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Stantis: Animated cartoons shouldn’t be part of Pulitzer consideration

Last month I raised questions on how animation should be weighed in the judging for a Pulitzer Prize. The Birmingham News editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis has written a column opining that animated cartoons shouldn’t even been in allowed into competition. From Editor and Publisher, here are excerpts of his column:

“We were led to believe that this is an award for the newspaper industry. Unless it’s broken down and printed on every page so you can view it as a flipbook, it’s hard to imagine how an animated cartoon qualifies.”

“What makes an editorial cartoon great, what makes it the thing readers turn to first on the editorial page is the unique ability of a well-conceived and well-executed cartoon to cut through the spin. To slash through the deliberate fog that politicians create and get to the hard and often uncomfortable nub of an issue. They may take a comic turn but in their black hearts they are not ‘zany.’ They’re savage. … Zany is not what an editorial cartoonist aspires to, yet many in the publishing business increasingly expect it.”

“What’s next? ‘The Family Guy’ gets a Pulitzer? ‘The Simpsons’? ‘American Dad’? The Jib-Jab guys? They’re animated, have political content, and are posted online. According to the new rules, they’re all eligible. So don’t be surprised some day if you see Scooby-Doo accepting the highest honor in journalism. Now that would be zany.”

Community Comments

#1 Danny Burleson
@ 10:27 am

I was under the impression the Pulitzer was a journalistic arts awards (writing, cartoons, etc.), not a “newspaper” award.

In fact, isn’t there a Pulitzer for music? Does the entire musical arrangement need to be printed in USA Today or the NY Times in order to qualify? No. In fact, the musical piece must premiere via a recording or live performance (a.k.a., something you could never ‘print’ in a newspaper) in the year of the award window in order to even qualify. So CD’s and concerts are okay, but not the Internet? I don’t think so.

What’s next? Only pencil and ink cartoonists are allowed while Wacom users are shunned? Or, only reporters who use typewriters for their articles are accepted while Word users are disqualified?

This is a digital world we live in, even when it comes to the “traditional” things like making a newspaper. Journalism is journalism, no matter its medium as far as I’m concerned. What truly matters at the end of the day is the individual content and the message presented. Be it an article, printed cartoon, or yes, even an animated cartoon.

Not taking advantage of the fact online journalism can present animation, is almost like if they disqualified printed editorial cartoons that are presented in color.

Not taking advantage of a medium’s full potential is more irresponsible than worrying if things are getting too zany. Also, I wasn’t aware Scooby Doo was a living being that could accept awards. Really nice irrational reasoning, I love it.

#2 Rich
@ 10:59 am

Danny certainly raises some valid points, but overall I have to agree with Scott’s editorial. The medium and the message are fairly tightly wed in the case of editorial cartoons, in my opinion. So even if it’s not a newspaper award per se, I feel that the panel cartoon that carries the historic significance for this award (whether in the newspaper, magazine, internet).

Again, if editorial animations are to be considered, give them a separate category. I think this still accomplishes what Danny is interested in as well, in that it would take advantage of other medium’s potential.

On the other hand, there’s an award (or 10) for everything under the sun out there, so I’m not losing any sleep over this one! [ ;-{)}

#3 Danny Burleson
@ 11:53 am

Whoa, I thought they DID add a new category. I thought the complaint was against adding animated cartoons in general, not the pitting of editorial animated cartoons against editorial printed cartoons in one category.

That’s like pitting a stage play against a movie for the same award. While you can highlight the differences between the presentation methods, you cannot directly compare the artistic merits of both under the same light.

Timing alone makes this an absolutely unfair comparison. With a printed cartoon you *BOOM* get the commentary/punchline in one shot in the amount of time it takes you to process the words and pictures. With animation, the pacing is a whole other animal; the commentary/punchline comes when the animation maker(s) decide it does, and you must go alone for the ride.

At that rate they might as well lump everything into one big award: musicians vs. journalists vs. cartoonists vs. animators, all vying for THE Pulitzer Prize.

#4 DT
@ 11:56 am

I have to agree with Rich on this. Editorial cartoon brings to mind one art form, an art form that for hundreds of years have been predominantly one-frame. I know I get a little piqued when Trudeau won a pulitzer for his strip, but then, I’m a purist. Perhaps Pulitzer should get off the cheap and create a new award for “Editorial Animation”.

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