Wayne Stayskal, nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist for the
Tampa Tribune, is known for his unique cartooning style and ability
to drive home his point on some of the nations most hotly contested
topics with his disarming humor. Stayskal, who attends Victory Church
(Assemblies of God) in Lakeland, Fla., (Wayne Blackburn, pastor) spoke
with Kirk Noonan, associate editor, about life as an editorial cartoonist.
EVANGEL: How did your upbringing influence your decision to accept
Christ as your Savior?
My parents were Christians and made sure I went to church. I had a good
foundation to build on and some good Sunday school teachers too. When
I was 8 years old I was baptized. Looking back now, I think I got baptized
because my older cousin was getting baptized and I wanted to do what
he did even though I had not yet accepted Christ as my Savior. After
that, whenever a pastor would give a call for salvation, I would feel
a tugging in my spirit to go forward, but then I would think to myself,
I dont need to go forward; Ive been baptized. While in the
Air Force I met a Christian lieutenant who was training navigators for
the Korean War. He held Bible studies and I attended them. One night
during the study, it dawned on me that I was not saved. In my bunk that
night, I asked the Lord to come into my heart. What a feeling that was;
it was great. There was no mistake about it.
EVANGEL: Has cartooning been a pursuit of yours your entire life?
STAYSKAL: As a child I couldnt get by without a pencil
in my hand all the time. Every Sunday I copied the comics from the newspaper
those cartoons were my inspiration. I tried to do my own cartoons,
but I did better copying them at the time. My folks caught on to my
interest in art and sent me to a neighbor who taught oil painting. In
high school, I took all of the art classes I could. After serving in
the Air Force I went to the Chicago Academy of Fine Art. After I graduated,
I was leaning toward cartooning, yet my cartooning career did not pan
out as I had planned. For a year I worked in commercial art studios.
After that I took a job at the Chicago American newspaper, where
I did layouts for their Sunday magazine along with some cartoon illustrations.
EVANGEL: How long until you started doing cartoons full time?
STAYSKAL: It all started about two years later. I was now the
art director for the Sunday magazine. I heard about a big publishing
company looking for an art director for their encyclopedias yearbook.
Down deep I just knew that job was mine, but when I applied I was turned
down. I couldnt find out why I did not get it. God seemed to remind
me that I never talked to Him about it. So I started talking to God
about my career, and I told Him that I wouldnt try to control
it anymore I would just follow wherever He would lead me.
Soon after that, Vaughn Shoemaker, an editorial cartoonist and a two-time
Pulitzer Prize winner, started working at our paper. He was also a Christian.
He wanted an assistant and I got that job. I did it along with my art
director duties. I also started a small editorial cartoon three times
a week for the bottom of the editorial page. Vaughn gave me many good
pointers along the way. When he retired 10 years later, I took his position
as chief cartoonist. When the paper ceased publishing, I took a job
at the Chicago Tribune.
EVANGEL: Your career and notoriety were starting to soar at the
Chicago Tribune. Why did you leave?
STAYSKAL: I left there in 1984 when newspapers across the nation,
including the Tribune, were having financial problems. We had
three editorial cartoonists; the other two were Pulitzer Prize winners,
so I had to go. They gave me a year to find another job. Just when I
needed it, God worked it out so I could come to the Tampa Tribune.
EVANGEL: What are the main ingredients of a cogent editorial cartoon?
STAYSKAL: For me, number one is humor. Its the old "a
spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down" theory. Number two is
to decide the right thing to say. Three is to get my idea across as
simply as possible.
EVANGEL: How do you keep from coming across as angry or spiteful
in your cartoons?
STAYSKAL: I try to avoid it, but sometimes its in me and
comes out. I admit I got a bit heavy-handed during the Clinton years.
All cartoonists get too close to the issue at times.
EVANGEL: Do people ever get angry with you for the cartoons you
STAYSKAL: People have protested against me in front of our offices.
Some write letters or call. Sometimes when people call they yell, but
after they stop yelling we talk and it generally ends up being quite
EVANGEL: Have you ever been threatened with the loss of your job
over a cartoon?
STAYSKAL: No, but they have not used a cartoon from time to
time. My boss always explains the reasons why he would rather not use
it. When this happens, I just do another one. Fortunately, this doesnt
EVANGEL: Do you have a sense that you are defending something?
STAYSKAL: No, I wouldnt use the word defending. I think
it is more pointing out what is right in a world full of so much wrong.
The bottom line is, Im just like everybody else voicing his or
her opinions. Although I may seem to yell a little louder because I
have the privilege of being amplified through syndication and Web sites.