Fans of acclaimed Austrian editorial cartoonist Rachel Gold who harbored hopes of meeting the “young, pretty Jewish immigrant girl from Israel” are in for a disappointment.
Rachel — “one of the top editorial cartoonists in Austria” — doesn’t exist.
Blogger Daryl Cagle revealed this week on his Cagle Post site that “Rachel Gold is a fictional character, created by Austrian cartoonist Markus Szyszkowitz.”
According to Cagle - himself the editorial cartoonist for MSNBC.com – “Rachel was created in response to Markus’ frustrations, working under editorial constraints at his former newspaper, the Kronen Zeitung.” The non-existent Rachel Gold “got a job, and a paycheck, as a cartoonist at the Wiener Zeitung, replacing Markus, who was forced to leave his editorial cartooning job under pressure from his editor, because his cartoons had offended a politician who would later become Austria’s chancellor.”
Rachel’s Jewish background was critical to her success, Cagle writes. “Markus is convinced that his editors, and the Austrian readers, were willing to accept more hard-hitting, liberal cartoons from the young, pretty, Jewish immigrant girl from Israel. Given Austria’s harsh history, Markus believes that Rachel gets more editorial leeway because she is Jewish, rather than because she is a woman.”
According to her Wikipedia page, Rachel was born in Tel Aviv in 1978. “She was raised in Israel and moved to Vienna in 1999, where she has been a freelance artist since 2004 and is one of only two, female, political cartoonists in Austria,” Cagle writes.
Her cover was blown after a suspicious editor “hired an off-duty policeman to investigate Markus and, after a year of digging, the gig was up,” reports Cagle. Both Szyszkowitz and his alter ego have found new jobs at other newspapers.