What is the biggest challenge in drawing caricatures

cartoonMore than colorful pictures

Adalbert Siniawski: Political caricature doesn't have it easy these days. The magazines print them less and less, instead entertaining cartoons are in demand. In times of the print crisis, more and more newspapers are taking over the cover pages of large papers and so the market for cartoonists is shrinking. There are around 20 draftsmen in Germany who can make a living from their work, and the next generation is unfortunately a long time coming.

Deutschlandfunk has been supporting this special art as a media partner of the German Caricature Prize for years and from next Saturday it will create a playground for drawn comments.

The successful cartoonists Bernd A. Skott and Heiko Sakurai will draw for us. Sakurai is in my studio, together with my colleague Jörg-Christian Schillmöller, who is in charge of the project at Deutschlandfunk. Welcome.

Heiko Sakurai: Hello.

Jörg-Christian Schillmöller: Hello.

Siniawski: Before we get to you and your pictures, Mr. Sakurai, we should first clarify, Mr. Schillmöller, what exactly this project is about. What can we expect?

Schillmöller: The listeners, but above all the users of Deutschlandfunk, can expect a cartoon once a week for the next ten weeks, alternating between Heiko Sakurai and Bernd A. Skott. You have to know that our users are very, very interested in comments, in opinions, in the critical examination of reality, and we have chosen these two cartoonists because they also differ greatly in style.

Mr. Skott paints more in black and white and strict and biting and Mr. Sakurai paints a lot more colorful, just as biting, but it then has more of a comic style. And if you see, for example, how the two of them are drawing the Chancellor, and in three minutes and twice the different Merkel comes out that you can recognize exactly, then you know roughly what will happen in the next ten weeks.

Siniawski: Why is this so important to Deutschlandfunk and why on the website www.deutschlandfunk.de?

Schillmöller: Well, as a medium, the caricature is a piece of lived democracy and, to a certain extent, the counterpart to the leading article. And insofar as we said to ourselves that this caricature is falling behind as a medium, as you said earlier in the introduction, we would like to set an opposite pole here and simply want to show that we are aware that this medium is still plays a major role, especially as a corrective of the powerful.

Siniawski: Mr. Sakurai, does this project just give you another playing field, or is there a special challenge here?

Sakurai: Well, first of all, of course, it is a website that attracts national and international attention, and that is of course a great perspective for us. The second point that is very important: it is a new medium. It's online and hopefully the future of paid journalism will take place there at some point. At the moment, money is generated primarily via the paper newspapers, which the journalists get in order to be able to live, and at some point the switch has to be made in order to really be able to live from it in the online area, and that is exactly that Question that concerns us cartoonists too. So this could be a very interesting perspective for us.

Siniawski: From your perspective, what about this genre and how can political cartoon survive?

Selection and classification

Sakurai: Actually, I would think that the caricature genre should not look bad, because especially now, in times of excessive information, classification everywhere, selection and classification is desired, and that is exactly what caricature does. The only problem we have is that we are very closely tied to the paper newspaper, and then we know that it doesn't look so good at the moment, because if we can all do it together, the newspapers together with us, the jump to the Internet to make it into the paid internet, then we are all going to be very worried.

Siniawski: And on our website www.deutschlandfunk.de, users should also have a say. It should be interactive, if I understand it correctly?

Schillmöller: We are going there step by step. First of all, let's see what the reactions are. We have over 70,000 likes on Facebook, for example, and they will be very, very proactive and certainly also attentive to it. In the next step we want to present a making-of. This means that we accompany both artists when caricatures are created. And then, of course, it is also conceivable to see whether and how you can work with users in the future and then perhaps use them to find out topics or to pass on comments. Of course: dialogue is everything on this homepage.

Siniawski: Mr. Sakurai, how did you get your ideas? How do you get the idea on paper or on the screen?

The daily struggle with the vacuum in the brain

Sakurai: Putting it on paper is actually not the biggest problem, you have to be able to draw somehow from the start. And the people, the Chancellor, the cabinet and so on, you have that in there at some point. The problem is more the step before, namely getting the idea, and that is always the daily struggle with the vacuum in the brain that has to be filled. You just have to be well informed, then you have to weigh up the various messages and pick what you think is important, form an opinion about it and then somehow try to get an idea out of it. Every day there is a new fight, sometimes more successful and sometimes less successful. But at the end of the day something has to be on paper.

Siniawski: Has Chancellor Merkel ever complained to you?

Sakurai: Neh. Nobody has actually complained to me. I think it would also be - - Any politician would be ill-advised.

Siniawski: You have dedicated an entire book to her with the evil title "The Black Widow". You recently received the flashback award for this. In 2009 there was the comic biography "Miss Germany". Why is Merkel so well suited as a target, both visually and in terms of content?

Sakurai: Well, optically it wasn't like that at first. It was a matter of time before I could draw them. But she is the first woman to be Federal Chancellor and she has always been one who has been underestimated. Even in the early days of her chancellorship, she was underestimated. I think that at least doesn't happen to her anymore. And it's interesting how someone like "Kohl's girl" - you mentioned that I also drew this biography - how this "Kohl's girl" develops, emancipates, and manages to play the men off against each other in the power struggles and to take down competitors relatively elegantly. I have to say that I have to respect that.

Siniawski: And Angela Merkel and her counterparts will certainly be able to see a lot then, on our website www.deutschlandfunk.de. From Saturday, a cartoon by Bernd A. Skott and Heiko Sakurai once a week. Mr. Sakurai and Mr. Schillmöller, thank you for visiting.

Sakurai: Thank-you.

Schillmöller: With pleasure.