MIKE KEEFE of the Denver Post has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, it was announced at Columbia University on April 18th.
It is the first Pulitzer win for Keefe, whose previous honors include the Berryman Award, the National Headliners Award and the Fischetti Award.
Keefe won “for his widely ranging cartoons that employ a loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages,” the Pulitzer jurors said.
Keefe has been the Post’s political cartoonist since 1975, after—according to his bio—“in an unguarded moment during Watergate, he found himself drawn to Richard Nixon’s nose.”
"I am gobsmacked," Keefe told the Denver Post. "In recent years, the Pulitzer has gone to much younger folks, who are newer in the business. I thought my day had passed."
A past president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Keefe has contributed his syndicated cartoons to The Washington Post and hundreds of other publications. Keefe—who served in the Marines and formerly worked as a college math teacher—also was co-creator of the syndicated comic strips “Cooper” and “Iota.”
The Pulitzer jurors included 2010 cartooning winner Mark Fiore, as well as Gilbert Bailon (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Lucy Shelton Caswell (professor emerita, the Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum); Renee Loth (the Boston Globe); and Tom Waseleski (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
The finalists for the 2011 cartooning Pulitzer are two previous winners: the Lexington Herald-Leader’s JOEL PETT (2000) and MATT DAVIES (2004). The judges said Davies’s work is “notably original in concept and execution, offering sharp opinion without shrillness,” and cited Pett’s “provocative cartoons that often tackle controversial Kentucky issues, marked by a simple style and a passion for humanity.”
Davies, it’s worth noting, was laid off last year—shortly after Election Day—by the Gannett-owned Journal News in the Lower Hudson Valley (N.Y.).
Keefe, meantime, has had a busy April. Just last week, he was heading to the Fischetti event in Chicago to pick up his second award from the organization.
Keefe had said to Comic Riffs about his Windy City win: “I’m also pleased that it’s just a few minutes walk from the campus to Buddy Guy’s Blues Club. That’s where I’ll be celebrating.”
Now Keefe can plan a NewYork celebration, too, fresh off of pocketing the Pulitzer’s $10,000 prize.
-- by Michael Cavna, Comic Riffs
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John Fischetti Award
Editorial cartoonist MIKE KEEFE of The Denver Post has been named the winner of the 2011 John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Competition. This national competition honors Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial political cartoonist John Fischetti.
Keefe’s winning entry for the most recent competition pokes fun at legislation enacted by Arizona last year, the “broadest and strictest in the nation” to curb illegal immigration, according to The New York Times. The cartoon depicts two public safety officers stopping a motorist and comparing his skin tone to a paint swatch before asking him to step out of the car.
“This cartoon embodies the form’s best elements, a fresh visual take on a timely, provocative subject,” said Nancy Day, chair of the Journalism Department at Columbia College Chicago, which coordinates the competition and the event.
Fischetti, whose work appeared in the New York Herald Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News, died in 1980. His friends, family and colleagues established the political cartooning award and a scholarship fund in his memory in the Journalism Department of Columbia College Chicago.
The annual Fischetti competition is judged by a panel of professional editorial cartoonists who are past winners not competing this year, joined by a rotating group of faculty members. Unlike other competitions, which evaluate a portfolio of work, the Fischetti honors a single image. Each professional may submit up to three cartoons a year.
The 2011 cartoon runners-up were by Steve Breen, who drew a dog tag chain outlining Afghanistan, and by Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on a theme similar to Keefe’s, with a Native American asking white legislators for their papers.
Keefe previously won the Fischetti Competition in 1991, 2001 and 2007. He has been the editorial cartoonist for The Denver Post since 1975. He has also been honored with other top awards from the National Headliners club in1986 and the Society of Professional Journalists in 1986. His work has appeared in over 200 newspapers across the country including Time, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
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RFK Journalism Award
Indianapolis Star cartoonist GARY VARVEL told Comic Riffs that he’s “very honored and humbled” to win the 2011 RFK Journalism Award for cartooning.
Varvel tweeted Monday that he’d won. On Wednesday, the folks at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights made it official, announcing all their 43rd annual journalism honors. A panel of 60 judges picked the winners. The awards were presented May 18 at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
Varvel was praised for his “Path to Hope” project, which took readers up-close and personal with Indianapolis’s poorer residents. Chapters in the series each dealt with dilemmas of life in poverty like literacy, transportation, access to healthy food and domestic and neighborhood violence.
“When I started the research for the ‘Path to Hope’ series, I really didn’t know much about the subject of child poverty,” Varvel told Comic Riffs. “The neighborhoods I was going in to were only known to me as places I drove by on the interstate system for most of my life.”
The cartoonist says he took a six-week class in “Poverty 101” and met people who’ve devoted their work lives to inner-city ministries. “They told me about these amazing success stories,” Varvel says. “When I met the people who became the subjects of my series, I was inspired by what they had overcome. Although each one had a different story, they all shared the same resources that led to their ultimate success: Long-term mentoring relationships with stable adults who helped them with their physical needs and education.”
Varvel said the series had been inspired by Tim Swarens, editor for opinions/conversations at the Star. “He encouraged me to try my hand at the graphic novel, if we found the right subject,” Varvel said.
To view the series, please visit https://photos.indystar.com/galleries/10113-gary-varvel-s-the-path-to-hope
-- by Michael Cavna, Comic Riffs
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Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning With a Conscience
GARY VARVEL, editorial cartoonist for the Indianapolis Star, also won the 2010 Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning With a Conscience for a series portraying the everyday burdens faced by the poor. Award judges said they found Varvel's series, “The Path to Hope,” extraordinary in both style and substance.
“There was a detailed empathy for the lives of impoverished Indianapolis citizens that is rare even in print journalistic accounts,” said Peter Parisi, award coordinator and associate professor in the department of film and media studies at Hunter College, New York City, where the award originates.
“The series was unusual in calling upon the artist to play reporter as well,” Parisi said, as Varvel searched out and interviewed residents who confronted different social problems and volunteers who offered help.
Varvel's graphic skill also won plaudits. “They would be very hard to just page by,” Parisi said. The multiple panels of each chapter were displayed on full broadsheet pages, a sort of newspaper graphic novel. In individual panels, Varvel used digitally filtered photography for backgrounds with characters rendered in a pen-and-ink style that combined realistic facial features with traditional comic caricature.
“The quality of the work was astonishing and inspiring—choosing a single winner, agonizing,” Parisi said, adding that the innovativeness and ambition of Varvel's project tilted the judgment in his favor.
Varvel accepted his award and discussed his work at an award ceremony on March 30 at Hunter College.
The Grambs Aronson cartooning award has been offered since 1999, when Jules Feiffer and Art Spiegelman were honored. The contest for 2010 marked the first year in which entries were invited from all professional cartoonists.
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National Headliner Award
Dayton Daily News cartoonist MIKE PETERS is the winner of the 2011 National Headliner Award for Editorial Cartoons.
Peters keeps his streak alive, having also won the National Headliner Award for cartooning in 2010.
“Whenever these awards happen, it’s always the same feeling,” Peters tells Comic Riffs. “You can’t believe that someone gives you an award for doing what you absolutely love to do anyway.”
Since joining the Daily News in 1969, Peters, 67—who was mentored by the cartooning great Bill Mauldin—has won a raft of industry awards, including the 1981 Pulitzer Prize. He also draws the strip “Mother Goose & Grimm,” which is syndicated by King Features.
STUART CARLSON of the syndicate Universal Uclick was the runner-up, and ADAM ZYGLIS of the Buffalo News took third place. Carlson was let go by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2008 in what was termed a “voluntary buyout,” after the newspaper reportedly couldn’t justify his full-time staff position.
Peters tells Comic Riffs he loves it when a fellow cartoonist who has been “laid off” wins such an award. “It shows they are still doing some of the best work in the country for the love of it,” Peters says. “I think the last 10 years have proven that when a cartoonist says, ‘I would do this job whether I get paid or not,’ we really mean it.
Carlson, for his part, says to us about the honor: “I consider being a runner-up to a terrific cartoonist like Mike Peters to be keeping awfully good company.”
The National Headliner Awards program, founded in 1934 by Atlantic City’s Press Club, presents medallions to “outstanding writers, photographers, daily newspapers, magazines, graphic artists, radio and television stations and networks, and news syndicates” to honor journalistic merit.
-- by Michael Cavna, Comic Riffs
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Overseas Press Club
Dayton Daily News editorial cartoonist MIKE PETERS also received the Thomas Nast Award for best cartoons on international affairs on April 28 at the 72nd annual Overseas Press Club awards dinner honoring the finest international journalists in 2010.
The award was the second major honor this year for Peters, who joined the newspaper’s staff in 1969. He also won first place for editorial cartoons at the 2011 National Headliner Awards, presented by the Press Club of Atlantic City. “I feel very honored getting those two awards this year” Peters said. “That’s gilding a lily in a way, because I love what I do.”
Peters’ editorial cartoons became syndicated in 1972 and now appear in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. His popular comic strip “Mother Goose and Grimm” was created in 1984 and is syndicated in more than 800 newspapers worldwide.
Peters said the honors were a surprise because he is semi-retired from editorial cartooning. “I’ve been doing five political cartoons and then seven comic strips a week for over 25 years,” he said.
He still does two political cartoons each week, plus his weekly “Open Mike” caption contest feature and seven daily comic strips.
-- Dave Larsen, Dayton Daily News, May 3, 2011
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Sigma Delta Chi Awards
On May 10, the Society of Professional Journalists announced the recipients of the 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism. The awards banquet will be Sept. 24 in New Orleans during the joint SPJ-RTDNA (Radio Television Digital News Association) Excellence in Journalism conference. The award was given in four categories according to paper circulation.
Editorial Cartooning (Newspaper Circulation 100,001+ or Affiliated Website/National Magazine)
STEPHANIE MCMILLAN, Sun-Sentinel/Los Angeles Times.
Editorial Cartooning (Newspaper Circulation 50,001-100,000 or Online Independent)
Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish), Truthdig.
Editorial Cartooning (Newspaper Circulation 1-50,000 or Regional Magazine)
MIKE LESTER, Rome News Tribune.
Editorial Cartooning (Non-Daily Publication)
RUBEN BOLLING, Universal Uclick Syndicate.
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The Herblock Foundation announced that this year’s winner is Washington Post editorial cartoonist TOM TOLES.
Toles is the eighth cartoonist to win the award, which was created in 2004 "to encourage editorial cartooning as an essential tool for preserving the rights of the American people through freedom of speech and the right of expression." He received a tax-free $15,000 cash prize and a sterling-silver Tiffany trophy at a Library of Congress ceremony on April 26.
The Post swept the awards: ANN TELNAES, who creates animated cartoons for Washingtonpost.com, was named the Herblock Prize's first-ever finalist.
Toles inherits the Herblock Prize nearly a decade after he inherited Herb Block's job. Toles arrived at The Post in 2002, the year after the legendary cartoonist died at age 91 after 55 years at the paper. "Herblock," as he was known, won three Pulitzer Prizes in a career that stretched into nine decades.
"I walk in Herblock's slippers," Toles tells Comic Riffs. "I am highly honored."
Toles won the Pulitzer in 1990 while at the Buffalo News. A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, he has also drawn for the Buffalo Courier-Express, the New York Daily News, the New Republic magazine and US News and World Report.
His other honors include the John Fischetti Award, the H.L. Mencken Free Press Award, the National Headliners Award and the Overseas Press Club Thomas Nast Award.
The contest judges were MATT WUERKER of Politico, SIGNE WILKINSON of the Philadelphia Daily News and Harry Katz, curator of The Herb Block Foundation.
-- by Michael Cavna
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Scripps Howard Award
The Scripps Howard Foundation awarded MIKE THOMPSON its top prize for Editorial Cartooning. His submission consisted of traditional editorial cartoons and animation.
Winners were honored May 3rd at a dinner hosted by the Scripps Howard Foundation and its corporate founder, The E.W. Scripps Company, at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. Mike Thompson will take home $10,000 and a trophy.
"This year's winners have improved lives, given hope, held officials and institutions accountable and typically informed, entertained or enlightened their audiences with skillfully presented work across multiple platforms," said Mike Philipps, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation. "
The finalists were TED RALL for his work for the Los Angeles Times, and STEVE BREEN of The San Diego Union-Tribune .
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National Newspaper Awards, Canada
The best in newspaper journalism was celebrated on May 13 in Ottowa at the 62nd annual National Newspaper Awards.
The winner for editorial cartoons was Brian Gable of the Globe and Mail. This is the fifth of these honors for Gable, who also won in 1986, 1995, 2001 and 2005.
Runners up are Serge Chapleau of La Presse (Montreal), and Terry Mosher (aka Aislin), the Gazette (Montreal).
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The ToonSeum, Pittsburgh's museum of cartoon art, is proud to announce that cartoonist DICK LOCHER has been awarded the ToonSeum's Nemo Award for outstanding contributions to the cartoon arts. The presentation took place at Chicago's Comic Con and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) on March 20, 2011. Rob Rogers, board president of the ToonSeum, presented Locher with the Nemo Award.
"The ToonSeum is proud to recognize Dick Locher for his outstanding contributions in the field of editorial cartooning, including the Locher Award, created to identify and encourage young editorial cartoonists," said Rogers as he handed Locher the trophy, "and for his tireless and brilliant dedication to keeping the spirit of Dick Tracy fresh and alive in the daily comics pages."
Locher, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune and artist/writer for Dick Tracy, was a featured panelist at the convention. The panel, called "Drawing Fire: Editorial Cartooning in a Partisan Age," also featured Scott Stantis of the Chicago Tribune, Bruce Plante of the Tulsa World and Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rogers also moderated the panel.
Dick Locher was born in Dubuque, Iowa in 1929. He studied art at the University of Iowa and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In 1957, after a stint in the Air Force, Locher became the assistant to Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy. He worked on the comic strip until 1961 and then left to start his own commercial art business. In 1972, Gould recommended Locher for the editorial cartoonist position at the Chicago Tribune. Despite having no experience in editorial cartooning, Locher impressed the editors enough to land the job.
In 1983, the same year he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, Locher returned to the Dick Tracy comic strip, this time working with his son, John. In 1986, at the age of 25, John died suddenly. With help from his fellow cartoonists in the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), Locher founded the John Locher Memorial Award contest. This contest not only honors the memory of Locher's son, but also helps discover and encourage aspiring cartoonists. Since its inception, more than 25 outstanding young cartoonists have won the competition. Most have gone on to excel in their profession and one, Steve Breen, has won the Pulitzer Prize twice.
In April 2010, the City of Naperville, Illinois, dedicated a 9-foot, one-ton sculpture of Dick Tracy to honor Dick Locher for his many contributions to Naperville and for being the creative force behind the Dick Tracy strip for 35 years. In February 2011, Locher announced his retirement from writing and drawing Dick Tracy.
Joe Wos, founder and executive director of the ToonSeum, describes the Nemo Award as more than just a lifetime achievement award. "The Nemo was created to recognize all aspects of a cartoonist's career, not just the stack of originals, but also his or her devotion to and celebration of the art form. Dick Locher has had an immense impact on the field of cartooning and he deserves to be championed. We are proud to honor him in this way."
This is the ToonSeum's third Nemo Award. Previous recipients have been Morrie Turner, creator of Wee Pals, and Ron Frenz, legendary Marvel and D.C. comic book artist.
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Don Landgren Jr. won both first and second place for his editorial cartoons in the weekly division from the New England Newspaper & Press Association. They were published in TelegramTowns, a seven zone edition weekly newspaper, published by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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The National Calendar Awards
KAL’s The Economist 2011 Illustrated Wall Calendar was announced as the winner of the Gold Award for the Most Original calendar. His 2012 edition is currently in production.
The 2011 winner of the AAEC/John Locher Memorial Award contest is JR Fruto. JR is a senior majoring in Fine Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Fruto's political cartoons cover topics such as the Tea Party movement and the recent Egyptian uprising against President Mubarak.
JR's interests in both art and politics have led him to try editorial cartooning. He is presently contributing cartoons to UNC's newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel.
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Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship
The National Cartoonists Society Foundation (NCSF) awarded the 2011 Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship to Diana Huh, a sophomore at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she studies history. Huh was chosen from over 100 applicants for the award, which includes a $5,000 scholarship and a trip to the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award weekend in Boston in May. The scholarship applicants submitted eight examples of their work along with an entry form that included short essays on their current and future plans in cartooning. Entries were judged by a jury of seven professional cartoonists who are members of the National Cartoonists Society Foundation.
Huh is an illustrator for UCLA’s newspaper The Daily Bruin and is presently interning at Greenhouse Studios assisting on coloring the comic “Mace and Sputnik.” She has also created an on-going web comic called “The Wayside Manor.”
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Charles M. Schulz Award
Before going on to stellar careers, some tremendous talents have won the Charles M. Schulz Award for best college cartoonist—including the Washington Examiner’s Nate Beeler, the Houston Chronicle’s Pulitzer-winning Nick Anderson, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s two-time Pulitzer winner Steve Breen and the gifted Maryland-based comic artist Frank Cho.
Into that heady company of past Schulz winners, you can add the name John Vestevich.
Vestevich, who draws for the Torch newspaper at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., won this year’s Scripps Howard-sponsored $10,000 student award for “humorous commentary through traditional editorial cartoons.” Comic Riffs caught up with Vestevich this week for his reaction.
“I was pretty shocked when I found out that I won,” said Vestevich, 27. “I was basically hoping for at least a generic response that said, ‘We received your entry, but don’t call us we’ll call you’—anything! Or even a ‘Keep up the good work, try again next year.’ Surprised that I won is an understatement.”
Vestevich, who is attending Ferris State to pursue his second bachelor’s degree, says political cartooning—although fun—hasn’t been something he’s weighed as a career path. “I’m studying graphic design, so I am being trained to become a designer. I intend to become one, too,” the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native said. “I’m not ruling out cartooning or comics, but I’d only consider it if a viable career seemed like a possibility. I’ve spent several years making traditional comics and trying to get published, but to be honest, I’ve never really considered editorial cartooning as a career. I think I just need to explore what kind of market there is for cartoonists.”
As for his plans on how to spend the $10,000 prize money, Vestevich—who currently works on an “adorable little” Wacom Bamboo tablet—says: “The lovely and voluptuous Cintiq 21UX lcd pen tablet is going to be mine! I will treat her well and make many wonderful drawings with her.”
-- Michael Cavna, Comic Riffs, March 24, 2011