Cartoonist Aims For Honesty But His Pen Is Always Kind
Story By REBECCA HOEFFNER
Tyler Courier-Times--Telegraph cartoonist Seames O'Grady has been drawing cartoons off-and-on his whole life, he said.
"It's not really about drawing at all," O'Grady, 42, said. "It's about getting a good idea across. Look at 'Peanuts;' the drawings are very simple. It's about 'I can't kick the ball,' and 'the little red-headed girl doesn't love me."
O'Grady first had his cartoons published in college. When he was a freshman studying graphic art design at Lamar University in Beaumont, he read an article about Yale's student newspaper cartoonist, Sabin Streeter.
"I thought 'maybe I can do that,'" he said.
The editors at the paper liked his work, and they ran his comic strips consistently while he was at Lamar.
"I just kept showing up," he said. "I think the director (Howard Perkins) was surprised. All the other cartoonists left after a brief time, less than a month. ... I was the thing that never left."
Then next time he worked as a cartoonist for a newspaper, it didn't go so well. When O'Grady illustrated his last cartoon for the Port Arthur News, he didn't expect the reaction it received.
"People actually picketed the newspaper," he said.During the previous school year, the Port Arthur school district had five incidents of students bringing a gun to school. O'Grady illustrated a cartoon speculating if the issue would continue, and the public was outraged.
Despite the hiccup, O'Grady still believes that telling the truth in a cartoon is the only thing that matters.
"There are no sacred cows," he said. "The only sacred cow is the truth. If you're factually accurate, you can say anything. I don't have to be fair, I just have to be accurate ... (Political cartoons are important because they are) pointing out absurdity in the political sphere, being able to take people to task when they act a fool. If you don't put a spotlight on the dumb and the just plain wrong, it goes by the wayside."
O'Grady aims for honesty in his comics, but isn't mean-spirited when it comes to depicting officials.
"My pen is always kind," he said.
O'Grady's comics for the Tyler Morning Telegraph have been better received. He recently added a little character to speak for him that can be found commenting in the bottom of the cartoons.
"Nelson (Clyde, the publisher) wanted a character to speak for me," O'Grady said. "I thought of the story of Ferdinand the Bull, who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. I thought, 'this is Texas, we've got bulls, and Tyler is known for its flowers.' So the little character is TR, which stands for 'Tyler Rose.'"
Despite his commentary on hot-button topics, O'Grady prefers to stay behind the spotlight. He's never been interviewed before.
"My mom is gonna love this," he said.