Suzanne Lindgren

From time to time I get a call or email about the editorial cartoons, usually when someone disagrees with that week’s commentary.

It’s predictable that political cartoons, which often use hyperbole and satire to make a point, will offend readers from time to time. Still, I thought it might be helpful for you to know how these particular cartoons make their way into your paper. Here’s how.

The Sun and Messenger subscribe a syndication service from the artist Joe Heller, who is from Green Bay, Wisconsin Heller has been drawing editorial cartoons professionally for about 40 years. 

He started at the West Bend News 1979 and moved to the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 1985. He was there until a large round of layoffs in 2013. He has distributed work through Heller Syndication since 1980.

His cartoons are used by more than 350 newspapers nationwide, and have been reprinted in Time, Newsweek, Business Week, U.S. News & World Report, The New Republic and The National Review. He’s also won more than a dozen statewide awards and is a three-time winner of a national award for editorial cartoonists.

As you can see, he’s no novice. Readers are, of course, entitled to disagree with his perspective. I do too, from time to time.

Back to our process for bringing you these cartoons. Heller draws four cartoons a week, typically pertaining to current political and social issues or other timely topics. If you read regularly, you’ll know that even the weather is not off limits.

Since this is a weekly publication, we have four cartoons to choose from for each issue. The cartoons are chosen during the layout process, with preference to topics relevant to each readership. Frequently, that means the cartoon has a national focus. But if there’s an irresistible joke about the Packers, for instance, we might choose different cartoons for the Sun and Messenger that week. 

The selection is usually made by our office manager, Carrie, who has a decades-long history at the Sun. I see the cartoon once it’s on the page for proofing and, once corrections to articles are made, we send the whole thing to the printer.

That’s how a small newspaper brings the work of an award-winning cartoonist to you each week. I hope this background adds context as you read Heller’s work. 

To readers who feel the overall tone of the cartoons has changed in the last couple years, I will point out that the national leadership has changed as well. Commentary has been Heller’s job for decades. Over the course of that time he has poked fun at political officials no matter the party. My guess is he’ll continue to do so as long as he’s cartooning, no matter who’s in the White House or on Capitol Hill.

I welcome your response to this editorial column:


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