thing as well, Kallaugher said.
His most difficult professional day was on 9/11, when he was instructed to create a cartoon in the 36 hours immediately following the tragedy.
“On that day I did two cartoons, I did one cartoon for the American audience, and one cartoon for the international audience… at least I had an outlet for my feelings,” Kallaugher said.
Kallaugher’s interest in cartoons even goes beyond print. As a resident artist at University of Maryland Baltimore County, he has experimented with the world of animation.
He said he first fell in love with it when he created a 13-minute cartoon, which involved several thousand drawings for his senior thesis at Harvard.
He now works with both 3D and 2D animation, which he said he believes will be a part of the future of cartoons.
“The new generation of artists, as they move into the realm of dealing with visual satire, they are going use new tools of animation and some moving images on the web are certainly going be the way to go,” Kallaugher said.