Newspaper cartoon turning heads in Palatka

Editorial cartoon printed in Palatka Daily News after weekend mass shootings

By Maggie Lorenz - Multi-media journalist

PALATKA, Fla. - A newspaper cartoon printed days after a weekend of mass shootings has created a lot of conversation in Putnam County. 

Tuesday's printing of the Palatka Daily News featured an editorial cartoon of a shark reading a sign in the ocean that says: "Warning! Go near shore at own risk ... angry white males with easy access to guns."

It was printed at the top of page four of the paper, just days after the mass shootings last weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

"When I read this -- it's in poor taste, especially given the current climate within our society," said Calvin Martin, who lives in Palatka. "I think that when I initially see this, it reverts right back to that fairly quickly and I think that this type of caricature is not I think needed in this moment in time."

In the black-and-white comic, some people are seeing red. 

"My reaction is, what kind of mess. I'm just -- that's Palatka ... They don't have any respect. They print what they want to print and they say what they want to say. That's disrespectful," said one woman, who has lived in Palatka her entire life. "Who wants to read something like that? 'Angry white males with guns.' Like, that's ridiculous. That's why I don't pay for that paper. I don't read that."

Another man, who has lived in Palatka for 15 years, took issue with the word "white."

"It seems a little racist," he said.

The artist is named Joe Heller, a syndicated editorial cartoonist who's based out of Wisconsin and sells his illustrations to newspapers across the country.

News4Jax asked the Palatka Daily News who chooses the cartoons that run, but was told no one was available for comment.  

The publisher was out of the office Friday, but an employee told News4Jax in conversation he also felt the cartoon was in poor taste. 

A check of previous editions of the paper showed that Heller's work is frequently featured. 

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