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The top 9 WCPO editorial cartoons of 2015

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Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 21:23:16-05

If you hadn’t noticed, 2015 was quite the eventful year. From triumphs to tragedies to everything in between, I tried to give my spin on what was happening in the news.

I went through all the cartoons I did for 2015 -- I’ve drawn more than 150 -- and picked my top 9 of the year.

9) Jan. 12: “Before Extended Parking Meter Hours...and After”

The streetcar has been, and probably will continue to be, one of the most contentious points of the Cincinnati political and economic debate -- which means it’s a godsend for a cartoonist. This cartoon isn’t just something I made up. It actually happened to me!

8) April 28: “Another Step Toward Equality”

Obergefell v. Hodges was a landmark case in United States civil rights, and the fact that Jim Obergefell and his late husband, John Arthur, were from Cincinnati made the case even more special.

While I did a cartoon the day marriage equality became the law of the land, I’ve always liked this cartoon showing Jim Obergefell following in the footsteps of other civil rights cases.

7) Aug. 21: “Sick of Losing”

One thing that unites almost all Cincinnatians is our constant string of sports woes. Even if the Reds and/or Bengals are winning, we can’t go against our ingrained cynicism. Must be in our DNA. Or in the chili.

This cartoon is also one of the many featuring the Flying Pig, my avatar for all of Cincinnati. We’ve been thinking he needs a proper name. Any suggestions?

6) Aug. 8: “How Many More Must It Take Before We Stop It?”

Four-year-old Martaisha Thomas was shot in the head on July 30 in Avondale, an unintended victim of a drive-by shooting. Martaisha was just one of a string of child victims of shooting in a year when gun violence rocked Cincinnati.

Every shooting is a tragedy, but when kids such as Martaisha or China Kinebrew or Kelsie Crow are the victims, my heart breaks even more.

5) July 14: “Practical Takeaways From the All-Star Game”

Like everyone else, I was swept up in the hullabaloo that was the Midsummer Classic. Sure, the game itself was a snooze, but everything else about it was great. Frazier and the Home Run Derby, the zipline, Snoop Dogg -- It was the best party this city’s thrown in years.

This cartoon was a look at how we could keep the spirit of the All-Star Game alive.

4) April 10: “Heaven Gained a New Point Guard”

Lauren Hill was nothing short of an inspiration. Even when facing her own death from a rare cancer, she never stopped fighting, whether it was on the basketball court or raising money and awareness for cancer research.

I think we're all better for having had her in our world.

3) Nov. 13: “France”

I’m a pretty emotional guy. When tragedy strikes, my cartoons become my emotional pressure-release valve. From the death of Sam DuBose to the shootings of the WDBJ reporters in Virginia, I’ve tried to express through a drawing the heartache that often comes with bad news. 

This piece reacting to the terror attacks in Paris is just the most recent example of those cartoons.

2) Oct. 12: “Believe”

Even with Andy Dalton fracturing his thumb, the Bengals are having one of the best years in their history.

Whether Dalton returns or is out for the season, or A.J. McCarron leads the team to postseason victory or defeat, one thing is certain: It’s time for Cincinnati to believe in the Bengals.

1) June 26: “You Can Rest, Brother”

Cincinnati lost two of its finest in the line of duty this year. Cincinnati Fire Department Fire Apparatus Operator Daryl Gordon died fighting a fire on March 26. Cincinnati Police Officer Sonny Kim was shot and killed on June 19. For each, I drew a memorial cartoon.

I was, and still am, humbled to know that the piece I drew for Officer Kim became an unofficial symbol of the city’s collective grief, and was used by both his son on Instagram and by the funeral home, which displayed the image on the hearse carrying Kim’s body and on the programs for his funeral.

Several days before Kim’s funeral, I was contacted by Matt Alter, president of the Cincinnati firefighters' union. Matt had an idea for a drawing that showed Gordon welcoming Kim to heaven. While I don’t normally take suggestions for my cartoons, I was struck by how Matt kept referring to both Kim and Gordon as “brother.” I started to sketch out the cartoon, just to see what it was like, and had to pause because I began to cry.

To me, this cartoon sums up one of the worst things we deal with -- the deaths of two men, each of whom had families, who gave their lives to protect others. But it also represents the best of us, how we as a community can come together in the face of unspeakable sorrow, and call each other brother and sister. And that makes this my top cartoon of 2015.

BONUS: Aug. 5: “Stops Along the Route”

Yup, it’s another streetcar cartoon. I actually had the basic idea for this cartoon for a few months, but I needed the perfect occasion to use it. When news broke that the actual streetcars themselves were taking longer to build than expected, I knew I’d found the right moment.

Great minds must think alike, because the same night I was drawing this, my friend and Business Courier cartoonist Joe Hoffecker was drawing a nearly identical cartoon. That prompted us to have a lot of laughs (and a few beers as we toasted each other’s creative, uh, genius.)