August 26, 1963
|Area(s)||Artist, Writer, Editor|
|Notable works||Revenge of the Latchkey Kids, To Afghanistan and Back, Silk Road to Ruin|
Ted Rall (born August 26, 1963, Cambridge, Massachusetts), is an American columnist, syndicated editorial cartoonist, and author. His political cartoons often appear in a multi-panel comic-strip format and frequently blend comic-strip and editorial-cartoon conventions. The cartoons appear in approximately 100 newspapers around the United States. He is President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.
Rall draws three editorial cartoons a week for syndication, draws illustrations on a freelance basis, writes a weekly syndicated column, and edits the Attitude series of alternative cartooning anthologies and spin-off collections by up-and-coming cartoonists. He is an award-winning graphic novelist and the author of non-fiction books about domestic and international current affairs. He also travels to and writes about Central Asia, a region he believes to be pivotal to U.S. foreign policy concerns. In November 2001 he went to Afghanistan as a war correspondent for The Village Voice and KFI Radio in Los Angeles.
Rall was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1963, and raised in Kettering, Ohio, near Dayton. He graduated from Fairmont West High School, later renamed Kettering Fairmont High School, in 1981. From 1981 to 1984, Rall attended Columbia University's engineering school where he contributed cartoons to the campus newspapers, including the Columbia Daily Spectator, Barnard Bulletin, and the Jester. He failed to complete his studies in the engineering school, where he majored in applied physics and nuclear engineering, but returned to graduate several years later from Columbia's School of General Studies in 1991 with a bachelor of arts, with honors, in history.
Rall says his drawing style was originally influenced by Mike Peters, the editorial cartoonist at his hometown paper, the Dayton Daily News. Later influences included Jules Feiffer, Garry Trudeau, Charles Schulz and Matt Groening. He says meeting Keith Haring in 1986, at a subway station, inspired him to pursue cartooning as a full-time profession.
Rall's 1990s work focused on the issues and concerns surrounding twentysomethings and Generation X, terms coined in the late 1980s to describe people born in the 1960s. While living in San Francisco Rall met Dave Eggers, who hired him as a contributing editor and writer for Might magazine, a publication Eggers edited and co-founded. Among other essays, Rall authored two seminal essays for Might, "Confessions of an Investment Banker" and "College is for Suckers." He wrote Op/Ed columns for The New York Times, including "Why I Will Not Vote" (1994), which justified apathy among Generation Xers who saw neither the Democrats or Republicans responding to their concerns. In 1998 Rall published "Revenge of the Latchkey Kids," a compendium of essays and cartoons that criticized the Baby Boomer-dominated media for ignoring and ridiculing young adults and their achievements.
He has also written and drawn for Mad magazine.
Rall began frequent travels to Central Asia in 1997, when he attempted to drive the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul via China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as a staff writer for P.O.V. magazine. P.O.V. published his adventures as Silk Road to Ruin, a title he used for his 2006 collection of essays and cartoons about Central Asia. Rall returned to the region for P.O.V. in 1999 to travel the Karakoram Highway from Kashgar, in western China, to Islamabad. Subsequent trips included two trips in 2000, "Stan Trek 2000"--in which Rall brought along 23 listeners to his radio show for a bus journey from Turkmenistan to Kyrgyzstan via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan—and a U.S. State Department-sponsored visit to Turkmenistan, where he met with Turkmen college students and dissidents to explain the nature of free press in a democracy. A 2002 assignment for Gear magazine to cover the world championships of buzkashi in Tajikistan was not published due to the magazine's going out of business, but turned up in an edited form in Silk Road to Ruin. He returned to Tajikistan, Xinjiang Province in western China and Pakistan during the summer of 2007.
The Attitude: The New Subversive Cartoonists series of books is a series of anthologies of alternative comics edited by Rall. Frustrated that cartoons prevalent in alternative weekly newspapers were being ignored in favor of mainstream and art comics, Rall edited the first "Attitude" anthology, Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists, in 2002, with its mission to bring together cartoonists who were "too alternative for the mainstream and too mainstream for the alternative." Attitude 2: The New Subversive Alternative Cartoonists followed in 2004, and in 2006 Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists appeared. Each volume contains interviews with, cartoons by and personal ephemera related to 21 different cartoon creators. The first and second volumes emphasized political and humor cartoons; the third volume exclusively features webcartoonists.
Rall also edited three cartoons collections by Andy Singer, Neil Swaab and Stephanie McMillan under the name "Attitude Presents:".
Rall is a frequent guest on Hannity and Colmes, the BBC and NPR. He contributes a cartoon called "Left Coast" to the Pasadena Weekly. In February 2005, BBC Television broadcast a 30-minute profile of Rall as part of their series Cartoonists on the Front Line.
Rall had a Saturday and Sunday radio talk show on KFI radio in Los Angeles from August 1998 to August 2000. After 9/11, KFI brought him back to travel to Afghanistan and file live on-air reports from the battle of Kunduz and elsewhere in northern Afghanistan. Rall's show was also broadcast live from Havana as well as Pakistani-held Kashmir. In 2005 he had a weekend show on San Francisco's KIFR-FM. Rall has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio, the BBC and Fox Radio.
Rall has called for Barack Obama to resign as President of the United States, stating: "the gap between the soaring expectations that accompanied Barack Obama’s inauguration and his wretched performance is the broadest such chasm in recent historical memory. This guy makes Bill Clinton look like a paragon of integrity and follow-through."
In 1999, Rall wrote an article in the Village Voice accusing Maus creator Art Spiegelman of lacking talent and controlling who gets high-profile assignments from magazines like The New Yorker through personal connections, including his wife, a New Yorker editor. As a self-described prank, New York Press illustrator Danny Hellman sent two sets of e-mails under Rall's name to at least 35 cartoonists and editors. After Hellman ignored his cease-and-desist notices, Rall filed a $1.5-million lawsuit for libel per se, libel per quod, injurious falsehood, violation of civil rights, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Rall's suit stated that Hellman was attempting to sabotage his career. Eventually four of Rall's five claims were dismissed, leaving only libel per se. The lawsuit is awaiting trial.
Three characters in another strip described Pat Tillman as an "idiot" a "sap" and a "hero" for abandoning his NFL career to enlist in the armed forces. Tillman is depicted saying "Sign me up, as long as I get to kill Arabs." Later, after revelations of Tillman's privately held anti-Iraq-war sentiments became public, Rall wrote that he regretted making such sweeping assumptions about Tillman's motives, describing Tillman as "one hell of an interesting human being."
His July 5, 2004, cartoon mocked Condoleezza Rice, depicting her character being sent to a "racial re-education camp" where she refers to herself as a "house nigga" and George W. Bush's "beard". Rall, a white man, was accused of racism by Project 21, a conservative organization with black membership.
A November 8, 2004, cartoon depicted mentally disabled children as classroom teachers in an attempt to make an analogy to American voters who reelected Bush, drawing complaints from advocates for the disabled and led to his cartoons being dropped from The Washington Post's website. Rall responded in his blog saying: "I regret hurting people who I have nothing against. I do want to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and I think I failed in that with this cartoon. Not to mention that the cartoon failed—too many people got bogged down in the analogy and the main point got lost."
Rall is listed at #15 in Bernard Goldberg's book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America described by the author as a "vicious, conspiracy-minded, hate-filled jerk." Rall perceived the listing as an honor, replying, "Not only am I grouped with many people whom I admire for their achievements and patriotism, I'm being demonized by McCarthyite thugs I despise."
Rall solicited funds from readers and left-wing bloggers in an attempt to sue Ann Coulter for libel and slander for her (self-described as "joking") statement that, "Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust. So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and The New York Times have made submissions." Coulter first made the remark at the 2006 Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington D.C. on February 10, and then printed it in her syndicated column the following week. By 18 days later, pledges totaled over $21,000. However, pledges are no longer being solicited, and in a December 27, 2006 blog entry, Rall posted an email that was sent to pledged contributors to the lawsuit, stating that his attorneys had determined that "The road ahead is too uncertain to justify spending thousands of dollars of pledges, not to mention my own money".
Transcripts from Hannity & Colmes