Mike Thompson is an award-winning cartoonist for the Detroit Free Press who has actually given up national syndication to focus on state and local issues. "Michigan is home to the likes of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, self-proclaimed political expert Ted Nugent and the thuggish John Engler, a former governor who made headlines for his inept leadership of Michigan State University after the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.
"Each of the aforementioned individuals is in over their head. I’ve commented on them for years. Power and incompetence is a frightening combination, so there’s a crying need for someone here in Michigan to warn the state and the rest of the world, and to push back against their ignorance-fueled excesses."
Another midwesterner who felt the call of local cartooning is Bob Unell, who began drawing for the weekly Kansas City Star Kansas suburban edition in 2011. "My 30-year advertising career taught me how powerfully words and visuals can communicate when the right ones are combined. Over the past twelve months, a range of local issues impacting the lives of Kansans have inspired my cartoons, including the departure of Governor Sam Brownback, the continued “leadership” of Secretary of State Kris Kobach on immigration, the misplacement of children by the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the continuing impact of gun violence."
[Throughout his life, Rex Babin championed those who focused on state and local issues in editorial cartoons, a field that he and other cartoonists felt was regularly overlooked by journalism contests. The "Rex Babin Memorial Award for Excellence in Local Cartooning" was launched in 2017 to celebrate those working in this niche. To that end, we will be showcasing each cartoonist who entered the contest this year, one or two each day in alphabetical order (more or less), leading up to the AAEC Convention in Sacramento, CA, and the announcement of the award winner on Saturday, Sept. 22.]