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Cartoonist Reflects on History of Redmond, News Industry

Editorial cartoonist David Horsey will speak about his memories of Redmond on Saturday.

Like a lot of kids, David Horsey was interested in drawing when he was younger. He even pursued it in high school at Ingraham in North Seattle and college at the University of Washington.

Unlike most young drawers, however, Horsey was able to turn his interest into a 30-plus year career that has won him two Pulitzer Prizes as an editorial cartoonist.

“I had no idea you could actually get paid to do this,” he said. “Things just fell into place for me. I was very lucky.”

Horsey has worked at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and seattlepi.com since 1979, but his journalism career began on the Eastside with stints at the Sammamish Valley News and the Bellevue Journal-American, where he covered Redmond City Hall.

He’ll be speaking about his experiences and memories of Redmond at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the . The meeting takes place at the , 16600 NE 80th St, and goes until noon.

Horsey’s view of Redmond made him a good candidate to speak, said Historical Society President Chris Himes, who has been trying to schedule Horsey for several years.

“He started in Redmond and has grown to be a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, but he has also seen how Redmond has changed and grown,” she said. “I thought he would have a good perspective.”

Redmond was a much different town pre-Microsoft when he was covering it, Horsey said.

“It was much more small-town,” he said. “It was more known for having seed stores and tack shops for horses than high-tech.”

Redmond isn’t the only thing that’s changed since the beginning of Horsey’s career — the entire newspaper industry has shifted, with the ceasing of the P-I’s print newspaper in 2009 serving as one of the most obvious turning points. Horsey was one of only a few staff members to survive the transition to an online-only news organization.

Even with the newspapers that still exist, the ranks of editorial cartoonists are thin, he said.

“There are probably half as many jobs doing editorial cartooning now as there were back then,” Horsey said.

Considering there were only about 250 full-time cartoonists when he started in the business — “a very small number,” he says — Horsey is among fairly exclusive company.

There’s a good reason for that — editorial cartooning blends artistry and journalism in a way that requires both skills to be carefully honed, Horsey said. Simply drawing nice pictures isn’t enough.

“I’m not an artist who works for a newspaper; I’m a journalist who happens to draw,” he said.

In addition to the three or four cartoons he draws a week for the P-I and eight other Hearst publications, Horsey writes a weekly column. The genesis of cartoon and column is comparable, even if the result isn’t, he said.

“It’s just the end product that’s different,” Horsey said. “Getting to that end product is kind of similar.”

Another big change since Horsey entered the business — cartoonists are no longer the major players in the game of political satire.

“Editorial cartoonists used to be the out-there, crazy guys,” he said. “Now, we’re pretty mainstream, both in terms of extreme opinions and the level of political satire. I watch Jon Stewart (on ‘The Daily Show’) most nights, and just continually say to myself, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ I guess I need a staff of writers; that might help.”

Now, in a Web-based journalism world, Horsey is looking to explore new ways to present his work online. His first foray into online multimedia came last spring in a joint project between Hearst and MSNBC.com, where his reporting, narration and cartoons were incorporated with a series of still photos to tell travel stories.

Up next, he hopes, is a series of semi-animated cartoons, where sound is added to a quick sequence of images.

“After getting over mourning the loss of the print P-I, I’m enjoying this new experiment,” he said. “I’ve only begun to tap into the possibilities. I’m not confined to ink on newsprint.”

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect spelling of Chris Himes' last name. We regret the error.

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