Cinequest: Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End (Slamdance 2018)

Mr. Fish in Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End. Courtesy of the Slamdance Film Festival.

Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End takes a look at the life of a political cartoonist who lives on the edge at a time when it’s so hard to be a political cartoonist.

Directed by Pablo Bryant, who also doubles as the documentary’s cinematographer, this film takes a look at a satirical cartoonist known professionally as Mr. Fish, whose work is losing value from a commercial perspective.  It’s not so much the fact that he’s so edgy with his satirical outlook but it’s more the fact that the political cartoonists in general are being “systematically murdered” as one interview subject comments on the matter.  When push comes to shove, the job losses are an unfortunate consequence of the Digital Age as newspapers are taking the brunt of it more than anyone.

One particular image that was featured in the film and saw a big fuss made about it was a cartoon featuring President Barack Obama and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The cartoon became a big deal because it was published in a week where the new King statue was set to be dedicated in Washington, DC.  He was discontinued by Harper’s Magazine, both online and in print shortly thereafter.  It’s claimed that it’s because of change in management but it’s fairly safe to assume exactly why he was dropped.

The unfortunate consequences of newspapers becoming a dying breed also mean that political cartoonists such as Mr. Fish need to find new homes.  Unfortunately for Mr. Fish, he lives on the edge when it comes to the business–he’s not afraid to go in a lude direction when it comes to his cartoons.  Editors that used to be interested in supporting his work are no longer there anymore.  Some of this comes as a result of the Digital Era while the other part falls on how edgy Mr. Fish gets with his satire.  Because of this, he has no choice but to teach and find ways to still publish his work.  At one point, he tells his children that he hates having a job but he doesn’t hate his job.

Running along the short side of things, Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End is a documentary that’s worthy of the subject it profiles.

An official selection of the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival, Mr. Fish: Cartooning From The Deep End was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature.  The film will be screening during the Cinequest Film and VR Festival.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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