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trailblazer: the editorial cartoons of etta hulme, a video

Elaine K. Miller

Etta Hulme editorial cartoonistEtta Hulme, now 82 years old, has been the editorial cartoonist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 30 years. Her status as one of the very few women, and one of the earliest, in her profession made her a compelling choice for this video – my third on the subject of editorial cartooning. In the course of producing the first two videos, on portrayals of Geraldine Ferraro and of Hillary Rodham Clinton in editorial cartoons, I interviewed three other women cartoonists – Signe Wilkinson and M.G. Lord for the Ferraro video, and Ann Telnaes for the Clinton video. Their reflections on the experience of being a woman in the profession, and their possible explanations for the relative absence of women in the field, intrigued me. With the focus in the first two videos on the representations of women, women as object, I was ready to consider a woman as creator of portrayals, or woman as subject.

I interviewed Etta Hulme in Ft. Worth, Texas. To get a richer sense of her work, my colleagues and I also met and filmed seventeen of her editorial cartoonist colleagues at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) in Washington, D.C. in June 2002. We completed post-production in early April 2004, and screened Trailblazer at the AAEC convention in Lexington, KY on April 22 at the historic Kentucky Theatre. The video received a standing ovation from the several hundred people in the theater – a reflection of the professional regard and personal affection her colleagues feel for Hulme, as well as a testimony to the success with which the video captures her qualities and talents. It was also featured in the UNIFEM video-film festival "Through Women's Eyes," in Sarasota, FL in April 2005.

The video includes Hulme’s description of the trajectory of her career, from her early work as an illustrator, to freelance cartooning “for $5 a cartoon,” to her position as full time cartoonist for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. She briefly weaves in threads of her personal life, following her husband’s career and education moves and raising children. Her reflections on the subjects about which she feels most passionate – among them environmental protection, health care, welfare, gun control, the havoc of war, and gender relations – are accompanied by sample cartoons, carefully selected for those that convey her perspectives most powerfully, and at times most poignantly. Interwoven throughout the video are her colleagues’ observations on Hulme and her work, including a succinct outline of the unique skills and dispositions that are required of editorial cartoonists. Her colleagues reflect, from their various individual perspectives, on her eminence in the profession, due to both the artistry of her drawings and her special ability, as colleague Hy Rosen explains, “to get to the heart of the matter.”

A professional voiceover actor reads the caption and briefly describes each cartoon, helping the viewer quickly grasp the material onscreen. Thoughtfully selected background music enlivens and paces the commentary and reflects Hulme’s Texas roots.

Trailblazer: The Editorial Cartoons of Etta Hulme can be ordered in DVD format through e k miller Productions.



e k miller Productions
Elaine K. Miller
41 Charmwood Road
Pittsford, NY 14534