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Cartoonist in training

Greg Pence '06
Greg Pence '06 aspires to a career as an editorial cartoonist. (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Government major Greg Pence '06 is taking what he learns in class and using it to create editorial cartoons for the New Hampshire Union Leader, a prominent daily state newspaper. To date, he's published more than 20 pieces.

Pence's cartooning began in high school, and it continued in college with a comic strip in The Dartmouth called "Looking Up."

"Andrew Cline, the Union Leader's editorial page editor, had seen my comic strip, and he called and asked if I'd submit a few political cartoons," said Pence. "He invested lots of time helping me develop a critical voice. For this job you need art skills, and the ability to think critically and analytically. I'm beginning to establish my visual vocabulary."

Pence said his Dartmouth experience has been vital to his success so far as an editorial cartoonist. The crystallizing moment might have been during the government department's foreign study program in London in the fall of 2004. That was when Pence discovered the intimate connections between art, politics and society. He acknowledged support from two professors, Ned Lebow, the James O. Freedman Presidential Professor of Government, and David Ehrlich, Visiting Professor of Film and Television Studies, who have guided his studies. Choosing projects that combine his major in government with his talent and interest in comics, he's explored the theme of national identity as embodied by the classic superhero character. This year, he's creating a graphic novel as an independent study project.

His work with the Union Leader, though, has sparked bigger career aspirations. "I want to become a syndicated cartoonist," he said.

But editorial cartooning isn't as easy as it looks, explained Pence. "It's a fine line between being successful and being moral. I want to attack issues, not people. Lots of editorial cartoons are biting and sarcastic; I want to be more thoughtful and optimistic—impart a message of hope and inspire imagination in others."



Pence's love for cartooning was nurtured by his mother and inspired by exceptional mentors, especially William Montgomery '52. According to Pence, "Montgomery's continued service to the community demonstrates that a Dartmouth education is a life-long committment."

The topics he's covered in his cartoons include Tom DeLay's legal entanglements, the controversy over national identification cards, the geopolitics of the Iraq war and the financial plight of the airline industry.

"I love Dartmouth," said Pence. "It's given me space to express myself."

By SUSAN KNAPP

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Last Updated: 5/30/08