Editorial cartoons can be very diverse, but there is a certain established style among most of them. Most editorial cartoons use visual metaphors and caricatures to explain complicated political situtations, and thus sum up a current event with a humorous picture.
In modern political cartooning there is a division between two styles. One is the tradtional 'nasti' style, named after Thomas Nast who developed this style. Becoming more popular is a much more text heavy 'alti' style that tells a linear story and uses fewer images.
Over the years, certain common metaphors and symbols have been repeatedly used by many different cartoonists. Examples include the use of a donkey and elephant to represent the Democratic Party and Republican Party respectively, Uncle Sam to represent the United States, a bear to represent Russia, a dragon to represent China, and so forth.
There is controversy as to the bias of editorial cartoons. A large majority of editorial cartoonists are left-wing, also there is not a single black editorial cartoonist writing for a major American paper.
See also: Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning