Eric Devericks: The Man You Love to Hate
by Georgia Ball
March 1, 2005
The Cartoonists Northwest meeting on Friday, February 18 featured Seattle Times editorial cartoonist Eric Devericks. Eric's is a success story based on hard work and determination, and members listened with interest as he detailed his rise to prominence at such a young age.
Eric acquired an interest in cartoons while pursuing a medical career at Oregon State. After publishing a series of humor strips in the school paper, he tried his hand at editorial cartooning and fell in love with receiving hate mail. He made it his goal to become a paid, professional cartoonist, and put all of his focus into winning journalism awards that would impress potential publishers. Eric won several contests including three national journalism awards; he quit school and became a freelance cartoonist. He developed a relationship with the editors of the Spokane Review at a cartoonists convention who showed some interest in hiring him, but September 11 interrupted the process and made it impossible for the Review to hire. But the Spokane editor was so impressed by Devericks he shopped his name around various newspapers. Eric received a call from the Seattle Times, and since then has been their hard-working staff editorial cartoonist.
Eric starts his day at the Times by attending an editorial staff meeting, in which writers and editors debate the issues that will become the editorial page. He listens to their ideas, but prefers not to match the content of his cartoon with the themes of the articles it will be published with. He gets his ideas for cartoons by reading incessantly, watching television news broadcasts, and listening to talk radio. After making several smaller sketches he creates a more elaborate sketch and then passes it to his boss for a critique. Once he has sign-off he begins the final cartoon within a couple of hours to make the five o'clock deadline.
He begins with a detailed pencil sketch, then goes over the cartoon with brush pens and micron pens. He uses gray markers for his shaded areas, but elaborate strokes are not always necessary; Eric prefers to focus on the characters rather than needlessly fill space. He works larger than the cartoon will be printed and so scans his final work into Photoshop in two pieces. He enjoys experimenting with different pens and other materials, and believes that every new technique mastered is another tool for his arsenol. His caricatures emphasize the essence of the person. a gaping mouth for Howard Dean, enormous ears for President Bush. Consistently Eric works to be unique in style and approach.
For aspiring editorial cartoonists, Eric Devericks cautions that you need a thick skin. Eric can receive thousands of angry emails over the course of the year, but it's his goal to make readers think, and his favorite cartoons are the ones that invoke the most outrage. Editorial cartooning is about inspiring people to share their opinions, and fortunately, Eric thrives on emotional responses. He acknowledges that when he was considering this career path in college, established cartoonists warned him not to do it. True, it can be difficult at times; sometimes there is pressure not to print local storylines for political reasons, and cartooning on a national theme runs the risk of having your cartoon supplanted by a nationally syndicated artist. But Eric loves his job, and his determination rewarded him. He's now a familiar name to Seattle Times readers, who alternately believe he is slanted left and right.
contact: Georgia Ball