Published on October 18th, 2012 | by Dr. Richard Martorano0
Bruce Beattie – Superstar in the Cartoon Industry
The Guy People Loved to Hate
How would you like to go to work every morning for 29 years expecting to tick somebody off and knowing you’re going to get paid to do it?
You know your job description is to address local, regional and national issues with a liberal slant that will probably alienate the Republican-based community in which you live.You also know that the newspaper subscriber will immediately turn to the editorial page, read and scrutinize your political cartoon and take issue of its liberalism.
You were hired by the Davidson family, owners and publishers of the Daytona Beach News Journal in 1981, after ending a one year tenure as a political cartoonist at the Honolulu Advertiser in Hawaii.Over the years you have become a nationally syndicated cartoonist respected for your humor, content, insight and technique but locally considered a diehard liberal.
You were the guy people loved to hate but never failed to read religiously – daily
Within a few short years you were nationally syndicated in over 250 newspapers and your cartoons were featured in magazines, television, books and museums throughout the country.
I can understand if you have no idea who the ill-defined portrayal above just described. Let me explain. The annoying contributor to the editorial staff of the recently sold Daytona Beach News Journal described above is nationally syndicated cartoonist Bruce Beattie.
He worked for the NJ for 29 years before being laid off like a few hundred other employees by its new ownership in 2010.
A personal note; knowing Bruce’s family, education and New England upbringing, I have accused him for years of being a closet Republican. To this day he has not admitted to that.
Born in New York City and after attending prestigious Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, Bruce was educated and graduated, from the University of Pennsylvania in Oriental Studies after spending his junior year in Tokyo. He also completed additional studies at the Art Center College of Design.
For many years in addition to his daily News Journal published political cartoons, (called political because they appeared on the editorial page) Bruce produced two syndicated cartoon strips called Snafu and Beattie Boulevard.
It was a continual process to stay current on what was happening locally, at the state level, regionally, nationally and in many cases internationally.
The amount of outside reading Bruce would do to prepare before taking pen to the paper was amazing. His work planning and process is an exact duplication of his personality. Bruce is very methodical – meticulous – thorough – detailed – low-key –and always does what the “signs” say to do.
He drives the speed limit – doesn’t park where he is not supposed to – exercises at a moderate pace – is a connoisseur of good food and wine – spends hours in flight simulation on his computer and is basically just a good guy and friend
For the many years I have known Bruce I am most respectful of his work ethic. Bruce would spend his eight hours a day at the News Journal, come home and work until eight or nine o’clock on his syndicated publications before going on to his social commitments.
Who I described above is the Bruce Beattie you would come to know personally. Reading his cartoons is an entirely different bag.
He has a lot to say about politicians, society, the dumb things done by civic leaders and “man’s stupidity to man.” He says it all with a caustic sense of humor that inspires you to remember “The Hook” (punch line for you unhip people).
I met Bruce in 1981 through his lovely lady and future wife Dr. Karen Robertson Beattie. Karen and I met doing community theater together at the Daytona Beach Little Theater. She studied dance her whole life and was one of the founding members of Seaside Music Theater. She introduced me to my wife Ann. We have been close personal friends ever sense.
Just like most successful men, there is a woman behind the man.
Karen has been an important part of Bruce’s career as an encourager and business manager. She has her own career as a teacher/principal/administrator with the Volusia County school system and also has an MBA from Stetson University.
As President of the National Cartoonists Society, Bruce became a big player in the cartoon arena. Bruce served as President and Karen was his Chief of Staff. They worked with such high profile cartoonists as Dean Young of “Blondie” fame – Mort Walker of “Hi and Lois” and “Beetle” – Charles Schulz of “Peanuts” and Jim Garfield of “Garfield” just to name a few.
That was all before – this is now.
After 29 years with the News Journal, and still a young man, Bruce has added other crafts to his career. He has a webpage Beattiecartoons.com, is published regularly in Reader’s Digest Barrons, the Wall Street Journal and through Internet sources, his cartoons are read online and published in newspapers all over the country. Bruce has also entered the marketplace as a public speaker with a unique concept of drawing customized cartoons for the audience.
He is an in demand substitute teacher in Volusia County bringing a practical life element and awareness to young people, and is studying for certification to teach full-time in secondary schools.
As he teaches, his humor and insights touches on everything from local to International current events. His students enjoy this teaching manner of putting comicalness in their life as they deal with real world situations. He does this through cartooning and his conversational delivery.
He talks to his students and not at them and they love him for it. His students check him out on the Internet so by the time he gets to their class as a substitute teacher, they know of his notoriety and reputation.
His editorial cartoons at the News Journal are truly missed by those who love to hate him. The current and existing blandness of the cartoons in the editorial section leaves a lot to be desired.
It was a big mistake for the new owners of the News Journal to let him go but in some respects, they did him and us a favor. They allowed Bruce to have alternate careers doing good things for the young people of Volusia County and gave him more time to produce pieces for national syndication.
Though we may miss loving to hate him as a local journalist, he is doing good things for our community. Say thank you Bruce.