Lisa Benson grew up taking every art class that her high school schedule would allow.
But, it wasn’t until 16 years later, after she got married, started a family and worked jobs in bookkeeping and driving a city bus, that she reignited her artistic voice.
After her youngest child of four started kindergarten, she landed a job doing paste-up and occasional illustrations and cartoons in a monthly newspaper.
Now, conservative syndicated editorial cartoonist Benson’s work is featured in newspapers across the U.S.
The Coronado News is thrilled to bring her art to readers, featured on the editorial page each week and online at thecoronadonews.com.
“To be honest, I never set my sights on a career in cartooning,” Benson said in an interview. “I loved drawing and clipping editorial cartoons from the newspaper, but the odds of earning a living doing political cartoons seemed out of reach.”
She discovered the editorial page during the Watergate Hearings in 1972, after primarily finding intrigue in the comic section.
“After school, my mother would share the latest humor and commentary of artists like Pat Oliphant and Paul Conrad,” Benson said. “I was hooked, and have never looked back.”
Journey began in 1992
Her journey as a freelancer started at the Victorville Daily Press in 1992, where she has created two local cartoons per week for 30 years.
“Editorial cartooning wasn’t exactly paying the bills, so I took a job with a marketing firm, learning computer graphics for a variety of formats and applications,” Benson said.
Three and a half years later, she began freelancing from home full-time after building a clientele of her own.
Benson was syndicated by the Washington Post Writers group in 2006.
The Washington Post has since discontinued representing cartoonists and Benson is now syndicated with Counterpoint Media.
She won first place in the California Newspaper’s Association Awards in 2000 and first place honors for the Best of the West awards in 2010 for her editorial cartoons.
Benson is a California native whose work reflects a right leaning point of view; she is one of the few conservative syndicated editorial cartoonists in the country.
She was particularly inspired by editorial cartoonists Michael Ramirez and Jeff MacNelly’s work, and said she relies on an old school method for creating her cartoons—pencil to paper.
She starts with India ink and micron pens to bristol board. The final product is scanned to Photoshop where color is added and then sent off to the syndicate.
Reading is a huge part of Benson’s creation process to gather enough content for three cartoons each week, she said.
“Sometimes, a particular news story that I’m passionate about will jump off the page, but most days it’s an effort to sift through the garbage for something interesting,” she said.
Key issues in California
In California right now, she said there are many important issues to comment on, such as high taxes and over regulation, homelessness, water, a stable and affordable energy supply and underfunded liabilities.
According to Benson, an editorial cartoon’s role in an editorial page is to use art, commentary and sometimes humor to convey a message and spark thoughtful conversation.
“Cartoons have been a part of editorial pages for years and enjoyed by readers worldwide,” Benson said. “I hope that trend continues.”