CINCINNATI - As soon as he heard about the death of Sonny Kim, the Cincinnati police officer killed in the line of duty this past June, Kevin Necessary knew what he had to do.
That same impulse kicked into gear when he heard the news of the tragic shooting of two journalists from Virginia's WDBJ on live television. He started sketching.
On Wednesday, he penned a cartoon in remembrance of slain journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward that was shared across the country.
“I saw the logo of the news site and WDBJ, and I saw the CBS eye symbol, and all I could think about is, ‘It’s crying, we’re having a collective moment of grief,” Necessary said. “It just immediately stood out to me.”
Necessary has been WCPO.com’s cartoonist since 2014.
He started out doing sports-related panels and now creates at least two cartoons for WCPO.com each week, including a popular “Caption This” feature where readers and viewers can come up with the words to go with his drawings.
It's not the only piece of Necessary’s work that has received national attention.
“The Sonny Kim (cartoons) were very popular,” Necessary said. “I think they just became something that was shared by a lot of people to really express the grief the community felt about his death.”
So many people connected with the drawing that funeral directors emblazoned the hearse that carried Kim to his final resting place with the image, something Necessary said was “very amazing and humbling.”
Describing the creative process behind the cartoons is complicated at best, and mostly about figuring out what connects emotionally to people.
Upon hearing about the shooting of 4-year-old Marttaisha Thomas on July 30, Necessary said he felt angry, so he created an editorial cartoon depicting a teddy bear shot through with bullet holes and surrounded by shell casings.
“I knew what the image was saying to me, and it was expressing my anger, my frustration and my sadness,” he said.
For Necessary, the images are conversation starters, meant to get readers to start thinking about the problems -- and victories -- affecting their lives.
“My cartoons aren’t a 1,000-word column; they can't get into an issue,” he said. “…(but they are) something you can see immediately and it gets you talking and thinking about things.”
When it comes to lighter topics, some of his favorite creations play off of the quirkiness of the Queen City.
“One of my favorite cartoons was from last year,” Necessary said. “During the whole Save Our Icons campaign one of the icons I suggested saving was the Reds, like ‘There’s another icon that needs to be saved.’”
Cartoons are a reflection of the news of day, or the city, he said, adding “I like to reflect the good things and the bad things, warts and all.”
Check out Necessary's interview with WCPO.com Editor-in-Chief Mike Canan here.