Political cartoonists to invade Washington

A plethora of the nation’s leading political cartoonists are descending on D.C. and getting ready to get up close and personal with some of their most popular targets on Capitol Hill. 

 Calling it “the most opinionated gathering in history,” the nonpartisan Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) is holding 

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“#!&% Cartoons!” a festival that celebrates that art of the politically themed drawings.

 The fest will explore the history of lampooning politicians through illustration, what it’s like to create political cartoons during an election year and other insights from cartoonists themselves, when it starts Friday at George Washington University.

 AAEC President John Cole says the festival is a way to be more interactive and engage the cartoon-loving public. Cole, an editorial cartoonist and writer for Scranton, Pa.’s The Times-Tribune, isn’t too worried about running into any members of Congress while in Washington, telling us, “Most lawmakers personally, I think, they tend to be pretty gracious. They have a pretty good sense of humor. You’ve got to have a pretty thick skin sometimes if you’re going to be a politician to begin with.”

 In fact, Cole contends sometimes politicians themselves make some surprising requests of political cartoonists. He says of former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), who died in 2003, “No matter how nasty I was about Jesse Helms in a cartoon, he would always ask for the original. I don’t know if it was a way of him trying to disarm the critic or just the fact that he was taking the whole thing in jest. You don’t get requests like that anymore.”

 Tickets for various “#!&% Cartoons!” events are $10, and registration at damncartoons.org is required.