Courier-Journal cartoonist coming to Barnes and Noble today

Kaely Holloway

Editorial cartoonist Marc Murphy will visit Bowling Green as part of the fall portion of WKU Libraries Kentucky Live lecture series.

Murphy, a cartoonist for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, will be at Barnes & Noble on Campbell Lane at 7 p.m. today.

“I’ll be talking about the process really of creating and drawing an editorial cartoon, and including a little bit of history,” Murphy said. “There is a role editorial cartoons have played in American history in particular.”


He’ll also bring and display some of his cartoons, one of which caused backlash for Murphy and the Courier-Journal.

“It was about a real tragedy,” Murphy said.

Earlier this year, a girl was accidentally shot by her younger brother in a southern Kentucky county. The gun used was a small Crickett rifle, a model designed for kids.

“I saw two things from an editorial point of view: how in the world was a company allowed to sell guns like this for children, and what kind of culture do we have where we think it’s a tragedy that a girl was killed, but don’t talk about the culture where it’s okay for little kids to have guns,” Murphy said.

The cartoon depicted an autopsy, with an image of a small girl with a gun wound. The cause of death, however, was listed as political issues, such as ignorance, instead of the actual cause of death.

“It was not intended to condemn the parents, because it’s a tragedy and I’m sorry for them,” Murphy said. “It was more calling out the state. The newspaper and I were completely blasted over that.”

The cartoon was removed from the newspaper’s website days later.

“People can write columns and editorials and discuss issues and become very aggravated, and yet for some reason, I guess it’s how our brains are wired, seeing an image is always something that stirs people’s emotions more,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s cartoons are published five times a week, adding to the thousands he’s had published since the beginning of his career. They are also sent out across the country to other papers, as the Courier-Journal is a Gannett owned newspaper.

“He’s the most celebrated political cartoonist in Kentucky,” Brian Coutts, head of the Department of Library Public Services, said.

His cartoons have evolved with technology. Many newer cartoons have made the jump from print to online, made available in a 3-D color format, creating a new way to spark comment and discussion.

“It’s a longer process, but it isn’t that much longer,” he said. “I draw all of my cartoons on an iPad, and the program allows me to create separate layers.”

If a portion of the cartoon is to be animated, Murphy will draw it in several layers, and then have it animated by an animator at the newspaper.

“They’re brief and simplistic, and it complicates the process, but it makes it more fun,” he said.

Murphy will join a long list of famed Kentuckians who have lectured in this series since its start in 2002.

Coutts said this series was started after he and others involved were approached about creating a Kentucky lecture series to partner with the Far Away Places series. The latter series hosts speakers doing work in foreign countries.

“We took the idea to heart,” he said.

New speakers are brought in one Thursday a month during the fall, and follow the same pattern in the spring. All lectures are free and open to the public.

“I’ve gotten lots of calls from people about this particular speaker, making sure we have enough chairs,” Coutts said. “I’ll make sure you have a chair.”