Cartoonist serious about pursuing his passion for humor

by Amy Whitesall, Published March 28, 2012



YPSILANTI - When Caleb Zweifler won his first cartooning award at the Eastern Echo, it came with sincere praise and a somewhat tongue-in-cheek warning from none other than nationally syndicated cartoonist and Eastern Michigan alum Dave Coverly (BS87).

Coverly concluded his remarks about a technique Zweifler had used with: "It's a downright brilliant touch from someone who will obviously be doing this sort of thing for a living someday, if he unwisely decides to pursue a career that offers so little pay for so much work... Not that I'm bitter."

And with that, Zweifler was hooked.

"I know in (Coverly's) career there were people who said, 'If this is what you want to do, you should do it,' and that's kind of what he's been for me," Zweifler said. "...I'm really self-critical, and not very receptive of compliments, but when someone I look up to gives me serious consideration, that's really validating."

Zweifler, 22, graduated from EMU in 2011 with a fine art degree but after three years of drawing cartoons for the Echo, he knew he wasn't cut out for the fine art world. He enjoys the pace of cartooning, the opportunity to produce a lot of work in a short time and distribute it right away.

His work won state and internal awards at the Echo, and in early 2011 one of them-a close-up look at the forced separation of a unibrow-earned honorable mention in the Associated College Press's Pacesetter Awards, a national competition that EMU student media director Kevin Devine calls the Pulitzer of college cartooning. Zweifler continues to draw and enter contests, refining his style while he works a day job at a local cafe.

Zwiefler's humor springs from an inquisitive mind and a keen sense of humor. He loves documentaries, is fascinated by philosophy and says he could watch stand-up comedy all day.

"...Especially if it has a political bent," he said.  "I think I wanted to kind of follow in that vein with my humor-something that has a satirical message and makes you laugh."

Drawing always felt natural, and though he came to EMU with thoughts of going into animation or 3-D graphics, his interests and skills kept nudging him toward cartooning until there was just no going back.

"...I think the most you can hope for is that someone reads your comic and has to chuckle. Laughter is a definitely a very scarce resource these days, so to be so pleased by something that you can't hold it in, I think that's a pretty powerful thing."

This story first appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Eastern magazine.

Geoff Larcom


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