I like business and financial cartoons. I’ve worked in the offices of a number of companies, both big and small, and I’ve witnessed a number of situations where management seemed to be out of their depth, and tried to cover that up in different ways. Business cartoons often reveal these mess-ups in glaring, hilarious detail. One cartoonist that’s been at this for a while is Harley Schwadron, creator of 9 to 5 on GoComics. He sent me his biog, which I’m taking the liberty of changing to “first person.”
BC: Harley, can you tell us about yourself?
HS: I draw cartoons for many publications, large and small, and I specialize in business and topical cartoons. My daily “9 to 5” business panel is syndicated by Tribune Content Agency, and my freelance cartoons appear in Barrons, Wall Street Journal, AARP Bulletin, Readers Digest, Harvard Business Review, Prospect, the Oldie, and many others.
HS: I’m based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but I previously worked as a reporter for the Hartford Times in Connecticut, as a weekly newspaper editor in Michigan, and for many years as an editor at University of Michigan News Service in Ann Arbor. While working at the university, I began freelancing cartoons to many publications and had most luck with business cartoons. When I left the U-M I had time to begin a syndicated panel. Originally titled ‘Big Biz‘, my business panel was first distributed by a small syndicate, Davey Associates. It was picked up by Los Angeles Times Syndicate in 1994 and since 2001 has been with Tribune Content Agency. Having done business cartoons for many years, it is easy for me to come up with ideas in this area. I also have a group of characters who appear in the strip.
HS: I also supply topical and investment cartoons directly to several newspapers, including business publications, as well as investment newsletters. They have appeared in many cartoon collections, including Punch Magazine diaries, “Barrons Book of Cartoons,” “Wall Street Journal Portfolio of Business Cartoons“, “Best Cartoons from the National Business Employment Weekly“, several Readers Digest “Laughter is the Best Medicine” collections, and many more.
HS: I have illustrated many books, including “101 President Jokes” (Scholastic), “l0l Cat and Dog Jokes” (Scholastic), “No Husband Should Be Without A Wife” (with humorist Dick Emmons), “The Money is the Gravy: Finding a Career that Nourishes You” (Times Warner), “Win By Not Losing” (with Dean Harman), two investment books with Edelman Financial Services, and many others.
BC: Are there any other cartoonists you like?
HS: I admire all cartoonists who can stick it out in this ruthlessly competitive field.
BC: How do you approach that blank sheet of paper?
HS: I am low tech. I use India ink on paper, and sometimes gray watercolor wash. For color I use watercolors. I scan both color and black and white cartoons for emailing.
BC: You are very well-versed in business, management and investment practices. What kind of research do you do before tackling a new business topic?
HS: I have done business and investment cartoons for many years, so I guess I have picked up a lot of information. I also read business newspapers and magazines regularly to follow business events and the stock market.
BC: Obviously, you’ve seen various business fads come and go. What fads have you seen?
HS: Cartoons on the Federal Reserve always seem humorous. When Greenspan, Bernanke, and Yellen were chairpersons of the Fed, I had done many cartoons on them. Government dysfunction is a good topic, as well as taxes and budget deficits. When Bill Clinton was President, there was a budget surplus— a good topic for cartoons.
BC: What factor(s) would you attribute to your longevity as a business cartoonist?
HS: In the cartoon business, perseverance seems to be the important thing. And I really enjoy doing business cartoons.
BC: Have you received any push-back from business or investment executives that were offended by a specific panel or group of panels?
HS: If a cartoon is offensive, probably an editor wouldn’t buy it. I’ve done a lot of cartoons for Wall street Journal and sold the original art to many government officials, so I think some people have enjoyed my cartoons over the years.
(All artwork here has been reproduced with the permission of the artist. Copyright Harley Schwadron © 2016.)
(This interview is the copyright © of Curtis H. Hoffmann 2016. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the author.)
Poll: Do you follow any business or investment cartoons?