The Magic Valley artist who prefers simply to be called “Barksdale” joins the team of the Times-News and Magicvalley.com today as an editorial cartoonist. He moved to Twin Falls recently and immediately ended up on our radar.

He will bring his sharp and irreverent pen to our Opinion pages several times a week, commenting on local and national issues.

“I love drawing on local issues,” Barksdale said. “Another editorial cartoonist put it this way, ‘When you draw on national issues, it’s like 200 goldfish nipping at your heels. When you draw on local issues, it’s like a shark attack. They know where it’s coming from.’

“I thoroughly enjoy taking complex issues, researching them, finding the humor in the situation, and then breaking those complex issues down into easily digestible visual chunks that anyone can ‘get.’ If what I draw sparks a conversation, it’s a success. In my mind, simply starting the conversation is as important as the conversation itself.”

Barksdale started cartooning in 1990 for the (Provo) Utah Daily Herald (and off and on for the BYU Daily Universe), then moved to California and drew for the Modesto Bee and the Santa Cruz County Sentinel. He was nationally syndicated between 1990 and 1993, and was featured in Best Editorial Cartoons of 1999 for a cartoon he drew on the Monica Lewinski scandal.

His mentors include his good friend Michael Ramirez at the Investors Daily News, the late great Jeff MacNelly of the Chicago Tribune, and Mort Drucker, the longest-running cartoonist and caricaturist at MAD magazine.

“I initially started drawing for my local paper when I worked for a large software company about 23 years ago, and found that it was a great way to alleviate stress,” Barksdale said. “My co-workers would walk by my office when I was jotting down an idea and wonder what was so funny. I think some of them probably thought I’d lost my marbles.”

Also beginning today, Barksdale will write about his cartoons and his experience of moving to TwinFalls at his blog “Your Mileage May Vary” at http://magicvalley.com/blogs/mileage/ Readers can post comments and questions to Barksdale online at his blog site or send him an email at barksdalecartoons@gmail.com.

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