Ralph Schlegel: Retrospective

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A visual thinker I’m not, so I am always amazed by how an illustration can indeed be worth a thousand words. For years I looked forward to the editorial cartoons by Ralph Schlegel in the Sunday edition of the Times of Trenton. I freelanced there in the early ’80s and his wife Sharon, Times columnist, is a dear friend.

Now that he is retired, I have to stifle the impulse to look at that page first, because I will miss the visceral energy of his caricatures, his sly wit, and his finely tuned jabs — some gentle, some acerbic — at the folks who run our city and state. As U.S. 1’s Dan Aubrey wrote, these images “scream of recurring political shenanigans and the constant need for a free press to keep an open eye.”

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Through August, Lawrence Library has an exhibit of Schlegel’s work, not just his editorial cartoons for the Trenton newspaper, but also his freelance work for such publications as the New York Times, Business Week, and U.S. News & World Report. Go for a good chuckle, or for nostalgia, but you will also come away with a new appreciation for how an illustration can get closer to the real truth than words can.

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