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A generation of political cartoons that go against the grain in upcoming Bill Sanders book

Editorial cartoonists are an endangered species, and even in their heyday they were rare. Milwaukee’s Bill Sanders offers a political time capsule of top news stories from the past decades in his upcoming book.

Bill Sanders illustrated for the Milwaukee Journal from 1967 until his 1991 retirement. His career began in the Eisenhower era and he is still drawing today.

In his new book “Against the Grain,” Sanders shares the upbringing and experiences that prepared him to inflict his opinions on the readers of the three major newspapers he worked for, the 100-plus papers he was syndicated in, and now, an internet channel.

“It has been almost five years since I started gathering details, files and assorted junk to chronicle, for my daughters, some experiences that I have been fortunate to have had,” said Sanders in his Facebook announcement. “For the last three years have written what is hopefully a coherent version of certain events that span from John Kennedy, to the election of Donald Trump.”

At the top ranks of print journalism, only a few hundred such jobs existed worldwide in the 20th century. Yet those who wielded the drawing pen had enormous influence and popularity. They caricatured news events and newsmakers into “ink-drenched bombshells” that often said more than the accompanying news stories.

The Sanders memoir is both personal and political. He reveals his small-town Southern roots, his athletic exploits and military service, his courtship and enduring marriage, and his life-long passion for music. These threads are woven into his main narrative, explaining how a cartoonist works and why. According to Sanders, the cartoon should be a vehicle for opinion and it should be polemical in nature, otherwise it is a waste of time.

Along the way he shares vignettes about people he encountered and events he witnessed, illustrated here with a few photos and scores of the cartoons he produced to meet daily newspaper deadlines. He notes that while a cartoon is a simple communication, it is based on reading and research, and only then comes the drawing.

“While there may be to varying degrees two sides to some issues, don’t bother looking for that posture on the following pages,” Sanders noted.

Against the Grain: Bombthrowing in the Fine American Tradition of Political Cartooning will publish as a Hardcover edition on May 1, 2018, with a forward from syndicated cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer.

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