Interview - Daryl Cagle

Interview: Daryl Cagle, Founder of Cagle Cartoons and Editorial Cartoonist for Slate: 7th June 2003

Daryl is the daily editorial cartoonist for the Microsoft Network's commentary site, Slate, and Daryl's daily editorial cartoons are syndicated to over six hundred print newspapers across America.

With millions of regular, unique users each month, Daryl's editorial cartoon web site with Microsoft is the most popular cartoon site, of any kind, on the internet. It is also the most widely used education site in Social Studies classrooms around the world.

Daryl drew a daily, syndicated editorial cartoon panel titled, "TRUE!" for Tribune Media Services in the 1990's and went on to be a daily editorial cartoonist for Gannett's Honolulu Advertiser newspaper before moving to Slate and Microsoft.

For the past twenty seven years, Daryl has been one of America's most prolific cartoonists. Raised in California, Daryl went to college at UC Santa Barbara, then moved to New York City where he worked for ten years with Jim Henson's Muppets, illustrating scores of books, magazines, calendars and all manner of products.

Daryl has illustrated national advertising campaigns for clients including McDonalds, Sears, Discover Card, Sega, Safeway Stores, Frito-Lay, General Foods Post Cereals and many others. Daryl has designed toys for Mattel, Hasbro, Milton Bradley, Kenner and Fisher-Price. He has designed watches for Timex and Armitron, glasses for Libby, Enesco and Anchor Hocking, lunchboxes for Thermos, toothbrushes for Oral-B and clothing for Keds, Danskins, Artex, Allison, Majdahl and Union Underwear.

Daryl is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. He has been married for twenty years and has two lovely children, Susan, 19 and Michael, 12.

How, why and when did you start your cartoonist /artistic career?

I never considered doing anything else.

What are your aims and objectives?

I would like to see my work continue to improve and to have my cartoons read by a larger audience.

What motivates and inspires you?

It is a delight to be an editorial cartoonist. It is a joy to draw my opinions and have an audience who sees what I draw. I don't see why anyone would want to do anything else. How frustrating it must be for the average guy who watches TV, gets mad at the news, and isn't be able to vent by drawing a cartoon.

What are the highlights of your career?

I had some wonderful years working with Jim Henson's Muppets - that was like graduate school for me when I was young and fresh out of college. They were great.

Most newspaper editorial cartoonists start their careers as editorial cartoonists; I switched at mid-career, which is unusual. I love what I am doing now so I would say that the highlight is now.

How did the MSN deal / website deal come about? (

I started the "Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists' Index" site in 1995 when the web was new. It started as a vanity site, featuring my own work, but I soon started showcasing the work of my friends and the site began to grow. I put up a teachers guide for using editorial cartoons in the classroom and I discovered that almost every state in America includes the interpretation of a political cartoon on their state mandated testing. Teachers are required to "teach to the test" and didn't have good resources for teaching their students about editorial cartoons. Traffic to the site exploded when I started promoting the site to Social Studies teachers.

The audience grew to be so huge that the expenses and technical hurdles of serving the site became a burden. Fortunately, the audience for political cartoons is a good fit with the audience for, Microsoft's opinion magazine on the web, and they were interested in partnering with me to support this white-elephant monster of a web site.

The people at Slate have been great. I continue to run the site all by myself, as a personal passion. Slate hosts the site, handles the technical burdens, and leaves me free editorially. I draw my cartoons with the byline and the web site is my publication of record. The only other nationally syndicated newspaper cartoonist who works for a web site is Bob Gorrell with AOL News.

What do you prefer to draw, and why?

Whatever makes me angry that day.

What are your tools of the trade?

Pencil, scanner, Macintosh and outdated software.

When and why did you launch your website, and what has it done for you and your business?

Aside from the site with Slate, my focus now is on selling my cartoons to print publications. When I was drawing for Gannett's Honolulu Advertiser newspaper, I hired a salesman to syndicate my cartoons on my own. I had no success and almost no sales. I discovered that prices for editorial cartoons had been driven down so far, by competition among the syndicates, that a single cartoonist couldn't price his cartoons low enough to be of interest to a newspaper editor.

I came to the conclusion that, to have a viable product, I needed to have a group of cartoonists that was marketed as a "package." That was the genesis for We now have a great group of talented cartoonists. I think we now have the best newspaper cartoon service anywhere. We started the group about two years ago.

The group will always be directed to newspaper editorial page editors - we won't ever do comic strips or puzzles. But will are looking to add more content that will be of interest to our Op-Ed editor clients. We recently added two columnists, former Clinton political advisor and Fox News Pundit, Dick Morris; and conservative talk radio star, Michael Reagan.

We've seen great growth in the first two years and now have many hundreds of subscribing newspapers. I find that editors know and respect Slate. Drawing for Slate has been well received by editors; in that regard, the web site with Slate has been a great help.

How many news media websites are you hooked up with?

Only a few. Our focus is print media. In general, content syndication on the web has not been a successful business model, as it has been with print. We are, however, happy to offer content to web sites and we have about a dozen clients on the web.

What have been, and are, your biggest challenges?

There are a lot of talented cartoonists out there. Getting my cartoons in front of the readers is a never ending quest.

What website services do and could you offer to a news media website looking for relevant cartoon content, like mine? eg Cartoon of the day

We offer only one product, which is a general subscription to all of our content. At this time we represent eight American cartoonists, the best cartoonist in Canada (Cam Cardow) and the eight best cartoonists in Latin America, who we translate into English - we also translate our English language cartoons into Spanish. And we have the two columnists. A subscriber can expect about thirty cartoons a week in English and the same number in Spanish - plenty to choose from if you are doing a cartoon of the day. We also have a web site with tens of thousands of archived cartoons that are searchable by topic.

Who are your biggest and most prestigious clients, and what was the "secret" to securing the deal?

We're published in major newspapers, including USA Today, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times ... recently even the Sydney Morning Herald. The "secret" is offering a great product at a fair and competitive price.

What is the biggest compliment you have ever received about your work?

We get hundreds of e-mails every day - about half are complimentary and half are hate mail. I read and remember the complimentary ones. I have forgotten the hate mail. I don't know about the biggest ...

What are some of your current projects?

We're working hard on improving our Cagle Cartoons service. I'm working hard on my own cartoons.

What other information would you like to share with our media savvy audience?

Visit our public/entertainment site with at:

and visit our syndicate site where we license the best editorial cartoons at an alarmingly low price:


Other website links:

Honolulu Advertiser: Daryl Cagle cartoon



Cartoons and Animation