Meet an illustrator on a quest to draw the perfect political cartoon
When Judith Reynolds presented her art portfolio to the Durango Herald in 1994, she didn’t anticipate an offer to do political cartoons for the paper. Out of curiosity to explore a different type of art, she accepted the opportunity. She also figured the job might only last a few years.
She is still doing it nearly 30 years later.
Along the way, Reynolds has compiled a playful visual history of Durango. As public figures and local discourse are being satirized, Reynolds’ cartoons often feature a nameless black cat with large expressive eyes and a thought bubble over its head.
In March, the Women’s Resource Center of La Plata recognized her distinctive voice and dedication when they presented her with the 2023 Extraordinary Woman Award.
In a phone interview, Reynolds expressed appreciation for the award ceremony held in her honor. But as an introvert, she was relieved once the event ended.
As a fellow introverted reporter, hearing Reynolds vocalize that duality was reaffirming.
Journalism requires a reporter to be outgoing, which is challenging for an introvert. Reynolds said. “It took a long time for me to realize that you can acquire extrovert skills to become a reporter, but you can still be an introvert. You draw your energy by your solitude, and that enables you to go out into the world.”
After decades of drawing over 800 cartoons for the Herald, Reynolds still strives for perfection. “If you can do a cartoon that has no text at all, that's the height of political cartooning because you're communicating entirely visually,” she said, adding, “I've aspired to that. I haven't achieved it very often.”
Even though she’s gained recognition as a cartoonist, Reynolds identifies primarily as a journalist. “What I love about journalism is that you are always learning something,” she said. “(It’s) a pretty fast learning curve that involves interviewing, researching your subject, and then having to write about it. It’s just a great continuing education for you. I happen to love deadlines.”
Reynolds is proud to receive the 2023 Woman’s Award, but her work with her late husband is her highest achievement.
After ten years of research, the couple published a biography on the controversial Swedish scientist Gustaf Nordenskiöld, the first researcher to study the Mesa Verde ruins. “It was a major project that my husband and I shared. [The book] was published a year before my husband died, so it has particular meaning and relevance to me.”
Reynolds devotes the hours of 8 AM to 1 PM to writing. She describes herself as naturally curious and having high energy. And journalism compliments that drive, even to this day. As our call ended, she was preparing to interview for an upcoming story.