John Klossner

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Work in Progress: A cartoonist's progress

Should this be called "cartoon in progress?" And if so, does that mean I should redraw the cartoon after describing the process, incorporating the ideas that may occur to me as I describe? In my mind the body of cartoons drawn through the year(s) is the "work," and each individual cartoon is the progress. (This is another way of saying that if you don't like this cartoon, the next one will be better.) Okay, let's call this piece "cartoonist in progress."

This week's cartoon is a good example of that. Rep. Tom Davis has announced he will not run for re-election, and I have been drawing Tom Davis cartoons since I started drawing for FCW. I believe the second or third cartoon I ever drew for this magazine was a Tom Davis cartoon. The limited knowledge that I have of the fed procurement community comes from drawing Tom Davis cartoons. So my "progress," such as it is, can be traced by looking at my Tom Davis cartoons and the subject matter they illustrate.

I've always thought that retirement cartoons are tricky from the cartoonist's viewpoint. You don't want to kick someone on their way out (unless they really deserve it) and that usually means that you do a soft, unfunny, pointless cartoon. (Are we for or against this person's positive influence on an entire community?) Either that, or you whip out the clichés -- Tom Davis leaves big shoes to fill, etc.

Fortunately, Davis has been so closely associated with federal technology and procurement issues that there are many directions to go. Instead of taking the positive route and declaring how integral Davis has been to this community, I can take the negative route and declare how integral Davis has been to this community. One possibility is simply stating that Rep. Davis is integral to this community, which this sketch (below) did.

And, in reflecting on my own limited knowledge of the fed technology and procurement community, I have to be impressed with anyone who has put in the work to learn the issues of this community -- and that's just in learning the acronyms alone. Reading one issue of FCW can give you an idea of what a complex community it is. Davis was one of the first House member to do this work, and has been at the forefront of federal IT issues ever since. Taking this into account, the next question is, "Who will replace him?" Since I didn't want to draw a big pair of empty shoes, I considered the huge amount of work facing others who hope to gain this institutional knowledge.
One person quoted in an FCW story mentioned they planned to question Davis during the time remaining in his term. This didn't sound to me like a pleasant going away party, but it made for a good cartoon idea.

Posted by John Klossner on Feb 19, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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