An editorial cartoon for all seasons

Matt Davies of Wilton, Pulitzer and Herblock prize-winning editorial cartoonist for Hearst Connecticut Newspaper Group and Tribune Media Services, showed a small sampling of his work to Westport Sunrise Rotary on Oct. 26.

Mr. Davies publishes a Connecticut-focused political cartoon in Sunday's Hearst papers — Connecticut Post and papers in Stamford, Greenwich and Danbury — and nationally focused pieces three times per week in more than 300 Tribune outlets around the country.

The British-born 1985 Staples graduate and Wilton resident holds a left-leaning mirror up to his readers. He said his task is to "take complex issues and whittle them down." His presentation is often edgy. He called some of his drawings "snarky," adding "that's easy this political season — this is the harvest season."

When he began drawing for Hearst he looked at this part of Connecticut as a land of wealth in which everyone drives European SUVs and lives in gated communities. Then the more he looked the more he saw the contrasts within Fairfield County that have spurred his wit, his pen and his sense of irony.

His cartoons tell a succinct story in a single panel, often using two contrasting images. In one he presents Linda McMahon calling her failure to pay her debts "character building," while calling Chris Murphy a "bum" for the same actions.

Others poke at targets including CL&P, Northeast Utilities, Connecticut's debt problem, and our schools' achievement gap.

He addresses national issues for the Tribune Syndicate. In one about the Gulf oil spill he drew an oil rig — the newest in extraction technology — next to a depiction of a roll of paper towels representing BP's cleanup technology.

In another he drew a Tea Party member impaled by a stick holding a sign saying, "We don't need no stinking Obamacare" while standing outside a hospital and saying, "Insurance won't cover it."

Others include cartoons showing Big Bird as a buzzard and an overstuffed binder titled "People Who Work for 77 Cents on the Dollar." Mitt Romney has become an easy target, he said, and he called Donald Trump "a gift to cartoonists."

He also does do non-political cartoons.

Asked how long he takes to create a cartoon, Mr. Davies said the thinking "is a 24-hour-a-day process" as he looks for the "turn of phrase" or metaphor to "get people to chuckle or wince."

To a question about how his Tribune pieces play in more conservative cities, Mr. Davies said that he is published in southern cities, including Memphis, Birmingham and Dallas. He said he gets "lots of hate mail — as well as lots of like mail."