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Paul A Duginski

Paul A Duginski

Paul Duginski is a political cartoonist and veteran newspaper staff artist. He enjoys reading history, literature and going bodyboarding whenever he has time.
 

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I was born and raised in the Fargo, N.D. area and graduated in 1979 from what is now known as Minnesota State University at Moorhead with a B.A. in English. Immediately after that, I went to work for the venerable Sacramento Union, a paper that once claimed Mark Twain as one of its writers. I was an editorial cartoonist and one-man art department for a year before being laid off. It was a reduction in force for economic reasons, the newspaper said, but I was the only person in the newsroom who was given a pink slip. And I was a low-paid 23-year-old at the time. So the more likely reason was the cartoons I was doing. Although they were all approved by the editor, they may have been infuriating the billionaire owner back in Pennsylvania. At least that was suggested by many of my colleagues, and that narrative was picked up by journalism publications such as Columbia Journalism Review.

After being laid off, I freelanced for about three years before being hired by the Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento Union's more robust crosstown rival. There I rose through the ranks to the position of art director.

While at the Bee, in addition to routine graphics, I did sports illustrations and sports cartoons. I also continued to do political cartoons on a freelance basis that appeared in the McClatchy Bee newspapers in Sacramento, Fresno and Modesto. I began to self-syndicate my work to other newspapers around the state and nation, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Examiner. Some cartoons were picked up in the New York Times' Sunday Week in Review section, and some were in the Washington Post's National Weekly Edition and even in USA Today.

A few cartoons appeared in the Utne Reader and a number were reprinted in textbooks. I contributed cartoons and illustrations to the Christian Science Monitor, as well.

The goal was always to get a job doing editorial cartoons full-time, but that career has faded as media companies scout around for things to cut. After all, having a real editorial cartoonist with something to say can induce occasional beads of perspiration on the brow of even the most courageous newspaper executive. And besides, if it comes down to a choice between keeping the cartoonist or those executive bonuses, it's not hard to guess which one will win out.

So I kind of took a hiatus from cartooning, partly out of frustration and partly out of disgust at what had happened to the field. If being employed as a cartoonist meant doing flimsy gags so as not to tread on anybody's toes, then I said count me out.

But the kind of stuff occurring on the national and state political stage of late has been just too ridiculous, and I've been suffering repeated spasms of itchy drawing fingers. Some of what is going on is so absurd, we're not likely to see anything like it again in our lifetimes. So I've found myself limbering up my drawing muscles and getting back into practice. Sometimes you just have to get stuff off your chest. I've enjoyed the opportunity recently to have my say on Bestthinking.com.

 
 
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