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Discussion: Who will win this year’s Pulitzer?

Normally by this time, E&P has sniffed out the finalists or there are veiled whispers on who are the Pulitzer finalists for editorial cartooning. Lacking the buzz this year, let’s see who you all think should take the prize this year.

Name your top three in the comments.

My finalists in no particular order:
Rob Rogers
Scott Stantis
Matt Wuerker

Community Comments

#1 August J. Pollak
April/8/2010
@ 9:07 am

“Should win” and “will actually be considered” typically have an oceanic separation between them. I imagine Matt Bors and Jen Sorensen confuse most board members with their revolutionary use of more than one panel and lack of donkey caricatures.

That said, all three of Alan’s choices are certainly worthy, though I ask with full admission of ignorance on this: is Weurker able to win it with The Politico being part of the Pulitzer board? I honestly have no idea if there’s a rule about that or not.

#2 Paul Fell
April/8/2010
@ 11:19 am

With the dwindling number of editorial cartoonists, both staff and freelance, it’s only a matter of time until even August and I win the damn thing.

#3 Stacy Curtis
April/8/2010
@ 11:28 am

Matt Bors
Mike Lester
Steve Sack

If it goes to a previous winner, I pick:
David Horsey
Michael Ramirez
Clay Bennett

The person I would love to see win it:
Jeff Stahler

#4 David Cohen
April/8/2010
@ 12:40 pm

Pat Bagley
Matt Bors
Jack Ohman

#5 Dan Reynolds
April/8/2010
@ 6:07 pm

I know I won’t. And if I did, I wouldn’t accept it.

#6 Paul Fell
April/9/2010
@ 7:27 pm

Give it to me, then. I could use that nice fat check.

#7 Donna Barstow
April/10/2010
@ 1:11 am

I can’t believe someone could seriously suggest Bors for an award.

I thought someone could win the PP twice…If so, Tony Auth and Signe Wilkinson. They are both so good that they prove the 2 papers in each city idea does work – the competition strengthens everyone.

I do like Scott Stantis, but I also like some others, and I feel I haven’t studied enough cartoonists’ work to decide on a 3rd. Ted Rall certainly excites a lot of people, if popularity counts.

There is a retired cartoonist in LV? Some western city that I found one time and admired, and now can’t remember his name. Sadly, I think he was volunteering his cartoon on some paper’s site, instead of selling it.

#8 Ted Rall
April/10/2010
@ 5:27 am

“If popularity counts.” Nice!

Obviously these things are totally subjective. Some of the names above are no-brainers but to me others are like, “Are you friggin’ kidding–can you even read?”

If I were a one-man Pulitzer committee, I’d grant a special lifetime achievement award to Ruben Bolling–he is to newspaper cartooning what Howlin’ Wolf was to the blues, a one-man genre who stands head and shoulders above the rest–and the Pulitzer Prize for 2009 to Matt Bors.

Before people state their picks, they should cite their criteria. In my case, I begin with three criteria that are objective rather than subjective:

1. No Sycophants: If you drew cartoons during the preceding year in favor of the president’s policies, you are not an editorial cartoonist. You are a propagandist and should be receiving a White House salary. This eliminates most liberal cartoonists in 2009.

2. Originality: Did you frequently draw Yahtzee cartoons? Did you, like Mike Ramirez, draw the same cartoon more than once in a year? Disqualified.

3. Originality of Thought: Did you illustrate the news–showing what is happening–or state an opinion about an issue? If the latter, did you do so in a way that readers did not see elsewhere, that made them think about an issue they might not have cared about before? Did you draw cartoons about issues that were not necessarily at the top of the headlines, but you felt were important?

These filters eliminate at least 95% of professional cartoonists working today. As for the remainder, the usual subjective considerations of presentation, humor and drawing come into play.

So, what are *your* criteria?

#9 Donna Barstow
April/10/2010
@ 4:27 pm

I would be so flattered if someone mentioned my name in connection with any award, let alone a Pulitzer, and also mentioned how popular I was.

I guess great minds don’t think alike. I won’t try to give you any more compliments, Ted.

As for Matt Bors, I may be mistaken, but wasn’t he the alt who you “found” and groomed for your syndicate? So I’m used to seeing you prop him up. But I am extremely surprised to see anyone else bring up his name, so I guess I am wrong about who likes him.

Your criteria: I don’t even understand #1. Anyone who thinks differently from you is automatically not a cartoonist?! Hee!

2. What is a Yahtzee cartoon? Haven’t played that in years. Is that possibly where they take a word and draw all over it with flowers? And are you saying Mike R did the exact same cartoon twice? Maybe he was ill that week.

3. Seems like most, but not all editorial cartoonists are afraid to change their style, although I notice Tom Toles just tried color this week, and Steve K has been doing it for a few months! Understandably, if they have a job. Of course, that’s what sunk the New Yorker cartoonists to the unimaginative repetitive level they’re at now.

(And in relation to the online thread, many NYorker guys didn’t have email only 18 months ago! Tell you something about why they are just now doing gags about viruses, software, etc?!)

My #1 criteria is humor, and to a lesser extent, cleverness. I don’t care if most cartoons don’t have it. That’s what I want.

#2 is telling me something I might not know, or presenting it in a new design. Yeah, health care is a mess, now shut up.

Agree with your 3rd point, but illustrating is okay too, sometimes.

#10 Tom Wood
April/10/2010
@ 4:47 pm

I’m going to guess that a Yahtzee cartoon is one that isn’t really tied to any specific event. Just a random complaint.

Someone posted this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt in another thread :

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

If that is a good approach to editorial cartooning in general, I’d look for cartoonists that worked at getting to the root idea under an issue more than just making fun of people.

#11 August J. Pollak
April/10/2010
@ 6:46 pm

A Yahtzee cartoon is when seven or eight cartoonists, give or take a dozen, do nearly the exact same cartoon because the “gag” is that painfully obvious. Seen most frequently when a celebrity dies and St. Peter says their catchphrase at the Pearly Gates.

#12 August J. Pollak
April/10/2010
@ 6:50 pm

And for the record, having worked with Matt before he ever worked with Ted, anyone “surprised” to see other people acknowledge his talent is the best statement they can make on their own flaws in judgment.

#13 Stephanie McMillan
April/12/2010
@ 5:36 am

@August in #`12, right on.

#14 Ted Rall
April/12/2010
@ 6:40 am

@Donna: I didn’t “fund” or “groom” Matt Bors. Like America, which was around before Columbus showed up, Matt was already a well-known and widely-respected up-and-coming editorial cartoonist. When I joined United Media as acquisitions and development editor, it was a no-brainer to sign one of the most obviously eligible talents around…just as I “found” Mike Lester and “groomed” him (<–sarcasm).

Also, as has been mentioned elsewhere, the old-school cross-hatching style is now alternative. What you're calling "alt"–the modern cartooning approach favored by Matt, Mike, etc.–is practiced by more–dozens more–working editorial cartoonists than what you may think of as "mainstream" (which is in the minority of political cartooning now).

To clarify my criteria #1 above, I'm not saying that an editorial cartoonist should specifically be an Obama-basher to qualify for a Pulitzer. What I'm saying is that no editorial cartoonist should ever draw a political cartoon that agrees with government policy. When I agree with the government, I turn the page and find a different topic. Editorial cartooning is inherently critical. I have never seen a pro-government (any government) cartoon that wasn't terrible.

#15 Ted Rall
April/12/2010
@ 6:41 am

Find, not fund.

#16 Mike McKeenan
April/12/2010
@ 7:25 am

Umm … the Philadelphia newspapers are going up for auction, is that the example of competition strengthening everyone you mean?

Matt Bors is great.

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