Review Published in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, West, June 11, 2006

Actually, We Bring You Art Every Single Week

(An Editor's Note from First and Spring, by Rick Wartzman, West Editor)

Before you soak in the stunning imagery in this special issue of West, please turn back to page 5, if you missed it. That’s where one of my favorite pieces of art resides.

I am referring to Donna Barstow’s cartoon, Fault Lines. Some people will surely turn up their noses at the thought of a cartoon being called art.

“There are definitely skeptics out there,” says Andrew Farago, gallery manager at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. “But we’re treating it as legitimate” as any other form of creative expression.

Farago notes that monumental graphic novels, including Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” and Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor,” have helped the museum make its case. But even a blithe, single-panel cartoon such as Fault Lines meets my definition of art.

Better yet, it meets Degas’: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

Each week, Barstow not only gets me to smile, she provides a peek into the absurdity of life here. She makes me see this place if not altogether differently, at least a bit more clearly. She is, in that way, both lighthearted and a light.

Perhaps the funniest part is that Barstow, who has cartooned for the New Yorker, Reader’s Digest and an array of other publications over the last 13 years, considers herself an artist second.

“The writing—the idea—has to come first,” she explains. “Otherwise, it’s just an illustration.”

Barstow’s ideas often materialize while she is walking at night through Silver Lake, where she lives. “The darkness helps me concentrate,” she says. “I’m not looking so much at what’s around then.”

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Endorsements

  • I started working with Donna after many phone discussions about the nature of editorial cartoons, and the flexibility of the genre. There was an opportunity to try something different, and we embarked on it together. Her work is unique in both style and viewpoint. Her work ethic is unmatched as she strives to create cartoons that are relevant, unusual, and very pointed (and often quite hilarious). She is unafraid to make waves, and she’s a colorful and welcome addition to our lineup. Shena Wolf, Editor Slate Universal Press Syndicate
  • Donna Barstow’s cartoons are a wonderful addition to our online investigative news service. She captures the essence of complex political debates with a sense of flair that gives our site real distinction. Her cartoons have a whimsical nature that make them genuinely unique but they also make a serious point. We’re thrilled to run her work on calwatchdog.com. Steve Greenhut Editor, calwatchdog.com
  • When Donna Barstow first starting sending me cartoons, we still had an editorial cartoonist on staff full time and a subscription to a syndicate. To be honest, I encouraged her to continue sending me things because I enjoyed her toons, though I always felt a little guilty…After we lost our cartoonists, I started picking up her toons..Mariel Garza LA Daily News Editorial Page Editor
  • Best ever Donna. It’s a privilege to publish your weekly work. Paul Noah, editor Dayton City Paper
  • From Slate and Gocomics readers: I’ve started to… look forward to Donna Barstow’s comics. They’re always odd, and they often don’t make immediate sense, but they stand out. You could replace most of the cartoonists here with an Automated Editorial Cartoon Machine and no one would notice the difference, but no machine could replicate some of the comics that Barstow has drawn.
  • Donna is just so Donna! You just have to know that no one else is doing cartoons like this.
  • There is absolutely no way to improve this wonderful, wonderful cartoon…glorious non-sequitur…lunatic genius. Comics Curmudgeon — Wonkette

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