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Steve Breens wins Overseas Press Club award

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The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Steve Breen has been honored with a second national award just two days after learning he was this year’s recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. Yesterday the Overseas Press Club announced Steve as the winner of the The Thomas Nast Award for editorial cartooning. The judges noted Steve’s “strong graphics, subtle messages and a sense of fun are in the DNA of Breen’s cartoons, but in works like White Lines, he also delivers directness and a clear point of view. His work is simple, but superb.”

Kevin (KAL) Kallaugher, editorial cartoonist for The Economist, received a citation in this category.

Community Comments

#1 Steve Greenberg
April/23/2009
@ 9:42 am

Congratulations to Steve, again… he’s having a great year and has been doing some nice work.

That said, this Overseas/Nast award is one of the most expensive to enter, and many of us couldn’t afford to enter work in this, or the SPJ, or some of the other contests this year.

#2 Jeff Darcy
April/23/2009
@ 10:12 am

I recall Ted Rall sending out at letter of protest to the Overseas press club and to AAEC membership kinda urging a boycott of this contest over its entry fee. I know a number of cartoonist didn’t enter it because of that.

With the state of the industry -these contests are now like handing out ribbons to the band members on the Titanic as it’s going down.

#3 Jeff Darcy
April/23/2009
@ 10:25 am

I believe the fee for that contest was $175. Ted sent a letter asking cartoonists to let him know if they were not going to enter it because of that-Then sent a letter of protest to the Press club over the high fee in tough economic times listing the names of some of the cartoonists not entering.
I’ve stopped entering a number of national contests because I can’t justify the cost to my paper’s budget or my own

Sorry for the tired Titanic cliche- but that is what it amounts to these days

#4 Mike Lester
April/23/2009
@ 10:46 am

Because so few entered the Overseas Press Club, Steve actually won first AND third.

#5 Nick Anderson
April/23/2009
@ 1:17 pm

Pretty soon there will be more editorial cartooning contests than editorial cartoonists.

#6 Stacy Curtis
April/23/2009
@ 1:27 pm

I was waiting for Mike Lester’s head to explode.

#7 Jeff Darcy
April/23/2009
@ 4:33 pm

I’m putting money on Steve to win the Kentucky Derby- The Dude’s on a Roll !!

#8 Harold Clayton
April/27/2009
@ 9:10 am

Steve Breen has now received this year’s Pulitzer Prize, Overseas Press Club Award, and the National Headliner Award. Hearing this, I was anxious to see the work that has garnered such uniform recognition. So, I went to the Pulitzer site to look over, what I anticipated to be, a killer collection of cartoons.

Boy, was I disappointed.

My opinion is one of a fan and not a cartoonist, but I just don’t get it. Is this really the best the profession has to offer? As someone who really enjoys editorial cartoons and tries to follow many of you in the field, I’m truly perplexed. Do some cartoonists not enter the awards? I only ask because it seems to me, that the worst cartoon from Toles or Oliphant, is still better than the best from Breen.

#9 Mike Lester
April/27/2009
@ 10:46 am

Once again, Steve isn’t the bad guy here and I’m feeling a little guilty about not coming to his defense. Not that he needs my validation. After all he submitted no sinking Titanics, Wall Street labeled rollercoasters or drowning polar bears. Not even a little Dutch boy or a gun turned on itself. It’s simply the discretion of five judges who don’t get up everyday and slog through editorial cartoons. And in a way, I envy them.

#10 Ted Rall
April/27/2009
@ 10:58 am

There is no doubt that high contest entry fees are forcing many professional cartoonists to forego entering them. This takes the luster off the prizes. Where’s the glory of winning if the competition is only a small portion of your colleagues?

This is one of those matters where transforming the AAEC into a trade guild might have a positive impact. No AAEC member should enter the Overseas Press Club’s contest until they reduce the entry fee to a level affordable by non-millionaires. Not only is the fee $175; the winner must travel to New York at his or her personal expense and pay to attend the OPC’s award banquet.

I can’t imagine how the people in charge of OPC can possibly live with themselves given the current economic climate for cartoonists and other journalists. They are despicable leeches.

#11 Stacy Curtis
April/27/2009
@ 11:12 am

@Harold Clayton — Why is this even being argued? If you would have put another set of judges on that Pulitzer Committee, they would have found a different winner. It just so happens this group found Steve Breen to be the best.
Good for him!

I do think Daryl Cagle had a great idea. If you’ve cut your editorial cartoonist position from your newspaper, you’re not qualified to judge editorial cartoons.
And if you’ve hired an editorial cartoonist to illustrate the editorial that appears in your newspaper, well … you’ve not yet mastered the definition of the role of an editorial cartoonist and you’re not fit to judge editorial cartoons in a contest. You might as well have asked a plumber to come judge the entries.
Judge the judges before they judge the cartoons.

Of course there are people who don’t enter, some people find awards not that important. Pulitzer Prize winners lose their jobs just like everyone else. A Pulitzer is not going to keep a beancounter from cutting your job. Ask Mike Ramirez.

#12 Harold Clayton
April/28/2009
@ 4:45 am

Mr. Curtis-

Sure, judging a cartoon is a subjective matter, I get that. But you argue that, “If you would have put another set of judges on that Pulitzer Committee, they would have found a different winner. It just so happens this group found Steve Breen to be the best.” Well, there was a different set of judges; they were judging the Overseas Press Club Award and the National Headliner Award.

But all three of these juries, independent from the other, came to the conclusion that Steve Breen’s work was the cream of the crop. That’s what I find odd. For one panel of judges to make a mistake, is expected. For three different juries to make a mistake is even understandable. But for three separate groups of judges to make the exact same mistake, to reach the same erroneous conclusion, is positively weird.

#13 Ted Rall
April/28/2009
@ 6:45 am

Setting aside whether or not Steve deserves to have won the three awards you mention, Harold, it is not all that perplexing that different sets of judges would arrive at the same winner the same year.

It may be that one of the juries was influenced by the announcement that Steve had won one of the other awards.

More likely is the fact that the judges are the same kinds of people, and the same kinds of people tend to come to similar conclusions.

I judged one of the major awards this year (not one of these three), and I’m fairly certain that only a few other cartoonists would have reached the same decision as to the winner as I did. (I don’t think it’s been announced yet, so I won’t say anything more.)

Wanna control the outcome? Pick the judges. Consider the Pulitzers: year after year, stories come out of the Cartoon category about how the altie genre (which has been around since 1955 when Jules Feiffer invented it), is never given serious consideration. How could it be? By all accounts, the judges have never before *seen* a cartoon by Tom Tomorrow or Ruben Bolling. They’re sure not going to give one a Pulitzer. Pick a panel consisting of me, Tom and Ruben, on the other hand, and suddenly Jen Sorensen has a fighting chance.

I don’t begrudge judges their personal opinions and biases. They’re human; we all have them. But it’s absolutely insane to pick judges for any category that don’t come into it with a pre-existing, wide-ranging knowledge and deep familiarity with the work–all the work–going on in the field. A judge who doesn’t read Tom Tomorrow every week has no more business sitting on a Pulitzer panel than one who doesn’t read Steve Breen every week.

#14 Mike Lester
April/28/2009
@ 7:28 am

Like closing our borders during a pandemic, Ted’s last point seems obvious. But it won’t happen. We’ll continue letting the Perez Hilton’s umpire a Yankee’s game. But THREE award panels is still suspect..IM(I’m not humble)O.

#15 Jeff Darcy
April/28/2009
@ 10:32 am

Ted’s Guild union concept might not be a bad idea. It seems just about every other trade and creative field has representation, why not a cartoonist or artists guild or union? It’s not like our rights and interests aren’t constantly being challenged or outright abused.

I know state contests don’t have the glam of the National ones,
But whenever I was able to place in a State competition it meant something knowing I was going up against Masters like Jim Borgman and Mike Peters, and a syndicated cartoonist like Chip Bok. With Borgman retired -Peters cut back and Bok taking a buy-out that state award will now come close to being meaningless. What makes the award is who you’re up against and who you’re being Judged by. It would be interesting to see what a Judging panel of Oliphant and Ted Rall would select

#16 Dave Stephens
April/28/2009
@ 2:13 pm

I don’t need to know which artist cartoonists would pick – I AM a cartoonist and I ALREADY know which ones I would pick.

The choices of the non-experts are valid and important – Millions of regular folks support cartoonists worldwide… It’s good to know what they consider worthwhile. It’s a perspective that working cartoonists would be wise to pay attention to…

#17 Rick Stromoski
April/28/2009
@ 3:03 pm

>>>Like closing our borders during a pandemic, Tedâ??s last point seems obvious.

Your garden variety influenza kills hundreds if not thousands of people every year yet our mainstream media would have us think that 65 cases in the USA and 105 deaths in Mexico is cause to shut down the country.

#18 Ted Rall
April/28/2009
@ 3:52 pm

You’re right, Dave. Millions of regular readers read a lot of editorial cartoons every day. But none of them sit on Pulitzer juries. Too many prize juries are filled with people who rarely if ever read ANY editorial cartoons. They’re just not qualified.

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