Sketching History

Kevin ‘KAL’ Kallaugher takes life one editorial cartoon at a time

May 2, 2013

Anthropomorphic donkeys and elephants are a favorite device of Kallaugher’s, as exemplified by this July 6, 2005, Economist cartoon in which a beefed-up donkey and elephant arm-wrestle atop the Supreme Court. The two symbolic animals “make great foils for each other,” Kallaugher says. For editorial cartoonists, “a day’s worth of work is absorbed in about 12 seconds.”

After 35 years of poking fun at world leaders and satirizing hot-button global issues with his incisive editorial cartoons, Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher still approaches each assignment without much planning. It’s the evening before his filing deadline for The Economist and The Baltimore Sun, and the longtime Baltimore resident doesn’t seem to know what he’s drawing yet.

“I have no idea,” Kallaugher says, sounding both delighted and unconcerned.

“Part of the kick you get out of the job is to tackle tough subjects and deal with the nuances involved,” Kallaugher, 58, says. “I’ve been doing it for such a long time and I’ve seen so many cartoons from around the world that my challenge every week is seeing if I can find something just a little bit different, a different twist, to keep it engaging for the audience.”

With the publication of his new, Kickstarter-funded coffee-table book, “Daggers Drawn” ($35, Daggersdrawn.net), Kallaugher now has 192 pages encapsulating his relentless pursuit of uncommon perspectives. (He’ll speak about the book and his career Sunday at Baltimore’s Walters Museum of Art, in an appearance tied to the exhibit “New Eyes on America: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville.”)

Filled with some of Kallaugher’s most memorable images, the book is “an interesting personal journey, but also a revealing testament to history,” he says. “Every cartoon is a frozen snapshot of history … and of what people are thinking and feeling.”

Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore; Sun., 2 p.m.; 410-547-9000.
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Katie Aberbach | May 2, 2013