From Afghanistan To Corporate Greed,Cartoonist Kickstarts His Way Into 21st Century
Political cartoons have distinguished Matt Bors from the pack of modern-day cartoonists. While comics with a message have been around since the Yellow Kid in the early 1900s, most cartooning is created for the quick chuckle versus the reflective guffaw that comes from satirical illustrations.
Matt Bors is a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist and editor based in Portland, OR. He was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for his contributing cartoons, which appear regularly in The Sacramento Bee, Portland Mercury, Pittsburgh City Paper, Alternet and the Daily Kos.
In interviewing Bors today, I learned that not only was he influenced by the world renown political cartoonist Ted Rall, he and fellow cartoonist Steven Cloud actually accompanied Rall on a trip to war-torn Afghanistanin in 2010.
While Rall notably traveled to Afghanistan nearly a decade ago (from which sprang his graphic novel "To Afghanistan and Back" and was interviewed by me back in 2002), and Cloud is also a veteran of traveling throughout Asia, this was Bors' first trip outside of the United States as an adult. Here you see Bors and Rall sketching away on a main drag in Taloqan.
While it's odd to think of three cartoonists in a war zone, Bors noted, "they intentionally stayed away from the main fighting areas." With full beards and by dressing in Afghan garb, the trio attempted to blend in and kept a low profile. They were however stopped by local police outside the border of Turkmenistan one day, who mistook them for Al Qaeda from Pakistan. "The (authorities) said that no journalists had been out that way before," stated Bors.
Here Bors relates how women are clothed and treated as less-than-second-class citizens in the country.
Subsequent to this trip, Bors collaborated with war journalist David Axe to illustrate his graphic novel, "War is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World's Worst War Zones." Publishers Weekly critiqued this book as such: "At first glance, the combination of hard-hitting war journalism and cartooning is incongruous, but as those who have read Joe Sacco will testify, the graphic novel can be a potent medium in which to show both the fearful tedium and the violence of war."
Today in my interview with Bors, he described the war as, "a lot of waiting around punctuated by moments of sheer terror." And while he didn't witness any first-hand combat during his time in Afghanistan, he adds that "still, when you are in the country, with such violence and uncertainty, you travel with a heightened sense of awareness about what could happen."
This past year, Bors has shifted his commentary from war to corporate greed. To promote his soon-to-be published book (will be out in April) of political cartoons and essays titled, "Life Begins At Incoporation," he has just finished up with a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Commissioned with a $20,000 goal, Bors almost doubled his fund-raising amounts two-fold, coming in at $35,588 (as of this posting).
Bors explains the title of his book as such:
He indicated because of his Kickstarter success, he's decided to write a 2nd book of essays and cartoons with all "the stuff" that couldn't fit into the first book. No publishing date has been determined, but pre-orders for the first book can be found at Bors' website. And I don't know if the following toon made it into Book 1 or Book 2, but it's one of my favorites - just think of it . . . Steve Jobs' reincarnation. . .
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