Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
With the stroke of a pen, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently restored potential voting rights for felons in the state. The topic has been a point of discussion at the capitol for some time now, and while Reynolds' executive order has helped the issue cross a proverbial finish line, she pointed out the order could be undone by a future governor by the same means – an executive order. Personally, I've got little to no opinion on the matter. I do, however, feel the order is going to be of at least some historical significance. Iowa's a little late to the game in passing such a law, and should the issue be volleyed back and fourth across several future governorships, this first change will be marked as the first chapter in a much longer story for Iowans.
Once again, simplicity reigns.
Compositionally, what we have here is an "X" made of fancy elements. Regardless of where your eye starts, it's likely to move back and fourth from the horizontal of the handcuffs to the vertical of the signature. The pen, and ink splash (and I'm finding I can't resist a good ink splash) do stop that rhythm some, but the pen at least is necessary for the panel's meaning (At one point, I thought about scrapping the whole thing in order to lay the chain links out in the profile of Iowa, but I decided that actually muddied the clarity of the panel – too many elements at play). The gradient background also adds to the back and fourth of the viewer's eye, since it indicates a sort of atmospheric perspective, if not an implied vanishing point. As such, the vertical gaze reads as near-and-far in the viewer's mind, rather than up-and-down.
You'll notice a reference image was used for each element – cuffs, pen and signature. Official documents, from local legislation and U.S. Census records on up to the Bill of Rights, carry no copy right and may be used by the public. So, don't fret over my facsimile of the governor's signature. Not only is it fair use, it's not fooling anyone.
But it's the power behind the signature I wanted to portray here.
We're all more skeptical of executive orders these days, but when used properly, I believe they can do some good for the public. Ink is fluid. It can smear, it can run it can spill. So, naturally, we don't think of it as symbolizing strength. But in this case, ink has metaphorically broken the shackles of those who the governor – and by extension the state now – believes have paid their debt to society. Editorial cartooning is often presenting a metaphorical happening in a literal way, and this was a straight-forward example of the pen being mightier – be it the sword or the shackle.
This panel took a little more than two hours to create, and was split over two days.