Mark Fiore wins 2010 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning

Editorial cartoon animator Mark Fiore is the recipient of this year’s 2010 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.

Mark’s work appears on,,, and NPR’s web site. The judges noted, “for his animated cartoons appearing on, the San Francisco Chronicle Web site, where his biting wit, extensive research and ability to distill complex issues set a high standard for an emerging form of commentary.”

While other staff cartoonists have won the big prize with a selection of both print and animated cartoons, Mark is the first to win the Pulitzer with nothing more than his animated cartoons (see here).

The other finalists this year included Tony Auth of the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Matt Wuerker of Politico.

49 thoughts on “Mark Fiore wins 2010 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning

  1. This is awesome, and well deserved for years now. A Pulitzer for a guy who is funny, talented, adaptive to new mediums, and a pioneer in combining editorial cartoons and new media.

    The only thing controversial here is that he doesn’t have the damn thing already.

  2. I’m surprised it didn’t go to Obama -he wins everything.
    Looks like they had a good jury, that included Matt Davies and Lucy Caswell. It would be interesting to here them talk about what its like judging a contest like this. Congrats to all.

  3. My request now is that Mark’s next toon is about the ridiculousness of the National Reporting winner:

    “Awarded to Matt Richtel and members of The New York Times Staff for incisive work, in print and online, on the hazardous use of cell phones, computers and other devices while operating cars and trucks, stimulating widespread efforts to curb distracted driving. ”

    Man, it’s a good thing there wasn’t anything going on with the economy, immigration, or health care this year because it might have given the serious issue of driving while texting a run for its money.

  4. “Man, it?s a good thing there wasn?t anything going on with the economy, immigration, or health care this year because it might have given the serious issue of driving while texting a run for its money.”

    I’ve actually READ the articles on distracted driving (and I was nearly run over by a texting driver last week), and I’d say it’s a pretty damn serious issue.

  5. August makes a good point. It’s not that it’s not a serious issue. It is, but it it’s not groundbreaking news that people didn’t already know. Like a guy who was once a leading contender for the Democratic nomination having a love child while running for President in the Post-Clinton era.

  6. This is many years overdue, but obviously an excellent choice.

    Let’s hope this inspires editors to start ponying up for animated editorial cartoons!

  7. Marks on paper made by Mark Fiore often hit the mark and many here have remarked on his remarkable marksmanship and marvelous marketing acumen making this long overdue Pulitzer a moment to be cherished!


  8. Right, Donna, either the Pulitzer needs to create an animation category or the Academy Awards needs to create and editorial cartoon animation category

    I’m in the camp that believes the stand alone static print cartoon is a separate art form than animation and should be judged accordingly and separate

    I would think that Lucy Caswell of all the people who were on that jury would understand and appreciate that. And maybe she does, but these contests don’t give the judges any choice by only having one category. And when you see all the effort that goes into these animations and how good they are, I can see how you would feel it should be rewarded as judge.

    I give the Herb Block foundation credit for at least putting the question out for discussion on if they should be judged separately
    in the case of that contest.

  9. I’m with you, Jeff and Donna, creating a Pulitzer category for animation would be cool. But since they are a little behind the times in their categories, judges using the broad concept of “cartoons” that includes comics and animation seems cool in the meantime.

  10. My general feeling is that it’s really good to see an artist providing an alternative to traditional editorial cartooning getting recognized in the editorial cartooning category. In the past alternative artists have won in the Pulitzer’s other categories, which just made their “Editorial Cartooning” category appear unnecessarily narrow-minded.

  11. Congrats to Mark on nabbing the big one. He is a super guy and a brilliant cartoonist who richly deserves this high honor. His animated commentary always cracks me up and is never ambiguous about where he stands on the issue. Bravo.

  12. Congrats to Mark. He’s certainly mastered the medium.

    Speaking of which, can someone with an iPad stop by Mark’s site and a couple of the other sites that carry his cartoon please? He makes heavy use of Flash and I’d be interested in seeing if he’s already found a way to port it over to the iPad. And if so, how he did that.

  13. Eric, I hear ya-I’m all for fresh new non trad animation work being recognized- it should just be in a different category than one that was supposed to be based in print and used to have in it’s written criteria stuff like “dramatic pictoral effect”. The fist cartoonist to win for animation had also submitted 10 print cartoons in addition to the animations. At this point the Pulitzer might as well open it up to stuff like Tina Fey’s recent short on
    SNL spoofing the Sarah Palin Network or the Jibber Jabber guys stuff. That has more in common with animated cartoons than the print single frame cartoon.

    How hard would it would be for them to add a category just like they have several for reporting.
    I just have a lot of resect and admiration for the kind of genius it
    takes to come up with a simple single frame cartoon like Mike Luckovich’s “WHY” cartoon that one the pulitzer a few years ago. It’s an art form I’d like to see continued to be acknowledged and respected.

  14. Sorry for the Typo- meant to say I have a lot of “respect” not resect… Clearly I have no respect for spelling- -like most cartoonists

  15. I’m getting more ticked off at this.

    Can someone who has actually done animation answer this: how many people does it take to do one? Does one pick the music, record it, do the voices, operate the software, all oneself? How about all the additional dialogue, or is that just cribbed from the news? I don’t know.

    I know Hollywood, though. Like Disney requires an entire building to do this. It takes a team, and Hollywood would scream if they awarded a Production Designer Oscar to the Director or Writer.

    It is totally inexcusable that a major print award was given to a movie. Wiki says: Entries must also fit in at least one of the specific prize categories, and cannot simply gain entrance on the grounds of having general literary or compositional properties.

    This is EXACTLY the same as a photo in the cartoon category, or mixing up any other genre. The Pulitzer people have an obligation to state upfront what the criteria will be, as the law is clear on contests when money is involved. Not to mention the $50 they charge each contestant.

  16. Donna –

    I did an animated version of my cartoon by myself for a while. It’s very challenging but it can be done. I used ACID loops for the background ‘music’ and did the voiceover (not very well though). I self-taught myself on all the software involved, which can involve several major programs. You have to design a production pipeline and then learn the tools in each program that do just what it needs to do for you.

    I couldn’t maintain a regular update schedule so I switched over to a static panel Flash slideshow. I can now update three times a week and stay close to breaking events. I think Mark updates once a week, which is impressive given the amount of work involved in each one.

    The downside (to me) to doing an animated editorial cartoon is that it pushes you toward the broader issues that will be around for a while. A small story that happened a week or two ago will seem like an odd choice for a cartoon when nobody remembers the issue at hand.

  17. Why ISN’T there a seperate category for other types of editorial toons? I think it could/should be subdivided into not only static print and animated but also single-panel and multi-panel as well. Compare apples to apples, as it were. Seems simple when ya say it. Apparently, the powers that be find it too much of a brain-strain. Sad….truly sad.

  18. “Can someone who has actually done animation answer this: how many people does it take to do one? ”

    Why don’t you just ask Mark how many people it takes to make one of his cartoons? He’d happily tell you: one. As in, he does it all by himself.

    “It is totally inexcusable that a major print award was given to a movie. Wiki says: Entries must also fit in at least one of the specific prize categories”

    Gosh, that’s great. Here’s the actual criteria from the actual Pulitzer committee:

    “For a distinguished cartoon or portfolio of cartoons, characterized by originality, editorial effectiveness, quality of drawing and pictorial effect, in print or online or both.”

    Mark is a cartoonist. Who made cartoons. For a journalistic source. That are editorial in nature. He met all the criteria for the award. But oh, you found a line on Wikipedia. Right.

  19. Donna- If a political animator needs a voice-over for someone screaming mad-like say a tea partier- maybe they can just call you and bring up this subject holding a recorder to the phone.:)

    For the record the category was open to animation and online- material.
    Bugs Bunny’s and Sponge-Bob are way overdue for a Pulitzer.

  20. ?Can someone who has actually done animation answer this: how many people does it take to do one??

    Answer: An entire South Korean studio.

    This news gives us questions onto the future of not only editorial cartooning, but animation in general. I’m looking forward to seeing what this will bring.

  21. August- I think where animated cartoons fall short for me is in the
    “Pictorial effect” criteria. Maybe it’s just subjective, but I always took that to mean something like Luckovich’s “WHY” cartoon-where he had all the names of all the soldiers killed in Iraq making forming the letters in the word. I thought pictorial effect meant the classic- the picture alone says it all.

    Mark has a very clever and funny animation on the Vatican up now. But the
    visual is just this scene of the Pope sitting in a chair with cardinals standing next to him and a choir singing in the background. It”s what being said and sung that’s funny but there’s no real pictorial effect as I used to take that criteria to mean. And I find that the case with most animations.

  22. Ted wrote: “Let?s hope this inspires editors to start ponying up for animated editorial cartoons!”

    Hahahhhhhahaaaaa ahhahhahahhaha hahahahahahah ahahahahahaha hahahahahhahah ahahahhahahaha hahhahahahahahah ahahahhahahahh ahhhahahahahaaa!!!

  23. Tom, thanks for info on how animation is done. Mark certainly did a very good job on his African American dialect voice for Obama – he could get a job as a voiceover.

    I don’t equate animation with online – everything is online, so what? I did read the lengthy rules to submit for this year – I think it was 3 pages long plus $50 – and there is no mention of animation in there. Does anyone have a different source than the entry form?

    I think the judges, as well as some people here, are confused because the English word for cartoon means both 2 dimensional cartoons and also animation movies, which includes hundreds or thousands more frames, flash, sound or voices or music, much much more dialog, and is called multimedia for a reason.

    Gosh, do you think the Academy Awards will now add a category called Editorial Cartoons, since they have one for Animation? Did they even add the Animation category willingly? NO! But they did, they had to, because animation is a MOVIE.

    I hear Mark was a cartoonist at one point, and maybe a darn good one. Now he is an animator, and the Pulitzer Prize committee should be shot for giving this important award to an artform that isn’t anything like an editorial cartoon. Shame on you, Lucy.

  24. I forgot to add: take a cell from an animation film, and what do you get? A cell. A picture with no context or point. Not a cartoon.

  25. Add the words “THE ECONOMY” to a photograph of the Titanic sinking, and what do you get? An editorial cartoon.

    Art, and I can’t believe this has to be explained to some people, is subjective. When Doonesbury won over 30 years ago, people lost their minds because a “panel strip isn’t an editorial cartoon!” and yet, here we are, thirty years later, the institution survived.

    The most striking observation amidst the tantrums here is the lack of any comments in them about Mark’s cartoons, animated (monocle flies off face!) though they are, being well-made, deliver a strong message, and are funny. The pettiness on display here from people who are desperate to complain about the mechanics of a cartoon because they know they can’t argue its quality is astounding.

  26. Having a separate Pulitzer category for animated editorial cartoons at this time would be stupid. You might as well call it the “Mark Fiore” award.
    There is nobody else creating animated editorial cartoons of this quality on a regular basis, and I think it’s awesome that Mark was honored by the Pulitzer people.
    Maybe if in ten years the Pulitzer people are getting dozens of high quality animation entries, then they should have a separate category.
    In the mean time, congrats Mark, I’m envious of your talents.

  27. @Phil: Quite right. I’ve been doing animated editorial cartoons for about a year now, and thus watching the field with much interest. Mark is a one-man genre; no one else delivers animated editorial cartoons of such high quality on a weekly basis. Even those created by professional cartoonists fall woefully short.

    Someday, if someone is willing to pay for them, there will be a wide field out there. Until there’s more competition, however, it would be ridiculous to create a special category for animated editorial cartoons.

    @August: As usual, you’re on the mark.

    Look, I’m happier with this choice than I have been in many many years. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Pulitzer Prize is a total joke. Look at the list of previous winners and almost never has it gone to the cartoonist who created the previous year’s best or most important work.

    The same is true about other categories: I read a lot of history books, and am consistently amazed at the incredibly books that get passed over in favor of pablum in the history category.

    People are impressed by the Pulitzers, but they really shouldn’t be. I’d like to win one, but only because it would convince stupid editors to buy my work. With the rare exceptions of picks like Mark Fiore, it rarely goes to anyone good, much less great. And a prize that doesn’t consistently go to the absolute best is inherently meaningless.

  28. To reemphasize August’s point about taste in art being subjective, Jeff’s admiration of the Luckovich “Why?” cartoon is shared by many cartoonists I know. But I know just as many equally knowledgeable cartoonists who think it’s banal, trite and stupid.

    @Donna: I don’t see what process, specifically the use of collaborators, has to do with any discussion of whether animations should be considered alongside static cartoons for an award.

    Many traditional print editorial cartoonists use collaborators. Garry Trudeau uses an inker to finish his pencils. Other cartoonists have someone else color their work. In the pre-Internet days artists who wanted to do reverse outs (white writing, black background) had their photo department do them for them. You could even consider Photoshop a form of cheating, since it does in seconds what used to take hours.

    Conversely, animations can be done successfully by one person. I’m 99% sure that Mark started out doing everything himself.

    With my stuff, I write the scripts, draw artwork, edit and provide some voices (God help us all). David Essman does the Flash animation and supplementary artwork. I have friends do voiceovers. Overall, it’s my idea, my vision.

    Everyone good has collaborators. If you show a cartoon to an editor, a friend or a spouse and ask their opinion, should they share your prize when you win one?

    I think it’s amazing that so many people who are annoyed by Mark’s win have nothing to say in years when the Pulitzer went to miserable (print, staffer, old-school, single-panel, cross-hatching) hacks.

  29. Ted and Phil-
    I thought there were several cartoonists doing animations.. Mark’s not even the first to win for animated cartoons although he probably should have been. I love the ones Ann Telnaes does for the post. Walt won for his animations for Newsday. Doesn’t Nick Anderson do animation and Mike Thompson to name a few?

    Donna- Lucy and the other Jury members simply nominate three cartoonists to the Pulitzer Board. For all anyone knows the jury members could have all had different favorites among the three.
    Marks entry met the entry rules. And as I said earlier-you’d be hard pressed as a judge not to look at these animations and not be impressed with the work involved and how good they are and not feel they should be rewarded. The jury doesn’t set the criteria -the board does.
    August- Speaking of Donnesbury, I would have nominated Trudeau for the Pulitzer the past five years for the reporting he’s done in his strip on soldiers fighting in the Middle east.

    And since I see the Pulitzer Board likes to have a cartoonist on the jury I suggest they pick Ted Rall. The only negative would be it might preclude him from winning the prize he should have already won years ago.

  30. Fiore deserves it. So does Rall. That said, prizes for the best of anything are really sort of meaningless. I won an Emmy. It’ll be the first sentence in my obit, but I’ve written better shows that nobody saw, let alone nominated.

  31. Mark, congratulations. Very entertaining and newsworthy cartoons. It’s the future!

  32. Donna wrote: “I hear Mark was a cartoonist at one point, and maybe a darn good one. Now he is an animator, and the Pulitzer Prize committee should be shot for giving this important award to an artform that isn?t anything like an editorial cartoon. Shame on you, Lucy.”

    Wow. Demeaning and insulting to all in one short paragraph. It’d be more than appropriate for you apologize to Lucy, but honestly — shame on them? Shame on you.

  33. Damn, Donna, you make Ted Rall look nice.

    I’m starting to think the “B” in “Donna B.” stands for bitter.

    Can a comic strip be an editorial cartoon? Yes.
    Can a multi-panel cartoon be an editorial cartoon? Yes.
    Can a single panel cartoon be an editorial cartoon? Yes.
    Can a wordless cartoon be an editorial cartoon? Yes.
    Can an animation be an editorial cartoon? Yes.

  34. Wow, I really did not want to let myself get dragged into this, and would have thought that Phil and Ted’s answers (#33 and #34 respectively) would have squashed Donna B’s argument like the sour little grape it is …

    While the Pulitzer Board has been playing catch-up with the evolving art form of editorial cartooning these last couple of decades, they are still light years ahead of her.

    So let’s then address her misconceptions over the Pulitzer requirements directly: 1) They have accepted material submitted from online publications-only since 2008 ( Mark qualifies.

    2) On two previous occasions, the judges directly cited the online animated cartoons that were part of the winner’s and finalist’s portfolios. That’s precedence. Judges and board are still debating the exact parameters of this changing environment, as evidenced by statements made at a 2008 AAEC panel on this very topic ( … scroll down to ‘Judging the Judges’).

    The main quote: “Richard Oppel, an editor at the Austin American-Statesman and a Pulitzer board member, spoke of animation being a evolution of cartoons in the digital age. Oppel feels the media the cartoon is presented on is secondary to having a strong point-of-view and being a successful execution of an artist’s idea, and that ‘animation is part of the evolution of the craft.'” Again, Mark qualifies.

    3) Finally, if we were to take Donna B’s logic to its extreme that Mark should be *disqualified* if he put together his cartoons with a staff of people, you would also have to strip 6 of this year’s 14 winners of their awards because a team of people worked to get them.

    Oh yeah, and if the Pulitzers aren’t multimedia, then you better ask for the Drama and Music Prizes back while you’re at it. Oh, and Hank Williams’ posthumous award.

    I hear he was a songwriter at one point, and maybe a darn good one…

  35. When Doonesbury won over 30 years ago, people lost their minds because a ?panel strip isn?t an editorial cartoon!? and yet, here we are, thirty years later, the institution survived.

    So there’s where it all began.

    Animation is a multi-panel cartoon shown in fast succession, like a flipbook. So I guess an argument could be made that a single panel cartoon is one category, and strips, multi-panels, and animation are all in another category.

  36. Tom- that’s a pretty good idea- There’s so much multi media stuff on the web from stuff on newspaper web pages to you-tube that would provide for a category that was a more level playing field for material that had more in common with each other, then static editorial cartoon on paper vs 3 min. animated editorial cartoons do.

    I think last year Funky Winkerbean was nominated for the Lisa
    Cancer story series. But couldn’t that have just as easily been put in a short story category or a category with graphic novels?

    I can’t imagine to many photographers who would be thrilled having single still shot photo of theirs going up against a three minute video.

  37. …Now parse away! Parse away! Parse away ALL!

    But I heard him exclaim ‘ere he drove out of sight,
    Merry cartooning to all, and to all, a good night…

  38. I cast my vote for Fiore and Rall on the Iconoclast Party ticket for November 2010.

  39. The bottom line is Mark tried for years to support himself as a print cartoonist.

    Ironically, the print world of newspapers told him SORRY, not in this lifetime.

    So, he went after his his love of expressing his political/graphic beliefs digitally.

    Ironically, he came way out ahead.

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