A few months from now, you will likely see Jay Leno or David Letterman conducting a real-time “press conference” with an animated president of the United States.

I’m not talking about the low-tech Conan O’Brien approach, with somebody’s lips superimposed on a still photo of President Bush. I’m talking high-tech computer animation.

And it will all come to pass because a newspaper cartoonist got fired.

Internationally known caricaturist Kevin Kallaugher was handed his walking papers late last year from his main employer, The Sun in Baltimore. What he chose to do next was remarkable.

He used his immense talent for networking to latch on as an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland — Baltimore County (UMBC), convincing them that he should lead a task force to create “the cartoon of the 21st century.”

When he opened up his laptop last week at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Denver, I was among the excited crowd bunched in behind him.

There on the screen was a moving, chuckling, head-bobbing caricature of President George W. Bush.

Kallaugher (known by his signature, “Kal”) had sculpted a larger-than-life-size clay bust of the president, which was scanned by laser beams to create a three-dimensional image in a computer.

Then Kal and his young computer assistants could stretch and distort the image as much as their hearts desired — and they desired much. The eyes blinked, the mouth curled up, the nostrils flared, and the ears ballooned out and back.

With the aid of gigabytes of memory and video-game joysticks, the creation can be made to react instantly with live performers — such as TV talk-show hosts.

For many attendees at the Denver convention, it was as if they were looking at the future through a crystal ball. In an age when computer users are looking for more and more sophistication in their “content,” this was about as technically sophisticated as cartoons get.

Cartoonists may need to get more sophisticated about computers in other ways, too.

Even if they are not into full animation, many already have regular commentaries, or “blogs,” and their own websites.

Others, notably Daryl Cagle, are trying to sell their drawn cartoons via the Internet.

That’s providing outlets for cartoonists who have been squeezed out of jobs at big newspapers in the last few years. The number of full-time editorial cartoonists in the United States is now about 90, according to the association.

Many cartoonists, myself included, have other jobs besides coming up with their concoctions of commentary, art and humor.

What does this decline in full-time cartoonists mean?

The president of the group, full-time cartoonist and Pulitzer winner Clay Bennett, wrote in November, “There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoon does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit.”

A workshop panelist in Denver told the cartoonists, “You have the power to cut to the core of issues.”

As usual, the cartoonists were buoyed by such remarks. And, in their annual ritual, they gathered to seek mutual support, consolation and inspiration. They needed it.

So did I.

Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and editorial cartoonist. Contact him at tbone@bdtonline.com.A few months from now, you will likely see Jay Leno or David Letterman conducting a real-time “press conference” with an animated president of the United States.

I’m not talking about the low-tech Conan O’Brien approach, with somebody’s lips superimposed on a still photo of President Bush. I’m talking high-tech computer animation.

And it will all come to pass because a newspaper cartoonist got fired.

Internationally known caricaturist Kevin Kallaugher was handed his walking papers late last year from his main employer, The Sun in Baltimore. What he chose to do next was remarkable.

He used his immense talent for networking to latch on as an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland — Baltimore County (UMBC), convincing them that he should lead a task force to create “the cartoon of the 21st century.”

When he opened up his laptop last week at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Denver, I was among the excited crowd bunched in behind him.

There on the screen was a moving, chuckling, head-bobbing caricature of President George W. Bush.

Kallaugher (known by his signature, “Kal”) had sculpted a larger-than-life-size clay bust of the president, which was scanned by laser beams to create a three-dimensional image in a computer.

Then Kal and his young computer assistants could stretch and distort the image as much as their hearts desired — and they desired much. The eyes blinked, the mouth curled up, the nostrils flared, and the ears ballooned out and back.

With the aid of gigabytes of memory and video-game joysticks, the creation can be made to react instantly with live performers — such as TV talk-show hosts.

For many attendees at the Denver convention, it was as if they were looking at the future through a crystal ball. In an age when computer users are looking for more and more sophistication in their “content,” this was about as technically sophisticated as cartoons get.

Cartoonists may need to get more sophisticated about computers in other ways, too.

Even if they are not into full animation, many already have regular commentaries, or “blogs,” and their own websites.

Others, notably Daryl Cagle, are trying to sell their drawn cartoons via the Internet.

That’s providing outlets for cartoonists who have been squeezed out of jobs at big newspapers in the last few years. The number of full-time editorial cartoonists in the United States is now about 90, according to the association.

Many cartoonists, myself included, have other jobs besides coming up with their concoctions of commentary, art and humor.

What does this decline in full-time cartoonists mean?

The president of the group, full-time cartoonist and Pulitzer winner Clay Bennett, wrote in November, “There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoon does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit.”

A workshop panelist in Denver told the cartoonists, “You have the power to cut to the core of issues.”

As usual, the cartoonists were buoyed by such remarks. And, in their annual ritual, they gathered to seek mutual support, consolation and inspiration. They needed it.

So did I.

Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and editorial cartoonist. Contact him at tbone@bdtonline.com.A few months from now, you will likely see Jay Leno or David Letterman conducting a real-time “press conference” with an animated president of the United States.

I’m not talking about the low-tech Conan O’Brien approach, with somebody’s lips superimposed on a still photo of President Bush. I’m talking high-tech computer animation.

And it will all come to pass because a newspaper cartoonist got fired.

Internationally known caricaturist Kevin Kallaugher was handed his walking papers late last year from his main employer, The Sun in Baltimore. What he chose to do next was remarkable.

He used his immense talent for networking to latch on as an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland — Baltimore County (UMBC), convincing them that he should lead a task force to create “the cartoon of the 21st century.”

When he opened up his laptop last week at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Denver, I was among the excited crowd bunched in behind him.

There on the screen was a moving, chuckling, head-bobbing caricature of President George W. Bush.

Kallaugher (known by his signature, “Kal”) had sculpted a larger-than-life-size clay bust of the president, which was scanned by laser beams to create a three-dimensional image in a computer.

Then Kal and his young computer assistants could stretch and distort the image as much as their hearts desired — and they desired much. The eyes blinked, the mouth curled up, the nostrils flared, and the ears ballooned out and back.

With the aid of gigabytes of memory and video-game joysticks, the creation can be made to react instantly with live performers — such as TV talk-show hosts.

For many attendees at the Denver convention, it was as if they were looking at the future through a crystal ball. In an age when computer users are looking for more and more sophistication in their “content,” this was about as technically sophisticated as cartoons get.

Cartoonists may need to get more sophisticated about computers in other ways, too.

Even if they are not into full animation, many already have regular commentaries, or “blogs,” and their own websites.

Others, notably Daryl Cagle, are trying to sell their drawn cartoons via the Internet.

That’s providing outlets for cartoonists who have been squeezed out of jobs at big newspapers in the last few years. The number of full-time editorial cartoonists in the United States is now about 90, according to the association.

Many cartoonists, myself included, have other jobs besides coming up with their concoctions of commentary, art and humor.

What does this decline in full-time cartoonists mean?

The president of the group, full-time cartoonist and Pulitzer winner Clay Bennett, wrote in November, “There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoon does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit.”

A workshop panelist in Denver told the cartoonists, “You have the power to cut to the core of issues.”

As usual, the cartoonists were buoyed by such remarks. And, in their annual ritual, they gathered to seek mutual support, consolation and inspiration. They needed it.

So did I.

Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and editorial cartoonist. Contact him at tbone@bdtonline.com.A few months from now, you will likely see Jay Leno or David Letterman conducting a real-time “press conference” with an animated president of the United States.

I’m not talking about the low-tech Conan O’Brien approach, with somebody’s lips superimposed on a still photo of President Bush. I’m talking high-tech computer animation.

And it will all come to pass because a newspaper cartoonist got fired.

Internationally known caricaturist Kevin Kallaugher was handed his walking papers late last year from his main employer, The Sun in Baltimore. What he chose to do next was remarkable.

He used his immense talent for networking to latch on as an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland — Baltimore County (UMBC), convincing them that he should lead a task force to create “the cartoon of the 21st century.”

When he opened up his laptop last week at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Denver, I was among the excited crowd bunched in behind him.

There on the screen was a moving, chuckling, head-bobbing caricature of President George W. Bush.

Kallaugher (known by his signature, “Kal”) had sculpted a larger-than-life-size clay bust of the president, which was scanned by laser beams to create a three-dimensional image in a computer.

Then Kal and his young computer assistants could stretch and distort the image as much as their hearts desired — and they desired much. The eyes blinked, the mouth curled up, the nostrils flared, and the ears ballooned out and back.

With the aid of gigabytes of memory and video-game joysticks, the creation can be made to react instantly with live performers — such as TV talk-show hosts.

For many attendees at the Denver convention, it was as if they were looking at the future through a crystal ball. In an age when computer users are looking for more and more sophistication in their “content,” this was about as technically sophisticated as cartoons get.

Cartoonists may need to get more sophisticated about computers in other ways, too.

Even if they are not into full animation, many already have regular commentaries, or “blogs,” and their own websites.

Others, notably Daryl Cagle, are trying to sell their drawn cartoons via the Internet.

That’s providing outlets for cartoonists who have been squeezed out of jobs at big newspapers in the last few years. The number of full-time editorial cartoonists in the United States is now about 90, according to the association.

Many cartoonists, myself included, have other jobs besides coming up with their concoctions of commentary, art and humor.

What does this decline in full-time cartoonists mean?

The president of the group, full-time cartoonist and Pulitzer winner Clay Bennett, wrote in November, “There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoon does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit.”

A workshop panelist in Denver told the cartoonists, “You have the power to cut to the core of issues.”

As usual, the cartoonists were buoyed by such remarks. And, in their annual ritual, they gathered to seek mutual support, consolation and inspiration. They needed it.

So did I.

Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and editorial cartoonist. Contact him at tbone@bdtonline.com.A few months from now, you will likely see Jay Leno or David Letterman conducting a real-time “press conference” with an animated president of the United States.

I’m not talking about the low-tech Conan O’Brien approach, with somebody’s lips superimposed on a still photo of President Bush. I’m talking high-tech computer animation.

And it will all come to pass because a newspaper cartoonist got fired.

Internationally known caricaturist Kevin Kallaugher was handed his walking papers late last year from his main employer, The Sun in Baltimore. What he chose to do next was remarkable.

He used his immense talent for networking to latch on as an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland — Baltimore County (UMBC), convincing them that he should lead a task force to create “the cartoon of the 21st century.”

When he opened up his laptop last week at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Denver, I was among the excited crowd bunched in behind him.

There on the screen was a moving, chuckling, head-bobbing caricature of President George W. Bush.

Kallaugher (known by his signature, “Kal”) had sculpted a larger-than-life-size clay bust of the president, which was scanned by laser beams to create a three-dimensional image in a computer.

Then Kal and his young computer assistants could stretch and distort the image as much as their hearts desired — and they desired much. The eyes blinked, the mouth curled up, the nostrils flared, and the ears ballooned out and back.

With the aid of gigabytes of memory and video-game joysticks, the creation can be made to react instantly with live performers — such as TV talk-show hosts.

For many attendees at the Denver convention, it was as if they were looking at the future through a crystal ball. In an age when computer users are looking for more and more sophistication in their “content,” this was about as technically sophisticated as cartoons get.

Cartoonists may need to get more sophisticated about computers in other ways, too.

Even if they are not into full animation, many already have regular commentaries, or “blogs,” and their own websites.

Others, notably Daryl Cagle, are trying to sell their drawn cartoons via the Internet.

That’s providing outlets for cartoonists who have been squeezed out of jobs at big newspapers in the last few years. The number of full-time editorial cartoonists in the United States is now about 90, according to the association.

Many cartoonists, myself included, have other jobs besides coming up with their concoctions of commentary, art and humor.

What does this decline in full-time cartoonists mean?

The president of the group, full-time cartoonist and Pulitzer winner Clay Bennett, wrote in November, “There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoon does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit.”

A workshop panelist in Denver told the cartoonists, “You have the power to cut to the core of issues.”

As usual, the cartoonists were buoyed by such remarks. And, in their annual ritual, they gathered to seek mutual support, consolation and inspiration. They needed it.

So did I.

Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and editorial cartoonist. Contact him at tbone@bdtonline.com.A few months from now, you will likely see Jay Leno or David Letterman conducting a real-time “press conference” with an animated president of the United States.

I’m not talking about the low-tech Conan O’Brien approach, with somebody’s lips superimposed on a still photo of President Bush. I’m talking high-tech computer animation.

And it will all come to pass because a newspaper cartoonist got fired.

Internationally known caricaturist Kevin Kallaugher was handed his walking papers late last year from his main employer, The Sun in Baltimore. What he chose to do next was remarkable.

He used his immense talent for networking to latch on as an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland — Baltimore County (UMBC), convincing them that he should lead a task force to create “the cartoon of the 21st century.”

When he opened up his laptop last week at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Denver, I was among the excited crowd bunched in behind him.

There on the screen was a moving, chuckling, head-bobbing caricature of President George W. Bush.

Kallaugher (known by his signature, “Kal”) had sculpted a larger-than-life-size clay bust of the president, which was scanned by laser beams to create a three-dimensional image in a computer.

Then Kal and his young computer assistants could stretch and distort the image as much as their hearts desired — and they desired much. The eyes blinked, the mouth curled up, the nostrils flared, and the ears ballooned out and back.

With the aid of gigabytes of memory and video-game joysticks, the creation can be made to react instantly with live performers — such as TV talk-show hosts.

For many attendees at the Denver convention, it was as if they were looking at the future through a crystal ball. In an age when computer users are looking for more and more sophistication in their “content,” this was about as technically sophisticated as cartoons get.

Cartoonists may need to get more sophisticated about computers in other ways, too.

Even if they are not into full animation, many already have regular commentaries, or “blogs,” and their own websites.

Others, notably Daryl Cagle, are trying to sell their drawn cartoons via the Internet.

That’s providing outlets for cartoonists who have been squeezed out of jobs at big newspapers in the last few years. The number of full-time editorial cartoonists in the United States is now about 90, according to the association.

Many cartoonists, myself included, have other jobs besides coming up with their concoctions of commentary, art and humor.

What does this decline in full-time cartoonists mean?

The president of the group, full-time cartoonist and Pulitzer winner Clay Bennett, wrote in November, “There are few journalists in a newsroom who can define the tone and identity of a publication like an editorial cartoon does. By discarding those who make a newspaper unique, you rob it of its character. By robbing a newspaper of its character, you steal its spirit.”

A workshop panelist in Denver told the cartoonists, “You have the power to cut to the core of issues.”

As usual, the cartoonists were buoyed by such remarks. And, in their annual ritual, they gathered to seek mutual support, consolation and inspiration. They needed it.

So did I.

Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and editorial cartoonist. Contact him at tbone@bdtonline.com.

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