We're in the middle of a very active political season and this gives the gag writer and cartoonist lots of material.
I read several daily and weekly newspapers plus a few magazines. I'm constantly looking for words, expressions and phrases that appear again and again during this political season. While reading news and feature stories, or scanning the internet for trending political buzzwords, I write down anything that I feel could be used in my gag writing. You want to find words and phrases that are familiar...and used over and over again. Just placing the familiar phrase in an unfamiliar situation can be the basis for a cartoon. You can take the phrase and use the opposite of it. You can also take the phrase and substitute a new word for something that was there before. Ultimately, you're trying to create a surprise.
I find that reading articles on The New Yorker's website, www.newyorker.com, brings me up to date with what's trending in politics. I also read various sections of the Sunday New York Times plus my local daily newspaper, Newsday. I'm also receiving a lot of political flyers in the mail and I read these as well. I also look through published cartoons and see if they generate any ideas that can be used. Certain situations are used over and over again: prisoners, heaven, hell, gurus on mountaintops, job interviews, the Grim Reaper, animals talking to each other, bosses talking to office workers. You can change the situation, or the caption...there are no limits to where you can go. But I think it all starts with the words (ideas).